Poseidon’s Wishes

Sailor flames in candle jars are echoes of the streaking stars

Anticipating journeys in the scarlet sunset’s wash

Loved and lost are luminaries for this meek departure from

A shoreline glazed in harpies tears and foaming silver broth

Fingers interlaced in prayer and eyes are wrinkle crushed

Whispered words a champagne bottle smashed against the hull

Inside, the air is revellers at new year’s midnight frenzy

And only in her shine less depths shall it succumb to lull

Overhead the night birds are a velvet shape against the moon

Creeping winds they tiptoe lightly on the crest of waves

“Send a sliver of my heart that once was occupied by love

To crushing depths so no one can lay flowers on its grave”

Pangs of guilt, remorse, regret are rocket debris out in space

A long train hitched to countless cars across the sleeping land

The guard he grips the shoreline lantern in his livid broken fist

And hails each journey in his silent weary stare that understands

“Onwards travellers, dear friends, until it is your time to stop

We seekers, we inquisitors, we beguiled and cynical alike

Only in the dreaming world and after the last breath we’re free

From this frail and flawed loose shell

the soul’s dead satellite

Fill your engines up with coal and set a pace that none can catch

Our spirits are a congregation, an elevation, jubilation

The flame of love, of hope, of faith is never truly lost at sea

It finds a way to wash ashore and be the torch of nations”

And as the waves take it away another lands with faintest glow

The embers in an engine cooling in the station’s daybreak gleam

The velvet shadows of the past are ashes in the chimney stack

Nothing burns as passion burns

Or sees what it has seen.

Erratics

Infant sun

The angry star

Eight minutes from our naked eyes

Calmed the feud

On land and sea

With winter for

A dynasty

Changing earth

Not one but two

Peppered with the tears of space

And seen from there

A cataract

An age of moments left

Intact

The biting frost

A tundra’s spite

Before recorded memories

The heart was slowed

But kept its beat

The angry star

Grew fierce with heat

In the endless black devoid of life?

This teeming turning island

Grown in violent instars

From the liquid and ferocious core

Had settled when the mountains

Ceased their cannon fire and demon’s breath

To diamond sheets and dusted sleet

And glaciers from shore to shore

Now adolescent

Infant sun

Making waves that start the thaw

In the shift

Of continents

The rocks became

Itinerant

Travellers

On shifting bergs

Erratics by their proper name

Settlers

Far afield

Out of place is

Their appeal

In the wilds where charts are incomplete

This hurly burly island

Grown from mass extinction

Where clues are layers in icy depths

The cryogenic travellers floating

In their eldritch dispossess

Mountains moved by spring’s release

Settled in their new address

Their homelands have been shaped anew

And they are all that’s left.

The Void

The darkness is not an unexplored place of lurking fears but a blank canvas of imagined horrors

It is a blanket or slightly splayed fingers to peer through at odd shapes in the night

Inside the corridors of the mind, a compendium of dread turns each page on a chilled draught

Reading sentence after sentence in a grinding metallic dirge infused with far off cries

The blackness reaches back to when the first light was a notion

Where instinct was the way around a bitumen back ocean

Where any spark of goodness was ferociously destroyed

Sentient and savage is the place we call

The void

The darkness is not a wasteland of scarred remains but a lush oasis of sights unseen

It is a chasm without a floor, a tower with no roof bellowing depths and dizzying heights

It is pitch tumescent immeasurable space yet can be held inside a dilated pupil

And is where man cut deep beneath the mountains to pockets of obsidian choke and muted waves

The blackness reaches back to when the eye was captured sound

Where textures of the umbra are the heart of an eclipse

Where carbon coated cauldrons cool ‘til all inside’s destroyed

Digested in the gut of time the place we call the void

The plumage of the Corvus

The pelt of lithe panthera

The melanistic snake that shines

As does the ink of cuttlefish

The legendary dog called Shuck

The obverse skin of hunting whales

The maw of caverns in the earth

A candle snuffed for darkest wish

Where not a blink of light’s deployed

The place we call the void

Subtleties

Call unto the never end and evermore shall be

Call unto the graven plates that chart death’s history

Rustled whispers through the void discerned by deep despair

They’re sea foam and the morning breeze infused with midnight’s air

Call unto the life before in frequencies outside

The shrill above the bass below and orbs between that fly

Breath that has a current’s charge it curdles on blue wings

Carried from the here to there by frost that melts in spring

Call unto the candle’s flare by those attuned to loss

Travelled over brittle wires that sometimes can be crossed

The bell, the lamp, the linking hands

The likeness in the voice

The eager skin raised up for them

A moment to rejoice

Call to those that left our realm

And passed beyond the gate

They turn to hear the earnest pleas

From grief’s initiates

Call to hints, a sideways glimpse

A thing they’re sure was there

The chill across the neck and spine

And eyes tight shut in prayer

Call to those still tied to us

By love that transcends pain

The fear subsides as warmth provides

Unmeasured joy

Again.

Hag Stone Heart

Whistle winds from western edges of a southbound storm

Biting into sea foam’s wrath ‘til snake holes have been formed

Magic eyes that spy the dawn through rocks that time ran through

Their bodies made from molten fire when life was almost new

This strangeness that is nature’s quirk where endless tides have swallowed

Chosen from a billion like them never to be hollow

Crystals shine and gemstones gleam but none are fashioned thus

By unseen hands with Mason skills that mystic folk entrust

But I am made of worn down bones and looser still my skin

Where vanity had once held court now there’s no sign of him

Eroded by the tides of news and time for no man waits

These tangible and proven laws take other paths than fate

This age when clouds are metaphors from blackest grey to white

A youthful bloom drank greedily as oceans would alight

From skies into the seas sent rushing through my hag stone heart

That yearned for love’s resplendent shine when all was just one spark

The eye of the beholder sees more than it is worth

A confluence of elements made deep inside the earth

Molten fire wrought into rock when all the warmth departs

A touching heat in every beat flows through my hag stone heart

The Black Sails of Aran House

I’m swallowed by the mouth of night and sit inside to be digested

A cavern filled with shipwrecked souls yet, strangely, I am rested

As above shall be below for seraphim and nephilim

I leave no footprints in my wake just the tapered tail of Djinn

Foreign fields have grown up fast around this sober judge

Presiding over rituals that score the canticles of hell

My eyes have left the physical yet look across their failing stretch

To nooks where sigils predicate the Devil’s reign and goodness quelled

This house of grinding wheels that dusts the ground to snowfall’s china white

Like tea that’s steeped and ages fleet and things that pique the hush of night

The summer’s clemency departs for autumn winds to muster strength

That turn the black sails of the mill with cold and taut malevolence

The house of Aran’s history is sworn by death in confidence

And bones laid out in saraband unbridled in their sideways dance

Here wings of ebony catch winds and chime the threshold’s witching bells

So superstitious proles can brew their lies for vicious tongues to tell

This house of terror’s umbra catches subtleties in moonlight’s flair

Wedded to the goddess cast from sylvan whorls and churning air

Longmarsh flats a battlefield whose dead became a solid ground

And in the pockets of the walls is where their final prayers are found

This house of grinding wheels that mills the bones for baking bread

Like flesh that creeps and lost lambs bleat and things that feed upon the dead

The grey that’s winter’s pallor and the rattle of a failing breath

The black sails in procession turn like carriage wheels transporting death

When you break your daily bread and break the fast inside your homes

Be sure it is not Aran’s fayre risen from the dust of murdered bones.

The Lantern of Blackscarrow

If the pages of the scriptures were lit and razed to ash

Then built into an effigy of death’s emphatic dread

The eyes would be distinguished, that of lunatic messiah

Despised by guards and overlords yet secretly desired

Its robes made out loathing spun into a hollow cry

Flakes of the cremated are the threads of its design

And in its grip a lantern that was Solomon’s to light

A sober truth to blast into the drunken ooze of night

The nether to the hither is its corridor of power

Signalling to journeymen the flame reveals their fate

It is the Lord Blackscarrow with his hanging judge fixed stare

Omens swarm like starlings in the

bleary morbid air

Look behind the candle’s veil of luminosity

Drawn into the astral as blood in the syringe

The Lord stands at the crossroads where the truth and lie divided us

The righteous join the gilded throng

The rest join him as dust

The strange account of Darquer Challis.

When a soul leaves the body, it retains the shape but carries a scent of geraniums with its frayed appearance akin to a bride walking up a moonlit aisle.

The features appear gradually like an unearthed silver coin having the dirt carefully wiped away from the face of an indignant monarch. The atmosphere, covered by a heavy tapestry hung on a castle wall then quickly removed to arctic temperatures, creates the supernatural electric halo.

But it is the silence that has the balcony seat.

The ears are enveloped in a velvet hush and their introduction to a nether world as startling as bursting stars in terrified eyes.

They are tethered to the world by a profound loss, enacting a final scene as the silent balcony looks on through the ages.

Only love can cut the ropes and let loose a completed life, content that the light above is brighter than that burning in their broken hearts.

Nostalgia is the ghost.

Nestled in a sprawling wood, close to foreboding hills, was Gauntcrief Mortuary.

This Jacobean pile, with its two turrets, one at either end, its tall leaded windows and striking crimson door, appeared as a demon’s head bursting forth from the leafless winter sticks.

The local villages hummed with tales of the horrors within and those that lurked in the sylvan darkness around.

It was said that the infamous witches of Salem were sent here in sherry barrels to be embalmed with Myrrh and Myrtle then buried deep beneath the eldest of the oak trees – their left hand and feet removed, their mouths filled up with fingers and toes and their heads held fast in scolds bridles made from melted silver crucifixes.

This place writhed with dancing spiky shadows, rung with curious half heard sentences and reeked of ill conceived slander.

It rained during the day and cleared to a transparent night as though the heavens had no pores to sweat the labours of the sun.

It was at night that the gas lamps shone out through the windows, giving the demon head glowing eyes and keeping the curious far from there.

Inside its thick walls lined with prayer stuffed crevices and down a long corridor was the room of the dead. This room was out of bounds to all except the mortician, Darquer Challis. Darquer was a tall, wiry man dressed at all times in a dark green suit and matching apron with black leather gloves and a crimson beret. His shoes were the same colour as his beret, but with soles thick with a lifetime of blackened blood and sprigs of holly woven into the laces – to surprise the devils in the floorboards!

When he left the room to conduct business in the parlour, he wore a tall red hat with sprigs of holly – to surprise the devils in the rafters!

His family had lived in the gamekeepers cottage at the end of the path but one by one, like an excruciating domino drop, they succumbed to the dreaded cholera outbreak.

They shrivelled in his arms like the flowers taken inside the mortuary, losing all moisture, all plump goodness becoming the exhumed. These desiccated, cooled coals from the fire in winding sheets with smiles for the counting saint, were his legacy lost to the great scythe.

In his weightless grief, he took from each of them a long bone, either the leg or the arm and carved nine miniature coffins with lids and nine figures of his beloved to rest inside of them, arms neatly folded and drops of gold, from a molten hammered noble, for eyes.

A year danced through the dark ballroom of his mourning, brushing past the drapes to release memories from deep folds. These brief excerpts melted into bitter chocolate shadows around Darquer who performed his duties like a clown spent of mirth.

But late in the evening, after work was completed, he lovingly laid each coffin upon their respective seats in the parlour and lifted the lids. He revealed the tiny figures before taking his own seat, lighting the huge candle next to their portraits on the occasional table and rang a little bell placed to the side. As the wick crackled with balls of flame, sweet violet orbs lifted from the figures and lit the shapes of his family in their places, still and cold yet they filled him with an enveloping warmth.

He would tell them about his day and bless each of them before they retired to their bones and golden eyed slumber.

Each night lovingly recreated and each night his shrivelled heart inflated a little more.

Darquer was content with his lot.

That was until New Year’s Eve, when a storm rolled in from the hills presided over by a blood moon. The woods shook with the high boughs clashing and tearing apart, splitting nine trees open to reveal silver bridles, lank blue black limbs and curses muttered through mouths filled with sheared appendages. Skeletal leaves danced in circles beneath their feet as the nine moved like swaying kelp through a treacle darkness buffeted by tempestuous winds and sharp debris. In their rotted sockets, golden yellow eyes sparked into life and drails of violet smoke snaked behind their insidious procession.

That night, nine evil spirits, looking to be freed, was to descend on the house of the departed.

Darquer lit the candle and rang the bell but no lights appeared. He rang the bell again and still nothing. The whole day had closed in around him filling his bones and blood with dread and he decided to keep his tall red hat on with the holly sprigs.

Suddenly, the windows and doors burst open and nine clouds of swirling leaves with silver bridles set with crucifixes, protruding from the top, shattered his panacea with the stench of calumny.

“What blasphemy is this? You were bound to the woods by ritual, brides of beelzebub. Begone from my house of eternal rest.”

The witches stepped out of their conjured maelstroms and formed a circle around Darquer.

“Thou bereft and scooped out varlet. Didst thou believe the pocked mouth judges that we wouldst stay tied to thy puny rituals? We are loose’d to make good on our promise to the cast out Prince.”

The circle moved in closer around him and Darquer reached into his apron with a wry smile. Below him the floor began to crack and break apart and licks of flame brushed his crimson shoes.

“I have for each of you a gift. Do not deny a condemned man his last wish. Open your right palms and be grateful.”

Darquer placed one of his precious figures into each bloated clawed right hand and closed it up with an amen.

From inside of the clenched fists, a beautiful white light burst like a comet in a summer sky and, one by one, the witches were engulfed in a blinding magnesium flash as huge flames engulfed the smiling mortician, eyes shut and arms open wide.

Dawn broke through the tall leaded windows to a chilled parlour.

On the table nine coffins, with lids beside them, lay empty and on the floor two sprigs of holly smouldered in the orange light. The sprig from the hat was for the dreams and hopes for the future and the sprig from the shoes for the march to realise these dreams and beyond to realise more besides. They were the sun and the moon in eternal struggle.

Every night, at three, the parlour has ten lights on their seats with no bell to ring and no candle flame to summon them from their golden eyed slumber.

In the Stoking Eyes of Rooks

Behind the sneer of charlatans

Is hate like boiling tar

But it is a salve when pit against

the burning stare of rooks

The rot removed by surgeon’s knife

That seethes in its discard

Is gilded cups of springtime blooms compared to damning looks

In the stoking eyes of terror

The famished glare of sin

Turkish coffee poured onto a scrying glass of dread

The lips and skin of autopsies

That cannot tell nor flush

Are silver glow when they’re compared

to guardians of the dead

Ousted by society

A thing that’s most reviled

Pales in insignificance when the swindling bird locks eyes

A gristle cawed marauder

Clad in hanging judge attire

The thunder nips it’s voice in fear when taking to the skies

Sent from heaven’s doorway

To hell with all the damned

Are comforts of Bohemia when held to Corvid’s glance

This onyx soul collector

The abyss could not contain

Is crueller than all nature’s spite and nothing left to chance.

The Blind Man and the Black Dog

The sky is a pastry crust lava lamp boneyard rust

Crackle glazed into the hook of a sun

It blisters as gull screams call stars waiting for it

To smoulder in violet welts

daylight is done

Blankets of souls stitched to black wool and bush fires

Are nomadic clouds in a caravan’s trip

Diaphanous wisps play as silk made of moisture

Round chalk dusted buildings like breath from the crypt

Trees are the sketches of art nouveau masters

With tendrils like kiss curls and flourishing script

Lining the streets in their liquorice shimmer

They lust after black space that life never lit

What is the tapping like beaks on a cracked skull?

A cane for a blind man whose pictures are sound

His streets are the canyons that colour in breezes

They bled for the savage and cheered for the crown

His daydreams are symphonies blazing through wheat fields

Up into mountains and out to the seas

Riding the slipstreams of sky gods and tin birds

Not waking to underwhelmed reality

Walking beside him a beast from the nightmares

Of children that ventured too far in the trees

A hound made from pitch and fraught deathbed confessions

And a fireside tall tales menagerie

It lopes by his side as a faithful companion

Eyes of a tempest and teeth temple stones

Its pelt is a piper that lures in a mist

To a padded room silence from the benthic zone

He tells his protector a new tale on each walk

Imagined as though it was screened in his mind

Elaborate stories with the darkest of threads

And a Halloween pumpkin’s gruesome design

It listens intently with hackles full raised

As the words corkscrew plots to a frosted conclusion

Growling approval and sated for frights

Their friendship, not witnessed, could be an illusion?

“Thank you for walking with me, my dear friend.”

Is all that he utters when reaching his door

The mist is a cloak in a magicians act

As the beast in a blink is not there any more

The symphonic dreams are a flight into nightmares

Discovering tales in the eyes of his mind

They’re red rust and welts and a blanket of stitched souls

Meant only for him and legendary hound.