The Passing of the Beast
Dragons love the dark. We thrive in night – in cold, in winter-trembling
people fear. Living in the bowels of earth, we are suited to dank.
A suffocation of caves, fit for shifting; stealing, eating, biting, chewing.
Crafty, canny, covert, cunning – I am all these lurking words. I am Guo Nian –
I wait for spring to bring the lambs from mother’s belly to grass, for calves
to aim their succulent sides to the sun. I wait for spring to fetch me from
my tunnel, wake me, make me want to feast – come out with arch and bluff,
twist and skim the fat from paddocks. Mostly I like the screaming –
yes I like the sweet meat, love the lanolin shine it gives my teeth,
the beefy crack of marrow. The cries, the supersonic decibels of pain –
garnish to the lush of meat. Puny people, running amok the fields below;
aperitifs, skedaddling hither, thither, swords mere fish-bones in my gums.
They burst in cherry bombs of fruity blood, children sweet as sugared plums.
Such grub to fill me full the year it takes to sleep it off – slumber summer,
autumn winter. Wait for the worlds awakening again; get out my pit
and gorge on helpless men. Then came this beggar-man – a shuffle shamble
bend of beard and grey. They bade him flee! To mountains hie, for midnight
brings the monster! Nay, but grant me stay in your home this night
and I will rid you of your fiend. Brave fool! Yet see the colour
in his cheeks – how straight he grows! How strong his arms,
how bright his brain! The Nian, a twist of flame – I come, O fool!
You dare to stand? That was no man – but God, who bitted and broke me,
rode my bucking body to the otherworld. Bade me stay until a time
that man forgets to cast his fireworks where I wish to tread again –
forgets to fringe the coming of finer days with red. I cannot bear
this crimson cloth, nor lanterns boiling bright from every door.
Cannot abide the powder bangs – spark and crackle keeps me in my place.
The Passing of the Beast. Remember me when things are born and grass
is new – I will return when there is no Lord – when colour and noise
and festivals are dead. I am hungry. I know where you live.
Jane Burn is a North East based writer and artist. Her poems have been published in a wide variety of magazines and anthologies. Her first pamphlet, Fat Around The Middle, was published in 2015 by Talking Pen. She also established the online magazine The Fat Damsel in this year.