To Traffic with the Devil Is to Pay His Price

                                        Man, remember,
                                             until an hour before the Devil fell,
                                                  God thought him beautiful in Heaven.


                    We’re not those characters we want to be,
                         we’re those characters we are.


                                                            Act III

Stop attributing to luck / what you lazy fucks /
                    won’t ever accomplish, this /

                                                            well you poison when /
                    you attempt to touch its depth / swallowing your Selves /
                                                            shallow heads easily filled /

                                                            “do-it-for-the-kids” /
                                        and “good intentions” killing /
imagination’s / power, proprietary /

                                                                                protection failing /
                                                            expiring before your hell’s / harrowing, heaven /

no longer interested /
                    in returning your / calls, in repairing sins prayers /
                                        wall up, walloping /

                                                                                you with your secrets you can’t /
                                                            claw down, clowns drowned by / your own filthy souls’ cleansings /
                                                                                                    mor(t)al tedium /

                                                            a B-film unending and /
                                        uninteresting / so fist my wound, dive right in /

                    doubting Thomases / and feel what success tastes like /
                                                            an apple bruised by / a serpent’s bite, uncertain /

of its origin / ’til fallen angels take flight /
                    again, sweetening /
                                        fate’s discouraging sentence /

                                                                                that I’m a genius / not a genie, rub me the /
                                                                                                    wrong way and you’ll be /

                    wishing you’d never seen me /
eternity’s grip / like a junior high handy /
                                                            under the bleachers /

                                        just a freebie given because /
                                                                                popularity / comes so easily when we /
                                                            seize lust’s opportunity.

                                                            Act II

Looking beautiful at faith’s funeral,
          you walk water with a saunter
no prophet ever pondered, when you want
          your fortune how you hunger, more
power an unholy offer when what

          you talk of no other soul haunts,
nobody daring enough to accost

          god for water in the charred face
of the poor, the desert their bane as you
          barter its sting for something far
hotter: a raw deal, negotiating
          a starring role for which you were

born, morning’s nude light abhorring torrents
          of sand storming better forms than

horizons reveal, fragments of your real
          reflection party-sized mirrors
break laws to conceal, while snorting your li(n)es,
          night defi(n)es divine reprimand
as like a more-brilliant sun you moonrise

          high above life’s mansion stage, your
personæ pouring forth miraculous

          works you’re performing, grotesque and
out-grossing, that porn of pain enfolding
          and encompassing every
point of creation’s tangled, cat-cradled
          tessellation, shaping from gold

this tarnished world’s negative space to hold
          what hidden treasure you take from

civilizations, life’s meaning that it
          must be made, one’s true Self carved from
a craving pursued without any shame,
          anonymity exchanged for
a name, a fix no one can break or blame.

                                                            Act I

The cruelest prison / is one without walls, for those thrown /
                    out of society /

                                                            words are easy company, so /
                    I keep my mouth on low / places, hired friends so much better /
                                                            than monogamy, why /

                                                            sniffing panties is like sniffing /
                                        brandy, we connoisseurs /
of contempt called lecherous when / we’re just thirsty, searching /

                                                                                tight pants for slightest dignity /
                                                            as if we had any / to drop down them, my own hands less /

lethal weapons than they /
                    are little shamans, fists healing / what love can’t, conviction /
                                        keeping it from blossoming, my /

                                                                                integrity, or so /
                                                            I call it, what denigrates all / possibility, makes /
                                                                                                    me doubt the belief lovers and /

                                                            other liars have in /
                                        me, laying on a soul layers / of trouble no one knows /

                    and takes from shared moments their sweet / posterity, so when /
                                                            dashing my feet against stones, light / turns to them, and I turn /

them into thrones, dominions and /
                    kingdoms bowing so low, / deferential, getting so high /
                                        power-bottoming guys /

                                                                                I crawl atop men coming when / I say something, playing /
                                                                                                    them on their level, pedestals /

                    shattered to tumbling rocks /
columns and erections dropped hard / once I get them off, when /
                                                            my knife of a line silences /

                                        these lambs sacrificing /
                                                                                their minds on my ego’s altar / sighing, ‘To traffic with /
                                                            the Devil is to pay his price…’

1Arthur Miller, The Crucible: A Play in Four Acts, “Act Two”, spoken by the character Reverend John Hale. Originally titled, Those Familiar Spirits—although never printed or performed under that name—the play was first published at New York by The Viking Press in 1953, this line of dialogue appearing on page 71 of that first edition. The drama debuted there at Broadway’s Martin Beck Theatre, opening to mostly hostile reviews including Miller’s own, in spite of which it won the Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Theatre—better known as the Tony Award for Best Play—that same year.
2John Logan, in his screenplay for the film, Genius directed by Michael Grandage and released worldwide in 2016, based on the book, Max Perkins: Editor of Genius by A. Scott Berg, a biography of the celebrated literary editor Maxwell Perkins. A dramatization of his storied tenure at the Charles Scribner’s Sons publishing house where he discovered the talents—and fostered the publishing careers—of many notable American authors of the Twentieth Century, including Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Thomas Wolfe, this particular line of dialogue is spoken by Wolfe’s character, portrayed in the film by English actor Jude Law.