The Train of Seasons

The train of seasons goes express

when you get older.

You live through the day,

and maybe make a memory.

 

The leaves turn to snow,

the snow to buds,

the buds to blossoms,

the blossoms to leaves.

 

It is a slowly descending vortex at first,

but it speeds up as it funnels into a

narrowing, whirling free fall

the closer you get to

the end.

 

Its arrival is deceitful.

You think it is a rescuer,

but your grasping hand

is pried from the ledge

and

you

fall.

 

Your scream is a song.

Your death an exclamation point

on bad lyrics,

the notes of your life

a fading echo heard

from a distant hill.

Aven’s Forge and the Lore Binding

It was a sweltering summer night when Aven finished the sword.

The runes would be added later. The wizard Larin, who commissioned Aven’s work, would add the runes himself, for the sword was sacred.

Aven wondered about such things, but not overly much; he was a simple man with an honest trade, and believed he was better for not being too curious. People didn’t come to him for the crafting of arcane weapons, normally, but that was exactly why Larin wanted him: Aven was off the beaten path, and there were certainly those who might have been better at ornamentation, but that wasn’t what mattered.

Larin had made inquiries, and heard from the few who bought from him that Aven’s weapon work was true. He was, unbeknownst to himself, a well-kept secret among his customers. But Larin was a wizard, after all, and news unwelcome and otherwise filtered to him eventually.

He’d invited Aven to see the sacred ritual of Lore-binding, where the sword’s lore would be placed into it. The blacksmith had heard of such things, but didn’t necessarily believe them. He wondered how steel could contain magic properties. It seemed an impossibility, but again, such things were beyond him.

It was nagging him, though, how such things could be, so he accepted the invitation. Tomorrow night he’d deliver the sword to the wizard himself.

Sloshing a bucket of water over himself, washing away the sweaty soot and ashes, and tending the burns the sparks left (though they scarred anyway), he managed to get himself ready for bed.

In a beam of moonlight he lay on his bed and put his hands under his head, contemplating about magic swords until his mind grew tired and his body succumbed to the day’s labors.

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

There was a presence in the room, radiating a scent of decay.

Aven sat bolt upright to see a presence in his doorway, outlined by a soft red aura.

A nightmare…nothing more.

“You know that to be untrue, Aven. I’m right here, right now, and I can see you as clearly as I know you can see me.”

Aven’s senses were not dulled by sleep, and as much as it frightened him, he had to admit he was awake.

“You know what I’m looking for,” the presence said. “Go get it for me, and see once more that it’s ready for binding. If you hand me an unprepared weapon, the price you’ve set on it will be nothing compared to the one you’ll pay.”

Aven got up, and felt the pull of the spirit’s power sweep over him. He retched and fell to his knees as the spirit enclosed his flesh with a dark, cold magic. When the sickness had passed, he pushed himself up on his hands, and looked at the demon through puffy, bleary eyes.

“And what,” he said between coughs, “shall I tell Wizard Larin, spirit?”

The specter softly laughed, but said nothing in reply.

Aven, his will stripped from him as easily as sundered gossamer, got up, retrieved the sword, and came back with the blade dripping water across his hands. The demon forced him to his knees,  made him raise his hands, presenting the sword as to a rightful king.

The eldritch creature took the blade with the illusion of hands that were young, smooth, and had never shed blood, and inspected the blade with clear eyes that had never seen the corruption of mortal souls.

“You’ve done well, Aven. You may rise.”

Aven stood, his hands balled into impotent fists of defiance.

The spirit came close, looking deep into Aven’s eyes; he could no more look away than if the being had put his own eyes into the smith’s sockets.

“When this battle is done, Aven the Blacksmith will no longer be an obscure peasant tucked away in an unknown valley in the middle of nowhere; he will be a rich man beyond his wildest dreams, making weapons for the likes of high kings until his heart stops, and his name will be on the tongues of bards for centuries to come.

“Rest now, Aven, there will be no ceremony of Lore- binding for you to attend, but rather, the barely attended. funeral of a wizard who crossed me. You’ll know him by the coffin leaking his blood. We will be the only two that see his departure from this world.

“Farewell.”

The spirit faded, and as its power receded with it, setting Aven free, he wasn’t sure if his cry of anguish was from pain, sorrow, fear, or a swirling combination that made him piss himself as he passed out on the floor.

 

 

Deafening

They call the silence deafening, here in these winter hills. It is quite a profound and abject stillness.

The cold has even bid the night creatures to ban their hunts; there will be no prey, and the hunters themselves risk death. Better then, to go hungry and feast in the times of thaw, where the ice and snow become fresh water.

I pull my hood close to keep what fleeting warmth remains.

But in the starry darkness I wonder if it’s the silence that’s deafening, or the world deaf to the cries of my heart.

Am I just a child tugging on the hem of a guardian angel too tall to see me?

Do these snowy mountains hide me from celestial view?

Does the silence shroud me as it smothers the longing of my soul?

This silence, this wintry, bitter silence is far more active than being deaf.

It crushes.

It kills.

It’s indifference to me makes it all the colder.

Useless then, to go on.

Soon I too will lie under a blanket of snow, and become one with the silence.

Heart of Steel, Soul of Stone

The heart of the city

is made of steel.

Its soul is made of stone.

It gives no mercy, and has no pity.

It eats the unprotected innocent and spits out

runaways, junkies, whores, and thieves.

It gleams like a glass eye, but like a glass eye,

doesn’t see the harm it causes.

Some write upon its heart to make their presence known,

their absence felt.

The city makes it a crime, and begins its slow erosion

of the anguish of your screaming soul.

It will not remember your name.

It will not care.

It may pay you in cash,

or redeem you in blood.

The choice is yours,

but not really.

 

*Photo by Loes ten Den at Unsplash

Holding Out Hope

 

Here, a small bright blossom

that contains a wish,

a hope,

a fantasy,

a dream

you hold dear,

a love you crave,

a life you desire,

a treat you’ve been missing.

My gift to you,

My wish for you,

My prayer over you,

My love of you

is all contained

within this

small, fragile,

world,

soft and fragrant,

sweet and kind,

and forgiving

of the fact

that I plucked it

from the source of

its beauty, now fleeting,

because you

are worth the life

of a small, bright blossom,

lasting,

and far lovelier.

Take it.

Together

we will be,

fragile, mortal,

and fleetingly beautiful,

holding out hope for far more

as we get less

than we truly deserve.

Dreams in Flight

‘Follow,’ they told me.

“But it’s way up there! How am I supposed to follow it?”

“Move.”

“But it’s faster than me.”

“Overtake it. Capture it. Subdue it. Claim it.”

“But it’s…”

One by one, they fell silent.

One by one, they went away.

The dream flew onward, and higher,  and further out of reach.

I watched until it was out of sight.

The cold darkness engulfed me,

and the ticking of the clock

grew a little louder.

I sighed, and walked through the night after my dream.

“Surely, it will land soon.”

But I’m still walking,

and the sky is clear.

 

*Photo by Ian Espinosa / Unsplash

Tears Are Not Like Rain

They say, these poets and writers, that tears fall like rain.

Tears don’t do that.

The salt of suffering is not in raindrops.

They accentuate the sadness already in your soul.

They make the room more intimate, and proximity

to a pretty mouth a dangerous and exciting time.

But they are not tears.

Tears are born of the sea, of emotions set adrift,

of a loss of direction, like storm clouds

blotting out the stars.

Tears are quiet, glistening

in the persimmon light of the setting sun.

Creeping like translucent shadows to hide

in the corners of the lips of that pretty mouth.

Tears are a release, a breaking dam that floods

the plains of your reason,

that slakes the thirst and balms the wounds

of a broken heart.

Tears are not like rain, but they are a reflection

of the inner turmoil of the roiling sky,

washing away your resistance.

And like the storm,

whose sobs are bolts of lightning,

let the quiet, pelting hiss of hurt

pass over you, until the clouds break,

and the tears stop.

And the sun in your smile returns,

bringing a rainbow to bind

the pieces of you

back together.

Tears are not like rain.