The Witch-Mother’s Dress

My mother gathered her dress like a memory
Tattered and withered with age
Laid it’s caress in a pattern of symmetry
Lit up her censor with sage
Fear bothered at her like falling pinecones

She took her scissors to sever the fine lace nape
Eyes polished riverbed stones
Yes, by this dress would her firstborn escape
To the far north where every witch goes
When Salemites come sweeping another town

By the strange firelight, flurries alighted
To no avail, they kissed the gown
Tracing the rubies she sewed alongside of it
They pulled the thin fabric down
Cotton swayed about them like butterflies

So was the garment impressed by her vibrancy
Filled with the light of her eyes
Lovely the dress, the violence of it’s primacy
Born as a token of flight
She held it’s shining form to the window

Soft little cries drew her mind from the planned escape
She let the swaying cloth go
Her fingers spidered over the bone crib she’d made
Her child’s eyes wide and aglow
I cooed and babbled at her solemn frown

She took me up from the crib with a heavy sigh
Smiled at my murmuring sounds
Sang lullabies in the still autumn silence
To drown out the noise of the crowd
As the mob descended on her hollow

Animals quiet, the forest forewarning her
My little arm brushed her throat
My mother nodded, the sounds of the morning birds
Gone up in torchlight and smoke
She crossed the little room to the garment

She laid her child on the cloth and drew it about
Wrapping me up in her scent
Wide-eyed and mouth gaping, how close the crowd was now
Singing their hymn as they went
My mother opened the window to dawn

She took a last look as the little face of me
Curled when the curtains were drawn
Quivering lip, the witch took a moment to breathe
Ears crucified by their song
She let me go as the dress swayed and swelled

Framed by the sun, I remember my floating on
Carried by my mother’s spell
Up in the clouds with their furrows and trailings long
Wrapped in the sage’s sweet smell
Passing to the north’s dark and open arms

She watched me float on the breeze she’d arranged for me
Fingers caressing her charms
Now the crowd traipsed like a storm in the willow trees
Brimming with hatred and harm
At the front of them, a weeping handmaid

Some of the townsfolk put force to the doorknob
They screamed o’er the din the crowd made
“Come ye, and look on this widow, witch! Hear her cries
For you have stolen her babe”
The door hinges groaned and gave to their weight

Backed to the back wall, my mother grinned viciously
Tasting the spice of their hate
As they pulled her to the light, she sang blissfully
“I’m afraid you’re all too late!”
The handmaid that birthed me choked on her cry

Then was my mother’s neck looped by a heavy rope
She screamed with mirth as she died
They say she lasted an hour before she croaked
Smiling until her last sigh
And she twitched for days after she was gone

Ah, but the witch will not rot in her earthen tomb
For she lives on in her spawn
Though I was born of the handmaiden’s womb
In truth, it’s the witch who lives on
I drown in fever to finish her work

Author’s Note- This poem constitutes yet another less-than satisfactory attempt to create a good story through a highly structured poem form with a dense rhyme scheme and strict adherence to syllable count per line. I’m posting it because a) it has a few lines I really like and I think the story is pretty interesting, and b), so I can look back and see how my narrative poetry progressed. I’ve had more luck recently with freeverse, so I’ll get back to posting some of that soon. 🙂

How Joy Is

Hey beauty rising, hey pretty day
This is what I wished for as I passed the night awake
Hope the lord to guide me on my way

Bright on the dashboard, cold in the shade
Amber leaf impressions in the day the lord has made
Drifting on the paths that he has laid

Oh the pretty opus, full of life and mirth
Watch the winding trees create an ode to pearly earth
And joy is even present in the dirt

We be things rewritten, we be wheeling song
Father, guide my harmonies and help my chords resolve
And help me when the interludes are long

Amber leaf impression, fall like casted crown
Father, help me see the cloud-shapes hanging when I’m down
And help me keep the joy that I have found

The Lion Approaches

The Lion approaches me, swimming the sea
Bobbing his maw on the top of the waves
to cut up my brain
to dance his gold body through the dark in me
and force me to breathe

Watch me silently
i look out at the sea churning violently
Propped up and lifeless
Limp-lunged and looking to sand for a hyacinth
where bright violet vibrant will never be seen

The Lion’s back brightens the horizon line
fighting the tide while his breath stays calm
i trace my own palm
and wish for my breath to obscure my whine
and make me alright

Hopeless and dry
My dead eyes alight on the faraway Lion
Rhythmic and lithe
Tracing the shore for a mind to unwind
i sit on the dark bank and watch him in silence

He lays his pads on the jagged rock face
Strides on the bank that my body has sank in
i see myself then
A hollow, all cold air, my body erased
And lo, he is tracing

He brightens the place
and i can feel color come back to my face
and breath stutter in
It carves out a path in trespasses and sins
He moves himself, turns to my heart with his gaze

In shining bright highland, the lion aligns me
Washed in the tide, he steps in my head
His form touches every fold as it spreads
And finally, i can feel my thinking breathe

i can move my lips to say what i mean
and all at once, that being is gone from the shore
The force of his body contorts me no more
but the Lion has raised me and left me pristine

Persephone’s Mistake

Raze, raze, twisting blaze
Make my devil not to want
Make my language hard and blunt

Oh, a wilder moorland hunt
Look, a rushing pseudo-child
I put to death the rabbit mild

Screaming in the underbrush
Undergrowth be bit to dust
As I walk the planet’s crust

Keep me tangled if you must
Fetter me in hocks of meat
‘til Hades puts me to sleep

Persephone to gently weep
Over her embittered sea
Washed in dark tranquility

She extends a hand to me
Slender fingers pale and bright
She fills up my head with light

And resurrects my open mind
So that the prophecy is true
So that the day we surely rue

Is closer, in that underbrush
And so, to root it out I must
Be strong of will and dead to trust

The Ballerina God

A window to the city streets
She reached into the cold and dark
She drenched her slender arms in snow

Her diamond eyes shined, apropos
Of hunger calculating, stark
The dancer calmed her body heat

A perfect pirouette en pointe
A sylphid sliver of the air
She borrowed from the undine sky

To calm her nerves and make them writhe
She let the snow float on her stare
To hide the pain of tired joints

And lo, the dancer raised her arms
She turned her face toward the dark
That loomed before the window bright

And in the olden house, her sight
Became some proscenium arch
And in the middle, there was god

It was made of dancer’s legs
A body cut of gentle forms
It danced inside the little void

She wound her body like a toy
Her silhouette limp and forlorn
Her pirouette the way she begged

She took a breath and started in
And made a tightened arabesque
Her ribcage purpled, striped and bruised

Her god at perfect form amused
Her god could drown her like the rest
But she would show it perfection

Adrenaline high heaved and died
Aching sigh moved black and blue
Body strained, contorted, dead

But the dancer moved her head
She pivoted to tight tendu
And tucked her tired heel inside

The child that it had birthed within
Brushed up against her manic beating
Heart and suckled from her veins

She smiled against the aching strain
She laughed so small, so feebly
And roared as she felt strong again

Her tendons, oh, they stretched and swayed
They dragged across her empty veins
Her muscles weakened at the seams

Her head about her like a dream
And when she put her foot to stage
Her vibrant skin broke, parted ways

Her face was open, bright and red
Her eyes the vibrant lights defined
Her swinging hair along her nape

The groping child to satiate
Inside her breast of purpled lines
Until she could not raise her head

But god descended on her form
It’s power in her empty space
And knit her crumbling body tight

So that the spotlight seemed to light
A grand adage, a triumph raised
She laughed and bowed into the void

I Will Make Herself Reverse

She is so immaculate
Dying body, brain is spent
I cannot see any way
To face a day without her face

Manacles made up of tubes
The shades of blue, the flowers bloom
Ivy drip is trailing over
Vibrant bruises, open clovers

I will make herself reverse
Make her veins to wires
Crackle-hum is haunting her
Light lines line desire

Make to sense the abhorrent
Call to Christ, abandon him
Place a pressure, lay her out
Quilt her bits of flesh about

Posthumous her body,
Segregate make hastes,
Pull the rush apart to see
The way her pleases taste

She is conscious, I’m alright
She is breathing, I can fly
She’s together, I’m okay
Tiny step from full decay

Her eyes will never falter
And her brain will never float
Wheeling hospice bed an altar
Oh my love, you’re my last hope

Sinew in Wind

White-tail rambler, take flight
Soaring in the shadows
Brush stroke pattern on your hide
Shaking as the wind blows

Nose wide, scents upon your mind
Ears a-twitch with buzzing
Panic, creeping like the flies
Bright spots grey and fuzzy

Slow thing, terrible and tight
Trace the forest sprawling
White-tail, what is at your side?
Dusk eyes see him crawling

Leap in quiet, somber dawn
Gold-scape glazing sweetly
Predator has jumped the fawn,
Marked her back for eating

Run, you sinew drifter, run!
Free as falling feathers
Chase the antlers to the sun
Prance the field untethered

Sparrow

She composed her life where
she could only lie there
counting on the cold air
to cobweb her resolve.

She produced a bird sound
pulling at her night gown
dripping on the warm down
her bloody siren’s call.

I handwashed in cold soap
watching pinkish suds go
overwriting striped holes
a palate soft as silk.

Her young eyes were bright white
lightning veins and lids tight
face uncut by smile lines
and pale as mother’s milk.

Nights of pacing, breath spent
oh her little teeth went
nails impaling, harsh bit
to draw my eyes away.

Oh my sparrow, I’d sigh
why do I even try
hydrogen peroxide
baptized forearms swayed.

I am sorry, sparrow
winter trapped us in snow
winter kept the coals cold

You were already gone.

you were already gone

The Ape is Quicker than Man

The ape is quicker than man and sure-footed.

Pattern-feet in basins of land and washed in soot,

And his feet do hold on the sand and don’t fold,

At the ankle brushed with rivers of fur, for the cold.

The belly of the orient’s sovereign is quite filled

With the skin of ripe fruits and little creatures he’s killed.

And the turn of his brain is a mysterious thing,

As he wades in snow oceans on the footprinted plain.

Waiting patient for the passing of slink-shape things,

The ape is witness to daydreams of glorious wings.

And his envy has grown to the roots of his home

For the birds in command of a different throne.

He stands on his hands with a struck-stone blade,

Swayed swift to the violence he was keeping at bay.

And he hefts the great point to the sky with his might

And engages the vibrant sky thing in a fight, and-

The bird’s cleaved down the chest by the heave,

And it crashes out past where the ape can see

In the bleach-place, white like bones is the scorched face,

Miles-long craters where the water once laid.

The old ape pauses there, sways on his hands

On the precipice of stepping on the sand of the dead lands.

The cracked earth glows white in the sunlight,

And sweat beads down into pools in the ape’s eyes.

The ape takes another step in the rock shapes,

his foot-flesh spreads on the face of the landscape.

He has travelled some infinite lands

Grunting echoing calls of his kingly commands.

But something else is creeping in the view of his mind’s eye,

Panic spreading fast as he wanders in the hot-dry.

Some siren-call sings in his head,

And draws him to the shallow-cut path of the riverbed.

Over miles every muscle will quiver,

But still he will cling to the path of the river and

Two days, in the night and the sun,

The ape won’t walk but for some strange compulsion.

The river sides grow to a cavernous height,

Weak plant-things withered by the blight of the sunlight.

Some strange cold visions and illusory things

He sees the desert path washed by a false rain.

The ape, struck dumb, keeps his parched mouth hung

To capture the drops of the mind on his cracked tongue.

But after waterless miles of sick shivering,

And seeing false hope mirage pool shapes glimmering,

He sinks to the ground with a short croak.

And closes his eyes with the loss of his last hope.

But that compulsion, that pull he can’t see,

Once again brings him up, fatigued, to his knees.

A great vegetable lays before the ape lord,

With his last strength, he desperately rips at the gourd.

Green juice cascades on his face,

And catches in the thick black fur that it traces.

He drinks heavily, and eats of the gourd meat

And soon he is flooded with the strength to stand on his feet.

Looking ‘round, in the cavern he’s found

There’s a glittering color patch there on the ground.

Still weak, with a hunk of gourd meat,

He stumbles up and prods the cold thing with his feet.

There it lies, in the heat as it dries,

The bird in the cracked pool of blood it has died in.

And the life of it’s eyes is a vapor-shape

Going on the clouds in a final escape.

Something there that wasn’t is moved greatly,

Some change in the ape’s brain chemistry.

Death’s arm grabs the only live being he can find

To grant understanding to the depths of his mind.

The ape pushes up with his back to the wall,

As a glittering movement of smoke goes crawling.

And a cracked-dry corn husk skin thing,

Appears, prostrate, with the sound of a bell’s ring.

The great being, draped in a blood-red cape,

Is as tall as a twenty-high tower of apes.

The husk-corpse looks up with its hollow eyes,

In the center of its forehead a great, dark ruby shines.

The wind draws to its cavernous throat,

To speak from its void the old words it invokes.

“Ye childe of the wilderness, bound

In the Id’s dark clutches and the path you have found.

I am the figure of humanity’s death,

And the boil of sheol doth turn in my breast.

There are no souls left here to feed me,

No ghosts in the plains walk, far as I see.

Lo, my body, and shriveled up skin,

My teeth and my lips hunger endlessly for them.

I, a shadow creeping, am trapped in the rock bowl,

Shaking for the long-lost flesh of a human soul.

The tenderness of it doth cause my wretched mouth to drip

And blubber for the spiritous texture as it slips in.

I have grown tired of the pain that I feel,

And the hate that congeals in my want for a lost meal.”

Death pushes himself from the dirt

And the voids of his eyes glow with power, inert.

His form quivers as he raises on his thin bones,

The red cloak falling o’er his body as he moans.

The ape breathes heavy and deep, but is silent,

Kept in his place by the power of the giant.

His fuzzy head tips back into the wall,

As the flooding of consciousness begins from the husk maw.

“I am spent as the vessel of death,

And I will give you a power with my final breath.

You will roam through the lands of the others

To devour the nectar-tasting souls of your brothers.

I will give you the power of thought,

To be cunning, to know of the death you have wrought.”

And the ape is flooded with the thinking of a man

And beyond, he is brought to his knees on the cold sand.

The giant raises his hands to the light

And the shining of the ruby shifts strait to the ape’s eyes.

The new death’s black forehead is split,

And from out of it’s depths, another stone pierces it.

Another ruby, as deep as a blood pool,

Draws the stale air from the corners of the room.

Death falls to the ground in a pile,

And the haggard old leather lips hint at a smile.

“I am released from the power I have wielded.

You, now, determine to curse or to heal.”

And he fades with a flash, to the winds of the earth.

And the ape is left panting, the ruby’s wound hurting.

The old wanderer, silverback king

Goes walking from deadlands, dark ears ringing.

Something in the air is sweet, calling him towards

Another body dying in the distance of the world,

A soul to take away, to claim, devour to the astral plain.

The great expanse lies open, and the ape is gone again.

I Float in the Midst, The Archangel Guideth Me

Christmas’s calm places, captured and pasted
on shop posters, post-haste, did properly satiate
Shop-goers browsing the show-stopping light spaces,
making the rounds in the blown snowy day.

Marking the minutes in God-holding minuets
made us the Maker’s fine marionettes, we did
wonder on sheepherders wandering wistfully,
wishing on stars to the Christ Child’s hay bed.

Knit scarves a-blowing and carving their places in space
as the leaves did wheel down like His grace,
And the cherry-faced babies so chapped by the cold
but in wonder of all in the star-studded place!

Reeling with wonderstruck, caught in the merriment,
silver bells rolling in the songs gone afloat
And the people did crowd in their bits of laced crimson,
gowns green and hats chestnut like photos of old.

Sweet, calm and sepia tones of nostalgia
for times I was absent from swept in the coals.
Heard the heat popping chestnuts and swung the cast iron
right quick from the flames, whitehot flurries did go,
Cascading radiant shines on the table
like rose petals molten, the red forms did glow!

Flurries went raining and rustled like paper.
The parcels, department-store courtesy bound,
in a neat bow of wax twine and rag timing wood cuts
crisp-printed, we kept the best ones that we found.
Eve of the loving day, sunlight did fade away,
giving its space to the stars and the moon.

I put out my head to the cold for a smoke, shivered cold,
for the sill was all frozen and smooth.
Aye, gentle wind of the night, and the smoke of the pipe
 did go billowing up ‘round the eaves.
I was caught in the moment, by way of my watching,
the black-clad old figure downstairs as she grieved.

Sharply, the shiver did wash o’er my body,
from cold and epiphany, wonderless strife.
So easily did I forget the great season
and fade to the trappings of treacherous life.
I felt the urge pull at me, beg me to drift,
and I took up my coat and my hat to oblige

As I walked down the stairway I scratched at the ruts in the banister,
chipping the paint at the sides.
I heeded the look from the landlord who sat
in his proud little wicker seat, leaned on the brick,
and was cognizant suddenly that waves of depression
were rising and bubbling and making me sick.

I walked past the district and out to the darkness beyond,
to the slum yards and poor children’s calm.
Visage greeted me, rough sleeping beggar with busted-up face,
wrapped in wool, and a cross in his palm.

Wispy and woven in star-shining tapestries,
smoke of my lips was a black drifting dancer-shape,
crawling in wind like a lecherous plague rat
o’er floor of the alleys and up ‘round the fire escapes.

An alley just off from the road did I lay in,
and choose as my forum to rant on atrocities,
Belly was screaming and aches not receding,
I laid down my head, weeping, gnashing my teeth.

And I gazed at the moonlight that burned in my eyes,
on the floor of the cobblestones, scales of leviathans,
Tossing my haggard speech out to the heavens,
reliving the room that my mother had died in.

I closed my eyes, fading, to sleep of the angels,
I whispered my prayers to the Lord as I went,
and I slipped away gently to sleep on the floor
of that place, tired heart, and my energy spent.

I was greeted with visions which blazed of the Father,
who went to my form in the shape of a man,
and he bid me to follow him out to the wildlands abandoned,
to see where the white winter ran.

By the cold of a creek, he did show me the whole of the world,
cast my mind out, away and beyond,
to the peoples set weeping in wake of atrocities,
and others who gazed at the graves of those gone.
And the children, the lanky and running in fields
in the sunlight, the joy of the rich and the poor.

God-sent celebrations and joyous occasions,
the reading of bibles in house-church and moor.
I saw the harsh battery brought, and the tragedy
cut with the smiles of the saints and their ways.

And I saw the twin places I kept in society,
of terrible evil beset with his grace.
I awoke and went walking, the sun giving light to my step,
and the people shined, joyous and kind.
And I saw that the blatant and malice of evil
was purged from the hearts that his highness would find!