Claiming Miranda

Miranda emerges from the ocean,

curves like seashells,

warm and vibrant.

Eyes full of sun-diamonds

like the ones that cap the waves

that cling to her, wanting her for their own.

No, goddess, that way lies madness…

She twists the seawater from

her hair, and shakes it

as she runs it through her fingers,

and makes me want to be a strand.

She walks the warm sand,

a native nomad,

her smile as she lifts

her face to the sun puts it to shame.

And I feel like the first explorer

to claim these shores

who found its only treasure,

watching as she trails my dreams like

small plane banners

behind her

as she leaves.

 

Bells of Winter

At midnight ring the winter bells,

and snow will soon arrive.

The winter bells grow cold

for they are dead and not alive.

They herald in the harsh north wind

that drives the icy rain.

They ring discordant harmonies

that leave the ears in pain.

We’ve no escape from winter bells

through land or on the seas.

We’ll die just when the tolling fades

because the bells too,

freeze.

Emperor

From here I can look

all around

and survey my empire.

There, the distant hills gilded

in silver mist and emerald leaves

humble my own royal robes.

And here, the servants at my feet…

Young. Nubile. Fertile.

Mine to pluck like ripe fruit,

or slaughter as tender lambs.

My bride’s perfume is pleasant.

The eyes of my court are hard.

The halls of my palace

hold whispers of secrets and dreams.

My gardens host ghosts in the moonlight.

They tell me to be at peace,

take comfort,

sleep.

My borders do not

boil with rebellion,

and there is

no alarm of armies

at my gates.

I stand at the pinnacle of

all my achievements,

and realize that as I watch

the setting sun,

there is a smile

in the darkness of my grave

that

patiently waits…

Light Breaker

I heard the light crash like thunder into the darkness.

Saw the obsidian surrounding my cage

shatter.

Heard the screams and wails and curses

turn to laughter, songs, and shouts of joy.

For too long

I walked under the canopy,

shielded from everything.

Yielding nothing.

 

And the light broke

through the darkness.

 

I saw the sky blue swatch of sky

flecked and speckled with drifting clouds,

felt the breeze of an early summer evening

cool on my skin.

The slope of the climb

to the world above was gentle, easy

and pleasant.

My heart rejoiced.

My will rebelled.

I wanted this light,

this blue, this breeze.

This joy.

But I burrowed

further down and broke

the light,

and sent it on its way.

 

Song of the Damned

And in this

lonely, dusty ruin

I count the coins

comprising

the price

of my perdition.

 

I have strangled

my conscience,

and opened

my accounts.

 

An easy life

in uneasy trade

for a diseased soul

that screams

and cries

in the silence.

 

I watch it

fall away.

I will be

troubled no more

as it sleeps.

 

And see

the teardrops

spray from my lips

as I whistle

and smile,

eternally

dying.

The Mark

The Mark

Chapter 1:  Foundling:

A gibbous moon pressed down on the sky like the thumb pad of a jaundiced god. A ragtag band of villagers chased a boy into a forest clearing, surrounding him, but not rushing to seize him.

He felt every inch the trapped animal, save he had no claws or teeth. There was only a single knife which he clutched more as a talisman than a weapon. Crackling torches forced him to put up a hand to block the glare, and the mark on his cheek became visible again.

Murmurs of curses, prayers, and amazement buzzed and hummed in his ears. The light in the mark was fading but he could still feel its heat.

An elder couple stepped forward as a walking keg of a man thrust his torch closer to the boy’s face, making him drop the knife as he stepped back and put up his other hand. From what he briefly saw of them, the woman seemed to hold some concern for him, lightly pressing her husband’s wrist down to lower the torch; she wouldn’t stop him from doing much else, but for that at least, the boy was grateful.

Walking Keg had bristly brown and gray whiskers, the moonlight a nimbus in them as he leaned forward and glowered, his free hand poised in the air, uncertain of its purpose. He seemed to want to touch the mark, but didn’t.

The fear in his eyes belied the gruffness in his voice. “How came you by this mark, boy?” The uncertain hand now pointed a meaty finger at the mark.

The boy swallowed, and when he spoke his voice was small in his own ears. “I killed my little sister.”

*************

Thunder had ever frightened him, and this storm had proven no different. In the small cottage at the top of the hill, where he lived with his parents and younger sister, they were more vulnerable than most to lightning strikes.

Seeking his parents for comfort as he always did, the tableau he walked in on shook him to his core with horror.

      His little sister was out in the rain, naked, arms outstretched to the sky, eyes closed and a beatific smile on her face. She seemed to be speaking, or praying; he wasn’t sure, but she had a knife in her hand with blood and rainwater dripping from it, washing the blade clean.       Stomach lurching, heart pounding, he ran toward his parents’ bedroom but stopped when he saw the small, bloody footprints that lead from the open door.

      “Nylii, what have you done?” He ran from the house toward his sister, and when he came to she was dead beneath him, his hands on her throat, his cheek sliced open from the knife, and the clouds clearing to reveal the dim light of a sickle moon. Her eyes were open, and save for the fact she wasn’t breathing, she looked like she was about to tell him a secret.

      Revulsion and horror made him scramble up and make it to the edge of the wet, dank woods as he heaved up the contents of their last dinner. Gasping for air, burning with thirst and wanting to scream, he wiped the stringy, rank spit away with a handful of leaves. His cheek was on fire, and there was blood on his chest and shoulder. He touched the wound to see how bad it was, and it flared, searing under his touch.

      He opened his mouth, but the ensuing pain had him back on the ground unable to scream. He felt something go wrong with his blood.

      She’d cursed him, marked him. For what, the gods only knew.

     “Nylii, what have you done? What have you done?” He realized he was shouting. Panicking, leaving the bodies for scavengers, he ran and never looked back.

                                                 ************

     More murmurs, louder this time as what he said was conveyed to those who couldn’t hear. He’d played whisper-down- the-line with his friends; he’d be a legend or a monster by the time it got to them.

      The couple stepped back.

     “She was afflicted?” the woman asked.

    He wasn’t sure what ‘afflicted’ meant, but he nodded: “She killed our parents at Reaving Moon. A blood sacrifice.”

      Cries and gestures against evil rippled outward through the mob.

     “What should we do?” the woman asked her husband.

      “Kill him, is what we should do…”

      The boy was tired, thirsty, hungry, and his adrenaline from running had spiked and dipped several times. Now he was just scared and angry.

       “I’ve done no harm to you! You came after me!”

        The husband glared and stepped closer. “Yer damn scar was shinin’! We din’t know what the hell ye were!”

       The woman spoke again. “We’ve children in th’ village, boy. Not much older n’ yew. Y’understand?”

      The boy fell to his knees. “I beg you, for one night, let me sleep. I’ll sleep here, outside of your town, and I won’t come in. I promise. Please just go. I’ll be gone in the morning.”  

      After some hesitation, the wife took the husband aside, away from him and the crowd. He stayed on his knees; the weight of the rabble’s stare was almost palpable as they openly regarded him with an unhealthy mix of fear and fascination. The couple’s conversation, judging from gestures and faces, was brief but heated.

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Source: The Mark