Sailing Home

This story was a finalist choice in the Neoverse Writing Competition. My first time entering one.

Beyond Panic

Author’s Note: A small boy is fishing with his grandfather; as they talk about life, thoughts and feelings emerge that make a lasting impact on the both. The story is told from the point of view of the young boy’s memory now as a grown man.

I was sitting with Grandpa as he cleaned his catch with a knife that he always had, seemingly forever.

The skritch it made against the scales as he worked it with expert hands was like the rhythmic slap of waves on the shore.

His deft fingers never seemed to get caught on the hooks, though he showed me where they had, when he was first learning. Callouses covered the tender skin there, but never covered over the lessons.

I watched the shallow water eddy about my ankles as I sat on the boat’s edge, watching the wheeling gulls hoping to steal a fish or two, though grandpa always…

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The Haunting

The haunting

of these

hallowed halls

comes when the

Midnight bell

is ringing

 

And the maiden

climbs the stairs

to stand there in the choir loft

singing

 

Lovely, high and sweet

her voice

The notes ring long

in beam and rafter

 

Then sweet voice

begins to quake

And singing turns

to demon laughter

 

And the fight

for her fair soul

begins with

every night anew

 

And I relive

the sin I did

that killed her love

and turned it blue

 

I have no reason now

to stay

I only know

I cannot leave

 

For I did love her once

you see

and for her fair soul

I did grieve

 

but my eyes strayed

as did my heart

as did my flesh

and I unclothed

 

Drove in the knife

that pierced the heart

and damned the soul

of my betrothed

 

 

And now she walks

these ruined halls

Once stately, grand and

full of life

 

And looks at me with

sad,wet eyes

that say

I should have been

your wife.

 

So from the palace roof

I plunged

while Midnight bell

did twelve times toll

The last knell saw a broken

shell of bone and blood

and fleeing soul

 

Now two walk

moonlit halls together

when the Midnight bell

is ringing

Saying now their

wedding vows

 

in harmony

in the choir loft

 

singing

Knowing Alexandria

Such secrets

such mystery

such knowledge of

promising delights

unwritten and unbound

shine

in your eyes

 

Alexandria

 

The bow and curve of

your teasing, smiling lips

holds the binding lock

of a

challenge,

daring a kiss

to pass the sensuous

bow and curve

of

your hips,

where the

key of release

hides

by the curved bow

in your hand

 

I am not

afraid

of

knowing you

 

Alexandria

 

I would explore

the shelved labyrinths

of love

with you

 

I would trace your illuminated tears

with my fingertips

and peruse the story in your laughter

with my hands in

your raven hair,

turning the page of you

to my heart’s content

 

In our storied, torrid passion

I would hunt at your side

and be your prey

in a bed of myrrh

buried

beneath

you

in fiery ruin

 

I would know you,

 

Alexandria

 

and never be

the wiser

 

 

 

 

Uncharted

We sailed

on a serene

silver river

to a

place

 

unknown,

unnamed,

unpopulated

 

uncharted

 

To discover

what we would

about the new world

we would claim

our own

 

and when

we skimmed

through the

billowing cloudbank

 

we were

suddenly

drifting apart

in

separate vessels

going

opposite ways

 

unmindful

unhappy

unneeded

 

unloved.

 

 

The Grave Worms

How quietly the grave worms tread

And tunnel through the fertile earth

For now I lie here cold and dead

Devoid of sorrow, done with mirth

 

But yet I hear them whispering

To centipede and fly and ant

That they can hear me breathing still

Did Death consider and recant?

 

“We’ve eaten them alive before,

So even if they haven’t died

We’ll feast on warm flesh bountiful

Before he claims a demon bride.”

 

The wood that forms my coffin creaks

And rodents too join in the fray

But dead blood never, ever leaks

Dead eyes don’t see the light of day

 

And yet I hear them

Scraping, scratching, clawing, whispering

Whispering still

 

I wonder will my hearing stop,

Or will I hear them eat their fill?

 

How quietly the grave worms tread

And tunnel through the fertile earth

For now I lie here, feeling dread

Devoid of sorrow, done with mirth.

A Night in Battered Armor

I see you

Black Woman

in the armor

we forced you

to wear,

so you could

fight

when you would

Love

 

I see you

Black Woman

a sad and weary

patience

in your eyes

waiting for

the next

bone-wearying

Battle,

challengers

coming from

everywhere at once

 

I see you

Black Woman

your smile and laughter

as distant a memory

as the hills

that

surround you.

 

I see you

Black Woman

the song

in your heart

now the moans

of winds across

a desolate, bleak,

and wretched

landscape

 

I see you

Black Woman

looking across

the widening chasm

as your champion

turns to become

your opponent

 

I see you

Black Woman

wiping

the tears

from your armor

lest the salt

dull its shine

as it rusts

your soul

 

I see you

Black Woman

standing alone

in your own

cold shadow

dreading

but

living

to fight

another day.

 

I see you

Black Woman

Beautiful