Over the Rainbow

Good morning to my brethren, our time has begun.
Let’s don our garb; share a toast and all have some fun.
It’s finally St. Paddy’s day, cheers to one and all.
Our heritage’s expansive, though our part may be small.
~
Diaspora may dilute our tasty brews of green,
the potency of the day now not clearly seen.
But snakes can’t writhe when we happily parade.
And a festival it is and never will it fade.
~
From Pagan and Druid to the trinity of leaf,
a saint named Patrick triumphed over grief.
His plight heroic and his resilience reinforced,
a feast deserved, though now locally sourced.
~
With homage to our forebears, together we shall stand.
Today I’ll wear my green and gladly shake your hand.
Our faith in worldly friendship unites, dare to be bold.
Good luck to all and may you find your pot of gold.

~*~
SCK031721

The Color of Life

Still I wake knowing not what to do.
Will I be happy or some shade of blue.
I’ve seen birth and I’ve seen death.
I shared my loves very last breath.
~
With time comes change, like it or not.
The good remembered, bad mostly forgot.
With each hue an infinite tone.
The play of light’s what we’re shown.
~
The sun’s journey across the sky,
alters our visions subtly and sly.
In the dark we see the colors of day.
Shadows forever lurk either way.
~
Given the choice all would be bright,
a life coddled in the warmth of light.
Tho the dawn missed and sunset yearned.
Questions unanswered, nothing’s learned.
~
Tomorrows lessons tested today,
all’s pass or fail either way.
And the change must be or not to see.
The cost high but the time’s free.

~*~
SCK020919

A Slap in the Hindsight

When I was just a small boy,
perhaps seven or eight,
I didn’t want to go to bed;
I wanted to stay up late.
~
But when I’d sneak back downstairs,
for some TV and a snack,
my mom would be there waiting.
And boy I’d get a smack.
~
That seems so long ago now,
and my how things progressed.
Slaps have been reconsidered,
now more creatively addressed.
~
The mischief too has waned,
but I still stay up too late.
The TV no longer excites me,
but man the snacks are great.
~
It’s funny what’s remembered,
and how it shapes our thought.
I’ve learned many lessons well;
now glad to be often caught.
~
My mom now long since passed,
her sacrifices never ignored.
I really was a bratty kid,
but at least mom was never bored.

~*~
SCK031521

Way Misunderstood

I once dated a lady from Providence.
She had lots of degrees and I, little sense.
We went on a date and took a stroll.
She walked right into a telephone pole.
~
She fell down and scraped her knee.
Writhing in pain she screamed at me.
“My glasses unworn so I’d look good!”
I helped her get home as I should.
~
We cleaned her wound, it wasn’t that bad.
Our date was ruined and we both were sad.
I asked to see her again real soon.
We both agreed on the next afternoon.
~
I went to her house, she opened the door.
What she had planned I wasn’t sure.
She said come in; you can have your way.
What she said next, I couldn’t say.
~
She left the room and I got undressed,
thinking this better than I had guessed.
When she returned she gasped in shock,
while I was caressing a huge pet rock.
~
She soon started swinging and I ran out.
I stood naked outside, my lunch in doubt.
A misunderstanding ruined that day.
And I never did try her curds and whey.

~*~
SCK031121

Splash

Day to dusk and dusk to night,
night to dawn and a new day’s light.
Time as life cycles in a spectrum of hues.
Frequencies frequently dulled by blues.
~
Every second a shade setting a tone,
rainbows intensify when not alone.
Clouds engulf or stars shine,
wheels tint our chosen line.
~
Years may fly while hardships creep,
troubles fade when dreams we keep.
Brush aside the grays in a timely fashion;
pull pastels into a daily ration.
~
Day to dusk and dusk to night,
night to dawn and a new day’s light.
Alarms will sound and snoozes ensue.
The palette new, what color are you?

~*~
SCK031021

Lazy Man

When Steve was but a small boy the signs were becoming clear.
Movement was not forthcoming from that precious little dear.
He stayed there in his tiny crib until he grew too tall.
He laid there day and night just staring at the wall.
~
His parents were much concerned as the young boy slowly grew.
The only activity he seemed to like was when he had to chew.
His cousins would come to visit and they all went out to play.
But not little Stevie, in his bed he chose to stay.
~
Eventually the school days came and Steve was dragged to class.
Fortunately his memory was good and easily he did pass.
The next twelve years were much the same, for him fair’s good enough.
His parents wished him college bound, but Steve didn’t like that sort of stuff.
~
A few more years Steve stayed at home, until he got kicked out.
Poor Steve was confused and hurt his future so much in doubt.
While shuffling slowly to his grandma’s house he saw a big lit-up sign.
Steve read it very carefully and then he felt just fine.
~
Waiters wanted is what it said so Steve sauntered in to see what’s what.
It wasn’t what he was thinking though and got kicked out on his butt.
Steve was deflated as he felt his world come crashing down.
Sitting alone on a park bench he watched darkness fill his town.
~
The sun then newly risen, Steve slumbered peacefully.
Until poked by a cop named Phil, who wouldn’t let Steve be.
Steve then told Phil of his plight and how his life’s a mess.
Phil flung Steve in the backseat as he could care no less.
~
A furious Phil then told Steve he was just a lazy man.
And that he wouldn’t do anything if someone else can.
Arriving at the station Steve was ordered to quietly sit.
Phil came back the next day and said “I found a place you’ll fit.
~
Steve was brought to a room where screens filled every wall.
Phil told Steve what to look for and when to make the call.
Steve loved his new position, his super power he had found.
Soon a suspect spotted and promptly tackled to the ground.
~
If you’re looking for a moral, a lazy story you shouldn’t seek.
Perhaps the lesson’s there so I’m glad you took a peek.
Though the story may be fiction the condition does often show.
And when a cure for lazy is found I’ll be sure to let you know.

~*~
SCK031021

Swearing

I woke today without a thought.
I tried to write as I ought.
The hours past, the writing naught,
perhaps a blockage I have caught.
~
But tomorrow is another day.
Will I write, I cannot say.
Will the blockage have its way?
Or will the rhymes come out to play.
~
Questions asked but answer’s few.
If not to write what will I do?
Will I feel sad and blue?
Or will tomorrow shed a clue?
~
I’ll let you know, wait right here.
I’ll try my hardest, this I swear.
Long or short, I don’t care.
Because it’s always best to share.

~*~
SCK030921

Really Hoping

I really wish you could stay awhile.
I really do love the way you smile.
I love the way you walk and talk;
I really do love your style.
~
I love the way you touch my hand.
I love the way you take command.
I really do love our time together,
whether on sea, air or land.
~
I’d love to tell you what I think.
And the way I feel when you wink.
I’d love to hear all your thoughts,
really hoping we’re both in sync.

~*~
SCK030721

Learn to Earn

Wealth isn’t measured by dollars;
it’s measured by our sense.
Money can’t buy happiness,
unless we’re happy with pretense.
~
Joy comes from simple pleasures,
like a sunset or a baby’s smile.
Laughter’s always free,
whether old or a juvenile.
~
Heath too is very important,
as our feelings always show.
We can’t make a living,
when life’s value we don’t know.
~
Though love can require work,
it yields our greatest return.
So invest your time in others.
And self-worth you’ll then earn.

~*~
SCK030621

The Wizard of Windham

The wizard of Windham lived on the hill.
His walls of stone are standing there still.
The roof’s now long gone as is the tower,
once a symbol of the wizard’s great power.
~
His age was unknown, a millennium guessed.
The first settlers awed, but some less impressed.
The natives too could never agree.
Were his acts wizardly or wise fakery?
~
The questions delayed with new problems brewing.
The settlers flourished and the natives were stewing.
Agreements were made and boarders were mapped.
The hill was the place where both overlapped.
~
The wizard then asked to choice just one side.
The wizard then answered with a grin, big and wide.
“I’ll choose no side as the hill is my own,
each stone hand-placed, a thousand years grown.”
~
“My family, you see, arose from these grounds.
We speak and we hear all natures’ sounds.
The grasses here grow tall to tickle my feet.
And the berries are delicious because I like sweet.”
~
The chiefs convinced as he spoke of their legends.
Each then agreed it’s best to be friends.
The settlers too thought that was best.
A treaty was signed and they all now could rest.
~
Years then passed with the wizard unseen.
But his tower stood proud on its hill of green.
The settlers now settled and their families grew.
The natives moved on leaving now but a few.
~
A new generation, now triple in size,
gazed at the hill with big greedy eyes.
The treaty forgotten as was the wizard.
They planned to start building after the blizzard.
~
The long winter passed, the spring brought more rain.
That summer was scorching, then autumn again.
Builders were hired that following spring.
A fortress they’d build with a big banquet wing.
~
Wagons were loaded and the horses well fed.
The mayor woke early from his big comfy bed.
A speech he’d planned for that very day.
But storm clouds moved in and the sky turned gray.
~
His speech was canceled but the builders went ahead.
The mayor scurried home then back to bed.
Rain soon started then followed by hail.
The wagons got stuck on the wet slippery trail.
~
The work then delayed until the skies cleared.
Months soon passed, much longer than feared.
Rumors spread of the wizards return;
if magic he has come summer they’ll burn.
~
By early June the sky hinted of blue,
the trail now firm and the grass green and new.
The builders then called to make a new start.
The horses led forward pulling wagon and cart.
~
The trail narrowed at the base of the hill.
Then the horses all stopped and just stood still.
The builders got scared and ran back to town.
The mayor got fired for being a clown.
~
Some say the wizard had gotten his way.
That legend lives on to this very day.
Does the wizard still live, well nobody knows.
But his hill’s still green as the little town grows.

~*~
SCK030421

Rainbows and Unicorns

Today I know not what to do.
So I think I’ll try something new.
I’ll color a poem with skies so bright,
with stars that twinkle every night.
~
There’ll be no wars or no hate.
Conflicts solved with just debate.
There’ll be no clocks to dictate time.
There’ll be no violence or any crime.
~
There’ll be no pollution or climate change.
All will be loved, there’ll be no strange.
Peace will be our common goal.
Joy we’ll share from our soul.
~
There’ll be no hunger or disease.
Children will play as they please.
Crayons will be free for everyone.
So let’s get a box and start the fun.

~*~
SCK022721

Nature’s Gift

It’s been a while since I spoke of love,
that precious gift sent from above.
It fills our days with joy and bliss.
Thoughts consumed with our next kiss.
~
Eyes will open to a brand new day,
life is perfect, come what may.
Souls awakened with a simple glance.
Dreams are lived with our romance.
~
Passion exudes on your smiling face.
Troubles evaporate without a trace.
Tomorrow’s welcomed, as are more.
If a lion I’d surely roar.
~
If a kitten I’d loudly purr,
wishing to play and they’d concur.
I’ve said enough, at least, for now.
But there’ll be more, this I vow.

~*~
SCK022621

Forced in Space

The earth is but a pebble,
yet it’s so much more.
We wake there every morning,
this we know for sure.
~
It hurtles through our galaxy,
yet we’re standing still.
We can try to fly away,
but we never will.
~
If we were to leave,
where could we go?
The sky gives many choices,
but an answer we’ll never know.
~
Our minds were made to question,
but time’s our only clue.
If we could not think,
what then would we do?
~
Would we then survive,
living like bugs or beasts?
Could we ever imagine,
lives without its feasts?
~
Or would we just devolve,
returning to mere dust?
The cosmos our destination,
where the unknown we’re then thrust.
~
Our pebble we’d then follow,
attracted by its force,
Our lives would then not matter,
unless we changed our course.

~*~
SCK022521

Rest in Fleece

One more month and spring is here.
When freezing to death’s no longer a fear.
We’ll pack our sweaters, hats and coats.
Soon the bay will fill with boats.
~
Flowers will bloom and temps will rise.
Trees will green before longing eyes.
Days get longer, nights a bit cool.
But now we wait, because time’s cruel.
~
I don’t hate winter or the cold.
But those months are growing old.
I do like autumn but spring is still best.
So for one more month I’ll just rest.

~*~
SCK022020

Figmented

In a little town not far from here,
there lived a star, a puppeteer.
She entertained children near and far.
While her husband played his old guitar.
~
The puppets danced and the kids all giggled.
The guitarist sang and everyone wiggled.
But behind the show’s curtain of green,
the puppeteer performs, always unseen.
~
But she’s not sad, she’s quite content,
the shows always fun and it pays the rent.
Their home life is great with two cats and a dog.
And in a pond nearby they had a pet frog.
~
Their children, now grown and moved far away,
but they all get together for Christmas day.
The tree lit up bright and gifts piled high.
They await the sunrise in the cold winter sky.
~
First up’s the grandkids, it’s time to explore.
Next was the dog that sleeps by the door.
The children were silent peaking at the gifts.
Each on lookout in five minute shifts.
~
Tape’s gently pulled and corners peeled back,
they had to work fast to get through the stack.
The children were careful to not make a mess,
because if caught, next year there’d be less.
~
It didn’t take long for them to realize,
the presents were fake and the pets were spies.
The children panicked and ran back to their beds,
to dream once more of dolls, blocks and sleds.
~
But the parents sat waiting at the top of the stairs.
The kids now caught broke down in tears.
They ruined Christmas and the parents were mad.
The grandparents were disappointed and that was sad.
~
A lecture was given while breakfast they ate.
Grandma’s lesson was that good things are worth the wait.
And that things are not always as they appear,
you can take it from her, she’s a puppeteer.
~
Breakfast was finished at a leisurely pace.
Anticipation beamed from everyone’s face.
Then a puppet appeared dressed as Santa Claus,
who passed out presents to much applause.

~*~
SCK022321

Soupy Forecast

Whenever I think I’ve been reinvented,
something gets lost, broken or dented.
Change is good is what they say.
But then I don’t know who I’ll be that day.
~
Chocolate, vanilla, strawberry or coffee,
there’s no one best we all can agree.
Fit and lean or skinny and wasted,
personal palettes are always what’s tasted.
~
Intelligence’s graded by those who agree,
calamity then guided by another’s stupidity.
Sink or swim, lose or fight,
will it matter when the victor’s right.
~
As of today I have no conclusion,
just more questions and confusion.
Perhaps tomorrow I’ll know what’s what.
So for now I’ll just follow my gut.

~*~
SCK022221

Snakes in the Grass

black and red snake on green grass

My story began on the fifth of May.
The day was chilly with a sky of gray.
In my tent, cozy, I woke to a scream.
Was it a person or was it a dream?
~
Morning dew thick, I stood there alone.
The sun newly risen, I reached for my phone.
No urgent messages or a soul in sight.
No reason at all to cause such a fright.
~
The bikes were still leaning on a nearby tree.
They’re the only way home for my pal and me.
I then ran to the tent of my snoring friend,
who’s along for the ride this spring weekend.
~
But the roar from within made it quite clear,
my old friend’s just fine, no need to fear.
I then glanced down the path to a campsite nearby.
Something felt wrong but I didn’t know why.
~
I tiptoed closer when another scream was heard.
It was the voice of a child, but that seemed absurd.
I then ran to the shrieking and what did I find?
Kids with a snake and they weren’t being kind.
~
I said hey kids “what’s with the noise?
And why do you think that snakes are toys?”
One little girl about seven or eight,
said she wanted a pet and snakes are great.
~
Her brother the screamer cried at the thought.
He’s afraid of snakes or anything caught.
The other two children stood quiet and surprised,
their naughty ways they now realized.
~
I said all life should be treated as if it’s your own.
A lesson you should have already known.
Soon the kid’s parents arrived on the scene.
Their mother was angry, their father, big and mean.
~
He yelled loudly at his children and then at me.
Saying stay away from my kids or trouble you’ll see.
I knew not to argue or make a big fuss.
But there was something I hoped to discuss.
~
I said “no problem, it’s not what it seems.”
I then told them my story of snakes and screams.
Their mom, disgusted, took the kids back to camp.
The dad growled asking “do you think I’m damp?”
~
Puzzled, I asked “what do you mean,
I’ve only told you what I’ve seen.”
“I saw no snake, just my kids and you.”
The dad replied, “What would you do?”
~
I know what I thought, but I couldn’t say.
I felt it best to live through the day.
I could’ve run, but to where?
I could’ve fought him, but I didn’t dare.
~
He then picked up a very big stick.
Then he charged at me like a lunatic.
I stood frozen awaiting my demise,
when the little snake caught the big man’s eyes.
~
He stopped on a dime and screamed in fear.
His reptilian angst now was clear.
So I slowly bent over and picked up the snake.
The big man then started to tremble and shake.
~
“This is the culprit,” I loudly said.
As I waved it gently near his clammy head.
Sobbing, he begged, “Please take it away.
I now believe everything you say.”
~
I took a step back, surprised and relieved.
The turn of events was hardly believed.
I thanked that snake and said goodbye to the dad.
He just waved, whimpering and sad.
~
I then put the snake down and walked quietly away.
I was relieved we survived this fine spring day.
I went back to my tent then fell back to sleep,
never to tell who a snake made weep.


~*~
SCK022021

The Princess and the Puppy

~

 Once upon a time in the great northlands, there stood an ancient castle built long before anyone’s recollection. It was thought that the castle represented time itself and had grown naturally from the rocky hillside since the beginning of time. These great northlands were a gloomy and cold place most of the year with only a few months of sometimes warm, dry weather. It was a land of rocky hillsides sloping upwards to the north and the jagged, snow covered peaks of the hither land, home to the lost spirits.

The east and west were mostly rocky hillsides, thick brush leading to dark and dense forests beyond. The south was mostly grassy hills sloping gently downward to the forest and the river, a fortnight’s ride in the best of weather.

The inhabitants of this formidable dwelling were the nobility, who ruled, not only the land but also time itself on this lonely hillside. The king of this land was a kind and gentle man of middle years, middle height, and middle weight.  Having ruled since boyhood, due to his parents’ untimely deaths, the king was very respectful of his loyal subjects as they were of him.

The people of the surrounding village lived a very simple but difficult life, some spiritual, some superstitious, some not. Life for these villagers was indeed harsh, though not knowing differently they were content to be safe from invasion, warm in the brutal winter months and adequately fed. Their safety was mostly insured by there isolation. Though it was agreed by all that the king was there protector and they having no formal religion, was also their savior, there was actually a type prayer chanted at meals and there only holiday; Blessed be the king, his sword, his bread, babies nursed, bellies fed, hovels warm, demons dead, blessed be the kings sword and bread.

Luckily for one of the villagers, this harsh life was not absolutely horrible in this foreboding place, it was, by all standards quite comfortable. That of course was the life of the princess, the kings only child and future heir to the throne and ruler of this unbounded kingdom. A very kind and sweet young girl, she was loved by all.

Upon the princesses twentieth birthday the king called for his four most trustworthy, loyal and brave knights, to serve as messengers and venture to the four points of the compass with hopes of finding a suitable princely husband for the future queen.

The most valiant knight was to take the northern route. By far the most difficult journey, high into the rugged cloud covered mountains, endless winters and the unknown. As the days wore on, the snow grew steadily deeper and each night more frigid than the night before. Despite the hardship the gallant knight persisted for many weeks, until he and his faithful companion of many years, the chestnut mare, could go no further. The poor old mare burdened by not only the terrain and weather, but also the weight of the dwindling supplies, the kings bag of gold, the very heavy golden shield and her rider. The shield of course was not intended for battle, but ceremony and was to be given as a gift to some unknown king. It was a very special shield, crafted especially for the king when he ascended to the throne. Several more weeks pass and the knight and his old friend trudge together side by side until the snow was far too deep to walk in. Sensing his demise, the tired and weak knight built a small shelter under a tall spruce tree and let his horse go free, hopefully to return to the castle.

***

The Eastern route was chosen for the largest and fiercest knight, as his journey was sure to encounter danger and skullduggery, thus he was armed appropriately with a huge broadsword slung over his wide shoulders, a large and heavy battle shield and his kings’ fathers’ sword, worn proudly on his hip.  This magnificent sword was not however the knights, but was intended to be a gift for the king of the east, whoever that may be.

After many, many weeks of uneventful riding through the thick forest, yet another chilly and misty day was coming to an end.  Through the dusky light he saw in the distance a dilapidated old wagon and an equally dilapidated old horse, though not another living soul seemed to be about. The knight rode closer and gazed all around, seeing nothing and hearing nothing but the usual sounds of the awakening night forest. He did however smell something, the smell of freshly burnt wood. Following his nose, so to speak, he detected a hint of smoke wafting from a small pile of rocks nearby. “Who be there, show yourself at once” the knight rumbled into the dusky forest.  There was no reply, again the knight shouts, though less harshly “Who be there, I bring thee no harm”. This time a timid and frightened voice answers, “Please kind sir, do not hurt us, we are just a poor family trying to get our sick baby to the village”. The knight dismounts his horse and walks cautiously to the pile of smoldering rocks.

“Show yourselves at once” he says. Slowly the small pitiful family appeared from the shadows. “I beg of you sir, please don’t hurt us, we have nothing, we need to get our poor, little, dying baby to the village”, whimpers the distraught young mother.

The knight responds “fear not, I have not come to harm you, I too am headed to the village to see the king”.

“Oh, please kind sir, will you help us?” cries the scruffy young woman. “My baby will die if we don’t get to the village soon”.

The knight, as kind as he was large, offers a solution “we shall harness my horse to your wagon and go to the village together”.  

“Oh no, kind sir” snaps the women in reply “the trail ahead is very bad and would be to slow”.

The knight now fully sensing her urgency offers another suggestion “I shall ride with the baby to the village” he says.

“But sir, I am sure you are a true and proper knight, but a mother cannot give her only child to a stranger, you must understand” cries the evermore insistent mother.

“Of course I understand” replies the befuddled knight. “You shall ride to the village”

The young woman interrupts “Thank you kind sir, that is most generous of you, but I cannot ride such a large and magnificent beast, though” she pauses,” my husband is an excellent horseman”.

The kind and gentle knight could not refuse, as he could not bear the thought of this small helpless family losing their only child, as he too had but one child. “So be it, but you must leave at once” decides the knight.

With great appreciation, the couple bowed and praised and thanked the blushing giant. When all was said, the husband quikly mounted the reluctant beast. He took the swaddled bundle from his tearful wife, clutched it close to his chest and was off into the growing darkness with only the light of the rising moon to guide him.

The young women, now more relaxed offers to share with the knight some bread and wine from her meager supply. The hungry giant gladly accepts. Moments later our gentle and kind knight is sleeping as soundly as a baby.  At first light the knight awakens from a very deep and refreshing sleep, only to realize he was now alone, very alone.  The young mother was gone, the wagon was gone, even the lame old horse was gone.  But worse, his trusty broad sword and shield was no were to be found, yet worse still, the kings gold and gifts had also disappeared. Stumbling to his feet, the embarrassed and ashamed knight knew he had been tricked. Brushing the leaves from his cloak, he reluctantly headed home, head hung low, for his sense of duty and loyalty were greater than his sense of shame and the king must be informed of this unfortunate event at once.

***

As it was assured that the southern route would eventually lead to a large and powerful kingdom, the most intelligent and affable knight was selected. Having received the gifts and instructions from the king, he shared a sad, heartfelt goodbye with his loving wife and children and then was swiftly off to his unknown destination.

After three days of brisk and invigorating riding, the lonely knight reached the well-known river, running unusually very strong and fast for this time of the year. Unable to cross, the perplexed knight’s only choice was to follow the mighty river downstream to a suitable safe place to cross. After weeks of hazardous riding through the trail less and unfamiliar forest, he comes upon a sharp bend in the river were the water began to flow far less rapidly and he was finally able to cross. After several more weeks in the hard and unforgiving saddle, the dense forest began to thin and vast fields and pastures appeared. By late evening, lights could be seen in a tiny village beyond. The next morning the relieved knight rides through a small village, more fields and pastures and finally to a larger bustling town and the huge, foreboding castle at the end of the road.

Shortly before nightfall the triumphant knight arrives at the castle gate and there he was promptly stopped by two heavily armed and humorless guards. The largest and fiercest of the two ordered him down from his horse and explain his business at the castle. The friendly knight gladly obliged, not wanting to cause a problem. He then reached into his saddlebag to retrieve the letter of invitation from his king and then presented it to the guard.  The guard, not being able to read, passed it to the more senior guard who read the fanciful vellum scroll and inquired politely about these so called gifts. “Show me these gifts and I will bring them to my king at once” said the old guard with a smile.

The Knight feeling more at ease gives the seemingly cheerful guard the small bag of gold and the old jewel handled dagger with the gold sheath and waited.  The sun had now set and the night was growing darker when finally the old guard returned.

My king has no wish to see you; your tiny bag of gold was an insult, fortunately for you, the dagger pleased him, a little, so when you return with your king he will see you both. Now be off at once” he barked.

The confused knight stood silently for a moment, then asked for his gifts to be returned. This caused a great roar of laughter from the two guards, who then shook their long and sharp swords at the red-faced knight and repeated their order to leave; they then went back into the castle and locked the gate behind them. The disgraced knight knew there was nothing more he could do, with a long heavy sigh he mounted his horse and began his long, long journey back home.

***

The western route, like the north was scarcely traveled as the legends of the dark and evil forces beyond the forest were well known and often repeated. There was little expectation of success for this journey but was thought to be a good test for a young messenger and possible future knight. For this reason the youngest, least experienced, but most enthusiastic messenger was selected, assuming he would be frightened soon after the start of his adventure and promptly return, demonstrating at least his good judgment.

Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately for him, the weather was quite nice, the journey mostly pleasant and the change in scenery was intriguing and exiting to the young, bristle headed messenger. After many, many weeks of riding and experiencing the endless new sights, sounds and smells of this uncharted wilderness he eventually came upon what appeared to be an endless body of water crashing on the rocky shore. The water was cool and refreshing but tasted very strange so he drank no more. Following the rocky shoreline for another day it began to transition from large slippery jagged boulders and rocks to smaller smoother rocks and stones and finally to tiny stones and sand where endless ripples of this strange liquid rolled onto the shore. The sun now high overhead blazing in the cloudless sky, our parched knight was beginning to feel quite uncomfortable and stifled in his many layers of old woolen clothing.  He dismounts his equally uncomfortable horse and removed his thick robe, heavy quilted vest and high leather boots. Feeling the cool, wet sand disappearing beneath his feet for the first time, the young messenger was quite amazed at this strange new sensation. He walked on and on with his four legged friend the rest of the afternoon in an almost blissful and jubilant state, if not for their hunger and thirst. Luckily for the parched and weary messenger the large glaring sun was now beginning to set over this vast expanse of water, creating vivid colors in the sky he had never seen. As the intense light of the day transitioned into dusk the young man spotted tiny glowing orange dots far down the beach, perhaps a village he wished out loud.  The sun had by now disappeared below the horizon and the moon and stars were glowing brightly when the much relived messenger arrived at this strange new place, there a small group of villagers, some still tossing their nets into the wondrous sparkling effervescent sea saw the bedraggled stranger and rushed to his aid. The exited and curious villagers welcomed him to their village and gave him much needed food, water and a comfortable place to rest.

After a few of hours of blissful slumber the refreshed messenger awoke to a feast in his honor. There he ate, danced and filled his kings’ gold chalice many times with the strangers potent berry wine.  It was late the next morning when the still dazed messenger stumbled from the tidy little hut perched on the lush hillside to find a perfect day and a perfect and picturesque village spread out before him, the warm and welcoming sandy beach, the brilliant emerald sea beyond and a canopy of pure blue above. He pauses for a moment to absorb the beauty and tranquility all around and with hardly another thought, he decides to stay and make his new home among the happy, friendly and seemingly carefree villagers.

***

Another winter passes and again the ice thawed to mud, the mud turned green and life once again shone on the village. Yet none of the messengers had returned and there were no suitors for the princess. Harvest time quickly arrived and most of the villagers where out of the village picking, digging or otherwise scavenging for anything of possible use during the upcoming long and dreadful winter.

As another cold damp night rapidly approached a young mother with her two crying babies nearby was hurrying to pick the last few reachable berries when she was startled, when suddenly from the fog shrouded forest appeared a man unknown to the frightened woman.  She screamed and plucked her young children from the nearby makeshift pen and ran out of the forest as fast as she could. Within minutes of the blood-curdling screams, the villagers ran to her rescue and the intruder was easily subdued, for the kind and gentle boy prince did nothing to resist. He was brought before the Master-at-arms to explain himself, the prince tells his story of his weeks in the dark and frigid forest on his way to return found treasures and the kings’ livery and to inform them that the messenger sent to the north was found barely alive, but improving.  The Master-at-arms was skeptical and wanted to throw him in the dungeon. Fortunately the King was informed and could find no reason to disbelieve the young Prince as he had already returned the small bag of gold and had nothing more to gain from further deceit. The master-at-arms then pressed the prince about the still missing golden shield.

“That was how your clever knight was found” said the prince “he hung it high atop the giant spruce tree he was sheltered beneath. Our scouts saw the glow from miles away”

The King and the Prince continued their lengthy discussion about this great kingdom to the north and of course the messenger. Having heard all the details of his heroic knights adventure and rescue, as well as the princes own treacherous journey, the king was absolutely convinced of the prince’s honesty an bravery and was then formally introduced to the lovely young princess. The two became fast friends and spent much time together; their fondness for each other grew daily and was very apparent to all, especially the jubilant king.

As the sun begun to rise over the usually harsh northern landscape our charming and considerate young prince ventured out of the formidable ancient castle. He much enjoyed his morning walks, though most days were not nearly as pleasant. As this day began clear and dry, the morning dew rose from the fields giving way to the wildflower blooms in subtle reds, yellows and lavenders all-around.  Now finished gathering a large bunch of the tiny flowers to be placed at the princesses’ bedside, as he did every day nature would allow since being in this strange new place. Returning to the castle he met with the old mid-wife who was struggling with a small log for her morning fire.

“May I help you with that” inquires the polite young prince.

“I surely could not ask that from a noble like yourself” responds the frail old woman.

“You did not ask for anything, I offered” said the prince.

“Well then, it will be much appreciated kind sir” she says in an uncommonly polite and friendly tone.

After several more trips to the wood pile, the prince returns to the mid-wife’s tiny cottage with the last of the wood needed for a week of morning fires. The cottage was very small, having only one room containing a makeshift bed, a table with but one rickety old chair and shelves everywhere they could possibly be built. These shelves were full of dusty old boxes, crocks and jars, the contents of which only the midwife knew. On one end wall of the tiny cottage stood a large, to large in fact for such a small space, stone fireplace, lined with all manner of sooty cast pots and forged utensils, the opposite wall was the heavy wooden door and the rooms’ only small, not quite transparent window. If not for the numerous rays of sunlight streaming through the old moss covered thatched roof there would be almost no light at all.  The morning blaze began to grow brighter in the blackened hearth; the prince could now more fully comprehend the cramped and dirty space, thick with the smell of old smoke and wet rotting wood.

“Please let me share with you my morning tea and biscuit kind sir” begs the lonely old woman, “it is all I have to offer you for your generous labor”.

I unfortunately cannot, for I must bring the flowers to my princess”, replies the prince. Sensing the old midwifes loneliness and despair, he promises to return directly and with an awkward wave, he dashes through the door without waiting for her response. He ran as fast as he could back to the castle, where he found the angelic princess still sound asleep. The prince, now in a rush to return to the wretched old women at the edge of the village, forgot to get a colorful piece of ribbon or string to tie the bunch of slightly wilting flowers. With little time or little thought, he pulls out several strands of his own hair and ties the fragrant bouquet, places it gently on the princesses’ bedside table and quickly leaves without a sound. Back at the mid-wives cottage the hesitant prince knocked gently on the old wooden door.

“Come in, please” snapped the old woman, “the tea is just ready, now sit please”.

The prince enters and takes a seat on the rooms’ only chair. She promptly serves the fidgety young man his tea in a tarnished and dented pewter cup as well as a small hard and stale biscuit, which she places directly on the dirty old wooden table in front of him.

“Splendid, Thank you kindly” says the polite young prince slowly sipping the hot putrid brew. “Tis very good indeed ma’am”.

The old woman nods silently and blankly gazes at the drowsy prince. Within minutes the prince is fast asleep and the transformation complete. The cunning old woman then removes the princes many layers of fine clothing and quickly replaces them with her own old torn and soiled garments. She then poured herself a cup of tea from a different pot and guzzled it triumphantly.

Moments later the old ladies neighbors were abruptly startled by the piercing howls and growls of what must be some distressed creature crying out in pain. When the frightful noises subsided to mere whimpers, the scared but curious villagers assembled on the path that winded between their cottages and hovels. There they could hear clearly the noises origin and cautiously approached the dilapidated old cottage at the end of the twisty trail. A barking sound was now heard that grew louder and fiercer as they drew near. Pausing at the open gate, the bravest of the neighbors, an overly curious little girl, pushed through the stunned crowd and rushed to the ancient wooden door and slowly pushed it open.  Before the heavy old door was less than half open a flash of white appeared, dashed by the surprised little girl and into the crowd of screaming villagers.

The confused crowd burst into a nervous laughter at the source of those demonic screeches for it appeared to be nothing more than a frightened little puppy. The adorable little dog now panting and playfully sniffing each of the relieved villagers seemed also relieved. The master-at-arms had by now been informed of the disturbance and swiftly arrived at the scene.

After much useless discussion with the villagers he proceeds to the doorway of the old woman’s cottage. Hesitantly he peaked into the tiny, cluttered cottage; there he saw the old mid-wife slumped over the small table in the center of the dark room. Slowly he approached and awoke her with a purposeful yet gentle nudge to her bony old shoulder. The dazed old woman slowly opened her eyes and slowly rose from the wobbly old chair.

***

Back at the castle the king was informed of this most unusual occurrence and immediately summons the silent old women and his typically gruff master-at-arms, now gently cradling the adorable little puppy in his massive arms.  He then explains to his puzzled king, the events he had personally experienced as well as the accounts of the other witnesses.  Leaning closer to the seated king, he quietly expresses his long-standing suspicion of the cunning old mid-wives dabbling’s in the black arts and strongly suggest that she should be locked away at once.

The king, being of a cooler head and as his fondness and partiality for her had grown over a life-time as she had helped with his only daughter’s birth, his birth and his fathers as well; therefore he must give her the benefit of the doubt until more questions were answered.

After many hours of contemplation, debate, innuendo, assumptions and frustration the king then politely asks the terrified old woman for her explanation of these unusual events. The old women’s wrinkled and puckered lips moved as her withered limbs gestured franticly, though not a single word was uttered. The king, now growing impatient, fetches pen and paper and thrust them at the midwife. The poor confused old woman reached out for the quill, but her gnarled and arthritic old hands could not grasp the slender shaft. After several more unsuccessful attempts the weeping old woman gives up and hangs her head in disgust and despair. The kind old king, sensing her despair tries to comfort the sobbing old women with a gentle pat on her cold and bony arched old back. He then summoned one of his many attendants and instructs them to take the old women to a nearby warm and comfortable guest chamber were she could rest. While the exhausted little dog slept comfortably on a soft and thick rug by the fire in the kings large but dingy chamber, the king pondered and he too soon dozed off with the comfortable puppy at his feet.  However this blissful rest was not to last for the tired old king and his new friend.

His hysterical daughter had burst into the solemn chamber to notify him of more bad news. Shaking the old man franticly, she cried over and over, “my prince is gone, my prince is gone”.

The stunned old man quickly jumped to his feet and held his distraught little princess close. “Calm yourself my dear, please calm yourself and tell me why you think your prince is gone” he says to his sobbing little girl.

“I’ve searched everywhere father and he is nowhere to be found, not anywhere, he’s gone, gone!” she cried.

The dutiful father then summons his master-at-arms and orders an immediate and thorough search for the young prince. While waiting nervously the entire afternoon, the now slightly calmer princess cuddles and bonds with the very cute and sweet little visitor, temporarily taking her mind off the terrible events of the day.  The sun now setting, the night noises beginning to rouse, the search is postponed and the villagers instructed to continue at daybreak.

By morning the search resumed and the tired villagers, who after years of gossiping, all agreed with the master-at-arms, the cunning old mid-wife was indeed a witch. As the day wore on, the prince was not be found, the reluctant king could no longer harbor any doubts of the old mid-wives guilt and she was promptly sent off to the dungeon.

***

The deeply saddened princess adopted the precious little orphaned puppy. She cherished their time together and would each night kiss his velvety little head, hoping to awake and find he had returned to his princely self. Months passed and the kissing and wishing did nothing. Another day began and the princess lay half-awake gazing at her slumbering companion nearby, trying to figure out how such an innocent and adorable little creature could bring so much pleasure and yet so much pain. Her deep contemplation however was interrupted when her chamber maid arrived with breakfast.         The withering princess was by now at her wits end, more distraught than the day before and again she ate no breakfast.

She borrowed her chamber maids’ cloak, so not to be recognized and hastily put it on over her night clothes, she then hurried to the dungeon to confront the old mid-wife. Arriving there, she found the old woman slumped in the far corner of the cold and damp windowless stone cell. The young princess, being a very kindhearted and forgiving person pitied the poor old woman and though she was indeed angry; she could not hate her. “Sorry to see you this way dear old friend” She whispered through the heavy rusted gate, “Please, I beg of you, change my prince back and I promise no more harm will come of you.”

The old women still huddled in the shadows, peering from beneath her tattered hood at the distraught young princess, didn’t respond. The princess moved cautiously closer to the gate and carefully raised her flickering candle to better see the wicked old mid-wife.   The old women now seeing the sadness and distress in the face of the beautiful princess slowly rose and hobbled toward her.  As she drew closer she could now fully sense the profound sadness in the princesses’ teary eyes. Hoping to comfort the young girl the mid-wife reached painfully to the floor and gathered a small bunch of damp and molding straw. She then pulled a long white and brittle strand of hair from beneath her hood and trying as best as she could, tied the hair around the straw and presented it to the princess. The princess slowly and cautiously reached through the bars and received the unexpected gift thankfully.  Now seeing the old women’s face closely for the first time, she peered into her eyes and immediately realized these were not the eyes of an evil old witch, but the deep blue young eyes of her handsome prince. Simultaneously they moved closer and kissed through the rusty old gate. When the much surprised princess opened her eyes she was astonished to see standing before her, her much loved and much missed prince. Her tears of sorrow now transformed to tears of joy, she then giggled for the first time in many months at the thin and gangly prince with his bare arms and legs jutting out from the very small tattered old woolen clothing and his long unkempt hair bounding from his head in all directions.  The guard was summoned and the giddy pair reunited. Hand in hand they ran as fast as they could back to the princesses’ chamber. There they found the wrinkled old women still blissfully asleep in a contorted lump at the foot of the princesses’ comfortable old bedstead.  Silently the prince approaches and gently nudges the old woman. Slowly she awakes, first with a sniff then a scratch. The scratch however proved unsuccessful as her spindly old legs could no longer reach her ears. Her blurry old eyes now wide open sees the laughing prince sitting beside her and quickly realized she had returned to her pitiful old self.

***

After many questions, few answers and much rejoicing, life on this desolate hillside slowly returned to normal. The knights from the east and south returned to a hero’s welcome and rewarded for their brave attempts. The knight of the north recovered and returned with the princes’ father and court, luckily in time for the wedding.

The wedding, of course was that of the prince and princess, it was, by far the most beautiful and festive ceremony these great northern kingdoms had ever witnessed. The knight of the north was cheered by all, awarded the kingdoms’ golden shied and given the new title of “Knight General and Ambassador of the Northern Kingdoms”. As for the old mid-wife, she was eventually forgiven and also bestowed a new title. Her new title and duty was now “Caretaker”, for she was now the caretaker of the princesses’ new bristle headed and seemingly carefree puppy.

 

The End

 

Steve Kittell

©sck090313

That’s It

Hello world, how do you do?
I’ve got a little something to share with you.
The sun has risen and the day is new.
But what comes next I’ve not a clue.
~
I’m sure you’re feeling much the same,
though to be confused there is no shame.
Mistakes get made, we share the blame.
Wouldn’t it be nice if life were tame?
~
Imagine the place this world could be,
if all could live both safe and free.
Think of the wonders we’d all see.
See you tomorrow, that’s it for me.

~*~
SCK021821

Bountiful Blossoms Blooming

Where bumble bees sing to morning blooms,
sunshine fills sleepy rooms.
Little birds chirp to ring in the day.
The town folk thrive and children play.
~
Evening’s all spent cozy and warm;
everyone huddles at word of a storm.
With a common goal of tranquility,
their smiles all share the harmony.
~
Freedom reigns and peace assured,
caring for all, we’re all adored.
And though this place is yet to be found,
in dreams we meet when feet leave the ground.

~*~
SCK020219

All Ends Dwell

I’m sorry I have no poem today.
I’ve actually started two.
But I have no endings.
So I’ve nothing to share with you.
~
Fortunately there are tomorrows.
Perhaps I’ll end them then.
Or maybe this is a metaphor;
for the fickleness of the pen.
~
Many things get started.
Only some will see an end.
But until there’s a conclusion,
a finish, we can pretend.
~
So I’ll pretend my poems are great.
They start off really well.
And I’ll imagine it’s a perfect day.
For the unknown we shouldn’t dwell.

~*~
SCK021621