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The Final Masquerade: a Ballad

April 29, 2015 | By

This poem was inspired by a NAPOWRIMO prompt in Rejected Stuff which is also its title. It is also an attempt to write a Dylanesque ballad, set in modern times. It deals objectively with two couples, a murder, adultery, love, marriage, faithfulness, cuckolding, betrayal, loyalty, exile and other themes in the form of an exciting story that resembles a fast paced thriller showing that life has changed and is now complex in its pyschological dimensions.

I wore two masks like Janus

Poetry Month Special

At the final masquerade
I didn’t know where to turn
One stood by a pillar
And one stood by an urn

I wore two masks like Janus
The lobo and the tern
The music started playing a waltz
“Save the last dance, hon”

Smoke was in the mirrors
The ice was crushed in cubes
Inside tall glasses
That held a liquid blue

When her husband wasn’t looking
I kissed the one in red
And when the one near the urn
Turned to me, I said

“Look how the moon is walking
Through the clouds, unfed”
And kissed her also on her lips
She swooned away like dead

While holding her then, in my arms
A gown trailed into sight
She wore the mask of a lover
But something inside bled

Her husband had a sword and gun
And challenged me to fight
All I had was my guitar
And a book called B.E.D

The one who lay still in my arms
Had a dove-shaped mask
I put her gently on damask
And kissed the one in red

Then I took his gun and shot
The husband, calm and cool –
Put a bullet through his head

The masquerade would soon be o’er
I had two women on my hands
The songs were getting fainter
The drunks were all dead tired

The women had paired off with their lovers
The men lounged in the lounge
Everywhere the ashtrays overflowed
And the glasses clinked

Dawn would soon be coming
I had to make a stand
I sent one home by taxi
The dove-faced one who slept

The other one was weeping
Her husband was still dead
I strummed a song and whispered soft
“I’Il come back soon, instead”.

When I left the sun was shining
On the masquerade
The woman was secretly smiling
That her husband was now gone

She would wait
And so would she
By pillar or by urn
Wearing the mask of a lover or dove
That bled or did not burn

I took a cab and then I fled
To Spain, to some hotel
Haunted forever by the events
Of my final masquerade

Whenever I drink too much
My aging hands do shake
I go out alone in the night
Carrying a long black trunk

I make two calls from a nearby booth
Always to the same:
The woman who has a dove-like face
And the one with the mask that bled

But I can never go back
Because of the events-
Seems like it was yesterday –
Of that final masquerade.

No, I can never go back
Because of the events-
Seems like it was yesterday –
Of that final masquerade.

Read more stellar poems in our Poetry Month Special Edition

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Dr Koshy A. V. is an Assistant Professor at the Department of English at the College for Arts and Humanities for Girls, Jazan University, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He has written, co-written or co-edited eight books of criticism and poetry to his credit with authors like A.V. Varghese, Gorakhnath Gangane, Angel Meredith, Madhumita Ghosh, Zeenath Ibrahim, Rukhaya MK and Bina Biswas and one of them 'A Treatise on Poetry for Beginners' was reprinted once as 'Art of Poetry.' He is a Pushcart Poetry Prize nominee (2012) and twice Highly Commended Poet in Destiny Poets UK ICOP (2013, 2014) and he was thrice featured in Camel Saloon’s The Hump for best poem/editor’s pick and once for best poem in Destiny Poets UK Website. Even as a child he won the Shankar's international award for writing. He is a reputed critic and expert on Samuel Beckett besides being a fiction writer and theoretician. His last books were Wake Up, India: Essays for Our Times, co-authored with Dr Bina Biswas and Mahesh Dattani's Plays: Staging the Invisibles co-edited with Bina Biswas. Three more are on the way, namely The Significant Anthology he is editing with Reena Prasad, a collection of stories to be published by Lifi and a collection of poetry with Bina Biswas and Pramila Khadun. He has edited or co-edited many books including A Man Outside History by Naseer Ahmed Nasir and Inklinks: An Anthology by Poets Corner and a novel for Lifi. He instituted the Reuel International Literary Prize in 2014 and runs an autism NPO with his wife Anna Gabriel. The first prize was given to Dr Santosh Bakaya. He administers with the help of others the literary group Rejected Stuff on Facebook. His poems have been studied in a research paper by Dr Zeenath Ibrahim and Kiriti Sengupta in Dazzling Bards and also translated into Hindi, Urdu, Gujarati,German and Malayalam. He won World Bank’s Urgent Evoke and participated in European Union’s Edgeryders. He has been interviewed extensively. He has other degrees, diplomas and certificates to his credit besides his doctorate on Beckett. He attributes everything to God’s grace and the prayers and good wishes of his loved ones.
All Posts of Dr Ampat Varghese Koshy

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