Ablution: A Dungeon Poem

This is in response to Patrick Stuart's dungeon poem post way back in February. What can I say? I'm slow. Better ones by better writers are posted here.
Map by Dyson Logos. Original located here.

Ablution: A Dungeon Poem


1.
Three darknesses sulk in sorrow telling tales that end in silence:
one lies, one whispers, one speaks in tongues—
the delicacy of livers draws them near.

2.
An old man withers, scrawls
notes on walls in words
he does not know;
here, bones go to die.

3.
Taste each barrel & beware the order
or despair; colors run, sounds unwind,
flesh & bone in stone entwine.

4.
What you build will fail: the only out is through yet
within the pit the ghasts await your warm embrace.

5.
Shallows lap upon rocks
like dogs at sup & hunger
to grind flesh between
pebbled teeth; feed them
& learn answers to questions
witches dare not ask.

6.
A tease, a taunt, a shimmering—
a treasure for the taking
if takers be so bold
to dare the darkened waters
& what the water holds.

7.
Locked in warning stone they point the way
beyond the stair: tread lightly here
lest you become their dread companion.

8.
The walls babble of brooks
& whisper secret things etched
upon your heart no one knows,
perhaps not even you since
you, too, believe your lies
yet only one true thing
will open the way:
what will you reveal?

9.
Three cells, one chance
to free your choice:
the lady, the tiger, the goat—
one is not what it seems,
one is what it is,
one knows not that it deceives.
Choose then & know
the profit of the damned.

10.
Ancient, broken things rise from piles
& beckon with claw & fang & rotted tongue
to wish you godspeed & won’t you kiss your
good boy & won’t you kiss your grandmama
& don’t you remember me mommy, oh daddy,
oh why did you leave us behind & look:
here is the ring you left when you left her,
when you said you would return—take it & see.

11.
Down the rabbit hole again & another
black altar burns before you, sigils aflame
in dank air; repeat what the old man said,
what the water whispered in your lungs,
what the foul beast said when you plucked
it’s eye & strummed the lock’s tongue:
with blood & spit & birthwater follow through
if you dare live a life worth living, not a lie.

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