The original poem by Geoff Kagan-Trenchard is below.
Joker: Year One
– October 30-
It’s been months of days at the library
learning all there is to know about
how to make napalm from Nerf foam
mixed with lighter fluid,
the Zimbardo Prison Experiment,
and the Gotham City PD’s standard procedures
in case of natural disaster or terrorist attack.
Soaks it up like fresh gauze.
Years of weeks in the city dump
shooting strays with assault rifles
so his arms grow accustomed to recoil.
Sparring with winos until he can drive
a hood ornament through an eye socket
in one smooth action.
In his room, explosions in bloom
are tacked on all the walls. In the center
he sits cross legged. Holds his hand
a few inches above a portable blowtorch.
Learns to keep it there just a little longer each time.
After the third liquor store, realizes he might as well
just walk in with the gun out. It’s the way he moves
through the room. Dogs shudder, children cry, plants wince.
Even without the makeup, even before they see the scars,
the victim knows something sharp and wet is about to happen.
After the fourth stash house, decides regular crews
are for regular crooks. When they leave him in the Narrows,
icy boots ringing his ears, snow sticking to his bloody lips,
he vows to not work with anyone
he doesn’t plan on shooting.
Smirks at how quick
a broken face teaches a lesson.
He’s been up for days. Eyes sunk
back like eight balls, teeth rotting yellow
with plaque, hands rattling in happy jitters.
It was supposed to be a quick penthouse invasion
over Easter weekend
but things got complicated.
You would be surprised how many
so called “bad men” get skittish
when Grandma starts to gargle
from a box cutter slice cross the wind pipe.
How a hardened criminal just melts
at the first application of a hot stovetop.
Guys like that never understand.
It’s not about the money,
it’s about the half second
when the prey’s eyes
turn from terror wide
to numb thin.
It will be Tuesday morning soon.
There is a hundred dollar
meat cleaver in the kitchen
that has yet to be used to split a bone.
He knows he’s on to something,
but hasn’t found a face
for it yet. Can’t decide
on what shape the ghost
of this story should take.
A little girl’s muffled scream
shakes through duct tape. Blood
back splatters an arching smile
on her cheek. He thinks yes, yes,
this is the look we are going for.
Birth certificate, social security card, and every picture
ever taken of him are ash in the bottom of a bath tub.
Remembers last summer, before all this started
when he first heard the rumor about the demon
that haunts the wicked. Still has the newspaper
clipping. Mob boss splayed on a searchlight
like a split chicken. Keeps it folded in
his breast pocket. A love letter.
Wanted poster. Report card
to aspire to.
Hones the edge of his knives and bullets
for tonight’s double homicide robbery.
Plays solitaire with his calling cards.
The ones people weed out of the deck
when they want to keep the game predictable.
Standing on the corner of Fifth and Main waiting
for disposable accomplices. The mask dangles
from his fingers like a severed head.
Truck screeches to a halt, he gets in,
barely able to contain the laughter.
This is the end of the beginning.