Dactyling The Devil

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic

Poem written for my Criminal Justice Teacher, after a course on Fingerprinting.

Submitted: March 27, 2018

A A A | A A A

Submitted: March 27, 2018




By Alexander Guinevere Kern

Copyright A. G. Kern   8-2004

~This poem is for my Criminal Justice Professor, Mr. Douglas Brown


He looked like any man, as he

Eased into my view. I don't know what

I expected, still licking my chicken-greasy

Fingers and leaving prints on the

Precinct's kitchen table to admire.

A Demonic Dandy in a Chernobyl yellow

Zoot suit, with red, brilliantined hair, or a stately,

Doomed Tzar, wearing a two feet high Beaver

Fur hat, medal-chested, gripping a skeleton sword,

And tattooed with bullet holes.

Perhaps a snazzy tux with a crimson cummerbund,

Snapping a black cane and dragging

His forked dragon tail behind him, spraying

Scale sequins along the tiles. The snake tread,

And the scent of legend, myth and fame.

The lieutenant ordered me to take the prints

Of this man brought in post-prandial,

Flanked by stern officers. They looked newly blue-

Minted, straight from the Academy. If there

Were wings, I could not see them.

The station house air carried an olla pogrida

Of smells: lunch odors, printer stink, sweat,

Polish, integrity, honor, courage, boredom. Italian subs,

Pizza, burgers, fries, the wife's leftovers meat slab,

Irish boiled potatoes on the side.

I rolled the ink as the man sat down.

I knew his crimes. I didn't have to ask.

I've a sin sense after all these years, the

Details of a person's moral pattern

Is in the prints, the epidermal terrain.

And even if I didn't have this flair,

Our station was chilly in mid November,

But this man's serene stare was sequenced heat

As he offered up an incipient brimstone grin

He gathered a symphony of shadowless shades.

He seemed no scary Spooker, Shibboleth or

Djinn, Bifurcations sprouting from his

Temples. But a whorl of torment churned

Under those hooded, maelstrom eyes.

He wanted me to see it.

This aberrant angel, an unstable database

Of human misery, Fallen Celestial to Global,

Faulty with artifacts of betrayal and poison pride.

When I took out the ink, his brow furrowed.

He may have felt stained enough, already.

This latent, pollen-skinned Mephisto,

Ridged nose like a Summerian prince.

He wore his oily Sudan black hair

In ringlets down to his waist. Maybe

A bit of a dandy, after all.

He watched me like an Evil eyes a weapon.

What would I do to serve his need to kill?

What could he make me do?

How would I feel in his hands?

Would I perform his commands?

I felt his infernal impressions upon all men

Even as he rolled up his quicksilver sleeves.

I inked his fingers, those fingers, those fingers

Which surely itched to reach into my heart

And pinch out my life like a blackened wick.

The thought of touching his flesh appalled me.

I imagined freezer-burned pain upon contact,

Or pores sweating blood into my palm.

Instead he sat compliant, relaxed as I rolled

His fingertips across the plate.

I did not ask his name. I knew them all.

No identifying mark required. He'd

Left a negative impression on the

Entire soul of my sweet Earth. I tasted

Sacrifice and blood, subservience and pain.

"Cold searching" among the living,

Aching for legions of groupies,

Yet, then, our planet is his province.

Those elegant fingers were to be found

Present in every crime scene.

All of our dusting, our chemical reagents,

The Ninhydrin, the Iodine fuming, the Superglue

Fumes, all we possessed to develop the

Tessearae not seen with our human eye,

Would be for naught.

When I touched those devilish digits

I felt the wounds of all his victims,

The dampness of their weeping, the shrieking

Ridge echoes of their hearts. The agony

Of the bargain, once Faust's and now their own.

I knew a handshake from him was a killer.

His meta-thumprint yearned to quick embed

Into a hell-glyphed seal, promising my soul.

And take me to his Gehenna lake, ridged with fire.

Or perhaps that was all propaganda.

I saw him as a skin document, a soiled

Parchment, distorted, compressed, contracted

By the pressure of immortality. A printed transmission

Detailing all his apostasies, jealousies and hate.

I did not want to read his morbid tale.

I leaned into him as I printed, slowly

Rolling those fingers left to right.

The world rocked beneath me as I stamped the card

With the diagnostic hallmarks of the Devil.

A topography of Chaos. He was calm.

Only God could develop this monster

No woman's womb enfolded him, while he

Formed himself out of astral genetics,

He received no counsel from amniotic seas.

The solipsist with only himself to worship.

God yanked this Beloved Son out of the heat

Of Venus, cherished him with jewels and indulgence

And was rewarded with Rebellion. Discharged

From the Ultimate, the grasping power in his insane

Hands revealed the most quizzical prints in History.

Before my gaze his individual prints

Flexed and reconfigured, reformed and revised,

In a fan show so immediately mesmerizing

I sat, transfixed with understanding and with fear.

Not one the same. Not one the same.

Like warped harmonics shivering

Out of another dimension: Loops, whorls,

Tents, arches, the ridges and furrows formed

And flexed in a fan show of prestidigitation.

All the prints of every dead or breathing being.

He knows us to the last minutiae of our shames.

His prints were on the oven with Sylvia Plath,

And on the 27th glass of straight whisky Dylan drank

At the White Horse Inn in New York, which raised

Delirium in his verses and collapsed his brain.

Deep in the steaming coils of Hitler's head,

Or Stalin's, Lenin's, Mao's and Mussolini's,

Those despots and dictators with his imprimatur

Marked on their foreheads, his fingerprints

On all their collective victim's bodies.

I might ink him scalp to soul, Glue fume

His shady coil with Ninhydrin, 'til he glowed

Ruhermann's Purple. Dust his malignant hide

With powders florescent, incandescent,

While he shimmered like Dante's Peacock.

Still his evil would never be lifted, the stain

Of his rebellion enhanced enough to view.

Where are his fingerprints? Look well upon

The trigger, on the rope, on the noose.

On the garrote, on the rack, on the thumbscrews,

The tire iron, the bludgeon, the axe, the bombs, the

Keyboard, the legions of viruses and bacteria

Which acknowledge him as god. In the cancer, in the

Poison, in the heart disease and every vile decay

Of the pathetic human format and condition.

In the pill bottle, electric cord, the cattle prod,

The belt, the strap, the blade, the fist.

In every torture pit and chamber, across the bloody

Face of terrestrial war and mutiny. His fingers brush

The lips of every lying politician.

He labors to shape the contours and the variants

Of our selves, and warp us moral to immoral,

Lover to Slayer, Mother to murderer,

King to Killer, Saint into Sinner. Dust

Yourselves with truth – you'll see his trace.

He shook my hand before he was led away,

And held up his darkened palms, a gesture of surrender.

He knew he'd never truly be captured or convicted.

Laughter wicked flickered in his lively eyes.

There was not a single print on any finger.

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