The sun slips away.
The burning orange sky
drifts into twilight.
The living darkness spreads
as a fungus
over the landscape
with shadows devouring light.
and slowly, it begins to grow.
Thick shadows reach and join
to become part of the whole
until from the dark I emerge.
I twist and spin,
splaying arms and legs,
leap high into the air
as a dervish from hell
graceful still coming around.
My arms fold into death.
The ground closes itself away
to hold me in a fetal embrace.
I am the Shadow Dancer.
The dark mirror of your soul
reflects me on the walls of your mind.
I know you, as no other,
witness to all those who have harmed
or unrequited. Those feelings that live,
breathe and kick you awake
in the middle of lonely nights.
I am the ringmaster
to the circus of your mind.
No matter the day, it is Halloween
and I am the gravedigger,
I am the death bringer
juggling and laughing as I split the skulls
of your inner demons with my shovel.
I am the host of your dreams.
In my hands I twist your mind
as one by one your nightmares die
at my hands. I am your defender.
Watch as they shriek
when I commence the beheading.
I am your judge, I am your jury,
and yes, I am the executioner.
None shall know peace
until all have prayed,
the Shadow Dancer has come!”
I am arrived at this land’s end
to find myself standing
atop a great mountain of pain and sorrow
from those that have fallen in my wake.
Over this toxic waste sight,
I look out to your mind, my world.
I am the proprietor, the caretaker of shit.
Shit that so old it has rotted this domain
into nothing. Slowly I make my way
down the uneven slope
that slips and moves beneath me.
Disgusting piles of nightmares
decomposing and dead.
Reaching the bottom I pick
at the scab-like ground with my shovel.
Blood seeps and belches
from the moist surface as an open wound.
I survey the deserted landscape
of foreboding putrescence.
In the distance I spy a foreign thing,
calmly hidden among the crusty earth scab.
Clutching my shovel
I drop quickly down and set my pace
through the bloody marshland. I stalk
over the rank and steamy ground
that squishes from old wounds by each step.
I tighten my grip on the handle
and prepare for confrontation.
The thing appears small, insignificant,
but I must be cautious
for the demons and nightmares
are always crafty with many wits.
I stand and announce,
“I am the Shadow Dancer!
You are trespassing on land
of which I am custodian!”
I present myself swinging
in an effort to destroy
the strange green thing
that sits with thin tentacles
that reach out from the earth.
My strike is true.
The shovel sinks deep into the things flesh,
and suddenly I am assaulted by a shriek
of piercing anguish and pain
unlike any I have ever heard
resound in this place.
I am shocked, taken aback.
Demons have claws, they fight back.
and turns to shit in their midst,
but they do not cry out
and their insides are certainly not,
clear? This new creature now seeps liquid
from its depths like tears.
I remove my shovel and stare intently
down at the thing at my feet.
It is foreign
though I sense recognition,
some sort of forgotten déjà vu.
There is an inkling of knowledge
from long, long ago.
It scratches the back of my mind.
In a flash, memory surfaces
and I am taken aback. To Green!
This entire landscape was once covered
with it. I remember a time long past,
before the first of the unclean appeared,
before the land was rotten and waste.
Once upon a time there was green.
It reached tall to the horizon
and danced as the wind blew it
to sway in liquid waves,
each blade being played together.
It had been so long I had forgotten.
I fall to the ground
attempt to repair the damage
I have wrought. The tears,
the precious liquid seeps.
I try with my hands, dirty, stained,
encrusted with the guts and entrails
of your recent enemies.
I succeed in helping,
but I sense fear from the new green.
“No,” I speak in low tones
desperately trying to sooth.
“You may stay.
I have awaited your return
for all time and days equal to eternity.
I am sorry! I did not recognize you.”
I stand and pull the shovel away.
There is reassurance.
Its blades unfurl and reach.
the lost fluid is reabsorbed in leaves.
The green thing’s color becomes vibrant.
I stand to watch as it continues
to grow over the landscape.
My hands, still wet from the tears,
manage to rid themselves
of some of the blood and grime
that has caked over the years.
I look down and see my hands
for the first time in recent memory.
My hands, used to protect
and in effect, kill everything for so long
that I had forgotten their purpose
for anything other. My hands.
I am the Shadow Dancer.
I am the lord of all
in the putrid essence of your mind.
When you cowered in bed,
I opened the closets to do battle
with what frightening hideousness
went lurking inside.
The Babadook’s and Cenobites,
Freddy’s and Nightmares.
When you were afraid to rise,
I went beneath the bed to see
what beast awaited your tender feet.
I am the warrior, the death bringer,
and the gravedigger to all your demons.
What am I now?
I see a shadow come over me.
A demon stalking,
coming for the new growth.
It towers behind me and I react.
Quickly, I grab the shovel and spin,
swinging for death.
The bright light of its eyes blinds me
and I stumble back
dropping my shovel,
shielding myself, from the attack
that never arrives.
The heat of its stare is still on me,
but I lower my hands to see
what evil has risen.
The heat comes from a light
shining atop the demon mountain I created.
Has this mountain come alive?
Now I must stop this for they
must never plague this land again.
Grabbing my shovel I move
with speed over the sticky
and slippery uneven ground.
I reach the base of the mountain
and begin my ascent.
I climb over the faces and bodies
of this world’s pestilence.
I reach the top prepared to do battle,
but there is, nothing?
I am alone
atop my mountain of death and shit.
Above me, I can see the light
shining down from a large object
that sits in the far distant sky.
It beams through a gap
in the putrid cloud layer
that is all I have ever known
to be in your mind’s eye.
Slowly I watch, the gap splits and I see
this new area above the clouds is blue
and there is no darkness in it.
I see from whence the green thing has arrived.
The break in the clouds has brought the light
and sent down the new growth.
From this vantage I watch as the light spreads
and I see the new green that I attacked,
has healed and is now continuing its reach.
I turn back and sit down
atop my pile of shit, content.
My job has reached its conclusion.
It is just as well,
for I now realize my fatigue.
All the time I have spent here
only to learn I have executed too well.
Eventually I will no longer be needed.
What is a warrior to do
when it runs out of wars?
New fissures begin to break through
the dark clouds fade
and the new growths are all around.
It will take time, but this landscape
will not be the fetid world
I have known for so long.
Even now, I can feel
the mountain of shit beginning to melt.
It steams and rots to be claimed
by the earth once again.
I am the Shadow Dancer,
returning to the world of shadows.
I will come again as needed.
My tenure is up and though I am sad,
I feel great happiness
for a new beginning is at hand
and I was the catalyst in this change.
My hands become transparent
the shovel drops to the ground with a clank
landing in the tall blades of the new green
that brush and sway
like liquid in the breeze.
I am becoming memory.
In the end,
all that will remain,
is a rust-ridden shovel,
covered over by the new green,
and only carries faint memories
of the Shadow Dancer.