1

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.

 

Darkness converges

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

to touchdown

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,

“Dear God

the Shadow Dancer has come!”

 

2

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.

 

3

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.

Everything rots

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.

 

4

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.

 

5

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?

 

6

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.

 

7

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.

 

8

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.

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