The Shepherd Of Dreams

Wherefore come the mists in the vale
but as clouds hung low and heavy
with flights of fantasy to tell
which brim, but not break, the levee?
Such mists might come stampeding wild
lest the shepherd guide them with calm,
ram and lamb and ewe all made mild
with blessings from his phantom palm.
He shepherds half-glimpsed, as a ghost,
amidst the moisture of the morn,
a patient specter on the coast—
who is to say he is forlorn?
Mists and dreams manifest his flock,
fading, half-forgotten at light,
floating far from the lonely loch,
their fleece foggy…drifting…cool…white.
Do not rouse at the passing flock
or the flock is quickly dispelled,
and do not blink at the reed stalk
by the shepherd’s easy hand held—
it is the bane of goblin kin
who covet the flock for their own,
eating dreams of sleeping children
as they toss and turn, weep and moan.
Thus, the shepherd tends his flock well,
though his eyelids may droop down low;
sentinel even when storms swell,
lightning strikes, and the strong winds blow.
Highlands, lowlands, valley and moor,
the flock wanders on hooves unheard,
guided gently from shore to shore,
quiet as his unspoken word.

Mythical Riddle

A temple he had made
with demons as his thralls,
but doom was therein laid
in those holy halls.
Great wisdom could not save
this ruler so reverred
as he became a slave
to endless Lust, steered
far from a loyalty
unto his only god,
a man of royalty
ruled by his own rod,
traitor like his father
for the locust embrace
of a foreign daughter
with a pretty face.

Jack In The Box

Death is an old jack-in-the box,
the coil wound tight as music plays,
springing out with a grin that mocks
and startles at the end of days.
There is never laughter, nor mirth,
in this ancient jester’s dealings—
the old crank wound round at our birth
is never stopped by our feelings.
And we always know he will spring,
this jester with his mirthless grin,
yet the shock still has a sharp sting
as we face the box, the coffin.

More Rhymes

Lucubrations

If science is still a candle

in the dark

then we must get a firm handle

on Truth’s spark

and grow it into a campfire

for the woods,

to reveal our world and retire

our dark hoods.

But politics are sunglasses

worn at night,

dimming the Truth as it passes

near the light

and veiling our eyes with shadows—

do not shade

your sight with how a mad-fad goes

(they all fade).

Beyond the tribal lenses

we all wear

we could gain better senses

for what’s there

if we could only hold the light

close and fast

we would nevermore fear that night

of Man’s past.

Rotgut

The rust-banded barrels

and rust-colored spiders,

rust-bespeckled heralds

with cocooned miters.

Rotgut whiskey, bellied

with gut-rotting venom,

insect innards jellied

and melting within them.

A Dead Horse

It is a dead pack-horse

for your grievances, your grudges,

beaten without remorse,

yet still it lays, never budges

beneath that scornful weight

encumbering its frayed saddle

as you spite its sad state,

not sparing yourself the paddle.

A Difference Of Character

Some wear their petty little griefs

as if they are acclaimed war scars,

listing long their aggrieved beliefs

as if Purple Hearts, or Gold Stars,

while others, with true wounds to bear,

hide them beneath thick, modest sleeves,

afraid others will glimpse and stare

at what never fades; never leaves.

The Garroter Priest

They come unto him, the Garroter Priest,

praying like sheep to the fangs of a beast,

seeking his rosary, his brimstone path—

the way of war, and its bleak aftermath.

Kneeling before him, they welcome his grasp

around their necks, like a tight choker’s clasp,

his fingers interlocked in grim prayer,

helping them see their God (as they lose air);

the God of the Red, of rage consuming

like a stab, a gunshot, a bomb blooming

to engulf their lives and welcome the flood

of fire, of ash, of smoke and tears and blood,

hearing evermore the discordant choir,

each angel strumming its sinewed lyre.

His clarion call is a dire wolf’s howl

and his flock gathers, a pack on the prowl:

“Come, O flock of mine!” he says, “A fine fleece

each of you offer, and in return, peace

shall be your reward—the peace of such spite

that knows no end except when the sharp bite

about your neck sinks deep, strangling from you

a life burdened with grudges old and new.”

And so the Garroter Priest blesses those

whose wolfish fury hides in sheepish clothes,

wrenching from their throats the hunger of hate

and bleeding them to a more tranquil state,

for a faith of hellfire and brimstone laws

proceeds by a cannibal’s fangs and claws

as the acolytes eat one another,

shepherd on flock, and brother on brother,

until one remains, the Garroter Priest,

who welcomes himself to one final feast.