Nocturnes: Eyes Forward, 1-5

[an homage to Night Gallery, and the episode, "Eyes]

 

1

If you have spent some time with the insane,
you know how individuals' problems
are usually singular, and their
whole personalities strive to express
this in a chorus---of open mouths and
wandering bodies.  Patient Miss Menlo
was filthy rich, cantakerously old,
and bitterly blind.  Without visitors,
without the least respect for the staff, or
her neighbors, she lamented her sight, and
some cash she called "wasted," a deal gone wrong.

 

2

One afternoon, she woke up from a nap,
screaming as if all of hell's terrors had
combined to occupy the worst nightmare
of her life.  When we finally calmed her,
enough to speak, she said, "He wants his eyes
"back.  I took them from him, forty-nine years
"ago---seven times seven years ago.
"Dead all this time, and by his own hand, he
"has been waiting---just to take his eyes back.
"I paid his gambling debts to have his eyes.
"He signed the contract:  now he wants them back.

 

3

Not one of us who heard her raving knew
of what she spoke.  We had to look into
the confidental files, securely locked
(and curious supervisors have keys).
She was so frightened, lately, that we felt
well justified to find out more of this.
Of course, she did not know that we had looked
into the file.  "To leave a pauper's grave---
"a county burial, the box cheap wood---
"should not require much effort on his part.
"He can find where I am right through his eyes."

 

4

She had been born into great wealth, but blind.
She claimed have financed or have blackmailed
a certain surgeon to perfect techniques
to give her sight, but needed living eyes.
Her lawyer found a donor---a gambler,
a certain Sidney Resnik, down and out,
for whose huge debts some mobster sought his life.
She paid those debts.  He signed his eyes away.
Twelve hours of sight, at most and no sunlight,
which would have burned the raw nerves.  A blackout
happened.  The donor cut his throat, later.

 

5

Plunged back to darkness, her relentless mind---
with no object for her obsessive thoughts---
began to roll down that slick slope into
insanity.  Guilt, always opportune,
settled upon her brain like a housefly
on a dog's turd.  The two eyes in her head
felt like they did not quite belong there.  She
did not weep, she said.  The two eyes did:
they wept for that poor man, driven by fear
of torture and of death to sell his eyes.
Those eyes remembered all this time, she said.

Author's Notes/Comments: 

Disclaimer:  Lest I be accused, by the fastidious, of plagiarism, I have cited the actual source of the material in the dedication at the poem's headnote.  This particular episode has always been emotionally charged for me, because of Tom Bosley's gut-wrenching performance of the gambler trapped by his debts, and by the cruel Miss Menlo.  This is what might be casually called a fan-fic.  I offer, as precedent, the relationship between Robert Bloch's short story, "A Toy For Juliette," and Harlan Ellison's sequel to it (and described as a "continuation"), "The Prowler In The City At The Edge Of The World."  On that precedent, I offer my sequel and continuation of The Night Gallery's "Eyes."

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