Spooky House

At the end of my street, quite near,

Sits the source of all that I fear.

Now a horror, once a jewel,

I run fast on my way to school.

`

Looms alone behind a high wall,

Watching me pass, the house sees all.

Hidden by trees most of the year.

But when fall comes so does my fear.

`

Autumn leaves drop, crunch under feet.

Out pops the house that haunts our street.

Halloween comes, chill in the air.

But trick-or-treaters won’t go there.

`

Lights never on, no cars in drive.

Shades always down, nothing alive.

I’ve heard stories, sounds in the night.

Of the house that causes our fright.

`

The shutters bang and hinges creak.

But no one dare to take a peek.

Many a ball lost over the gate.

Remember the score, game can wait!

`

Spooky shadows in the moonlight.

Ghostly shapes in the dark of night.

The vines on the porch creep and crawl.

Been scaring kids since mom was small.

`

Bats in attic, mice in the shed,

Phantoms inside or so it’s said.

Some say it’s empty, some say not.

Either way I’m worried a lot.

`

Off to bed one dreary fall night.

A bad time to turn off the light.

Mom tucks me in, we chat awhile.

She kissed my cheek, left with a smile.

`

My sleepy smile soon fades to fear.

When spooky house dreams soon appear.

I close my eyes and try to sleep,

Ran out of numbers counting sheep.

`

Outside shadows all a quiver.

Howling winds making me shiver.

I peeked from under my blanket,

The darkness said no sunrise yet.

`

I turned on the light to just wait.

For morning to come, that’ll be great.

Awoke to good news, called my friend.

Our sleepless nights where soon to end.

`

Someone bought the spooky old place.

Hopes to restore its former grace.

House got painted, bushes cut down.

What a great home, what a great town.

`

Windows fixed fresh grass on the ground,

Sunshine and flowers all around.

New families in, kids galore.

And I’m not afraid anymore.

`

We play in the yard, ride the swing.

We make up rhymes for us to sing.

Now my favorite place to be.

But once I thought the house spooky.

`

The End

Sck091914

Forest of Hell

Colorless leaf crackle beneath sole-less feet.

The smell of death lingers sweet.

Bramble thick draws blood on paper skin,

digging more deeply the deeper within.

 *

Then starlight fades to the darkness I fear,

moonlight shadows disappear.

Columns abound supporting endless night,

numbers multiply consuming the light.

 *

Welcome dew hangs heavy in unseen air,

to drink deep I do not dare.

Outstretched hands replace teary useless eyes.

Senses heightened, alert of endless cries.

 *

Vibrations of night; soft, loud, far and near,

distant from all, we all hold dear.

Wanting now only to curl-up and weep,

my soul is still for the sickle to reap.

 *

Return to the path I lost yesterday,

blackness turns slowly to gray.

Long nights journey in the forest of hell,

surviving again, except for my shell.

 *

The End

*

sck~ c.2014

Sweet Dreams

Monsters and ghouls prowl the street.
Ghosts hide beneath their sheet.
Zombies limp on bloody feet.
All are happy when they meet.
~
Black cats blend to be discreet.
Witches conjure but never cheat.
Werewolf’s howl when they greet.
All awaiting their Halloween treat.
~
Children rush for goodies to eat.
Parents long to take a seat.
Then the spell’s finally complete,
ending with dreams so sweet.

~*~
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Dream

~

Sailed the seas on a pirate ship

Skied mountains, almost broke my hip

Boxed the champ, he bit his lip

A chocolate cow found, took a sip

.

Touched the clouds from my balloon

Wrestled a bear and a baboon

I flew in a rocket to the moon

Then got hungry, be back soon

.

Dove to the bottom of oceans deep

Then up in a plane, took a leap

While floating down went back to sleep

My dreams are fun, no need to weep

.

Opened eyes, wiped sleep from brow

Looked all around but saw no cow

I know it’s time to wake up now

I’ll dream again, someway, somehow

~*~

sck050416

Cookies

Cookies, cookies the perfect treat.
Eat them in shoes, socks or bare feet.
I’ve eaten them in my underwear.
You can eat them nude, if you dare.

Sometime just one, sometimes more,
Fresh from the oven or the store.
I prefer fresh, chocolate goo.
But from a box or bag will do.

There’s no time of the day or night,
When eating cookies isn’t right.
When times are good a cookie’s great.
When times are bad I might need eight.

In the kitchen with mom to bake,
The perfect gift cookies will make.
Cookies soon done and into the car,
Then to grandma’s house, it isn’t far.

That smell of cookies is taunting me,
Under the foil where I can’t see.
But I must wait, we’re almost there.
With bunches of cookies for us to share.

We pull in the drive, rush to the bell.
Running so fast I almost fell.
But I held tight to that plate in hand.
I don’t like my cookies mixed with sand.

My big pile of goodness for us to eat,
Stacked high on a plate, nice and neat.
Mom opens the door, I run right in.
Hugs for all, let the party begin!

The girls dance about in pretty new dresses.
The boys run and shout and make big messes.
When we’re done yelling, screaming and raving,
It’s time to quench our cookie craving.

Then back to the car and homeward bound.
Soon dozing off to a breezy sound.
While thinking of cookies I start to dream,
About a world of cookies and cream.

Cookies, cookies the anytime treat.
Eat them at home or the backseat.
You can eat them everywhere,
On the ground or high in the air.

Cookie rockets go to the stars.
Cookies for wheels on our cars.
I dream of a world of cookie dough.
Freshly baked and ready to go.

Cookies for beds for us to sleep,
We’ll count cookies instead of sheep.
Cookies we’ll roll all over town.
We’ll get some milk to wash them down.

A non-round cookie won’t be right.
Remember the poor gingerbread’s plight.
Cookies not round we’ll call them fakes.
They can all be just biscuits or cakes.

If all cookies where round by law.
We wouldn’t have circles or arcs to draw.
The sun would be a cookie shape.
And big cookie craters on a cookiescape.

A bump in the road made my dream roll away.
I’ll dream another, another day.
Where almost home and I’m glad.
A quiet snack is never bad.

It’s getting late, my day’s almost done,
But one last thing that’s always fun.
In-between the wash, rub and scrub.
I nibble a cookie in my tub.

But I never ever eat cookies in my bed.
You’ll sleep real crumby or so it’s said.
And now it’s time to turn off the light.
Sweet dreams to all and have a goodnight.

The End

Sck112914

Poetry for a Lady

Poetry for a lady with much love I give.
I’ll write the unspoken as long as I live.
Mornings for her will be a cause for glee.
For me her glowing smile I long to see.
~
We share our first coffee, no concern for the time.
We’ll talk and we’ll laugh, I’ll record it in rhyme.
Our day will proceed with only one goal,
loving each other, mind, body and soul.

~*~
SCK072519

A Cycling We Will Go

With the summer comes the fall.
With the heat the colors call.
With a breeze the leaves afloat,
it’s the season, a chill we’ll note.
~
Autumn passes to winters white.
With the snow comes a longer night.
With the darkness time will slow.
With our dreams sunshine will glow.
~
Spring is born to bursting hues.
A rebirth’s given for paying dues.
With this life we’re nature drawn.
With a vision this world we’ll fawn.
~
With a blink the green consumes.
Our bodies warm, our thought blooms.
Days awaken to skies of blue.
With the sunset comes dawn anew.

~*~
SCK091720

Imagine That

Imagine that, I’ve nothing to write.
I got up early and stayed up all night.
So I’ll make something up, if that’s OK.
I’ll probably live it some other day.
~
It could be happy or it could be sad.
It could be of some old adventure had.
I’m sure there’ll be others and why not.
Though most quite small, I’ve had a lot.
~
Perhaps a poet imagined that lives on a hill.
They’ll watch the sunrise and do what they will.
That might be good for a poem or two,
or maybe a love sonnet, maybe a few.
~
With these pages hands turned with time,
each face a story, each await their rhyme.
Each chapter has its title, the next to depend.
Tho thy tome grows heavy, I wish it no end.
~
I’ll imagine a tomorrow when something’s to write.
I’ll get up early and stay up all night.

~*~
SCK020819

My Pencil

My pencil in hand – mind set free
Erasing the chains binding me
Safe in my world of poetry
A better friend there cannot be

No rhyme or reason there’s to flee
No shackles of society
No meter of conformity
No question of sincerity

No judge, jury or guilty plea
No door can stop my slender key
I’ll wander through infinity
Another side of life’s journey

Draw lines that know no boundary
Return with words for all to see
Arrange them well – create beauty
Then thank my little piece of tree

The End       sck081514

The Poem of Ours

Our hearts beat ever louder,
yet our minds at total ease.
We share a common wish,
for each other we will please.
~
Our dream’s now fulfilled,
or we’ve yet to wake.
Our love grows ever stronger,
with every breath we take.
~
Our life’s now complete,
the puzzle now is done.
Our pieces fit together,
our time has now begun.
~
Our arms reach out to hold,
our lips find their way.
Our eyes see only one,
and all’s a sunny day.

~*~
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Alesha the Cat

Alesha_poem_skittell

Daddy, daddy come quick and see.

There are big eyes staring at me.

In the window there, can you see?

It’s a kitty looking back at me.

.

Please can we keep her, can we please?

I’ll wash her good if there are fleas.

We gave her some milk on a plate.

It seemed like hours I had to wait.

.

Then mom came home, was kitty there?

Yes! – She’s napping on the porch chair.

Mom and dad had a little chat.

They called me in and there I sat.

.

Hoped to hear we have a new pet.

“First” they said “a trip to the vet”

“Vet” I said “whatever is that?”

They said “a doctor for your cat.”

.

Found a box, she fit just right.

Curled in a towel ” out of sight.

Into the car and off we go.

To a new place I didn’t know.

.

Never been to a vet before.

Many new things behind the door.

There’s lots of cats and dogs of course.

But shocked to see a tiny horse.

.

Saw a snake and a talking bird.

Said some words I’ve never heard.

The vet was fun just like the zoo.

But I was glad when we were through.

.

We brought her home, she disappeared.

Hid under the bed like mom feared.

To get her out we had a plan.

Gave her some tuna from a can.

.

That didn’t work, mom tried a trick.

She tied some yarn on a long stick.

I wiggled the yarn on the floor.

We saw a paw and then two more.

.

Next was a tail than furry head.

Now she’s out from under my bed.

Gave her a scratch as she ran past.

To the new food she ate too fast.

.

We gave her some time to explore.

She made a big mess on the floor.

Dad cleaned it up, almost got sick.

Mom finished the job; I said “Ick!”

.

And when done we all had a laugh.

Thankful our cat wasn’t a calf.

Then made a list for a quick shop.

A litter box was at the top.

.

Boxes and bags of this and that,

Much was needed for our new cat.

While we were out dad took a nap.

Our new kitty curled on his lap.

.

She woke with a stretch and a purr.

Licking her paws and stripey fur.

Dad woke next and was surprised.

By his new friend’s big sleepy eyes.

.

He cuddled her close, scratched her ears.

Mom smiled, I thought I saw tears.

Then we all had a good giggle.

Watching kitty twist and wiggle.

.

Mom picked her up, gave her a hug.

Put her down gently on the rug.

The cutest thing I ever did see.

But what to call my new kitty?

.

She’ll be Alesha, our cat “A”.

Like in the book I read today.

By a doctor who wrote fun rhymes.

I’ve read them all oodles of times.

.

Now’s time to sleep, our day is done.

I hope tomorrows just as fun.

Tucked in bed, Alesha and me.

Soon to dream of little cat “B”.

.

The End

sck080314

.

Available at: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/468855

A Poet’s Desire

~

If I could turn my words into the finest wine

We’d sail on those balmy seas until the end of time

If I could print money on all the paper that I use

Our sky would rain confetti any time you choose

~

If my wishes granted for all that I desire

We’d spent our moonlit evenings cuddled by a fire

If my fantasies could ever be reality

All I’d ever need is for you to be with me.

~*~

Sck101214

The Blob

.

I was out to lunch this early fall,

with my sweetheart, disturbed by a call.

Tried not to answer, boss wouldn’t wait.

“Go to the harbor”, he yelled, “before it’s too late”.

Duty calls, I sped to the pier,

swerved through traffic as fast as I dare.

Screeched to a halt at the dock by the bay,

the boat’s motors revved then underway.

Holding on tight I asked what’s the fuss?

The skipper pointed up at the blob over us.

It was big and gray, no particular form,

battered and tattered like a dingy in a storm

It hung from balloons, one at each end,

letting air out slowly to descend.

It kissed the calm harbor with hardly a swell.

A slit appeared then a putrid smell.

Followed by a ladder of rope dropped to the sea,

then an old head popped out “Ahoy thar matey.”

We climbed aboard the blob that fell from the sky.

Inside appeared to be a ship with no sails but masts high.

A portal to the past or future, it wasn’t clear.

My eyes wide open, couldn’t fathom what’s near.

Bos’n whistle blowing, ships bell ringing,

Captain’s on deck, old sailors singing.

Adrift in time for many a year,

brass shone bright, decks scrubbed bare.

Beards grown long, spirits grown weak,

searching endlessly for the end they seek

I asked many questions and he of I.

“How did you come to fall from the clear blue sky?”

He shrugged and answered “balloons in the sun.”

He asked how the war went; I said “you won”

Pleased by the news, great joy was abound.

The captain and crew, spirits were found.

We told him our location, name and job.

He told us the story of his great flying blob.

“I built her to survey the rogue enemy.

Launched in the spring, eighteen sixty-three.

But she rose too quickly and at too fast a pace.

Caught in a current and thrust into space.

She’s wrapped in layers of thick blubber.

Fin of spruce to serve as rudder.

A ship out of water floating in space,

propelled by methane made from our waste.

And in her belly the mighty tree grew;

wood for repairs, air for the crew.

Trimmed to perfection, nurtured with care,

the trees demise is all that we fear.”

“The tree is the living when all else seems dead.

Greens for the birds then eggs we are fed.

Twigs feed the fires for heat and our light,

the roots of survival the engine of flight.”

The captain paused for word from the mate.

A decision to make before it’s too late.

The blubber was oozing in the midday sunlight,

absorbing seawater, soon too heavy for flight.

He called out the order to make all lines taut.

Bid us farewell and shared one last thought.

“No matter how far our souls may roam –

the journeys not over until we are home.”

The blob sailed off high in the sky –

then disappeared in the blink of an eye.

The captain and crew homeward at last,

seeing the future, choosing and the past.

The End

Sck092914

The Return

Outside my window perched in a tree
Tis a winged demon that caws at me
At me it caws and caws all day
Till darkness consumes then caws go away

Tis then a candle lit, awaiting peace
Creative spark await release
The hourly chime hourly chides
This spark within creatively hides

Searching I pace in this tiny room
From shadow to shadow returning to gloom
Going in circles around in a square
Till wearily I slump back into my chair

Through random lacy limbs I spy the moon
With gentle breezes the patterns I swoon
Patterns swooning dance on dingy walls
The net surrounds and the demon calls

Consciousness concedes, silence relieves
In the dark the dark the mind believes
Rest and wait or rise and scream
Choices few at the edge of a dream

Wax drippings lapping pages bled
Of serpentine spine and heavy head
Blackness cloaks the demons night
Their quills aplenty shade the light

Demon, oh demon please let me be
Yet still they tap, tapping for me
Tap tap tapping on my foggy pane
Tap, tap tapping with no refrain

Without refrain demons tap in kind
Tapping demons tap, tapping my mind
Is this tapping, tapping to remind?
Or is it tapping to seek and find?

Oh demon cloaked with hidden face
To take from you is my disgrace
Your gifts adored left on my sill
Yet to rest on your back I am still

To be only still is reverse
Dive or fall, a lover’s curse
To soar or sink is to immerse
The spirit wishes to guide the verse

This spirit and I of common goal
Each to rise from the hole
One to fly, one to scratch and claw
Each may fall, one to caw, caw, caw

Our bond’s made to find a link
If to trade my soul I wish to think
I wish to think another’s ink
Of golden quills and wine to drink

In gilded glass I wish to wink
Then step away until I shrink
Till all is gone with a blink
But for the ink, I wish to think

I think I think, I think I see
I think I see light shines on me
Sight and sound now distortion free
The path’s clear toward tranquility

If to be a final rest, now’s to be the time
Drifting in an open mind is to be sublime
Or if to rise and most joyfully find
I’ve awakened as a different kind

To be warm of heart and cool of mind
Forward moving and never behind
Of filigree hands to align and chime
Tis then the taps return, tapping in time

Taps on the window from arms of the past
To embrace their grip the future’s cast
When cracks appear in my shield of glazing
The demon swoops for the dawns hazing

With inky beak and beating wings
Caw, caw, caw the demon sings
They dance upon the empty pages
Quills ablaze their fire rages

Then morning breaks the lidded seal
Illuminating all thought real
Am I to be taken or to consume?
Or wake to sunlight returning to gloom

Betwixt the shadows exposed by the light
Tis demons craft conjured last night
With nary a blotch nor stroke askew
Flawless leaf scribed by I know not who

I dare not share these words unknown
Through my window they have flown
The prize of demons cawing in a tree
Thus return I must this gift given me

Sck122315

Mirage

Brittle lips and inflamed eyes,

Cast away on wind-swept skies.

Drifts deepen in a sandy haze.

Mind wanders to rainy days.

When gloom now seems bright.

That oasis of a chilly night.

Snowflakes kiss your rosy nose.

Moonlight eclipsed on a face that glows.

Then melts away as mirages do.

When icy hearts break in two.

.

In dreamy state a big-top thrives.

Welcomes the circus of our lives.

Shady flaps billow to all that is unknown.

Roaring beast in the dark, where the meat is thrown.

Nervous laughter fills what was the calm.

A gypsy knows the future by the fortune in our palm.

The cranks forever stiffen that wind up the band.

The irony of love, a ride through tube in hand.

.

Though it last, never least, mirrors that consume.

Reflections haunt endlessly in this shattered room.

Though time runs out, lines move on as they always do.

Clowns singing for their blood say goodbye to you.

Escaping through a tiny hole, between the grains of sand.

A journey to continue to find the love on which to stand.

*

Sck110314

Mind Body Soul

A dream lucid, vivid and in 3D,
my arms reach out, she’s there for me.
Adoring eyes gaze my way,
the gaze returned every day.
~
Hands touching, skin tingling,
bodies quiver and whispers mingling.
Lips breathing life into a tired soul,
a renaissance shared my only goal.
~
Her glowing smile warms my heart;
love’s felt embraced or apart.
And with our last kiss goodnight,
my only wish is my morning light.

~*~
SCK052319

Sweet Dreams

I’ll dream us a dream much better than good.
A dream we’ll dream as we should.
A dream we’ll dream every day.
The stars wouldn’t have it any other way.
~
We’ll awake each day to dreamy eyes.
The sun will shine through the grayest of skies.
Our dream will live on as it should.
Our lives will be much better than good.

~*~
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Dream Love

Only dreamers live the life they choice.
Only gamblers have a life to lose.
With every word there’s a cost.
With every second a second’s lost.
~
Every child has a dream to live.
Every parent has a life to give.
And for every wish there’s a smile.
But only love makes it all worthwhile.

~*~
SCK050819

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

Always Time

The clouds clearing, the sun is felt.
My icy heart has begun to melt.
Love has warmed, time to grow.
A kiss awaits this I know.
~
My future slumbers, I quietly rise.
Starlight twinkles in my eyes.
The mirror greets a smiling face.
The fog’s lifted without a trace.
~
Her day will start with a hug.
She’ll pull me closer, nice and snug.
A plan we’ll make for another day.
But in this moment we’ll always stay.

~*~
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