The Rat Men

The darkened canyons, notch-ed walls of slate
Pocked with glowing embers, windows out on fear,
Stretched the stranger's courage to near loss
As walking shadowed realms he listened hard
To bleats and cries, and saw the winged forms
Soar twixt square mountains, so unreal and cold,
Toward destinations strange to him and high.

Air fused with silent death molasses-thick
Flowed massive down the avenues of night
As shadows came to real, and real to nought,
A smothering of joy, dead frozen light
At corners luminating without warmth
The shuffling passage of bent men in rags.

The dregs of life embattled, rattled near
In desperate complaint of end of fear
They hugged the walls and cast the furtive glance,
October's men with stained and dirtied pants,
Grey skinned, bent forms, the citizens of Hell.

Rat men who work the sewers of the birds
And do not leave the rank until the night
To shadow tap at stores for waste to eat
In holes where light of day shall never reach
And childless, homeless, loveless sleep away
Their rat lives, hopeless misery their pay

And watching this the stranger's blood ran cold
As memories of other times came seeping forth
When men of dirty class, untouchable
Did pass across the Earth in hopeless, seething mass.
In mouldy dank dissolved their ratmen bones,
Their ratmen muscles mixing with their eyes,
They died at last with plaintive gasps and sighs
Below the eyries of the eagles in the skies.

-- Larry Leonard

This poem is located here.

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