• Vol. 06
  • Chapter 08
Image by

the uncanny valley of the shadow of death

Is a sad clown someone you
feel pity for?
feel anything for?
Is a sad clown someone?

I fear I inspire something
closer to disgust like
what you feel when you find whatever's haunting
the back of your fridge or
the bottom of your shoe or
the inbox you have too long neglected.

I fear I inspire shudders, the dread you feel
when—too soon—you peel off the bandage or
walk face-first into a spiderweb or
when you overturn a rock and confront a writhing underworld beneath.

At best I think I am birthday party detritus—
the cake crumbs the ants march away and
the flaccid balloons and
the piñata (once you’ve bashed in its head and ripped out its guts by the handful).

Am I dramatic?
(I am a master of my craft, well-studied in the art of human emotion.)
I traffic in extremes, so I wonder why you accept
my pies in the face,
my banana peel antics,
my floppy shoes like a stuck-out tongue and why
you shun all the rest of it.


the uncanny valley of the shadow of death

On my day off, I’ll drown my sorrows
just like the rest of you. I’ll splash around in my struggles like a swimming pool.
I’ll think about myself for a second and I’ll ask you:
Do you think I don’t know pain?
I implore you to look at me—
no, lower—
I’m waving, see? These fat tears like a party trick.

I pace here, stumbling through the uncanny valley
of the shadow of death and
believe me,

I do fear evil.