Plunder

Into my life you came,

bold against the rising sun,

your wind-tossed locks alluring,

your bright, bold eyes searing.

 

And I opened my chest to give you the contents

of its heart, and at first you treasured them.

The glorious days of sailing with you

were warm and secure, with clear skies and

wide horizons.

 

But in time, you craved not the warmth of my heart,

preferring the cold hardness of gems and coins.

Not the stable strength of my arms,

but the fickle roll of riches.

 

Turning yourself to seawater,

you slipped from my grasp

and left me no choice, set me adrift

with no anchor, no oar.

 

Under the stars my heart withered.

The sun-kissed days grew dank with brine,

and the raucous racket of overbold gulls

pursued my foundering lifeboat.

 

I dreamed that in a reef of nascent coral

I put the seawater to my lips as if to kiss you

once more,

but therein lied a fatal thirst,

and under a high tide moon,

I spilled it and left it behind.

 

What remains ahead is unknown, uncharted,

yet with a sense of direction and purpose,

of longing fulfilled, a calling realized.

As the gull calls fade, the windsong rises.

 

And I know that in the distance,

a paradise awaits my arrival.

I shield my eyes from the sunlight

dappling the dancing waves,

and sail on to fate’s warm hearth,

alone

but finally

free.

Where Will You Take Me?

Where will you take me?

“Where would you go?”

Up to the sky to play

in the moon’s glow.

Out past the night clouds

to juggle the stars.

There’d be no limits,

no chains, and no bars.

“Where will you take me?”

Where would you go?

“Down to the ocean floor

so far below,

stirring the sandy mud,

skimming the stones.

Passing by treasure,

and shipwrecks, and bones.”

“Come, let us go now.

First here, and then there.

Deep on a sea voyage

high in the air.”

 

 

Sailing in the Misty Air

 

When drifting down these darkened banks

I see a million stars that draw

My wondering stare.

I find my thoughts

shine like the moon

on you,

your shadow walking

through the misty air.

 

I don’t know if you wait

or if you’re gone.

I only hope your smile

will greet me there.

But if you’re not,

I’ll grieve as life goes on,

and find my thoughts

turn into misty air.

 

I hear the gurgling crackle

of the waves.

The current’s hand

both pulls and pushes there.

The gentle wind does

stir the current so.

The fog starts waltzing

with the misty air.

 

I wonder if I’ll ever make it back

to kiss your lips,

and touch the raven hair

that tickles at my neck and chest

as care dissolves to love

upon the misty air.

 

Of Muirgen, Lost at Sea

And now she wanders ‘neath the waves,

her raven hair pulled tight,

dark eyes upon the ocean floor.

She walks it through the night.

The ship she rode was shattered

on a rocky coral shore,

And now poor Muirgen, lost at sea,

will ride the waves no more.

Loved lass she was, and passing fair,

the sailors all did say.

No favor gave she when they’d stare;

she sent them on their way.

A new start was her final wish.

The village grew too small,

and passage bought with man and fish,

they sailed into a squall.

The vessel fought it bravely,

but the waves kept rising higher,

and cracked the mast and broke the deck,

and lightning started fire.

And there was Muirgen, lost at sea,

to bear a bitter fate.

She never would see land again,

but had no one to wait

at home upon the seaside shore

to grieve her soul’s demise,

no family or caretaker.

For Muirgen, no one cries.

They say that you can see her

when the moon and stars are nigh,

serene beneath the rolling surf,

the southern wind her sigh.

We sing of Muirgen, lost at sea,

the world no more to roam.

The current of her passing soul

will guide us safely home.

The current of her passing soul

will guide us

safely

home.

 

As I Sat Looking at the Sea

As I sat looking at the sea,

The sea was looking back at me.

“Tell me, O man,” it seemed to say,

“Where would you like to go today?”

 

“I’d like to be inside a shell,

a full sail rising in a swell,

a shark fin slicing through a wave,

a sea-snake lurking in a cave!”

 

The sea then laughed

“That’s quite a list!”

and clothed me

with a kissing mist,

 

And plucked me from

the sitting rock,

and took me

from the safety dock,

 

And gave me

all I did desire

of fish, and fowl

and ocean fire

 

And showed me wonders

floating by

not seen before with

Human eye.

 

“Reach out,” it said,

“and touch and feel

the shimmering coral,

the shocking eel,

 

the slick grey dolphin

playing there,

the breaching whale

that tastes the air,

 

“And in the darkness

of my floor

are creatures

best not counted for…”

And as the sun set,

then the sea

released its hold,

and set me free.

 

And sprayed my cheek,

and went its way.

So I remember

to this day

 

When I sat looking

at the Sea,

and in its depths,

discovered

Me.

 

 

 

Uncharted

We sailed

on a serene

silver river

to a

place

 

unknown,

unnamed,

unpopulated

 

uncharted

 

To discover

what we would

about the new world

we would claim

our own

 

and when

we skimmed

through the

billowing cloudbank

 

we were

suddenly

drifting apart

in

separate vessels

going

opposite ways

 

unmindful

unhappy

unneeded

 

unloved.

 

 

Anchors Away

See the sun set on our longing

to invade a distant shore.

See the dimming of desire

to go sailing off to war.

 

Harbored safely and securely,

anchors lowered close to town,

we will speak no more of killing,

and with families settle down.

 

Though the noble masts jut proudly

in the darkened twilight sky,

Hear the cannon’s silence softly

Sing a sailor’s lullaby

 

See the sails tied to the rigging?

They’ll no longer catch the breeze.

And there’s no more pipe and jigging

On the rolling, dancing seas

 

And the whales will give birth again

to calves beneath the moon,

fearing nothing from the surface

be it net or sharp harpoon.

 

And the lighthouse keepers

get to leave their cold and noisy

towers,

for there’ll be no more ships coming

in the darkest morning hours.

 

And violent storms that claimed

the lives of those who’ve gone before

will have no plunder for their crimes

that leave this happy shore.

 

So weep no more, my lovely bride

The tide is standing still.

And I’ll face the sunset with you

Til it sinks beneath the hill.

 

 

Flowers in Her Hair

She always loved to wear them

around her raven curls.

I said “That’s too flamboyant;

you’re not like other girls.”

She smiled and said “I like them,

and know you like them too.”

I said “I do. And flowers

look beautiful on you.”

And on the ship she traveled,

that sank into the sea,

the flowers that adorned her

came floating back to me.

She always loved to wear them

around her raven curls.

And now I’ve no desire

for any other girls,

for love had crossed an ocean,

perilous, dark and deep.

And now I see her flowers

bloom only in my sleep.

I see them multicolored

around her raven curls.

She calls on me to save her

as the deep water swirls.

And no, I cannot save her.

But even so I try

before the deep blue claims her.

Before she sinks to die.

She takes the wreath of flowers,

entangled in a curl.

She hands them to me, smiling,

As ocean winds a-twirl.

She always loved to wear them.

I still remember when.

And when I live no longer,

I’ll crown her once again.

She always loved to wear them.

I’ll keep them here until

we walk the sky together.

And she will wear them still.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reiko and the White Wolf

It was raining hard when Ko’s father helped put her straw hat on, and told her they were going fishing.

Ko looked for her mother, but she was cloaked in shadows, cooking something tangy that made Ko’s mouth water, and her stomach growl.

“It’s raining, Father.”

“Yes, I know, but Mother needs fish, and they come to the surface for fresh water when it rains. We’ll catch them quickly, and return. You’re so good at catching them, we’ll be back in no time at all.”

His words of praise warmed Ko to the task, and she eagerly followed him down to where their fishing boat was tied on the aging, rickety pier. Ko used to think it would be fun to fall in, but with the rain and wind, and the high waves out in the harbor, she hoped the planks would hold her and Father’s weight.

It was hard to see with the rain blowing in almost sideways, but Ko was determined, and driven by hunger, to see this through, and have more warm words of love from him.

As they walked, a faint roll of thunder rumbled in the distance, and Ko took her father’s hand. He held it, and smiled down at her, and she took comfort in that.

He would keep her safe.

When they arrived at the harbor, a boat was docked beside theirs, bigger, darker and foreboding, and a man in a wide straw hat with tassels stood on the deck, watching their approach.

Ko slowed down, and her father did too, but then he said, “It’s all right, Ko.”

She relaxed, but didn’t let go of his hand, part of her still wary; the boat was a ferry, and it was unusual that it was such a remote part of the river. This was a land of small farms and local fishermen, and everyone knew everyone, and their business, and their children.

The man on the deck didn’t seem affected by the rain at all, and except for a narrowing of his eyes when they got close, he hardly seemed to acknowledge them.

Her father let go of her hand, and a little thrill of fear and anxiety went through her.

He spoke quickly to the man on the deck, and then their hands touched, so quickly that Ko wasn’t even sure it had happened.

Turning around, he looked at Ko, and beckoned her to come closer.

She went, not knowing what else to do, but felt the sting of tears behind her eyes, and dread in her spirit.

“Are we using this boat to fish, Father?”

“No, Ko. I must fish alone, and you must go with this man.”

He reached for her to bring her by the hand, but she backed away, staring at him, incredulous, and her solid grounding in him turned to soaked mud.

“I will not. I will not!” Ko was turning to run, when she saw the man thrust out his right hand toward her, fingers spread, and it was as if she’d grown roots.

“Father, help me! Why are you letting him…? I can’t move! I can’t move!”

“I’m sorry, Ko. I can’t undo the bargain I struck with him.”

“Bargain? A bargain? I’m to be sold, like some market piglet?!”

The man on the deck called out: “The winds and waves rise, ‘father.’ Is she coming with us, or do we return for you?”

She saw him flinch when the man mocked him.

A realization cold as the river rain settled over her.

“Mother’s pregnant, and you can’t afford me.”

Her father began to cry. “I’m sorry, Ko, so very sorry.”

Ko walked toward the boat, and stopped beside him, but he couldn’t look at her.

She leaned as if to kiss his cheek, and spit in his face; he felt it dribble along with the raindrops that mingled with his tears.

“‘Father,’” she used the same mocking inflection, “I haven’t begun to  make you sorry.”

 

Overmorrow (2)

2:

On my walk around the grounds, I met the sexton, who only nodded in that grim way he always had, as if a perpetual crown of thorns in a black cloud burdened his brow.
I smiled, for all the good it did, and continued on.
Satisfied that no one else remained, I retired for the night, and drifting off to sleep by the light of a single candle, I dreamed I saw Xantara’s head taken, not by a demon, but by another Protector, unknown to me, a lad of strength and beauty, who’d captured her heart, only to murder her.
I felt myself tossing, but was unable to wake, when a vision from my youth emerged, as if from underwater, as if I was scrying, as an unclean oracle, or a foaming, raving prophet…

It was late, but the old librarian, the one with the tortoise-shaped head, who seemed as if, also like a tortoise, he would live forever, had taken a liking to me, confessing that I looked like the son he’d fathered on a young girl shortly before coming to the temple.
Given his age, on which I could only speculate, I had no idea how he’d know what an infant would look like in his young adulthood, but I didn’t press, and he didn’t elaborate, and it was of no great matter to me.
I had to study, and he made a pot of his special coffee, which was now thrumming in my veins, and sleep would not be forthcoming tonight.
Finding the compendium I needed, I opened it, perusing casually before I got to my subject; it seemed to contain the history of everything, written twice.
I was about to locate my subject, and turned the page, when an illuminated illustration caught my attention.
It was a picture of a young dark-haired girl, praying at night as she stood in her novice whites, in the middle of a stream, the moonlight bathing her from above, and the water from below.
Above her, in the star-strewn sky, she was circled by fierce, hideous demons, with gore filled grins, and straining jaws filled with rows of teeth made for rending flesh and snapping bone.
Their weapons were as sharp and gruesome as their assorted teeth and claws, dulled with ages of reaping hapless souls.
Grim as their visages and weaponry was, they seemed unable to break the barrier of prayer she’d erected about herself, and as I peered closer, admiring the depth of the detail and time the illustrator had taken, I saw that in their expressions there was something of a hallowed fear, and a dread anticipation…They were ensnared, about to die, and they knew it.
Fascinated, I proceeded to read the text:

These are the Protectors, weaponless watchmen standing guard between the realms of flesh and spirit, the divine and unclean, and the living and the dead.
The origins of their power are lost to time, but in their orisons, they are as lethal as any demon, the latter of which, oddly, gather to hear the prayers that ultimately destroy them.
No one has ever recorded the prayers for posterity, but the language is said to have a sibilant quality that renders it almost as whispered, and therefore as indecipherable as it is incomprehensible.
This compendium has no records of their gods or demons, their names, or when they became Protectors. Once our mutual fates were intertwined, as we relied on their protection, and they relied on us for sustenance; as such we were gradually beginning to understand each other.
They are seemingly by nature reclusive, shy, furtive to the point of sneakiness if their motives were evil.
In what few encounters we’ve engaged, they are affable, but loathe to get close. 

There is an unseen barrier, brilliant in its concealment, that we may not cross despite our best efforts, either by strength of sinew, or power of arrow.
In time, as men do when they are unable to solve mysteries, we decided the difficulty of pursuing any kind of relationship with them any further, possibly decimating the storehouses of our youth in future generations, was not worth the risk.
With the passing of years, since we could not get close, we became suspicious, and such allies as they had among us began to dwindle, and in the winter of their fiftieth year among us, we used our trade with them to gain access behind the shield, driving them out to seek and make their way some other place.
Our clerics, who’d witnessed their powers first hand in matters ceremonial, and it is rumored, in cases of demon attack and possession, advocated that we needed them, and would find ourselves at a disadvantage in their absence.
We did not listen, and when the demons tried again, they found our collective belly exposed.
If you are reading this, know that even now they are here, and my hand grows erratic as I hear the sound of their laughter mingling with the screams of the slaughtered.

And so I end, imploring that if it is at all possible, find them.
Find them soon.

Amid the din of screams and weapons smacking flesh, grunts of effort and groans of misery, pleas for mercy and cruel laughter denying it, my eyes flew open and I screamed.
My scream reverberated in my bedchamber, and something ripped my covers from me, and I scrambled backward to sit up.
At the foot of my bed, a deathly pale hand with short, sharp nails, pulled the covers to the floor, and low laughter, wrought through with ill intent, ascended through the floor.