Ian Stewart Black

Modern master of classical poetry

Month: September, 2013

Wandering Desires

We have a single, precious life to live;
Amid a storm of laughter and despair,
We ought to savour all it has to give
By letting not a moment’s whim be spared;
Act every dark and sweet, sadistic urge
To which your appetite has been inspired,
Eschewing modesty and fear to purge
Your most illicit wandering desires;
Those fetishistic yearnings of your soul
On which you vow to never act – you must!
No pious measure of constraint consoles,
Thus savour delving deeper into lust;
For those iniquities which most appeal,
Let slip the manacles of guilt – and yield!

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Any Night But This

Tomorrow and tomorrow,
Reluctant hope will smother sorrow;
Tomorrow plays another string,
Its song an altogether sweeter thing;
Tomorrow begs the sun to slay
The dreary clouds that overcome today;
Tomorrow plays another part,
Begins and ends without a broken heart;
Tomorrow does away with strife
And promises at last a welcome life;
Tomorrow yields a land of dreams,
Devoid of misery’s incessant scream;
Tomorrow waits with open arms
To shelter me, to keep me safe from harm.

Tomorrow’s artificial vows portray
An anaesthetic, call it “hope”;
Tomorrow’s dreaming keeps the world at bay,
And yearns for neither rose nor rope;
Tomorrow is only a tear away.

A Verse To Vanity

Another love would cast his solemn leaves
And wither, suffering this cruel despair:
Of youth and beauty’s garments rendered bare,
One dies and yet has life enough to grieve;
Before my time a widow in disgrace,
My vision weathering a weeping ghost:
For any virtue nature values most
Is set in elegance upon the face;
May Death condemn each mortal soul to die
And worship Aphrodite’s living heir:
This world has kings and poets left to spare,
But only one perfection such as I.
Oh grim and reverend humanity
Of self: Oh love, thy name is vanity.

Today

Today, I live and die alone.
I know another season looms,
With other reasons to resume
The happiness I must have known;
Another midnight hour befalls
A mind that rightly knows no fear,
But still the fog it cannot clear
Eschews the sun to smother all;
I know that other hopes have flown
Astray, perhaps in time I may
Forget – but this is not that day.
Today, I live and die alone.

Gods And Monsters

A legion’s worth held mastery of death:
Immortal warriors and prophet kings
Arose from tragedy with sword in hand,
Divinely sheltered from the cold embrace;
In vanity, their legacies were sealed,
In monuments to glorify their names:
Each mortal soul became a deity,
Eternity was theirs alone to claim.
As decades burned away to cinders, ash
Descending from beneath immortal crowns,
The arrogance of those who cheated death
Belied the sunken eyes of mortal age:
Defiant in the hands of destiny,
Appointed gods and sons of Narcissus
May conquer all that rules the land or sea,
But never Death: for none shall master me.

For none shall master me thus many serve,
And countless beg before the tide of fate:
As they implore the ocean to recall
Its pitiless advance – they perish, all.
The silver-tongued and taciturn contend
Voracious waves that billow overhead,
Descending to the reaper’s murky depths:
The darkness from wherein no light returns.
As lovers, friends and worshippers beseech
An act of mercy from the stoic sea:
So too the bonds of man petition Death,
And neither care nor mercy find in me.
With such an act of love our tale begins,
And how it ends is yet a mystery;
By way of counsel, I have only this:
Your guide is Death himself – abandon hope!

Her name was Beatrice, idyllic as
The muse who dwelled in Dante’s paradise:
Such mortal words as these cannot describe,
But merely desecrate her memory.
Alas, her beauty is confined to me,
And I to insubstantial poetry:
In twilight, she was born the heir of both
The brightest day and most enchanting night;
When fields of wheat drift softly, lovingly
Caressed by summer’s doting evening breeze,
Reclining now and then so one may glimpse
The burning heart of the departing sun:
In that one precious moment, in that one
Elusive breath of nature’s alchemy,
The glories of the earth may emulate
A solitary strand of golden hair.
When the unyielding night disrobes itself
To flourish in uncommon clarity,
With jade and sapphire streaming manifold
Unspeakable delights amid the dark:
Perhaps the jealous, ancient earth may once
Achieve a moment’s equilibrium,
Aspiring to reflect the majesty
Abundant in the eyes of Beatrice.
And yet for all its hopes, the wishing world
Enrapt with envy is imperfect still:
Auroras reign and sunlight emanates,
The earth cannot amount to Beatrice.

Without lament, I laid her soul to rest;
Eternal gardener of all the world,
My gaze befalls the weed and rose alike:
There is no pity where there is no choice.
The wicked, vulgar, base – I slay with glee,
Uproot the languid from the loving earth:
I revel as I cultivate the land,
Imparting death so life may bloom anew.
But flowers cannot blossom ever-long,
So beauty must succumb to callous shears:
The cycle orders “prune, new life awaits”,
And thus I severed life from Beatrice.
My touch upon her lips, her soul arose
To meet the all-embracing ether’s arms;
The last to breathe her vital air was Death:
Akin to every creature, even you.

An angel trapped in amber, motionless,
I lingered as she lay bereft of life:
Intangible, I watched her essence fade
To nothingness. And Death was not alone.
In centuries of mutilating love,
On battlefields and in the darkest seas,
By gallows and by matrimonial
Beds: I have never seen such full despair.
Assassins, pirates, emperors and kings,
Both demi-gods and beggars – none have lost
Such happiness as he whom Beatrice
Adored. And in his sorrow, he knew it.
No ravaged vessel yet has fallen prey
To tempest more ferocious than his grief:
In desperation, he beseeched no god,
But Death himself. And Death would answer him.

Dispersing that ethereal disguise
Of vapour that obscures my spectral form
From mortal senses, declaration proved
Unnecessary: all who live know Death.
Despite a lack of prior sight, with just
A mortal mockery to be compared,
The eyes cannot be certain, but the soul:
The soul does not mistake Oblivion!
My summoner aghast, his wish fulfilled,
He reeled and stumbled to his quaking knees;
Beneath my all-adjudicating gaze,
His only utterance was “…Beatrice”.
His tears cascading to the murky floor,
He grasped and clutched the air in hopelessness:
Lamenting in sincerity too rich
To speak, he barely whispered “…Beatrice”.

“Relinquish love”, spoke Death, “she is at peace:
It is the will of nature that she die,
And neither thunderbolt nor hurricane
Shall wake her spirit – neither you nor I”.
But Beatrice was not to be renounced,
Nor love so true was bound to acquiesce:
Despondency had found its champion,
Whose every breath was sacrificed to mourn.
Deciphering the hearts of men is but
A parlour trick in Death’s omnipotence:
And in his heart I found a wealth of joy,
Devotion and desire – decayed to dust.
“I say to you whose loss would drain the seas,
To you whose grief would smother every star:
Beyond all restoration she resides,
In darkness from wherein no light returns.
A warning to dissuade your ailing heart,
With this alone I leave you to your gloom:
Endeavour seeking mastery of death,
And Death shall claim his mastery of you”.

But love would triumph over sanity,
And venture all to satisfy his heart:
The very laws that conjured him from dust
Abandoned to a necromantic oath;
“If Death’s design would seek to conquer love,
Then love demands that Death would be undone:
The bonds of nature tie me not to loss,
For what is taken – I shall resurrect!”
Such covenants in hollow misery
Have echoed through the centuries of man:
What lover’s loss was met with apathy?
There was, and is, and ever shall be none.
What others merely covet in their grief,
Espousing sacrilege to find repose:
As sanguine sustenance to arid lips,
He would not yield, but drink to make it so.

Thus resurrection would consume his mind
With devilish abandonment of all
That mortal beings have to celebrate:
A single shadow overcame his soul;
Pursuing that immortal aptitude
Among the pages of enlightened man,
The wisdom of the righteous ignorant
Defied him – only darkness lay ahead;
Amid the blasphemous depravity
Of antiquated lore – of sorcery
Forgotten by the world – a volume bound
In spite of nature sought to master Death;
A relic better left forgotten, prised
From ages of oblivion to serve
The will of one immersed in agony:
“The Reaper shall surrender Beatrice!”

“My soul’s entirety devoted to
A single purpose – one accomplishment
Devouring my depression and desire:
I brandish life to banish Death himself;
My sanity, my marrow, blood and flesh
Relinquish every fibre to restore
Her radiance – to execute the will
Of this divinely scribed, forsaken tome.
Bereavement is a simple malady
Which I alone possess the means to cure:
Eternity’s abyss will rather starve
Than swallow my beloved Beatrice!”
Vainglorious humanity aspires
To conquer nature as the sullen seas:
Their mouths agape with boastfulness and pride
As water floods the chambers of their lungs.

As ivy suffocates a noble tree,
Obsession grew to feed on virtue’s light:
In parasitic hunger, siphoning
The good prevailing in his stricken heart.
“To loose the bonds innate in transience,
The tyranny and power of the grave,
To spare the majesty of love from that
Malevolent eclipse that knows no end:
Such power never dwells among the weak,
Devotion validates itself in blood;
To wield the alchemy of mortal life,
Embrace the service of immortal Death.
Abominations walk the verdant plane,
Corrupting all they touch with pestilence:
Devouring innocence to feed their guilt
And quicken waking flesh without a pulse.
A life will be delivered unto one
Whose sorrows are the bane of the undead,
Whose hunger to command the vital spark
Assembles the unholy trinity”.

Abominations, desecrations of
The binding forces of mortality,
Existing neither perfectly in life
Nor smothered in the murky veil of death.
Unreachable to my pernicious hand,
Appointed neither time nor place to die:
The dead cannot be taken by the dead,
But rather perish in the flame of life.
Defilers of their own humanity,
Renouncing honour in their lust for flesh:
Barbaric wraiths and savages, unfit
To walk the earth along with humankind.
Disciples of the shadows such as these
Were requisite to waken Beatrice,
For she whom wounded love would resurrect
Was lost without a sacrifice of blood.

“The heart of one who rules among the dead
In hunger that cannot be satisfied,
Absolved beneath the flames of righteousness
Whose light dispels his mastery of night.
The vital fluid of the animal
Who masquerades among the civilised,
Surrendered to the harmony of death
From in the bosom of the raging beast.
The flesh of the eternal prisoner
Whose basic instinct lingers on alone:
The flesh of one whose solitary want
Encompasses the same returned from you.
This trilogy of sacrilege aligned,
Condemn the ancient evil to the fire:
When Death has taken hold of the undead,
The spirit you lament shall be restored”.

Whatever doubt, if any, haunted him,
It lingered there in silent suffering:
Dissuasion lay beyond imagining,
For nothing could compare to Beatrice;
Unravelled minds of former glories purged
Would soon surrender sorrow and rejoice:
A raison d’étre lost is best released
From memory, but love does not forget.
That singular emotion absolute
Amid a mind equipped to wander free,
He would endeavour to revive the dead
Regardless of the perils in his way.
“Before my fallen love can be restored,
The trinity must perish and align:
The heart of one who rules among the dead
Shall yield to my crusade; Now, to begin!”

Endeavouring to slay a predator
And thus subject the hunter to the hunt:
Deciphering the old, accursed tome
Enriched the Necromancer’s arsenal;
An incantation whispered from the page
In language only evil understands:
Such wicked runes and magic of the damned,
I demonstrate in unpolluted verse;
“Condemn your soul to torment evermore,
That I may revel in your tortured cries,
For every breath of anguish you exude
Invites my wrath upon your villainy”
And having spoken thus, his senses wrought
A supernatural beguiling light,
Entreating him to venture to the heart
Of darkness: through damnation and beyond.

Abiding just beneath the still veneer
Is something sinister, the mortal realm
Has ever savoured such dichotomy:
Perdition pulses through the purest heart;
Adorned with sequins of lavandula,
Divinely lit beneath the pallid moon,
And scented by that same perennial
Companion emanating chastity:
The earth exhibited no prophecy
Of evil lurking in the lilac fields,
And all was still except the flickering
Of candlelight upon the moonlit world:
A solitary window’s luminous
Reception cast across the lonesome night,
Wherein our would-be Necromancer stood
Intently clutching his accursed tome.

The seconds passed as days before the door
That promised only death would lie beyond,
Eternity cascading to the void
Until the doorway filled with candlelight:
Amid the welcoming and warming glow
Awaited one immersed in death and life,
But nothing of the grave embellished him
In welcoming his waiting exorcist.
Bewildered by the human countenance
Of this immortal beast of devilry,
Arcane enchantments fled the visitor
Whose silence echoed inward through his soul.
“You’ve come at last” – so spoke the revenant
Whose eyes of violet enchanted all
To peace – “I welcome you inside the heart
Of darkness; Brother, you will never leave”

Condemned and executioner regaled
Each other with the tales of their despair,
And here before you is the chronicle
Delivered to the living by the dead:
“My soul is dark! But not forever so,
I once was kindred to the loving sun:
Indulging always in her radiance
And nourished by her soft, maternal glow;
But by the light of that infernal moon,
My shadow overcame anatomy:
Perdition made a bastard son of me,
And I could dwell amid the light no more.
What follows is a common tragedy,
A mother’s love forsaken in disdain:
When sunlight has become the enemy,
Where else is there to turn but the abyss;
I slaughtered innocents for centuries,
For food, for sport, to fill the yearning void:
The gift of immortality to man
Is as the gift of fire to a child.”

“Humility belongs to humankind,
A singular and precious attribute:
Eternity envelops modesty,
Then leeches all that’s left of innocence;
No longer ‘George’ as life entitled me,
No longer soldier to a noble cause:
I was reborn and baptised by the night:
A vampire lord of darkness, blood and death.
A drowning mariner adrift in time,
I sought atonement through the centuries:
Inevitably coming to accept
That only Death has any hope for me.
My story is a cautionary tale,
Some things had best remain beyond the grasp
Of mortal men. And yet if I must die
That Beatrice might live, my heart is yours.”

With that courageous sacrifice avowed,
The tentative ascent of morning sun
Began to glisten through the lavender,
Enlivening the dying candlelight;
The vampire lord surrendered no remark
Of pain as morning scorched his bloodless skin:
He simply smiled in fresh serenity,
Infernos raging in his tranquil eyes;
Millennia rescinded in the span
Of one heroic moment’s martyrdom,
Accumulated knowledge acquiesced:
Forever lost amid infinity.
The Necromancer claimed the ashen heart
From in the withered vampire lord’s remains,
His ominous philosophy relayed
From darkness – to a darkness greater still.

Innumerable legends tell the tale
Of some inhuman entity amok
Amid the woodland, so ubiquitous
That none would dare to venture through the trees;
It was a cloudless, starless, hopeless night
When shadows scattered to the canopy:
Approaching footsteps fell upon the earth
As coal, for moonlight found no welcome here;
The only gleaming in this dusky realm
Was that ethereal, accursed spell
By which the hunter sought the living dead
Among the darkest places of the earth.
Beneath this sacrilegious radiance,
A stifling fog meandered through the night:
No token given of its origin,
But all was bound for one forlorn domain.

The Beast of Mistwreath Hollow, neither man
Nor animal, but progeny of both:
The stuff of nightmares to a sleeping child,
And terror seeping deeper still in men.
His legend sealed itself in bones and blood,
In howling echoed through the forest nights:
But never chronicled by one who faced
The beast and lived, for there was no such man;
The Necromancer knew the stories well,
And cowardice forbade him to believe:
But darkness knows a wealth of secret things
Obscure to those who dwell amid the light;
Obeying the unyielding fog that rolled
With purpose ever closer to the void:
Each step descending farther from the world,
Toward The Beast of Mistwreath Hollow’s lair.

The tunnels through the earth unwound for miles,
Entwining to compose a labyrinth
Impassable to any wanderer
But one who wields the esoteric light.
And strewn and slumped in every cavity
Of that clandestine empire carved in dirt,
The skeletons of those who came before
Were nestled, harvested and stripped of flesh;
The festering and pungent stench of death
Reflected back from every wall and floor,
The putrid air like tar engulfed his lungs
Until a breath was nigh impossible.
But soon the guiding light of evil dimmed,
The Necromancer blind in the abyss:
Perdition halted only by the glow
Emitted from a distant chamber’s heart.

The glimmering of alabaster-blue
Extended far within the spider’s web
Of tunnels dug in earth and drenched in blood,
Enchanting to the widowed lover’s eyes.
Adhering to that cold, mysterious
Illumination in the dusky depths,
The lost crusader in the dark emerged
To meet a chamber sanctified with light.
Cascading radiance of silver air
Unfurled in wisps and streams from high above,
In purity the likes of which astounds
The waking world – consigned to the abyss.
Beneath the falling alabaster streams
Abided such a lonesome entity,
Serenely still in meditative calm:
Not quite the promised monster, but a man.

Tenacious in his resolute intent
To be a vessel of tranquility,
The creature bathed in moonlight spoke
In contemplated, purifying breaths;
“This hollow has been witness to enough
Repulsive desecrations of the earth:
Now leave my loneliness unbroken, flee
The monster striving to become a man”.
The Necromancer once again confessed
His sorrows to the captivated dead,
Along with those of one whose blighted soul
Was sacrificed to save the virtuous.
The self-aware monstrosity remained
Fixated always on his peaceful soul:
Recounting even this most harrowing
Of tales in adamant serenity.

“The winter of my twenty-seventh year
Fell heavy through the barren wilderness:
A blizzard raged among the dismal trees
And hunters reigned beneath a veil of snow;
I sought to expedite my journey home,
And trusted in the forest avenue:
Homogenised in all-pervasive white,
I stumbled into Mistwreath Hollow’s depths;
Relieved to find a shelter from the storm,
I almost overlooked the stench of death:
But soon it rose like fog to smother me,
And I renounced my harbour to retreat.
My footfalls heavy in the hollow cave,
They echoed to the chamber of the beast:
I ran as fast as any man could run,
But no one clambers free from the abyss”.

“The werewolf bounded through the endless night,
His eyes as cold as ice amid the dark:
His claws profaned with mortal blood, and teeth
Unsheathed to dine in raw depravity;
The agony was instantaneous
As razors tore beneath my weeping flesh:
The wound itself seemed insignificant
Beside the curse that scorched its way inside.
The monster towered over me content,
And almost seemed to smile triumphantly:
He knew as well as I that hope had fled,
For nothing could deter him from his meal.
The bones of victims past surrounding me,
I lay my hand upon a plundered shard:
The fragment thrust beyond his lustful eye,
The beast collapsed and hunted nevermore”.

“Victorious, my entity convulsed
As blood began to boil within my veins:
And this excruciating misery
Was but a prelude to my suffering.
When pestilence had overtaken each
And every fibre of my writhing flesh,
The pain subsided and I fled the cave:
Exhaustedly afoot in search of home;
Had any other fate befallen me,
Had I been lost amid the forest night
Or perished in that bitter winter storm,
This world would be the better for my death…
My wife and infant son awaited me,
With fearful baited breath and open arms,
As I emerged from in the shadowed depths
To walk once more the realm of mortal men”.

“For twenty-nine contented days we lived
In harmony as many years before,
Until the bloodlust mutilated all
That I had given of my life to love;
As night was falling on the twenty-ninth,
The wolf was born again amid my flesh,
My skin was torn and bones were thrust apart:
I lost control, but witnessed everything;
My infant son would be the first to die,
A child too young to know what he should fear:
Perhaps he saw his father’s loving eyes
Within the beast that tore him limb from limb;
My wife would recognise me instantly,
The name of Edgar passed her trembling lips,
Her eyes awash with tears of hopelessness:
She wanted death, and I delivered it”.

“My story told, I owe you nothing more,
The vampire’s fate does not reflect my own:
The years shall yet renew my sorrowed heart,
And I shall live to see myself redeemed;
For even now, the hunter’s moon resides
Above our heads and plays upon my skin:
In spite of which the monster is defied,
And you depart perdition’s lair alive;
I may return to face the world in time,
When solitude has nothing more to yield:
Absolved of that most heinous villainy
That I endure in mourning even now;
Let Mistwreath Hollow fall from history,
No solace is afforded you within:
Abandon this contemptible crusade
To conquer nature – Beatrice is dead!”

Anticipation drew the werewolf’s eyes
In time to spare himself the hunter’s wrath,
And yet he neither fought nor fled the knife
Of gleaming silver that would pierce his breast;
I know not why he chose to suffer death,
For only mortals fall within my grasp:
Perhaps he thought it better to be slain
A man than roam eternally a beast;
Whatever had compelled him to abide
The Necromancer’s thirsting blade,
He found a lasting, true serenity
Awaiting in the cold embrace of Death;
The slayer’s eyes awoke in ecstasy,
The blood he coveted so dearly spilled
In streams both decadent and copious:
He claimed his prize from the repentant dead.

The blood of man and wolf by silver drawn
To join the vampire’s heart bestowed from ash:
Two keys aligned of that unholy three
That labour to unlock Oblivion;
The Necromancer revelled as he toiled
To see the ancient words he spoke fulfilled:
“The flesh of the eternal prisoner”
Was all that severed him Beatrice;
But even such a foul compendium
Of incantations and necrotic spells
Cannot illuminate a fateful path
Relayed to something which does not exist;
And so it seemed the mournful conjurer
Was destined never to restore his love,
And nature’s will would not be contravened;
Alas! There was another, darker way…

Perchance to live another day – perchance:
Do all things not arise as desert dunes
To thus descend when swept upon a breeze?…
And what is that conspiring wind but chance?
Twas never destiny that wrought a gale
To shelter lovers in each other’s arms,
Twas never destiny that set the course
Of man toward his death, nor swelled his sails;
But chance – Ah! Therein lies your enemy:
Beneath the banner of auspicious chance
Was Edgar summoned to the Hollow’s depths,
And George before him to perdition’s heart;
The mortal world is full of providence
Akin to order in the anarchy,
But only chaos reigned in William’s life:
His tale is yet another told by Death…

A doorstep child whose brittle frame was stained
And blanketed by sodden tabloid print,
Whose character was marred from infancy
By that indelible abandonment;
Unwanted, ostracised and left to dwell
In such interminable solitude:
He thought himself a ghost, inhabiting
A stranger’s house that never felt like home;
His thirteenth year had barely slipped away
When suffering a loveless family
Began to yield a greater dread than death:
So William fled, unnoticed, in the night;
The boy had never wanted sympathy,
But trusted that humanity was kind:
Naïve to every promise that was made,
And devil chance has all to answer for.

A vulture’s shadow loomed upon the street
Where vagrant children congregate to beg,
And drifted silently through alleyways
Where orphans rest their heads on barren stone;
Among their number, one surveyed the night
In endless hope to see a better day:
His russet eyes agape with innocence,
As if he thought the world a decent place;
To William, even moonlight promised hope
Would always overcome adversity:
Such luminous divinity beset
On every side by the abyssal dark;
And in the Necromancer’s promises,
He only saw a better life ahead:
Oblivious to cloud and shadow bent
On smothering his consecrated moon.

We now return to where the candle dimmed,
To where it all began in tragedy:
Where Beatrice has slept a dreamless sleep
Relieved of mortal shackles, grief and toil;
Maniacal, the mournful conjurer
Had lured the boy to his abandoned home:
Intent to topple his mortality
And grace the heart of darkness, as foretold;
A sight obscured from grateful company
Who smiled with thoughts of better days ahead,
The tome once more divulged its wicked ways
To bring corruption to the righteous world;
An evil magic whispered, blood as black
As midnight in the ocean’s deepest reach
Began to coat the wizard’s blade – his mind
A world away from William’s words.

“My life thus far has been unbearable,
So little notice to be thankful for:
A family that never wanted me,
Nor cared if I should live another day;
Abandoned from my birth, I’ll never know
The reason for my being: was it love
Or some repulsive tryst regretted still
Because it yielded something horrible…
Tonight shall be the end of misery,
At last I have a place to call my ‘home’:
I’m wanted somewhere in this lonely world,
And that is more than I have ever had;
I, being poor, have only my dreams – such
A wealth of treasure as they are to me:
But rest assured, a golden galleon
Could not endure my boundless gratitude!”

The Necromancer gazed in William’s eyes,
Paternal pride upon lamenting lips:
A hand adorned the shoulder of the boy
Who finally belonged above the dirt;
A tender moment passed between the two,
Redemption beckoning to wounded souls:
The would-be father smiling at his son,
His orphan son to be forever loved…
A feeling spread through William’s woken heart,
A warming glow he’d never felt before:
A momentary flame before the chill
Of death would claim his body and his soul;
The silver blade conveyed corrupted blood
Directly to the orphan’s breaking heart:
And thus the boy that no one ever loved
Surrendered even dreams – in living death.

The fiend impatiently admired the pain
Intensifying through the writhing mass
Of sacrificial flesh – and all the while
Anticipating what was to arise;
The body staggered in and out of death,
Despairing well beyond the soul’s demise:
A pearly veil ensconcing russet eyes,
Expression bludgeoned from the bloodless face;
In any sense of mortal sentience,
The lowly victim never woke again:
His voice was never heard as once it was,
Nor spirit manifest in character;
But wake he did, the Necromancer bid
The vessel rise (and thus secured his name):
A shambling creature moved in William’s guise,
And groaned an inexpressible despair.

The risen beast was wholly primitive,
Expecting to devour his maker’s flesh:
And surely savagery is best defined
By those who feed themselves by way of death!
But words from that pernicious tome enslaved
The woken monster in the fiend’s command:
The mournful lover bound in noble grief
Had made himself a conduit of woe;
I have established many verses hence
That mortal hearts unveil themselves to me:
Immortals, being not of nature’s craft,
Are to my prying eyes inscrutable;
I cannot speak with any certainty
On whether William felt his body’s pain,
And yet emotion lingered in his groans:
No sound was ever heard more pitiful.

The book demanded and the will obeyed,
This madness in the name of Beatrice:
And all that you have witnessed came to pass
To marry the unholy trinity;
“The heart of one who rules among the dead,
The vital fluid of the animal,
The flesh of the eternal prisoner:
A second death to grant a second life!”
With that necrotic caveat declared,
The silver blade was blackened once again:
The zombie gave no utterance of fear
As metal rent his skull and pierced his brain;
His chest agape from that sadistic wound
That freshly severed his mortality,
The Necromancer claimed a strip of flesh:
The final key to free Oblivion.

The orchestrator scanned his loathsome tome
In eagerness to stem mortality:
Beloved Beatrice would be recalled
From in the very depths of the abyss;
The death of love would be a fallacy,
Such sorrow would forever be interred:
When everlasting life is realised,
What more is there to fear upon the earth?
In truth, he thought himself Prometheus,
But greater still than he who wielded flame:
From this rebellion ‘til the end of days,
Mankind would never know the touch of Death;
Forget the sacrifice along the way,
The soul redeemed who perished for the cause,
The freely taken life of innocence:
For bloodshed paves the way to Beatrice!

Assembling the unholy trinity,
Belated questions rose to prominence:
Would Beatrice have wished for this revolt
And sanctioned all committed in her name?
Would such unhindered beauty live content
To be sustained by such repulsive means?
Is any death a fair commodity
To bargain for a life – and if so, which?
The answers sought are elementary
To any who in asking seeks the truth:
Hypocrisy defines humanity
As long as ‘moral’ people kill to feed;
Your species rather mutilate their souls
Than stoop for but a moment to repent:
Thus hubris overcomes the mortal mind,
And virtue lost can never be reclaimed.

The Necromancer lay the gruesome keys
Beside the book that spurred his madness on:
The blood, the flesh, the heart of the undead,
In sacrilege of nature unified;
The vampire’s heart consumed the werewolf’s blood,
The zombie’s flesh entwined and sealed the heart:
A flame erupted from the ghoulish mass,
Devouring those unearthly keys at once;
The world became a chamber built of smoke,
No sight or scent but those of billowed ash:
The conjurer knew neither in which realm
He found himself, nor where he now belonged;
His questions lingered momentarily,
But all inquiry ceased to matter as
Fragmented wisps of vapour coalesced:
Oblivion surrendered Beatrice!

Appearing from the whirling granite haze,
The lover lost to death had not returned:
Her body was comprised of streaming fog
That slowly glided through the stifling air;
In every element of form, she was
The Beatrice whom Death had overcome:
Her beauty lingered in the swirling cloud
Of murky smoke – but she was not the same;
There is no preservation after life,
All beings merely spill into the void
As ink dissolved amid an endless sea:
And thus my realm is named ‘Oblivion’;
To summon life from this immortal realm
Is as to steal a part of Death himself:
Thus Beatrice awoke omniscient,
Aware of all accomplished in her name.

“To move as one with Death’s eternal mist
Is liberty as none shall know on earth:
I hasten to forgive the ignorance
That seeks to tear me from Oblivion;
You wish that others venture sacrifice
In honour greater than your own crusade:
With such ignoble, covetous desire
Conceived in sorrow – still do I forgive;
You cleave redemption from the mourning beast,
Condemning one whose crimes were not his own…
And walk the world in search of innocence
To slaughter for your diabolic ends:
My absolution cannot be bestowed
On such a soul obscured with righteous blood,
Endeavour seeking mastery of death,
And Death shall claim his mastery of you!”

With this renunciation of the love
The sundered pair had cherished all their lives,
The murky ghost of Beatrice dissolved
Once more amid the endless mist of Death;
The smoke in spirals wrapped its way around
The loathsome raider of our ancient realm:
Constricting him and seeping through his flesh
To work its rightful poison from within;
His frame began to wither, and his skin
Became as pale as drifting clouds that veil
A waning moon: a century befell
His body in an instant of decay;
As if to vindicate his wickedness
And justify his evils, he announced
“A life without a love is living death”,
And dissipated through Oblivion.

No gloried soul that walks upon the earth,
Nor gods and monsters live eternally:
For any fool may rule the land or sea,
But never Death – for none shall master me!

We

We wayward heirs
Are each an ember,
Risen skyward
From the ashes of
A better world.

Cast over oceans,
At the mercy
Of the winds of fate;
And if we fall,
We fall together.

Knives

Infatuation is a tarnished knife
Incessantly entombed, exhumed and thrust
Beneath the star-crossed lover’s yearning flesh,
Devouring anguish over and again:
A crueller mistress is benevolence
Whose blade in tender hesitation tears
And scars the skin beyond recovery,
Tormenting one whose tortures see no end.
But severing the unrequited dreams
In one decisive, penetrating wound:
Perfecting that corroded blade to stab
With certainty the naked heart of love;
There is a kindness in brutality:
A will that does not care – but does not lie.

Better Angels

Renew the heart that ought despair,
And tearful tributes desecrate;
Commit the broken to repair,
And all that’s bare in man negate;
Let not the deepest sorrows lay,
Unweave the tapestry of grief:
To each of us, our pains betray,
And from us all is time a thief.

Seal shut the lover’s weeping eye,
Steal promised whispers from her lips;
Allotted common time to cry,
Her soul from desolation slips;
Engulf the innocence of youth,
‘Til pain nor love do we recall;
Pluck out the bitterness of truth,
Make better angels of us all.

The Heart Of Beauty

To you, my love,
I leave the crispéd autumn leaves.
Fleeing from the falling rain,
And hiding under eaves.
The days, so amaranthine,
When I led you, still, astray.
The memories of merriment,
That time cannot decay.

To you, my love,
I leave the silver, and the blue.
The golden tones of sunrise,
And dusk, in all its hues.
The lavender and violet,
The stream that gently flows.
To you, I leave the starry night,
And dawn, of amber-rose.

To you, my love,
I leave the passing, gentle blush.
The brushing of our hands, our lips,
The ever-present rush.
The nuance in my breath, sincere,
Even as we part.
To you, my love, I leave it all,
To you, I leave my heart.

Bleakmire

This town of dust and wooden boards
Is home to mute and brooding hordes,
With shovel, rake, and dirt in hand,
They wake to till and tend the land:
Unknowing what a life is worth,
They weather to avail the earth
‘Til they expire.

The unexpressive Bleakmire drones,
Sufficing in their squalid homes
Of wooden huts of ten by eight,
Preparing for the box that waits:
Without a future, nor a past,
They wish the earth to gape at last
And pull them in.

No novel face is welcome here
But met instead with vacant leers,
Committed to a surly inn
Where silent patrons sup their gin:
Lamenting without word or frown
The daily life that drags them down
Into the dirt.

Enclosed within the timeworn floor
There waits an old and hidden door,
Where travellers’ weary bones are led
To seek the comfort of a bed:
Amid the murky cellar’s nest,
Where all intruders find their rest
With muffled screams.