The Shine Journal

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The Real Devil Does Not Offer Turkish Delight by Matt Prader


there is a way a sword will pull to one side
then wait, and pause, and retire,
and while having  only stopped as long as one of Dali's naps,
come to you
and rejoinder your head off with a snap.

this is the way with snakes and soldiers --
every killer knows this art.
even the seasons send decoys:
winter will kiss itself with tufts of milk,
and summer will set its tongue against the north.

all the world has a way of settling in on itself
like the crust of a stew left cooling on the stove.

that pack of cigarettes you locked in the drawer
sits waiting for you,
pushing the key towards your eye

if I were you
I would not give the middle ground.

there is a reason Sun-Tzu said "burn down the city"
and Moses said "leave none alive."

ice is not dangerous when it is naked and dry.
it only kills when it melts and reforms like a snake.

the world's real devil does not offer Turkish Delight.
the world's true salesmen carry so much less than that. 


I'm a student at Radford University in Radford, Virginia, and I live in Saltville, Virginia. I write mostly poetry, and my favorite things to write about include dreams, Appalachia, religion, pop culture, and literature.

Motivation: The short answer, and the honest one in a way, is that I pulled this out of the air the night before a poetry class. I am,  in many ways, shameless. But the longer answer, and the more interesting one, is this: very few books really kick me in the chest, but about a year ago I was sitting up late one night, maybe sick but if not it doesn't matter, flipping channels on the television. And I come across this thing on one of the educational channels, something obscure, and the description said "The Play of Poetry" or something like that. And so I watch, and what I thought would be ten minutes before bed turns into two hours of watching Coleman Barks do Rumi, neither of which I had ever heard of before.

And I was flabbergasted, because as a religious person, and somebody who was really wondering why there was so little good literature that seemed to be authentically joyous, I went finally I've found somebody that has made a literature about religion God and it not be really, really vindictive or damning or just otherwise sucky. And then from there I get the books, and then there's Hafiz, and then there's Kabir, and then there's Robert Bly and all that stuff, and all this poetry that for once actually moved me in a real way.

So I've been writing, in the aftermath of this, a lot more meditative and religious poetry, taking some of the Sufi and Taoist and ecstatic motifs of what I've been reading, as well as the Native American and African-influenced esoterica which my mother studies, and combining them in poetry with my own generally mainline Christian theology. And so I get poems like this -- random, seemingly, but not surreal, and meditative rather than linear in thier logic. The ideas are rootedly Christian -- dealing with the temptations of sin and of general human frailty -- but the flow of the discussion and the thoughts at play involve other metaphors and traditions in way which make what I'm saying more subtle. I hope.

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