I Carried Poem

I carried Poem within my hands

So soft and warm and trusting

I dropped it through a sewer grate

And now it’s wet and rusting

I carried Poem within my hands

And felt its small heart beating

A cold wind blew and though I tried

Death would allow no cheating

A Poem cannot be carried long

Its life is in the sharing

Of love and life and lyric song

And everybody caring

So if you ever carry Poem

Know that it must surely die

If you don’t make your heart its home

And write it down to let it fly.

Back Where I Started, but It’s All New

Blogging 101: Assignment 1  Introduce Yourself

I started writing late in life, after some things had happened, after some losses and victories, after some pain, after some memories were made. It’s been an interesting journey, and this is not where I saw myself in my younger days.

There are a lot of us who can probably say that, but it’s what you do with it when you realize it that matters.

That being said, I’m glad I’m here. I’ve learned some things about me on the way, things that I liked about myself, things I achieved that I didn’t think I was capable of, and I’m looking forward to what the future holds for me.

There have, of course, been setbacks, but I’m not the type to sit down and accept defeat. I guess I got that from my father, and watching him do his projects. He never took a short cut when it got difficult, and a shortcut was available. And the one time he was tempted to do it I was so surprised that he even told me he was thinking about it, he changed his mind, and we did it the right way.

But I knew then that he was slowing down…

So the characters and lands and stories are here; the young and old are here; the lovers and the warriors are here, the men and women, the children, the dragons, the demons, the magic (both dark and light) are all clamoring to get out while they can, and since I don’t believe in holding onto things or people against their will, I’m going to free as many as I can in the time that remains.

My goal, quite simply, is to write full time for the rest of my life, and leave a body of work that helps, entertains, provokes thought, and establishes across our man-made boundaries of insignificant trivialities (race, class, religion, etc) a common bond.

I want  my readers to be, in a word, immersed in the worlds of my imagination, and to come out better for the time they invested there.

It’s a lofty goal, but why aim low?

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

The Muse came into my office, looking like new pearls.

Guess that made me the swine.

She moved in close, her hands over my shoulders. I stood up, not wanting her to trap me. I had other things to do…she closed the distance again, standing a little away from me, but close enough to be distracting.

That perfume…like a new book at sunrise.

“But Alfred, don’t you understand” she said, her hand cool and soft on my cheek “it’s difficult to find an agent?”

I took her hand away, walked back across the office behind my desk, took out a pack of Luckies and a lighter.

“Yeah, I do. So let me ask you, doll,” I lit the cigarette, squinting at her curvy beauty through the unfurling, infernal smoke. … “When was it easy?”

 

Inner Cage

Inner cage  Outer rage

Kill the people Turn the page

Bleeding in an alleyway

Watching darkness hunt the day

 

We’re the only monsters here

Gods of violence, blood and fear

Rule blue heaven overhead

Die not with me when I’m dead

 

I am dead to faith and hope

Love is but a hanging rope

I’ll not dangle; Best beware

I will roast your heart so fair

 

Toss you like a broken knife

Dare you still to be my wife

 

Break inside the inner cage

Sail the sea of outward rage

Take me safely back to land

with your roughened, gentle hand

 

When your love has calmed the beast

Claim his heart your wedding feast

Ever fast and ever true

In the inner cage

with

you

 

 

© Alfred W. Smith Jr.  2015

 

When I Walk the Streets of Paris (for Annie)

When I walk the streets of Paris

you won’t be beside me,

but you will be there.

And I will converse with you in

a terrible French accent to make

you laugh

A yellow rose,

the kind you loved best,

I will leave at the top of

the Eiffel Tower

Another, tossed into the Seine

to float downriver like a wish

now come true,

A bright and beautiful bloom

in the crepuscular evening

I will take pictures where your memory

will fill the empty spaces.

Your smile unseen, but felt.

In the bistro, I will flirt

with the waitress and ask her

if ‘oo-la-la’ is really a thing,

(and ask her to say it, even if it’s not)

I will visit the Louvre

and admire the

incomprehensible paintings

with indecipherable meanings

In the outdoor café

I will order two cups

of coffee, and

leave yours untouched.

And on the last night,

standing on the balcony,

listening to the melancholy melody

of an accordion

below in the courtyard,

I will toast us with a glass of red wine,

Celebrating the fact that we finally got here

And now,

we’ll always have Paris.

Soyala and The King

Away from his castle, his grounds, his servants and councilors, the king, in plain riding clothes, unadorned with signs of royalty, rode a dappled gray mare down an unfamiliar path.

The path was pleasant enough, even and smooth, if a bit more gravel than dirt, surrounded by thick forest on both sides.

The treetops soughed under a gentle breeze, and random birdsong carried on it to the king’s ears. He would have enjoyed it more, had circumstances been different, and the one he lost was there to share it with him.

His countenance reflected the weight of his burden, and the frailty of his strength.

Through a small break in the trees, he saw a seemingly secluded alcove, serene looking, and full of stones to sit on while looking at sun speckled water of the quiet river running through it.

He thought he would rest there, to remember there was yet beauty left in the world, and to quiet his racing thoughts.

He tied the dappled mare, which blended in with the light shadows and the spots of sun that eluded the thick boughs and wide leaves to warm the ground below.

This forest is old, and yet, I’ve never seen this part before.

“Whose land is this?” he said to himself.

“It is yours, majesty, and mine, and the mare’s you ride.”

He whirled around, startled by the silent approach and sudden words of a woman who stood some distance away, too far, he thought, for him to be overheard.

Her gown, more suited for royal court than ancient forest, trailed behind her, her honey-gold hair bound in a matching green band, and her green eyes were bright and pretty, and for some reason he couldn’t fathom, a little disconcerting.

“I apologize for startling you, your majesty.” She bobbed a perfect curtsy. “I intruded on your private thoughts…and your grief. Would you like to be alone?”

He gazed at her longer than was polite before he said:

“Who are you, and how is it you’re here?”

“I am Soyala, and I live here.”

“In this place?”

“In the forest, yes.”

“Where are you from?”

“I’m from the forest, because I’m of it.”

His expression darkened.

“Are you mocking me, child? You’re speaking in riddles.”

“No, your majesty, I would not mock you. Riddles are to be solved, and there is no mystery here. I have answered you truthfully, but I’ve angered you.

“I will leave you. I would not have your sorrow vented on me for relief.”

She turned to go, and began to walk out of the natural alcove.

“Wait! Soyala…wait.”

She stopped, but did not look back.

“I’m…sorry, to have been so brusque with you.”

She faced him then, her own expression somber, but still open.

“I’m sorry for your loss, your majesty. Was she a good wife to you?”

About to answer her, he realized he never told her about his wife.

He didn’t know how this woman, having proclaimed to be of the forest itself, knew of his queen’s death, but he’d already asked enough questions, and wasn’t up for any more of her cryptic non-answers.

“Yes,” he replied, his voice growing husky. “She was a good wife indeed.”

“For that, you must be thankful, are you not?”

He turned from her and stared out at the slow moving river, speckled with sunlight, spotted like his dappled mare and the sunlit trees.

Time has no power here, and there is light and shadow everywhere.

“I was pleased, and happy. Yes, I am thankful.”

Soyala came and stood beside him as he watched the water.

“When the sun changes position,” she said, “so does the light, and so do the shadows. Often, we find ourselves in one longer than the other, but eventually, we pass through both for different reasons.”

She looked at him, and he bowed his head, unable for a moment to look at her, but feeling a strong, inexplicable connection; there was a quiet power about her, like the river, like the forest, a persistent force like the primeval trees surround them, seasoned and honed by things outside themselves, yet exerting their own influence on the shapers.

I am no ruler here.

The mare gave a soft whinny.

Soyala turned and smiled. “She grows restless, your majesty.”

She turned back to face him. “So does your heart. It is moving, even now, from grief’s shadows, into the light, but you’ve been reluctant to walk in it again.

“There is no dishonor, and there will be no forgetting.”

“How…how do you know this?” His voice thickened again; she’d broken a barrier within him he didn’t know was there.

She took his hand, and interlaced her fingers with his.

“Because light and shadow, your majesty, are merely timeless, but love…” she looked into his eyes, “love is eternal.”

“Love…is eternal,” he whispered back.

The mare whinnied low again, gave a small stamp of her foot.

“Come,” Soyala said. “I will escort you to the road, your majesty.”

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

“Young lady, I am somehow in your debt. I came here to mourn, but you lightened my burden, my heart.

“If you ever need anything…”

“I am grateful for your kind, generous offer, but all I need is here.”

“Then, farewell, Soyala.”

“Your majesty.” She bobbed another curtsy.

He walked the mare down the road a bit, and looked back to see her watching.

He raised his hand once more, and she raised hers, smiled, and slowly faded before his eyes.

He brought the mare to a stop.

As he wondered at her disappearance and the true nature of who he’d just met, he suddenly realized one other thing:

He never told her he was a king.