The Seven Faces of Mister Death


I was just four years old when I first met Death. He was a benign, fatherly, old gentleman with a long white beard that flowed on for ever and smiling wrinkles. He came to escort a sick and aged relative to a Never-Never Land of milk and honey, where everyone was always young and happy, where illness was banned and no one ever cried.

Then I grew up.


Death transformed into the grim reaper of old, the skull-headed rapist of life who, with his night-black scythe, cut his way through the young and the unwilling: dragging the severed souls of his victims screaming to the eternal pit of oblivion; leaving behind him only empty echoes of lamentation and despair.

But the metamorphosis of Death was far from complete.

3 – 6

I have seen his four equestrian selves scything across the killing fields of Earth, their horses’ hooves pounding out a fatal drum beat of deathly revelation, but no cries, no lamentations are heard… There will be no one left alive in Ramah to cry.

And now I see the true face of Death revealed.


At first it all seems a bit of an anti-climax: no friendly father figure with a bottomless box of joy, no wailing and gnashing of teeth, no irrevocable bone-deep rhythm of destruction. There is just a normal if ostentatious office and sitting there an ordinary man in a slightly creased suit. He may have a thick thatch of dyed blond hair, he may not. Times and locations change, though actions tend to cling to the echoes of repetition. He takes a pen and signs on the dotted line…



Books by J.S.WattsThe Submerged Sea (poetry), Dempsey & Windle – ISBN 9781907435591; Witchlight (novel), Vagabondage Press – ISBN 9780692406908; A Darker Moon (novel), Vagabondage Press – ISBN 9780615706528; Cats and Other Myths (poetry), Lapwing Publications – ISBN 9781907276644; Songs of Steelyard Sue (poetry), Lapwing Publications – ISBN 9781909252028: Nominated for both SFPA and Saboteur Awards Best Poetry Pamphlet 2013; Years Ago You Coloured Me (poetry), Lapwing Publications – ISBN 9781910855157.