SHOCKing Sonnets: Spielberg and Matheson’s DUEL

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SHOCK’s resident poet Nigel Parkin presents original works that go deep inside the soul of horror classics.

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DUEL: Death of a Salesman?

I
How can he go so fast? This is not real.
That must be it. I’m lost in a nightmare
Where I have no real power or control,
Where children laugh at me and all adults
Wear masks of hostility, suspicion
And threat. This driver is any or all
Of them: Steve Henderson, his body pressed
Against my wife in full view of my boss,
The grin on his face saying, ‘You’re nothing,’
Shrinking me out of existence; my wife
Herself, dismissing me with that oh so
Disappointed tone; all those men lined up
At the  diner, brute clones, mocking me. Now
They’re all in that truck, bearing down on me.

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II
The radiator hose! God! The warning!
The man at the pump was right this morning.
The wheels of fate will never stop turning.
All that smoke in my wake. Distress signal.
It’s been there all the time, invisible,
Coughing out of me, a feeble alarm –
MAN IN DISTRESS! Ha! How do you like that?
They’ve all popped my hood, looked into my soul,
Shaken their heads and said, ‘You won’t get far.’
I’ve been hearing that same line all my life.
This is where they always promised I’d be –
An empty, hot, vast expanse of nowhere,
A barren world of tumbleweed and dust,
Graveyard for the failed, the unloved. For me.

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III
I’ve defeated him! I’ve won! Haven’t I?
The behemoth has fallen. It’s the end
Isn’t it? I can’t see him in that heap
Of twisted metal down there, through the mist
Of destruction and lost time. There’s no one
Here. Just me. And the sunset. And a myth.
What world can I go back to after this?
One in which I’m a legend? Or a lie?
I’m just this stone, thrown into the abyss,
Hitting the giant tanker of my doom,
Creating a hollow echo in a
Twilight zone where I sit waiting for the
Answer – for the spaceship to land. Listen.
Somewhere down there, a wheel has stopped turning.

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Weekend: Sep. 19, 2019, Sep. 22, 2019

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