Dorian’s Advocate

“Spieglein, Spieglein, an der Wand

Wer ist die Schönste im ganzen Land?”

In last night’s dream, whilst I am fully conscious, a surgeon disembowels me and washes all my guts under a tap to see that which it is I am made of while I look on.

{This is an old piece written when I was contemplating sense of identity.}

Through the speculum

of a woodland pond

he saw his Doppelgänger

at his shoulder


And asked him to be advocate

on his washing basket life

where The Actuary might count

all his emanations


To judge the burlesque Ersatz

which he showed the world

and not the picture of Dorian,

the one hidden in the attic


In the algebra of life

he balanced equations

knowing that he might

be cancelled or substituted


Beyond the membrane of the mirror

he saw all the ectoplasm

of the caricature of a man

which he had become


And with scalpel sharp

he began to disembowel

before them all

for the Vardøgers to take stock


How he had wanted that

crystal slipper

to fit his feet

but midnight always came too quickly


The Soviet frowned his fancy ways

when even Caravaggio is unwelcome

and the commissar always takes notes

on her jail ringed pad


another vainglorious proem

one last act before epilogue

caught at the very periphery of life

before his Soul’s last egress


What lies beyond the magic mirror

after that apple bite

a slumber party

which lasts centuries?


Now to take a match to Dorian

and at last be rid of

those eyes they haunt him

under every street light


And so through the speculum

of a woodland pond

he saw his Doppelgänger

at his shoulder


And asked him to be advocate

on all the brass rubbings of his life




Vardøger, also known as vardyvle or vardyger, is a spirit predecessor in Scandinavian folklore.

Stories typically include instances that are nearly déjà vu in substance, but in reverse, where a spirit with the subject’s footsteps, voice, scent, or appearance and overall demeanor precedes them in a location or activity, resulting in witnesses believing they’ve seen or heard the actual person before the person physically arrives. This bears a subtle difference from a doppelgänger, with a less sinister connotation. It has been likened to being a phantom double, or form of bilocation. In Finnish folklore, the concept is known as etiäinen.


Vardøgr is a Norwegian word defined as ‘‘premonitory sound or sight of a person before he arrives’’. The word vardøger is probably from Old Norse varðhygi, consisting of the elements vǫrð, “guard, watchman” (akin to “warden”) and hugr, “mind” or “soul”. Originally, vardøger was considered a fylgja, a sort of guardian spirit