The Dragon

From the gable the hanged man swayed,

weather-worn and his long coat frayed,

and, down below, the blacksmith laughed

to see crows as he plied his craft.

The sun went down, but the corpse stayed

while the blacksmith bettered his trade

until he heard hooves beating swift

neath the moon, in the midnight rift

of life and death, flesh and soul,

while the fog, thick, began to roll.

On pale horses there came a host

through the moonlight, each like a ghost

in fine Fae feature and attire,

of noble bearing, knight and squire.

“Hail,” said the blacksmith, “lord of streams,

lord of hills and of moonlit dreams.”

The Fae lord nodded, yet his eyes

went to the hanged man, and the flies

that buzzed about and swarmed around,

their song of joy a constant sound.

“You are as we,” remarked the lord,

pointing with his sharp silver sword.

“You have hunted and won, with skill,

as we have, in field, mount and hill.

But what worth is such common fare?

Wherefore this man dances in air?”

The blacksmith smiled shrewdly, and said

“Tell, first, the stories of each head

hanging from your fine-worked saddles,

for I wish e to hear such battles.”

The Fae lord gestured to a knight

and he dismounted, at child’s height,

taking down, then, an ogre’s head

from his lord’s saddle, splattered red,

and the head had tusks, sharp and long,

and its jaws were big, its chin strong,

but all lay lax in that dead face,

life gone from it, without a trace.

“I slew this monster near the bridge

that extends from stone ridge to ridge

for he preyed upon our kindred,

his hunger great, yet now ended.”

The knight returned the trophy, now,

and sought another, whose broad brow

was maned with marshy hair that hung

blackish green, and a limp pale tongue

between needle teeth, its long snout

like a horse, its horns curving out.

“Here is the pookah, a deadly mount

who haunted the swamp’s bracken fount,

dragging drunkards into the peat

and tearing them apart to eat.”

The third head was of an eagle,

but giant, golden, beak regal.

“And here, at last, is the griffin,”

said the lord, and, with a sniff, then,

told of how the foul fowl laid claim

to all his flocks and all his game,

and so the lord had set a trap,

baiting the beast till, with a snap,

he brought it down with an arrow

which pieced shrieking through the air so

that the beast fell at once, quite done,

though the quills still shone like the sun.

“My only regret,” said the lord,

as he sighed and sheathed his stained sword,

“is having only trophies three

whereas four would better please me

for my trophy hall has such space

that it would gain from one more face.

But enough of such things,” he said.

“Tell me how he came to be dead.”

The blacksmith grinned like a demon.

He said, “By his ill-spilt semen

upon that which was fairly mine—

my wife!  So I showed him the line

between good and bad, life and death,

and the lecture cost him his breath.

As for my wife—she is chained

within my house, our vows profaned,

yet even now I work my bellows

to make right of this.  Trust, fellows,

that this scarlet letter shall bleed

from another maiden, whose breed

is made of the finest points known,

and has iron in place of bone.”

The Fae lord looked at the maiden

which the blacksmith made, so laden

with spikes where her heart should have been,

more monstrous than any such kin

of ogre, griffin, or such ilk

nourished by wicked blood-laced milk.

“She is my wife,” the blacksmith said,

“as is that faithless girl whose head

and heart were won by Love’s deceit,

but my good wife shall drink replete,

for the faithless wife shall so slake

the steadfast wife, for her mistake,

and by merit of blood provide

from bed to bed, and bride to bride.”

He worked the hot, wrathful bellows,

the embers of orange-yellows

flaring like fitful flies of fire

or, perhaps, flecks of vain-desire.

He said, “To me her only worth

was insomuch as field to serf:

a thing to be plowed in such time

for hale harvest in proper clime.

But she harbored fancies bygone

with this rogue, whom I have high-drawn.

As if the heart should rule such things

when we know gold rules even kings,

and I have amassed a great hoard

through my flames, by horseshoe and sword.

Verily, I have grown steel plates

for whole armies, helms for pates,

and such great horns like a ram’s crown

that could blow ancient mountains down.

Should I not revenge myself

against fickle wife, lordly elf?”

The blacksmith grinned, very much pleased

and then laughed loudly, till he wheezed.

The Fae lord smiled, too, though grimly,

and then he hopped down, quite nimbly,

from his horse, silver sword in hand

and though short, his eyes held command

of all they gazed on, man or Fae,

his decrees none could disobey.

“I thank you,” he said, “for your truth,

and I thank you for more, forsooth,

as I longed to slay once more before

returning to my hillside door,

and here I have found at long last

a dragon whose flame hath cast

horrid shadows of deeds foul done

and deeds yet done beneath the sun.

Thus I have found my fourth trophy.”

And no sooner than lord quoth, he

struck head clean off the man’s shoulders

whereupon his banner-holders

fetched it up from the bloody lawn

(the mouth slack-jawed, as if to yawn)

and hung it on their lord’s horse

thereafter freeing bride, of course,

from her shackles, then cut down, too,

her lover from his gabled view.

The cock’s crow heralded first light,

so the Fae company took flight

and vanished as dew in the dawn—

like mist from fabled Avalon.

Three Poems

Suggestive

The fairies played among Queen Anne ’s lace,

flirty, flippant, flitting, and flying

beneath the white garters, each red face

buoyant with winds, happily sighing.

My, the laughter was so very loud

within the petticoats of flowers —

an orgy amidst that floral crowd

while they quivered, shameless, at all hours.

Such perfume and musk glutted the nose,

all fairies being fragrant creatures

amongst hills and vales, the highs and lows,

and the untamed wildflower features.

Then fox rain fell from bright Summer skies

and gushed over the hot countryside;

Queen Anne opened her delighted eyes,

for she found herself quite satisfied.

 

Rope-A-Dope Politics

Circling and circling, rope in our teeth,

knife in hand gleaming, seeking a sheath;

tethered, as we once were in the womb —

soon buried together in a tomb.

Come!  Speak a petty jibe, begetting

a messy fight, a ripe bloodletting

as easy as a sharp blade that cuts

and spills a man ’s whiskey-rotted guts;

rope in mouth, see the resentful lip

and we unsheathe blindly from the hip

to 86 the opposing side

as two worlds careen, contend, collide.

Scalp them, skin them, flay, debone, and burn

rather than let them have their fair turn!

The battleground is stained, yet does hope

demand we grit our teeth on the rope

while we circle, bleeding at a glance,

lunging and plunging to stake our stance.

 

Soul-Storm

Lives that came and went in a flash

like the radiance of a lightning crash,

a downpour plummets, weeping heavy

as if the rain-man danced upon the levee

to break the floodgates and to flow

the world ’s memory of wrongs and woe

trees tossing in mournful despair

as gusts bellow with raging air,

thunderbirds flapped resounding wings

and screeched of many unjust things,

aloft, high, sundering the skies,

blinding unwary, shameless eyes,

smashing low the tallest towers,

fulgurous with heaven ’s powers,

a twister spun across the plains,

a reckoning of deathly pains.

After all these forgetful years,

rains still fall from the Trail of Tears.

Fairy Wealth, Or The Cure For Pessimism

There is much love to be had
and so much joy to enjoin,
far too much to be so sad
as if all a fairy coin,
and even so, covet leaf
in a purse of gilt Autumn
rather than indulge the grief
of a lordly, ill-got sum.
Some fear the poor peasant’s lot
and there’s much to fear in such
for what comforts might be bought
or fare found at such a touch,
but fairy leaf from the wood
can still make a bitter brew,
which when hot still tastes as good
if imbibed with wisdom’s dew,
for it warms and heals the soul
even when a trick is played,
drank inside when cold winds blow
with lemongrass from the glade,
whereas a brow on the throne
breaks beneath the coffers’ weight,
castles chilling to the bone
and troubles beyond the gate.
True his throat knows better food
and grows fatter, (never thin),
but it is his neck that’s hewed
if deposed by his cousin.
So when life gives you such wealth
from the Fae, those puckish thieves,
thank the errant, lying elf
and boil water for the sieves—
after all, you could brew tea
which might earn sums most handsome
from folks feeling quite chilly,
thus earning a king’s ransom.

Daft Draught

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It was no fairy ring of toadstools
through which ol’ Cooligan did pass,
but rather that ring of old fools
through the circle of a shotglass.
Tottering up from the bar, all a’ swaying,
he demanded another shot of sin,
but Angie knew he was never one for paying,
and denied him thus, whereupon he did but grin.
He wondered aloud what color was her hair
beneath her plaid skirts and garments
and so some men took him, with very little care,
and tossed him out, with the other varmints.

“Fleas on all ye balls!” Cooligan yelled,
picking himself up from the shamrock patch.
He looked about himself as the church belled
and he lit himself a roll with a broken match.
It was late in the evening, near to dusk,
and Cooligan went a’walking down the lane,
lighting his way with his cigar husk
and smoking it until nought did remain.
A splash of shadow wet the world
and soon the sun drowned in the murk,
and Cooligan sang as he kicked and twirled,
never him minding evil things that lurk.

“Tis’ a rotten world I know,” he said,
kicking a field mouse that flew in his path,
“And it weighs upon my sloshing head.”
He sniffed at himself, realizing he needed a bath.
The day darkened at last to night,
like a head overcome with its thick beer,
and soon the cigar between his overbite
extinguished to smoke, shadows drawing near.
The moon rose and the stars shined
and Cooligan loped on down the road,
thinking of Angie, and her comely behind,
and yelping at the touch of a hopping toad.

As stars wheeled in the moon-misty sky
and Cooligan’s head wheeled in wonder,
a fairy happened by, mischief in its eye,
thinking Cooligan a right bit of plunder.
“Hail, Cooligan!” the little fairy cried.
“A sodden sot with shite stuffed ear to ear!”
Cussing a storm, Cooligan glanced side to side,
looking for he who had spoken such without fear.
“Step forth, you bloody bastard,” Cooligan roared,
“and I will show you who’s full of shite!”
Cooligan swung his fists as if fighting a horde,
punching and kicking with all of his might.

The fairy laughed and mocked, spiraling about
while Cooligan tussled with the shadows and the air,
then the fairy sat on a tree limb, giving a shout:
“You seem a man with a bee up his derriere!”
Cooligan struck a tree with his fist, groaning,
“I’ll kill you soon enough, you whore’s son!”
but then he fell upon the roadside, moaning,
his fury unspent, but his body overdone.
Heaving and breathing like a woman after labor,
he lay there a while, staring up at the moon’s glow
and wishing he had in his hands a sweet-singing saber
to unsheathe and run through his taunting foe.

The fairy watched him a while longer, then grinned,
saying, “How about a drink to set things right?
I have me own draught with which to amend
my trespass upon you, my friend, this night.”
Cooligan wanted to tell him to go piss off,
but he knew he hadn’t the strength to pass up
any liquor, even if served in a trough,
and so he accepted his foe’s wooden cup.
And what a cup! What a liquor!
It was better than Cooligan ever tasted,
and though it was thick as a dead tree’s ichor,
he drank it dry—not a drop of it wasted.

“And here is my atonement,” the fairy said,
“for that cup shall never go dry for long,
but will fill up as soon as it goes to your head—
always the same amount, always just as strong.”
What the fairy said was soon proven true,
for the wooden cup refilled soon thereafter,
and Cooligan eagerly drank this draught, too,
and then the next, deaf to the fairy’s laughter.
He drank all night, and into the dawn,
staggering into town with a grin on his face,
drinking and drinking, like a rain-flooded lawn—
soppy and sloppy and wet all over the place.

“I have what no one else does!” Cooligan proclaimed.
“I have a cup that never, ever empties!”
And like a man who has never been ashamed,
he undid his trousers to loose his overladen lees.
A great commotion arose in the Irish town
because of Cooligan’s uncouth behavior,
and Father Flanagan came, his face a frown
as he exhorted him with thoughts of the Savior.
He said, “The only cup you should truly drink from
is that of Jesus Christ, God’s one and only Son.”
Cooligan spoke to the priest as if he was dumb:
“Christ’s love is finite, whereas this doth overrun!”

Soon enough Cooligan was doing nothing at all
except drinking and pissing both far and wide,
ruining crops worse than the coming Fall
and the stores to hold over the Winter-tide.
Millstones crumbled when touched by his piss
and crops withered from a blight before unknown,
whereas Cooligan drank and drank, never remiss
to shower the countryside with a rain all his own.
His neighbors all feared the coming famine
and so plotted to imprison Cooligan anon,
catching him in a net, like a slippery salmon,
and dragging him to church at the brink of dawn.

Taking his wooden cup, they were all shocked
when he pissed aplenty as if still drinking overmuch
so that his bladder yet brimmed, too overstocked
with the fairy liquor he could no longer touch.
They looked in the cup, and saw to their surprise
neither dregs nor wetness marked wood or inlay,
and so, hardly believing the import of their eyes,
concluded he had been pissing his own wits away!
This proved true as Cooligan withered and drooled
within the confession booth wherein he was bound,
and soon all his sense and reason were overruled
as his eyes emptied and his head lolled around.

“He will soon die,” one of the men remarked.
“And a good riddance, too!” another man said.
“That’s not how a Christian talks!” the priest barked.
The men withdrew, guilt and shame upon each head.
The priest then went into the receiving booth
and tried to draw out Cooligan’s last confession.
“Please, Cooligan, tell me all that is your truth
so I may forgive your sins in this last session.”
The little fairy sat upon Cooligan’s shoulder
and spoke to the priest, telling him heinous lies
about Cooligan’s sins, the next lie bolder
than the last, until the priest beseeched the skies.

“Oh Lord, God in Heaven, whom hath seen it just
to punish this man for his outrageous deeds,
please deliver him from his sins of wrath and lust
and intemperance and all that such breeds!”
Upon this utterance the fairy glowed bright
and absconded with Cooligan’s insensate body,
taking him to Faerie, while the priest saw the light
and marveled at the miracle of the God he
loved and served; Whom somehow forgave him
who had drank his countrymen into abject woe,
meanwhile Cooligan woke, weak of limb
and in the power of his diminutive foe.

Redbud

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Redbud stretched her branches in the cool rain,
welcoming with pink petals the Spring shower
and shading the vehicles in the lane
and wondering what exactly was a “rush hour”.

Redbud was a tree fairy knowing nary
noise nor hustle nor confusion of a city—
she simply had to grow, like any tree fairy,
standing there, apart and content and pretty.

The hustle and bustle of human kin
seemed a lot of effort for little reward;
why not just dig your thirsty roots in
and flaunt your flowers when you were bored?

Committed

The shadows from the trees stretched long
across the grass, like a black gate,
and though he was a boy, bold and strong,
he was also uncommitted, so he did not wait,
for it was the gate to Faerie, just beyond
and he knew that a people who opened a gate
at sunset were not, in truth, much overfond
when welcoming guests at an hour so late.
If they invited strangers upon their lawn
in the darkening of the Twilight
rather than the lightening of the Dawn
they were peoples of the Night,
and, so, folks a good Christian should shun—
therefore his brisk walk became a frantic run.

He heard the silver notes of the chimes
and the strumming of gold-stringed lutes;
he heard the laughter and the rhymes
and the happy piping of their flutes,
and he ran all the harder, at full sprint,
racing toward the setting sun,
coming, at length, to his tent
and entering as the day came undone.
He created a fire in the pit
of the tent, to keep himself warm,
and as his tent’s canvas was thereupon lit
he saw shadows dancing in a swarm—
saw the shadows twirl and whirl
with many a comely fairy girl.

Around and around they danced,
playing their songs and whispering,
and a curvaceous fairy laughed and pranced,
calling to him to kiss her ring.
“Come kiss me, child,” she sighed and cooed,
“do not abandon me to be forlorn.”
She promised him things most lewd,
but he held his silence until the morn.
He spoke only to say a prayer,
repeating the words ad nauseam,
denying that he wished to see them bare
even as he knew he wished to see them—
see their curves and their skin
gleaming in the sweat of sin.

When the sun rose, at last,
he heard Fairies no more ‘round his tent
and so he opened the flap, running fast
past standing stones, to his village in Kent.
As he ran away from the glade
his mind and heart ran contrariwise,
longing for a pact to be made
with a Fairy maiden with silken thighs.
Arriving in town, he found things changed
and saw a man riding a horseless carriage
and he thought himself, therefore, deranged
and regretted not accepting a Fairy in marriage—
when he told his story, with nothing omitted,
law enforcement had him committed.

Vixen

Headlights glinted in a pair of mischievous eyes
before the fox turned, disappearing behind her own tail
and into an overgrown field, the tenebrous skies
falling heavy over the blackened backwoods vale.
Headlights dimmed and died and the man stepped out,
gazing across the glass, darkly, of a reed-riddled pond,
and walking down from the dead-end lane’s turnabout
toward the driveway, and to the farmhouse beyond.
The house was large, old, three storeys tall
and its porch had but one outside light shining
to glow across the porch, peeling back the pall
of Night as it weighed upon the horizon’s lining.
Each window was a skull-socket in that half-lit facade—
all but one on the top floor, in a far corner where
a single foxfire candle burned; and so, with a nod,
the man approached the tree that stood parallel there.
As he looked up he remembered her freckled face
and her pink lips as she had waved goodbye,
riding her bike away from his much-maligned place
after promising a taste of her wild strawberry pie.
He had watched her while his blood burned and rose,
Lust a devil that had taken to rutting inside his head
and he grinned like an ape to think of her clothes
torn to reveal strawberry-and-cream flesh outspread.
So he climbed the oak, rising with a lust-feverish grasp
on branches and twigs and even the bark’s scales
until, at length, he came to grab the hot window clasp
and raised it, hearing, for the first time, fairy bells.
“I’m comin’ in, darlin’,” he said, his breath lurching
as he gazed into the candlelit room, his grin so wide
that he looked like a beast upon that branch, perching
like a Nightmare astride a dreamer with nowhere to hide.
He was so startled when the rifle met his eager eye
that he lost his grasp and fell from that tall tree,
tumbling headfirst into his final bed, to forever lie
while a fox laughed, as a girl, with glee.