"The Second Coming"

Farah Ghafoor

Farah Ghafoor’s work appears in Bright Wall/Dark Room, Hobart, Room, Ninth Letter, and elsewhere. Her poems have been recognized by the League of Canadian Poets, the Alliance for Young Writers and Artists, Hollins University, and Columbia College. In addition, her work has been nominated for Best New Poets and twice for Best of the Net. She attends the University of Toronto.

“This poem is a tribute to Nozmo’s webcomic Todd Allison and the Petunia Violet (TAPV), which involves the poem “The Second Coming” by John Keats. The comic is a historical crime drama set in an alternate version of 1920’s Melbourne, Australia, and has greatly influenced me and my work over the years. The Indigenous protagonist, Petunia, is relatable and funny, and characters like her brothers Elijah and Meredith are simply unforgettable. Although the webcomic will likely never be completed due various reasons, I wouldn’t be who I am without it.
     It is necessary to note that Nozmo is involved in a number of controversies. She has allegedly sold fanart and TAPV merchandise without delivering on these products, and has stated that she either can not or will not refund customers in multiple cases. In addition, Nozmo has come under fire for posting incestual fanart as well as for sexualizing minors in her (non-TAPV) work.”

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Petunia, alone. Elijah, at the edge. Meredith, over his shoulder. The city offers only friends and people who hate to look at you. And Violet, in ribbons of lavender, between a crowd of strangers and you. Her face, a soundless match.


Petunia, tumbling down the stairs and standing back up. Petunia, falling from the window and running to work. The past blows smoke in her face. Petunia: a common, pragmatic flower. Her hair in ragged clumps on the floor. She should survive anywhere, even out of only spite. Fairness is for children: for home. Her hands open: one hundred half-pennies, spinning. Cool and quick, the city light slips through our hands and scatters. How steadily the city’s cruel glamour burns our palms copper. Elijah watches Petunia from the back of her head. Beside him is Meredith, his mouth a wilted blossom. I can hear you laughing, she says, her face half shot off and hands warmed on every flame.


Young Elijah and Meredith sitting half-way down the gorge in an all or nothing gamble. The boy who never stops talking and the boy unafraid of the dark, tied together with faulty apologies. Two seeds suspended in sunless years. The dark you can rely on, like a promise. Elijah and Meredith out of reach now, side-by-side, another unforgiving city between them. I’ll be right back, Elijah promises to no one. Fire can barely hold its own light, much less a shadow.


In the lion’s den, you wear your best smile. Domestic animals, Meredith and Elijah don their masks. Under this white history of pillars, nearly every man is a mirror. Elijah’s wrist mooning in the night, his eyes shiny as dimes. Sometimes, he worries about foundering — under all of these stifled currents, there’s still love. Can you wait here? he asks. Elijah and his big mouth, rupturing affection. There are people that know they’re slouching towards hell: that others will follow them like dogs, their eyes unwavering.


Petunia has Elijah’s eyes. Elijah has his own eyes. Somewhere, in the dark: their mother. What kind of face is that? Are you afraid of me? the hitman asks. Repeat anything enough and it becomes true. Petunia is a bad girl and he’s a bad man. Stray from death long enough and you start bumping into ghosts. You don’t have to be sorry. You can bury almost anything. All these shadowless men and their bouquets of ashes. She leans forward and the glass shatters. This is nothing. Her quick hands, a slip of the tongue and a debt. Young Elijah claims he knows the way out and Petunia knows otherwise — even the quietest truth is a liability, an glowing invitation. You were just doing your job, she replies, straining blame from the blood-dimmed tide.


Are you offended, or do you not like me that much? Elijah, echoing. A film of fists and his eye stinging, his mouth a spilling slit. Elijah, his head doused with rain. Meredith, the hand on his shoulder. How many times have I told you this story? In the city, the best and worst drink the same water, wear the same shoes. He misses his sister. She’s holding a gun in a room with a gunman and he is standing outside. He misses his sister. They haven’t spoken in months. But Elijah is smoking, smoking on the roof of Parliament. Around the corner is Meredith, his placid bullet. Somewhere: Petunia, soaked and shivering. And at the end of the night, there’s always Violet, burning the city to the ground.

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