Punish the Curious

                                        i. Filament / Ad Valorem

Who will love me when I’m not entertaining
     or brilliant? When my talent’s fading and
     isn’t taken like my third act’s last breath by
     a masked bandit in the backlit handheld of
     illiterate night, or seriously, but
     makes off like a vagrant—bearded, power-drunk,
     exhausted, and misspent—like lost youth or an
     opportunity’s stale-dated cheque—used-up
     before its time as an excuse for under-
     achievement or an overdue payment? Who
     will love me then? When my wit’s whittled blunt my
     statements, no longer ebullient toasts, but
     tasteless and made without shame to temper and
     tame them, aphorisms bled of affluence

                                        ii. Fizzle / Ad Quod Damnum

and beheld by audiences disgusted
     and unimpressed by my insignificance?
     Touch now, if you must, this canvas still wet, but
     comprehend its consequence, that after his
     flourishing comes—not rushing in, but stumbling
     an artist’s most trying period, the one
     during which the ideas dry up and light
     swallows what’s left of him, wishes destroyed by
     legacy’s insidious myth—if you can
     handle it, then by all means, pursue my grin
     before what burns behind its mask consumes your
     existence as it has my own—this ruin
     punishing the curious, making victims
     of those whose hearts hold only demons, not souls.