The Voodoo Zombies
Hot air hung heavy in the furnace of the bayou
as the traveler wandered, feet sloshing in mud,
his mind focusing through the thick darkness
like a train headlight cutting through a tunnel.
The traveler wore a curse over his heart,
a broken black cross of ash,
that had been there since his life’s love
had been wafted away from her sickbed.
To calm the empty storm
that filled his life in place of purpose,
he wandered the bayou in a cocoon of numbness
in search of a voodoo cure.
The traveler found a wooden shack
in the sweat of the deep green bayou.
The wooden walls held a soft yellow glow
like a lecher embracing a New Orleans prostitute.
He entered the creaky shack with thin ice feet
and found Marie Laveau, the voodoo queen,
with her dolls, skulls, and alligator skins.
She smiled like a snake through the fragrant smoke.
She was a Creole woman with light tan skin,
her head wrapped in coils of yellow cloth,
her body draped in a light flowered dress,
and her neck hung with voodoo charms and lockets.
She already knew his past, present, and future,
and warned him of the dangers of waking the dead.
She tried to give him a crucifix for protection,
but the traveler cringed with black widow fear.
Queen Laveau gave him a bag of grey dust
to sprinkle on the tomb of his lost love
whose memory was dissipating from his mind
like mist evaporating into the tarry bayou air.
The traveler left the shack’s eerie comfort
and sauntered out into the sinking bayou night,
as alligators watched hungrily from the heavy shadows
and bullfrogs grumped their low songs into the darkness.
He made his way to an elevated graveyard,
beyond a high levee lined with lazy weeping willows,
where his wife was buried in a small stone tomb,
a dark grey structure dripping with warm, damp death.
The graveyard was a city of the dead
with ornate tombs lining narrow walkways
like eternal homes lining city streets,
patrolled by swarms of hungry mosquitoes.
He trudged to his wife’s stark tomb
and sprinkled the dust over it in a hopeful dream.
A breeze brushed by and blew the dust haphazardly
across the city-like expanse of the graveyard.
The heavy stone slab creaked open.
His wife stared blankly, her white dress hanging in tatters,
her pale skin blotched with blue decay,
but he looked past her ghastliness and held her in his arms.
The other tombs stirred with phantom movement
and their slabs moved aside quietly
as scores of zombies emerged from the darkness
and filled the cobblestone walkways.
The traveler kissed his wife
one last cold kiss, trying to dream himself into the past,
as the zombies closed in with outstretched hands,
moaning with years of simmering boredom.
They pummeled the traveler with bony fists,
hard with the chill of necrotic jealousy.
The zombies clamped him down to the damp ground,
and he gasped for breath beneath the frigid bodies.
His wife carried his battered body into her tomb
to lay beside her to await eternity.
The slab slid shut bringing a tactile darkness
as the zombies returned to their tombs like a receding tide.