Death-Catcher Chimes

Death-Catcher Chimes

In a faraway place and faraway time
stood square a cabin rotted pine and bramble flue.
Once haven for old crones craven - their skins thin-skinned slivers of brine;
now nary a soot line marked a witches' brew.
In the dark, swirling silver stark and creatures would quiver
held over pot-stew thither, along hymns of damning chanted.
Waggled tongues with an evil glaze would slither,
cursing in eye, toe, and liver the bubbling broth decanted.
Oh a malkin giggled and a paddock piggled;
sniggled in a mirth-marked cauldron's rubble double bubble.
With a whoosh and a swish a bony finger had wiggled,
as papery skin withered the drubble swuddle brubble.

On those blackest of nights, when wolves would fear the moon,
howls held loomed, choked on down the throat of dusk.
Hatred uttered its sleepy breath, pitch-entombed
and justice marooned under a tar most brusque.

Shadows danced incantation
for an occultish creation, oh the devil's bidding be done!
Flamed carnation, neither here nor there god-fearing,
cackling a primrose coronation; the stirring spoon spun!

Death-catcher chimes hung close upon the entry;
a dust since turn of century marred bone;
witches’ wart-encrusted noses crinkled at gentry;
chenille voices sung with celerity a hellish praise: Divinum Occultum.

A little duende ran down the cauldron,
gloom chanting a chant come out with a hurl.
Burnt feet chasing away all ghosts ‘n goblins,
unfurling like whisper from the concoction:

Doom upon all the world.

© Giuseppe Gillespie – February 2023

*Some notes on terms and usage:

Flue: Another word for chimney.

Malkin & Paddock: There are quite a few meanings associated with malkin and paddock; however, I use them conjunctively as a slight nod to Shakespeare’s Macbeth, where a malkin and a paddock (cat and toad) were the witches’ animals.

Piggled: Nonsense word I use to mean squirmed.

Sniggled: Eel fishing. The poor toad was dunked into the cauldron.

Rubble double bubble … drubble swuddle brubble: Onomatopoeia for a boiling cauldron, starting out steady and then boiling over.

Brusque: Abrupt or rough. Used alongside tar to create a sense of wrongness as tar is slow and sticky.

Gentry: people of high social class.

Celerity: Swiftness.

Divinum Occultum: Latin for “The Divine Secret”. A perverse take on Divinum Officium, “The Divine Duty”, or the official set of prayers used in Catholicism.

Duende (Do-en-day): Spanish/Latin American version of a gnome- or dwarf-like spirit. Depending on the type, a duende may or may not be mischievous; however, used in the context of the poem, you can be sure there’s mischief afoot.

The underlying structure of the poem mostly follows a simple A, AB, A, AB rhyming format in each stanza.

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