They Will Answer

In the flurried, frenzied madness

are the words that never come.

There’s a sorrowful, silent sadness

like a rain soaked, broken drum.

 

When your spirit’s badly broken,

when the mocking page stares back,

and you’re reaching, reaching, reaching

down a hole that’s cold and black,

 

When the thirst is quenched within you

and imagination dies,

And the fire’s banked inside you,

no one’s there to hear your cries.

 

Go and order a tequila.

Go and throw a ball or two,

and somewhere between the sun and moon,

the words return to you.

 

For they never really leave you.

You’re a writer, after all.

When you give them life and purpose

they will answer to your call.

 

In the frenzied, flurried madness,

they will answer to your call…

What Becomes of What Remains?

A clock ticks,

a ball drops,

and fires kisses the

lips of the sky

as lovers kiss on the sidewalk.

It is the hour of dreams

and hopes,

plans and purposes,

love… and its ending.

The rain comes now,

to wash the day’s revelry

away.

In the deluge I stand,

renewed, alive,

and oh-so-very-cold

from a longing, and absence

undefined.

The sand is warm,

the ocean pulls at it like

a child pulls its blankets up

when the monsters come.

What becomes of what remains?

I hold the warm sand,

but I can’t keep it from

slipping through

my fingers

like a fading dream.

What becomes of what remains?

The sliding sand

seeks its own

and leaves me powerless.

What becomes of what remains?

Of us?

Love is lost in the rubble,

engulfed by flames,

curling in on itself.

It will be reborn another day,

unknown to us, and if it tarries long enough,

unseen by us.

What becomes of what remains?

A history unlearned from,

a human sea of sadness,

or something far better,

and visible on the horizon?

How close can we come to it

without being burned?

What becomes of what remains?

We decide.

And we depart

And travel on

to find out

the answer.

 

 

Wisdom in Ruins

In all the rubble

are the books,

reflections of imagination,

containers of wisdom,

capsules of folly.

 

The silent dust drifts across them

as if selecting their choices.

 

Here, tales of emotions,

and beacons of reason.

 

Over there, breakthroughs

and heartbreak.

 

In the rubble of the halls,

discoveries and inventions,

science and faith.

 

And in the small fires that yet smolder,

the abandoned belief that

life is precious,

good wins out,

and

love

conquers all.

 

They are all covered now

with the dust and blood of

war upon war upon war,

silent as drowned river stones,

but still abiding,

seeds of spring

along the banks.

The Inelegant Demise of Parson Brown

 

For Yuletides untold, Lexi and I built our meadow snowman, and just as frequently, Parson Brown came by in his one- horse sleigh, bells a-jingle.

Lexi would roll her eyes and smile, and I braced for the question he’d been asking since music was first heard.

“Are you married?”

“No, Parson, but you can do the job when you’re in town,” I finally answered.

He stopped the sleigh, and positively ran across the meadow.

“What about now?”

Lexi and I exchanged a look, and she gave a slight nod.

I knocked the parson out, and we dismantled the snowman and built a new one around the parson.

It was more slender and taller than our last, but it would serve our purpose.

We took the sleigh into town, where the children were caroling in the early evening.

I stopped, and Lexi approached the children.

“Hey, kids. Would you do us a favor?”

They turned and smiled at the pretty lady standing among them.

“How’d you like to knock a snowman down?”

Their cheers echoed into the snowy pines.

“Where?” one brave lad stepped forward to ask.

“In the meadow, not too far from here. You should do it now, so you’ll be home by dark.

The lad looked to his group, and they all said yes.

“On your mark! Get set! GO!” Lexi shouted, and they took off pell-mell.

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

“Do you ever miss Parson Brown?” I asked her the following Christmas.

“Oddly enough, yes.”

We never did get married.

 

A Poor Reflection of a Star

This landlocked beacon longs for the sky,

imprisoned in its walls of stone and glass,

the filter like a soft manacle.

“This far, and no farther.”

The light strains against the bond,

but cannot break it,

and weeps.

Soft now, you are needed here.

Your purpose here is more immediate,

and meaningful.

You see, the stars can bring them here,

but cannot guide them into the harbor,

as you can.

You are bright enough. 

You go far enough.

They rely on you, and trust you

with their lives.

You are of no use to them in the sky

if the ship founders and breaks.

Be content to guide the ships of men,

that you may save the lives of men.

Go now, to your purpose

Fulfill it, and know that 

you are not a poor reflection 

of a star.

You are as

loved as any hearth fire,

for you

are the herald

of home.

 

*Photo by Joshua Hibbert / Unsplash

You’ve Made a Decision

As I approach,

I see

you

contemplating

me

with a small smile on your face,

as if

you’ve made a decision about me,

reached a conclusion about

whether

we

can work together.

I find your

concentrated gaze

thrillingly disturbing.

Maybe you’re keeping

a secret

that rends us asunder,

that makes

you and me

null and void

instead of

man and woman.

But for now,

I’ll enjoy the beauty

of your eyes,

and the love that remains

behind your small smile,

while you

are silent.

The Lore-Binding

1:

Carabelle watched closely, her big brown eyes catching the amber highlights of the hearth fire, as her father put the sword he finished yesterday over yet another flame, an eldritch flame of a magic that could turn out to be good or evil. But where the hearth fire danced with fiery scarves the shades of autumn leaves, this Lorefire, circled in stone, had the shades of a deep winter night when the full moon turned a snowy forest to hues of silvery blue.

She was conflicted. Mother had made him promise never to share the ritual of Lore-binding with her.

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

“Too much could go wrong. They’ll turn her. They’ll take her, and she won’t be able to stop them. Then what would you do?

Promise me, Pim. Promise!”

He opened his mouth, but hesitated, tried again as she clutched his sleeve, her nails scoring his skin as her body arched slightly. She gasped twice, looking, her eyes hopeful, then widened in panic as she saw that he wouldn’t. She tried to hold on for one more breath but couldn’t. The promise remained unspoken, but Carabelle, standing just outside the door, heard her mother’s plea.

Pim, after a moment or two passed, suddenly turned into a blubbering heap; all Carabelle could do was go inside the cold room, hold him in her small arms, and cry with him.

When she finally looked up, her mother’s eyes were still open, still staring, still waiting…

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

“The secret to Lore-binding, Carabelle, is a strong funnel. The spirits are contained behind all sorts of things that separate our worlds, and a Binder needs to be careful. They crave to interact with humans, reclaim that which they left behind.

“In the space between realms, if they escape the funnel there’s no telling what they’ll do.

“Some even dream of conquest.”

“Mom told you to promise never to show me this.”

“I know, and I wanted to, but I couldn’t because the times are too perilous. But you’re of an age now, and we had no son that I could pass this down to as a legacy.” He stopped for a second, the sword balanced across his hands, his eyes locked onto hers.

“Carabelle, are you afraid? If so, leave now, and we’ll never attempt it again. I’ll never speak of it again with you, and I’ll find an apprentice.”

Carabelle was tempted, every cautionary instinct shouting, but she finally shook her head. “I’m not afraid, Father.”

Pim nodded. “Good. Bring the funnel.”

It took both hands, slow steps, and great caution, but Carabelle guided the funnel safely into position, encircling the fire, snug against the perimeter stones. Pim nodded approvingly, and she felt a warm glow of satisfaction, tinged with guilt as it was.

“Now turn the hourglass. I have to close my eyes, sweetheart. Keep watch, and call me out of the trance immediately if something goes wrong. Don’t be afraid to wake me. Do you understand?”

Carabelle swallowed as she turned the hourglass, then looked at her father and nodded. “I understand.”

Pim nodded once. “Good girl.”

He sat on the floor, cross legged, and she did likewise next to him, watching in total fascination and not a little dread.

The blue flame popped and sizzled against the funnel glass, and he took a handful of it and encased the hourglass in it so it shared the boundaries, so it couldn’t be knocked over or broken by a sprite.

The flame around the hourglass intensified, grew brighter as if someone was lighting a blue-flamed torch from the inside.

Pim barely registered Carabelle drawing close to his side in fascinated fear, trembling, but she dared not look away.

The first of the spirits came through, blurred and amorphous. It was the color of old parchment, its misty hands casting about like a blind man lost in a strange place. Hovering between the funnel and blade, its empty eye sockets found her, and it smiled, but not in a pleasant way. Finally, it moved into the blade and was lost to sight.

Other spirits followed, their fogged features better defined though they all had no flesh.

There was a disturbance, somewhere out of sight; the blue light in the hourglass flared, and a rush of spirits followed, feeding themselves to the flame to avoid what was coming.

“Father…?”

Pim opened his eyes, saw the flame around the hourglass pulsing, and grew alarmed. “That’s not supposed to happen.”

Inside the funnel, the spirits were gone.

The face of Carabelle’s mother was floating inside now, spectral and fierce, and all the more terrible for the silent recrimination in her eyes.

Pim scrambled back as the glass began to crack.

The lives that will be forfeit now, husband, are on your head. Their blood is on your hands, charged to your immortal soul.

The glass shattered.

Carabelle screamed, drew herself up into a fetal position on the floor, and covered her face with her arms. She felt shards like pins in her sides and on her legs, and a couple of pieces into her bare forearms; there’d be cuts, but nothing life threatening.

A larger piece of the coated glass jetted across the floor and caught Pim in the throat, and his mouth worked fishlike as he tried to draw breath, his neck bathed in a red cascade of blood. Panicked, he only sliced his hands in a pointless attempt to remove it.

Incredulous at the suddenness of the mishap, kneeling as he weakened, he looked at the blue flame. His wife’s face dissolved, and roiling cloud of blue-white spirits poured themselves into the blade which was now turning blue, the runes appearing, but not the ones the Wizard Larin commissioned.

That’s not supposed to happen…

His eyes searched for his daughter, and the sight left to him froze him with dread and profound regret at not speaking the promise.

A single blood red spirit with a jet aura glided over to Carabelle, still cowering and shivering on the ground; it turned and gave a feral smile to Pim as he died, and the last thing he saw was the spirit descending into her.

That’s…not…