DAY EIGHTY-EIGHT – Jon Stone

from The Shapeswitching Suitboys

Incentivampire

In daylight, he’s gallant.
He hands out medallions. He says you’ve got talent.
Oh, Incentivampire!
He glows and he toasts like a cackling campfire.

But the longer you slave and the harder you try,
the closer he comes with his blood-hungry eye.

He seems so judicious!
His hands are as soft as the hands that do dishes,
and totally clawless.
He stands you on stage with the rest of the chorus,
says, “You can do anything!”
He wraps you in a dark,
                                                     immaculate
                                                                   wing.

But the longer you slave and the harder you try,
the closer he comes with his blood-hungry eye.

He throws out your crutches.
“These? You don’t need them!” He takes out his matches
and melts down your glasses,
sets fire to your books and then scatters the ashes.
“I’m breaking your chains,”
he says as he skips through the blackened remains.
He’s so big-hearted
and so well regarded.

But the longer you slave and the harder you try,
the closer he comes with his blood-hungry eye.

At night-time the change occurs.
He slips on his spikes and his diamond spurs
and rides into town.

He preys on the blustered and blown.
He swoops on the weak and the worked-to-the-bone.
Come morning, they’re gone
and are not seen again.

And the longer you slave and the harder you try,
the closer he comes with his blood-bitter eye.

 
 
Jon Stone has contributed to anthologies centered around pop culture, comics, imitation, formal innovation and science fiction. He is the author of Scarecrows, Thra-koom! and School of Forgery, which was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. His next book (as co-editor) is Birdbook: Farmland, Heathland, Mountain, Moorland, which also features his poem ‘Nightjar’, winner of the 2014 Poetry London competition. His website is http://www.gojonstonego.com

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