Facing the Witch

Sharp-tongued, bad-tempered,
Baleful with knowledge,
Ambitious witch,
A fervent desire burns in her eyes.
With charms written backwards,
She gives us long tasks.

We perform.
It’s her will.

We sit at the cauldron stirring dark liquids
As moons chase sun after sun from the hills.

The cauldron is split.
She screams in her fury.
Vicious elixir spills out on the land
Poisoning horses,
Parching the lake.
All of her wishes taken from her.

Disappointed, tyrannical mother,
Who spurs on her children, as if to their ruin,
Giving, by this, the magical spark
The three precious drops
Bright knowledge and wisdom
Three drops to shine in the pitiless dark.

For this she will chase you.
Chase you through dreams.
There is no escape.

Turning to meet her, tired of the race,
Looking the dark hag straight in the face
My eyes newly opened
I see there another
A goddess
A mother
Spinning a wheel and harvesting grace.

Beneath her dark robes is a glimmering brightness,
A fire that transforms, ignites and inspires.
Her curse marks the path to all of her blessings
And opens the way to visions of light
At the heart of this beautiful chalice of night.

Forest Night (new edit)

In the centre of a forest
I find myself alone.
I am truly lost.
I look behind the way I came;
Broken branches, sodden leaves.
I crashed through there in dreams.
I hurt the wood.
I see no path ahead.

Night begins to fall,
no sky in view above. I stand transfixed,
the ground beneath my feet,
unstable now, green leaves above a pit.
I cannot move. No footprints lay ahead.
I can only wait, deserved and destined fate.
I ask the spirits of this forest
for a way to see the path.

I hear no answer, just the hollow echoes of my voice.
I will stand here in the night and wait
until an answer comes.
Darkness gathers round.
In the morning
when light returns
I’ll try to find a better path
and attempt to make amends.

In the Forest

In the centre of a forest

I find myself alone.

I am truly lost.

I look behind the way I came;

Broken branches, sodden leaves.

I crashed through there in dreams.

 

Night begins to fall,

no sky in view above.

I stand transfixed,

the ground beneath my feet,

unstable now,

green leaves

above a pit.

 

I cannot move.

No footprints lay ahead,

no markers left behind.

I can only wait,

deserved and destined fate.

I call for help.

 

I hear no answer,

just the echoes of my voice.

I will stand here

in the night and wait

until an answer comes.

No choice for me in that.

Darkness gathers round.

 

In the morning  light will come

perhaps I’ll find 

a clearer, open path

 

Storytellers (a pantoum)

when the power went out we were ready
the oil lamps were already filled
the white candles stood in their holders
all was comfort and warmth

the oil lamps were always filled
we gathered more brushwood and bracken
all was comfort and warmth
we kindled the fire, made it crackle

we gathered more brushwood and bracken
piling on driftwood and logs
we kindled the fire, make it crackle
the flames rose high as they burned

piling on logs and driftwood
we sat near the fire as it blazed
the flames rose high as they burned
we sat by the fire, telling each other tales

we sat near the fire as it blazed
while the wind rattled the roof tiles
we sat by the fire, telling each other tales
life went on unchanged

while the wind rattled the roof tiles
the bread was steadily rising
life went on unchanged
until the power came back

the bread was steadily rising
we flicked a switch on the radio
when the power came back
the world stepped into the house

we flicked a switch on the radio
bringing nothing of value to us
the world stepped into the house
the house grew instantly colder

bringing nothing of value to us
now all would be darkness and shadows
the house would grow instantly colder
there is no source of heat these days

now all would be darkness and shadows
I miss the wood smoke and firelight
there is no source of heat these days
I miss the stories we told

 

 

(this is a re-write of an earlier poem I posted – called Without Power – I rewrote it as a Pantoum to see if the form improved it – I think it has)
 

 

 

Nervous

 

sitting alone here, in my room, lost in my thoughts,

sifting ideas, drifting in dreams

 

but stop!

 

was that a sound I heard outside?

is something sneaking about in the night?

i hear my heart beating loud in my ears

ba-boom ba-boom ba-boom ba-boom

 

i had a nightmare about this once

people were climbing the garden wall

they were hooded, and secret and carried long knives

i barred up my windows and locked up my doors

i fought then with fury

i beat them off

ba-ba-boom ba-ba-boom ba-ba-boom ba-ba-boom

 

waiting, listening the time passes slowly,

my ears are alive to the sounds of the night

i turn off the light and look from the window

a thief in the darkness  rummages about

then delight

i see there’s no danger

it’s only a stranger astray in these parts

a beautiful, nervously watchful

red fox

Undefeated

All windows locked, no door, no sanctuary,
no hopes, no kindness, all dreams your nightmares
in this world, of your creation, only you
spreading your despair

Locking loveliness away with bitter hate,
dread fate, you hover over me, a demon.
Is this the best that you can find to hurt me?
I have my own mask

Masked and silent, with my stomach clenched in fear
I fly a million miles away, never near.
You shut me in a darkened room, I vanish
I wear my own wings

You cannot reach inside my mind, never will.
There is a light you can’t extinguish. It burns,
buried under night, it glimmers softly still.
I have my own light

You mistook me long for one who cannot see.
I know you, I see you struggling in your hell.
I cannot help you, break the spell or reach you.
I can’t set you free

I will go from here one day. I’ll forget you.
You’ll remember how I tried to bring you light.
No doubt you’ll see that as a greater torment.
I won’t be haunted

When I escape, the sun will shine the brighter
in a world that’s new to me, reborn from dark,
clearer, stronger, its definitions sharper.
This is not defeat.

The Minstrel

Peering through a mist

parting a veil, dusty webs,

staring back at fate.

I see the entrance vividly,

the exit all too clear

 

He rode into London in a cavalcade

his lady seated before him, bedazzled by all they saw

exchanging glances with his boisterous brothers

they rode in a merry troupe, loud laughter and youth

lute and tabor, bells and fine embroidery.

They roamed the streets at night

joyful pups in a rainbow of rags and finery

mocking wealth they cocked a snoop at death.

They attracted wide attention.

 

red ribbons and green

her hair swings in the sunlight

her eyes, her arms, life

 

Ah! but to stay in the streets and courtyards would have been far wiser.

What does youth know, exuberant, thoughtless, unwitting.

Attention a flattery, alluring.

Beckoned through wider and higher doors

they entered in. Gardens of delight, sweet scents and song

gentle harmless beauty, so it seemed to him.

A peace fell upon him there, he dreamed in poetry.

Darkness approached. The shadow of a cloud on the grass as it crosses that summers sun.

 

lavender lady

seats herself amongst roses

charming, so disarming

 

Requests made, favours granted ,

twisted meanings, things not understood,

so many whispers in quiet corridors,

the web of intrigue draws tighter,

he spoke the wrong words too lightly

spilling his thoughts into treacherous ears.

This tale reveals all that was feared.

The shadow of the Tower looms closer.

He longs to leave this city, they will flee at night,

run to the countryside

where the hills are wide and sweeping,

where the willows lean gently

over the Avon weeping.

All too late.

He prays she got away.

 

dark walls draw inward

music screams loud in the silence

of la oubliette

 

this is not his final end, the world is too unkind

better to be forgotten than to suffer such a fate

still unsatisfied they dragged him out

it turns and troubles my stomach now

to watch the rest of this

the pain became too great and ceased, he rose

floating high above himself, looking down on horror

seeing things no-one should see

and my pen grows silent, as he fades away in light

 

red roses spread out

he flies above the woodlands

butterflies of light

 

 

 

The Queen of the Greenwood (a Corona)

i sit by the fire in the woodland
all is peace, gentle, quiet, dear,
yet my heart rises to my throat
rises like a spring, a songbird
wings beating, bursting
the well is deep, the moment fleeting
my pulse like water singing
drumming, humming
all fades away on the breeze
even as its golden light glows
shining out in the darkness
known, yet unknown.

home is her, and now.
it comes, it goes, the rose

it comes, it goes, the rose
the wild rose of the woodland
i run, trying to reach it
eagerness grasps only thorns
no perfume, no tender pink heart
better admired where it grows
soft petals shine out in the dark
dark trees loom all around
lost or found it blooms there
where is she in all i seek
she who holds the rose
why does she always leave

turning always to look back at me
she comes, she goes, holding the rose

she comes, she goes, holding the rose
i saw her up on the green hill
weaving in and out of the dance
i bow to her and take her hand
spin her, never win her
that wild, unruly, so gentle glance
as she turns and runs away
always looking back at me
always a footfall further
she haunts me still, never stays
she of the hill and the greenwood
where the paths all lead inward

deeper and ever deeper
into the wood i travel, willingly

into the wood i travel, willingly
this forest so wide and vast
these paths turn on fortunes wheel
darkness and light
all things future, all things past
shadows and clearings
silence and voices
a harp song on the wind
flute and owl hoot
the flash of a birds wing
in the night
i follow the ravens flight

i follow the Raven to the Tower
the gate is locked and barred

the gate is locked and barred
all is empty here
a hollow echo from before
i will not venture in
i stand and feel no fear
the Tower crumbles all to dust
i lay down my ancient sword
my armour turns to rust
my horse is faithful still
i trust to him and the Raven
i will follow his path
it is my own at last

all travellers have a quest
we ride on, finding the way

we ride on to once upon a time
over the hills and far away
where all paths twist back on themselves
always to the greenwood
the distant rainbows end
the treasure at its heart
the place where the rose unfolds
i dream amongst the trees
unafraid of any foe
guarded by a wall of thorns
protected in her circling arms
where all my dreams come true

i will travel on with her
wherever she may go

wherever she goes i will go
i follow in the dance
my pulse like water singing
she of the hill and the greenwood
queen of the shadows and clearings
my armour gleams again
i will be her hero
until my breath gives out
guarded by twisted paths
we rest in peace, with the rose
over the hills and far away
where time will never end

*******

 

a Corona is a series of sonnets strung together by the repetition of a line