Springsong

The hum of spring

bursts into

joyous song.

 

Gazing upon renewal,

all the old cliches

of eternal hope

march through my mind

like ghostly soldiers.

 

The echoes of the past,

of lost battles, of wars lost,

fade with their footsteps.

 

But the hope

I feel is real.

 

And inner peace

comes forth

as an

opening bud.

Changeling’s Lullaby

There in the nursery

moonlit and blue,

Something is hovering,

covering you.

 

Calmly you’re staring,

for only you see.

Tell me if it’s here for you,

or for me.

 

Softly, you gurgle

and reach out to touch;

then cackle with laughter,

the tickling’s such.

 

Coming to get you,

it makes itself known.

I reach out for you.

My body is thrown.

 

“No one,” I cry,

“takes my baby from me!”

You’re fading, and fading…

I no longer see.

 

I don’t hear a gurgle,

a coo, or a cry.

The dark fae has taken

my sweet child.

Goodbye.

 

Trained as a warrior,

they’ll make you strong,

fighting their battles and singing

their song.

 

War cries and weapons

will conquer your days.

I can’t come to you

for they’ve blocked the ways.

 

But I’ll keep trying to

find you. I will.

Mountain or valley,

and river or hill.

 

And if on the field of battle we meet,

I’ll throw my bloody sword down at your feet,

tell you I love you, embrace you, and die.

Though you brand me ‘enemy’, you’ll wonder why.

 

When truth revealed shakes your soul

to its core:

You have just slaughtered

the woman who bore

Your weight in her belly,

your food in her womb.

 

Carry her then from this world

to her tomb.

 

Cry not, my little one.

It’s not your fault.

Let not your tears taste of

sorrow and salt.

 

Dream of the nursery,

moonlit and blue,

and of the lullaby

I sang to you.

Just Ring the Bell

It was the time of year when the winds blew cold and the bleak night came early to tuck you in.

The leaves blazed in defiant colors of life that were, in fact, their grave clothes, a splendid array of royal colors of fire and berries, with the cool but ugly afterglow of sepia, umber, and ochre.

Melanie and I were bundled against the chill, hunched against the rising wind. She looked at me and said the most bizarre thing I’d ever heard from her.

“Let’s go to that house and ring the bell.”

“What the hell for? It’s getting dark out here, Mel.” I was the only one allowed to call her that; she never told me exactly why.

“We have time,” she argued. “There’s enough light left, and it’s only a couple of blocks off the road.”

Well now I had a dilemma: the prettiest girl in school just dared its lowest life form to do something totally out of the norm.

I wrestled with the thought of not going, and not only pinned it down, I shoved it through the ring floor.

What’s a lower life form to do?

 

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

It sat on the top of a gently sloped hill, the path secluded by lush, expansive, mature trees leading to the black wrought iron gate with a lock busted long ago by unseen vandals.

What we were doing here was stupid, to say the least; we had no idea if the place was still being used by squatters or even criminals that were still staying there.

I didn’t want Mel getting hurt, but if anyone was in there that meant us harm, it was likely they’d get away with it. No one would think we’d been dumb enough to come here, and it would take them awhile to find us.

I made a last-ditch effort.

“Hey Mel, it’s not like we could just ring the bell and take off for home. It’s pretty isolated out there.

“That’s what makes it fun.”

“Why can’t we do it on Halloween?”

“No one’s ever come here on Halloween.”

“Really? I’d think this would be a favorite ‘haunt.’ Why not?”

“I don’t know.” She shrugged. “Just never happened.”

The sun dropped, and though it still dappled the leaves the color of the light deepened from dark yellow to amber.

I looked down the road to see the light play on the intricate scroll work of the gate, and it seemed like ethereal fire burning on black coals.

From a low branch, a crow called.

Melanie and I jumped, the suddenness of it in the quiet scaring us; our sheepish grins betrayed us to each other, but disappeared when another answered in front of us, down the path closer to the gate.

We stopped, listening. Animals often gave warnings of danger, but we heard and saw nothing more.

As remote as the area was, there should have been more animal traffic, but it was getting dark.

The amber sunlight turned to persimmon.

“Let’s get this over with,” I said.

We started jogging.

My mind turned back to the crows. Sentinels?

We finally got to the gate, but then there was the driveway. From there we could see the house; dark blue shadows ascending from the bottom would slowly engulf it.

Melanie pushed the gate open without resistance. It squealed on its hinges, but that was to be expected. It sounded like a plaintive child whining for attention.

“Run, Mel.”

We ran.

“Remember,” she huffed, “just ring the bell.”

“Right.”

The house loomed close, from being in sight to being within reach.

I leapt the stairs onto the front porch while Mel watched from the bottom.

I pressed the bell, not even sure it was still working after all this time.

It rang. The sound was melodious, beautiful, and in the emptiness within I could hear its resonating echo.

“Awesome,” she said.

I turned to jump down the stairs, and found I couldn’t move.

“What-?”

“Come on.”

“I can’t.

“What?”

“I can’t move! Mel, I can’t move. Help me…” The rising panic in me threatened to overwhelm my thinking.

She started to move toward me, but found she couldn’t move either.

“Oh no…”

“Mel?”

“I’m stuck! Goddammit!” She looked up at the windows and screamed. “Let us go! Let us fucking go! Now!”

The door lock clicked, and the door swung open on silent hinges, in contrast to the squeaking gate.

The persimmon sunlight deepened to red.

An old woman with skin the color and texture of ancient, delicate parchment stood looking at us, her sunken eyes glittering dark, the red light like a small ember reflected in the tiny pupils.

Melanie stopped shouting, and only gaped as the woman’s eyes took her in.

An old man of equal antiquity, dressed in a black moth-eaten suit, came shuffling toward us holding a candle in a silver holder.

“Who is it, love?” His voice was a file on metal, but with timbre.

The seams and pockets on the lady’s face stretched horizontally, and I realized she was trying to smile.

Without turning her head, she answered him. “The new Caretakers.”

Her breath reeked of the grave, and I dry-retched.

The man filled the doorway, and the air went rank. “Come in, children.”

He looked down at Mel. “Come in.”

“All we wanted to do was ring the bell,” she said, her voice quavering as she started to cry.

I knew now why no one ventured here on Halloween.

The dull red sunlight turned black.

And it was night.

Slaughtering Sands

Across these golden, fiery sands,

singing wind with sculpting hands

scoops and furrows, digs and funnels

over bones and ancient tunnels.

 

In the evening heat I walk

while the desert vultures stalk

every step with raucous call,

waiting for my form to fall.

Mortal scythes in timeless clime

hop and flap and bide their time.

 

Mirages in the distance sway

‘Rest, and rot,’ they seem to say.

‘Sand is soft and warm and dry.

Rest  your burdens, rest and die.

Never will they find you here.

Those who search will disappear.’

 

‘Traveler, why are you here?

To bury love? To uproot fear?

Why walk into the burning sun

alone, afraid, the only one?’

 

‘Have you a reason? Mission? Goal?

Perhaps a precious gem you stole?’

 

As the evening came about,

I would never make it out.

Laying down to die, I write

letters to describe my plight.

 

Now my final grasp rescinds,

sending them by desert winds.

If someone should find me here,

should my words e’er reach an ear,

mark them down, and mark them well:

Deserts are an earthly hell.

 

In these sun-scoured, blighted lands,

challenge not the slaughtering sands.

Shadow Love

I see it standing there

at the

bottom

of my life

like a

snarling wolf

at the

base of a ladder

 

This amorphous shadow,

Shifting, shining stars

contained in

incorporeal limbs.

 

I remember when

they reached for me

and held me close,

One hand on my eyes,

the other on my throat

so I would not see it

was killing me,

as it sang

death’s lullaby

so sweetly

in my ear

so I couldn’t feel

my life ebbing.

 

But I grew too heavy

with sorrow

to carry,

and it set me down.

 

Gorged on my misery,

it could not pursue.

And when I returned

to the sunlight

it fled.

 

I remember it,

not fondly.

And these days,

not long.

 

But I can still

feel its eyes

boring into me,

And it waits,

black and coiled

round the cold scraps

of what it once prized.

 

Wanting me back

even as it moves on

to claim

new souls

to suck.

Fare Well

Farewell,

my love.

It seems I knew you not.

The sound of the closing door

was a whispered sob

that only served to

amplify the tearing of

separation.

 

Farewell,

my love.

It seems we both forgot.

The days of laughter and love,

at once torrid and tender.

Our words of fealty

and the promises in stone

eroding with time

and the day to day

decay of fantasy.

 

Farewell,

my love.

We gave it our best shot.

The letdown felt like chains

and the arguments were

thorns in the side

that never healed,

and mortal grace

was insufficient.

 

Farewell, my love.

We didn’t love a lot.

Our curses even now ring like

minor key bells

in my memory.

 

Farewell, my love.

In beauty there is rot.

And in the sun’s persimmon rays

we say farewell to better days

in the land of loving thought.

 

Fare well, my love.

 

Clear as Dark Glass

In the window

at dawn

you used the light

to wink at me.

I came to the window

to admire you

and assess what it would mean

to possess you.

And now inside,

I hold you,

and see that you are etched

with life’s hieroglyphs.

They are a riddle,

and you are a puzzle.

‘I know you,’ I say,

holding your dusky essence,

turning you in my hands.

I hold you up to the light

and look through dark glass,

seeing clearly where I would come to rest

in tortured love sublime.