Sincerest form of flattery.

Its population grew and withered, congealing and dispersing.

But still its edifices remained, even as the yellow stars leered upon it.

And its citizenry perished.

The great edifices which held them remained, dead to the universe which they seemed to mock, and which in turned condemned them to the obscurity of the infinite ether.

For the beings that had made it were gone, as decay seeped and disease encroached upon it, but it did not die. Its angles were abhorrent, and as the tides broke upon its empty port, the water flowed into the abysmal streets.

The orange sky loomed before that titan abode, which was indifferent and hostile all at once, for it had no soul, but only reflected the insecure arrogance of its bygone builders.

To us, it was insane. To the universe, it was merely an incident.

And all at once its foundations crumbled, and its materials were enveloped again into the dread Cosmic void’s simmering cruelty. Petulant and unmeaning, it sank into the vistas of unfathomable chaos, against which all unnatural bulwarks moan.

This is a prose poem I wrote a long time ago, while under the influence of Lovecraft. It’s very, very much like the end of Nyarlathotep–not as good, of course–but so much like it that it frankly verges on plagiarism. Plus, there are some other highly Lovecraftian phrases throughout it. I would feel bad posting it without making this clear, even though I don’t think it actually includes any lines from that apocalyptic and mesmerizing piece. 

Writing un-rhyming poetry does not come naturally to me at all. I think this is because what I know of poetry, I learned mostly from reading W.S. Gilbert’s verse, and consequently most of my techniques are designed for that sort of thing.

Actually, speaking of imitation, I wrote some early poetry that was flat-out mimicking Gilbert. Not that I stole from him, exactly, and in any case I never published any of it, but I would just take his general idea and try to see what I could come up with that served the same function. It always made me feel woefully inadequate. The only thing I remember fondly from these efforts was writing the beginning of a verse which I imagined being delivered by some comic-villain attempting to rationalize his evil deeds, and explain he’s “just misunderstood”:

“Take, for instance, the Mephistopheles:
People whine about how awful he’s.
Yet, if you’ll examine the pertinent facts,
You’ll find that the Devil’s one of your classier acts!”
I was so proud of those first two lines. But I never could get beyond that to make an actually funny poem. 
Back to the un-rhyming poetry, though. Nyarlathotep isn’t quite that, I suppose–it’s more like a very hypnotic short story. But for some reason, it just takes more of an effort to make myself write poems that don’t rhyme than ones that do. 


What's your stake in this, cowboy?