Garden-variety Evil

The devil speaks in whispers.
His delivery is subtle, his game airtight.
After all, he has been doing this
for quite some time. No novice here.

His influence takes many forms:
isolation’s despondency,
discouragement’s weariness.
Self-doubt that mocks your bravest effort;
the crisis that questions survival.
Late nights of losing heart.

But mostly, the devil
prefers to make his approach
wearing a more mundane disguise—
perhaps posing as someone
you should have been able to trust,
someone you allowed into your life
when you saw his friendly face
at the door.

By turns, he wins your trust.
He learns the weave and form
of each delicate insecurity,
studying the intimate details
of your blackest fears
like a lover memorizes
the curve of a neck.

What makes you shake,
and what shames you,
whatever it is that you could
never face; the very thing
you would sooner choose death
than have to endure.

In his view, it makes sense:
if he is going to dismantle you,
he needs to know how you operate.
He mechanically notes your distress,
then turns away as he smiles,
so you cannot see him.

He counts on you forgetting
everything you thought you knew
about love and grace and hope,
gradually planting in your heart
a new miserable comprehension
of what you are worth.

He is the ultimate student.
Of course, having failed at his goal
to become the Ultimate Teacher,
he is cursed to sustain himself
with lesser accomplishments,
such as feeding on your failures.

He takes particular relish
in carefully cultivating the belief
that cripples you again and again:
that of your own irredeemability.

In that, you procure for him
the sweetest apple off the tree.
Doomed as he is, the offering
of your transient pain
will always be savored.

To him, you are nothing
more than delicious, vulnerable
entertainment.

Claire Juno, © 2017

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