A Distant Gaze

My poem today starts at the end.
It begins with a letter I didn’t send.
She kissed my cheek then closed the door.
We departed as friends though I hoped for more.
~
Our morning was rushed and I left in haste.
My ship was sailing, I’d no time to waste.
A week then passed and her letter I received.
Perhaps her feelings were more than perceived.
~
Her English was poor but my French was nil.
If it were better I might know her still.
I reread that letter ten times a day.
Her words, once vibrant, soon faded away.
~
Her youth’s everlasting as I’ve grown,
decades long past, her name’s now unknown.
And now miles divide as the time multiplies.
Yet still in mind I gaze in her eyes.

~*~
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Complete

The sun yet risen, the sky yet blue.
Yet my day grows brighter in my view.
A dream begins when I open my eyes.
The truth is seen as she lies.
~
Truth is felt with a gentle kiss.
She pulls me closer to share the bliss.
I feel her breath, our heartbeats in sync.
Our body’s one, none to think.
~
But if thoughts be had none compare.
A fantasy found, in love we stare.
Temperatures rise in the new dawns glow.
Our senses awaken, whispers flow.
~
Visions guide our pleasures sought.
Tomorrow’s now, time has taught.
Our love given is love received.
And another day we’ve achieved.

~*~
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Easter’s Egging

~*~

The church bell rang and doors flung wide.

We raised our heads and ran outside.

Sitting’s done, now’s time for fun.

Our Easter egg hunt has now begun.

.

It’s a perfect day with bright sunshine.

Our baskets ready we waited in line.

Till all were scattered on the count of three,

in every direction kids ran free.

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I ran first to my favorite tree.

I found it’s the favorite of not just me.

So off to the hedge where eggs always found,

none’s left there so to the playground.

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While the others searched I rode the swing.

When they had gone I heard birds sing.

I glanced to the trees and sounds nearby.

Then off jumped I and into the sky.

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I landed in sand on two feet and one hand,

then a tumble or two and up I stand.

I turned to the fence where tall trees grew-

to search for a prize of an egg or two.

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The chirps grew louder with each step I took.

Did they tell me to leave or tell me to look?

I kneeled near bushes and peeked below.

I stuck in my hand as far as would go.

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Feeling around for a tasty surprise,

I pulled out an egg but smaller in size.

Holding tight it felt warm to the touch.

Then I knew why that bird chirped so much.

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Gently I put the egg down on the ground,

took a few steps back not making a sound.

A whistle blew, the hunt was now done.

But silently I waited in the midday sun.

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My basket is broken and clothes dirty and torn.

I knew I’d face my mother’s scorn.

But there’s more to life than clothes un-ripped.

There are some events that can’t be skipped.

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There’s saving the things that you love.

Then a bird swooped down from above

She tapped the shell lightly with her beak.

A tiny head popped out to take a peek.

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The mom  nudged her chick back into the bush.

Her frightful chirping turned to a shush

Then another whistle blew, louder than ever.

To stay any longer just wouldn’t be clever.

.

I hurried back, joining up with the rest.

Our search was now over finding the best.

My cousin won second, they had four.

I found just one but I think I won more.

~*~

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http://www.childrens-stories.net/featured-childrens-story/featured-childrens-story.htm

Dawns on Me

The sun has risen, a poet’s alone.
He‘s perched on a porch,
atop his worn throne.

The birds whisper clues,
of nature’s good news.
And words start to flow.

At the top of the stair,
my love dreams there,
awaiting a kiss on her cheek.

Eyes soon to open,
we both will see,
this day has bloomed for she.

~*~
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Life’s a Beach

Simple words writ in sand

Sculpted with a simple hand

Words of meaning I can’t hide

Yet disappear in the changing tide

 ~

Time takes all that we need

Gives anew to thus be freed

And toil we must to hold our ground

While standing straight on a world that’s round

 ~

By day, by night we return to see

Miles for shore await you and me

We’ll mold our lives in these sands

We’ll rewrite “I love you”, holding hands

 ~*~

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Magic Carpet

~

Full moon’s high in my window pane,

a sleepless night yet again.

I think of what that old moon’s seen,

and the billions of days in-between.

.

Billions of stories it could share.

But few like grandma’s can compare.

Her life began long, long ago.

Raised in places few ever know.

.

In forests, jungles and never-ending plains,

there were exotic cities and quiet country lanes.

Naturalist nurtured traversing the globe,

her parents explorers and professors in robes.

.

She too attended their university,

majoring, of course, in anthropology.

She graduated at the very top of her class.

Then returning to a high mountain pass.

.

A place where dear friends made, one nevermore,

new will be made though not as before.

For the sisterly love they both did share,

her dowry passed from generations with care.

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Their rug was presented for the mutual esteem,

more cherished than a simple weaving would  seem.

With sheep twists dyed and hands knotting all day,

life’s artful history’s made to give, barter or pray.

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That winter spent mourning by choice and terrain.

Gram then ventured east with the new spring rain.

Her path soon ended on a long Pacific beach,

her life of the past now far out of reach.

.

She then called upon as never before.

She volunteered proudly as a nurse in the war.

Through years of blood, pain and tears she served,

refusing all the medals and honors deserved.

.

Though her true love was found slumped on a cot,

they soon returned home, where time was forgot.

Gramps got better and a new family sown.

their many shared scars were never to be shown.

.

Her old rug was placed by hearth and chest,

each full of stories though not all are best.

It’s a place we’d sit to hear grandma recall,

sometimes a place to do nothing at all.

.

So I tip-toed downstairs since sleep no option,

I’ll rest on that rug where dreams are begun.

It’s where secrets are shared and magic seen,

then a place for relaxing time in-between.

.

Once sewn as a bag keeping safe, precious things.

It’s been many a blanket with a picnic to bring.

It’s been a shawl in the cold and hood in the rain –

and a comfy pillow on the overnight train.

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Adventures had in time that’s flown,

together worn from long years grown.

This rug’s grandma’s confidant and oldest friend,

soaring together their wove lives transcend.

.

Though colors now faded, ends torn and frayed,

beauty more timeless cannot be remade.

And when the winds do bellow just right,

we’re drawn up the flue and into the night.

.

Holding fast and climbing high,

we touched the stars in our moonlit sky.

We’d see twinkling lights in our town below,

then off to the hills where roads don’t go.

.

Over the wood, back to the place we all live,

where the door’s always open and love’s to give.

There blissful slumbers had snug as a bug,

whilst wrapped with a hug in grandmas old rug.

.

~*~

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Renaissance

I’m going to write a poem so everyone feels good.
I’ll make it bright and cheery as I know I should.
Peculiar times upon us, isolation’s now the norm.
But spring is out in force; soon we’ll all feel warm.
~
Trees are soon to blossom, grass is soon to green.
Flowers will share their colors, bees will tend their queen.
Nature shares her secrets, life does rise again.
Birds are already singing, though we’ve a bigger brain.
~
The future has no guide; we live from day to day.
Optimism is our key to find a better way.
Life will throw some curves and everyone has a pitch.
Some may catch a virus, some will find their niche.
~
Love is in our heart, compassion’s in our soul.
Thoughts fill our heads, they make us feel whole.
The earth will stay in motion; the sun will rise and fall.
Time’s now to show our mettle and share with one and all.

~*~
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Forever Brine

Gaslights flicker, but one in three

These harsh fall winds batter thee

Soon the rains will pour and pelt

Yet with heavy heart nothing’s felt

~

Broken brick teeters beneath shoe-less feet

The stench of death fills the street

An island paradise – mine no more

Alas in this city to find a door

~

Thirty years lost at sea

‘Till found rescued, returned free

In search of a life I wish to find

Of futures not had and left behind

~

Now homeward bound to do what’s right

And share my tale of a dreadful night

With freezing sleet and gale, our sails torn

Splintered masts await the morn

~

Screams of mates haunting still

Silence came with the sunsets’ chill

I awoke to a native angel, urged to make a wife

Years of guilty pleasure pass of fertile island life

~

In a search never-ending of a foggy memory

Back to a decrepit city, forever lost to me

A vision of a woman I had no time to know

And a father-less child I never saw grow

~

Now I must roam this morbid place

In the shadows I hide this unknown face

With grizzled hide and toothless grin

Tis I this rotted hull of unforgivable sin

~

First I betrayed a young bride with family

I’ve betrayed my many brothers to a stormy sea

Betrayed my island flowers with my bastard seed

And their many blooms not knowing of their creed

~

In tangled webs of filthy alleys, doors locked tight

Shuttering out the dangers awakened in the night

Seeking boarded diamond pane, broken lintel I recall

My tiny door beckons just down the hall

~

Now steps ahead my future lies, one without a past

Decisions’ pondered long, yet always chosen fast

With a knock a ghost returns to those long at rest

Me thinks a splintered briny deck for all will be best

~*~

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A Chain of Very Fortunate Events

Homeward bound, a cloudy sky an unfamiliar cobbled street

Silence surrounds the many blank faces guarded by rushing feet

Fading sunlight shaded a forgotten old brick doorway

When a sudden squall and bolt of light brightened that gloomy day

 ~

A twist of fate, strangers meet to escape the pending drench

Glances are avoided, awkward silence used as defense

Then nervous words about weather answered with a smile

Glowing cheeks made me wish for the rain to stay awhile

 ~

We shared stories of our lives, some laughs and some tears

Our hands shared pockets to ward off chill and our many fears

Time flew, the storm had passed yet we noticed none

Matted hair and soggy feet we splashed into the long set sun

 ~

 Awkward silence once again, I truly felt ashamed

Blissful hours past and we never shared our names

Blushing, I asked hers and she responded with mischief in her eyes

“I’d rather not tell you anymore for now, but ask again at sunrise”

 ~

The sun rose on chilly toes long ago, never to forget –

It was a dark cobbled street where once strangers met

 ~

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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.

~*~
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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.

~*~
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Sick Day

~

Bright sunny day, nothing to do.
Stuck at home in bed with the flu.
Watched TV as long as I could.
And did some homework, like I should.

.

I tossed and I turned, sipped some tea.
The warm fall day was mocking me.
Temperature stable, chills no more.
Then a knock on my bedroom door.

.

It was mom come to check my head.
Not hot or cold, then out of bed.
I passed her test, done with my rest.
Going outside will be the best.

.

But that is not to be the way.
Had to stay in another day.
Picked at supper, slept through TV.
Dad tucked me in then read to me.

.

Just to make sure that I’m all right.
Mom checked on me all the long night.
Slept Okay, woke ready to go.
But to do what I didn’t know.

.

Was really bored by midday.
Ran out of things alone to play.
Then found a key looking for more.
I tried every single door.

.

I checked and checked every lock.
I even tried the grandfather clock.
Every drawer, box and chest,
I checked them all, I did my best.

.

Found no treasure, just this old key.
At least it was something to amuse me.
With just minutes before my show,
Thought of another place to go.

.

The dusty, dark, spooky attic,
No place to be, when you are sick.
Turning the knob ever so slow,
Not sure if I wanted to go.

.

I’ve never been up there alone.
Then opened the door to the unknown.
Creaky stairs beneath my cold feet.
Dangers unknown that I might meet.

.

Darkness at the top of the stair.
Felt for the switch, I hoped was near.
With a flick my fear gone away.
More to explore on my sick day!

.

Much the same as when last here,
Boxes and cobwebs everywhere.
But not a lock to be found.
I searched and searched all around.

.

But in a dark corner never seen,
A little door painted green.
It had no slot for any key.
Opening it was up to me.

.

I admit I was very scared.
I stood for minutes and just stared.
Then lifting the latch, my hands shake.
Could this be another mistake?

.

Opened the door, hinges squeak.
Stuck in my head to take a peek.
The room’s empty, nothing at all,
Except a shelf high on a wall.

.

Found an old wobbly chair nearby.
Standing worried, reaching too high.
Pulled down the box hidden on shelf.
More than ever proud of myself.

.

I put in my key and it fit.
But wasn’t ready to open it.
I brought the box back to my room.
Into the light and out of the gloom.

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Box on desk, took key from pocket.
Put it in slot, turned to unlock it.
Opened the lid ever so slow.
Not sure if I wanted to know.

.

What treasures lie hidden from view?
Something good or a pile of goo.
Lid half-open, footsteps I hear.
Then closed the lid when mom came near.

.

Mom opened it up, said to me;
“That’s no place for a dragon to be.
I’ve looked high and low, all over,
For the dragon Gramp’s called Rover.

.

He wasn’t a creative guy.
But could pluck dragons from the sky.
But only when they’re very small,
Safe in hand and curled in a ball.

.

Then hid for a terrible day,
When there are demons to chase away.
You can visit, never at night,
That’s when dragons grow, in moonlight.

.

So keep it tiny in its box –
Or they get huge and tough as rocks.
Some are sweet, most others mean.
That’s why it best to keep unseen.”

.

Closed the lid before I could see.
She turned the lock and kept my key.
“You don’t need to go by yourself.
Attic’s safe with dragon on shelf.

.

Put the box back and close the door.
And try not to think of it anymore.”
Back downstairs, ready for bed.
But now there’s a dragon in my head.

.

They can be all colors or shapes,
Some are purple and round like grapes.
Some are short, some tall as a tree,
Some are small and cute just like me.

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I’m glad there’s a dragon upstairs.
Now I can sleep without nightmares.
Not such a bad sick day at all.
I got better and had a ball.

.

Now when nothing to do or see.
I don’t have to search for a key.
You don’t need keys to unlock a door.
That’s what imagination’s for.

~*~

The End

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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.

~*~

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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.

~*~
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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.

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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.

*

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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.

~*~
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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.

~*~
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Bountiful

~

Summer’s at its end, no paths leading home,

memories haunt, hunger leads wherever he does roam.

The hazy starlight setting, the sun’s ready to rise.

A frightened little orphan wipes dreams from sleepy eyes.

~

Soon the bells will ring calling all’s return.

The timid sure to flounder, the hardy always earn.

Darting through the alleys, the bay comes in view.

Ships aplenty ply the piers promising something new.

~

Upon these docks seabirds feast,

sharing the waste with all other beast.

Flies swarm, rats persist and hungry dogs bark.

There are many unseen faces lurking in the dark.

~

Survivors all, as is he, sharing the spoils of a bountiful sea,

no masters’ switch or mothers’ screams when a life is free.

Two pockets and a mouth full will feed for a day.

Fancy cord or carved wood may even bring some pay.

~

Scavenging for a morsel, a meal comes in sight.

Tis crated fruits from afar, a taste of pure delight.

Brushing off the larvae and peeling rotted skin,

sweet sensations pass the lips, a smile grows within.

~

Then giggles gurgled from his blissful throat.

Till greed consumes and bellies bloat.

Euphoria swells and inhibitions subside.

The bustle begins there’s no need to hide.

~

While hunger had made his mind alert.

Gluttony now makes his body inert.

Guard lowered, feet slow to run,

this young boys’ journey’s now just begun.

~

Sailors seized the well fed thief.

Then shackled aboard to ease their grief,

a gift for the captain from his loyal crew.

A cabin boy’s needed, there’s much to do.

~

Soon underway and far from land,

the mate unlocks the orphans’ hand.

The boy then runs toward sun and air.

On deck he cries watching land disappear.

~

Formalities scant then forced to chores,

His long nights stowed behind locked doors.

They voyaged south where weather’s warm,

when the waters grew bumpy ahead of a storm.

~

The captain commanded his capable crew.

And the boy was forgotten with so much to do.

The bright sun fell with the dark rising sea.

Freedom escapes when nowhere to flee.

~

The howling winds and roaring waves,

called heroes and fools to watery graves.

The skipper stood bravely at his battered helm,

barking out orders to all in his realm.

~

He called for his servant to secure a line tight.

The boy climbed too high, falling into the night.

The bosons’ pipe blew and bells rang out,

muffling the sounds of the orphans last shout.

~

The boy sank fast with his final breath.

When suddenly snatched by the jaws of death.

In a cage of tooth and tongue for seat,

waiting was he to be something’s treat

~

Swimming as fast as ever she could,

the serpent’s intensions were soon understood.

Diving through darkness then leaps in the air.

A long journey had, till the weather was fair.

~

He awoke on a beach, the serpent close by.

Being baked in hot sand to be eaten and die.

Before he could run the beast came near.

She patted his head and said “Have no fear.”

~

She gazed into his scared little eyes.

Assuring him serpent myths were lies.

“We’re not all monsters or killers you see,

though maybe a few but certainly not me.”

~

“Serpents get angry when harpoons fly their way,

or when dragged ashore for a tasty fillet.

Bounties are had that pay by the pound,

riches await when a big serpents found.”

~

The new friends chatted the rest of the day.

They shared their pasts till no more to say.

Dozing they snuggled on a bed of soft leaf,

dreaming of a life without any grief.

~

Wakened to sunshine and breakfast pre-made.

The grinning pair feasted on greens in the shade.

Then time for a swim in their private lagoon.

They frolicked together till the rising full moon.

~

Days and weeks then years soon past,

the happy young boy was growing fast.

The pair traveled the oceans and faraway lands,

their life’s serene with no demands.

~

They ate and slept and played on a whim,

till the boy grew curious of others like him.

He asked many questions, to the serpent unknown,

her boy a young man, now twice grown.

~

His name, he had none, he could recall.

He was always called boy and that was all.

The serpent, a serpent, there’s no need for a name.

The boy called her mum just the same.

~

The wise serpent knew their time couldn’t last,

The boy’s now a man and still growing fast.

Mum was ashamed of keeping the boy,

to coddle and cuddle and treat like a toy.

~

They played together, she watched him grow,

all the time knowing he’d eventually go.

A plan was hatched she couldn’t admit.

If her boy found out he’d have a fit.

~

She would swim close to shore then into the bay.

She’d crash on the beach for her boy’s big payday.

A hero he’d be and rewarded a bounty vast.

But she had to be quick for her nerve to last.

~

The day was perfect and the sky was clear.

Boy was napping when land came near.

The plan underway, Mum turned the last bend.

The town grew closer, her life soon to end.

~

Flapping her flippers as fast as she could,

splashes seen as she knew they would.

With one last thrust she lunged for the land.

The boy awakened when thrown to the sand.

~

The town folk scattered, guards quick to arrive.

None had seen a serpent alive.

Bruised and battered the boy came to.

Quickly he knew what he had to do.

~

He knew his friend would have a plan.

The boy’s time was now to be a man

Fearlessly facing his many foes,

standing with mum to shield their arrows.

~

He called for the general to make a deal.

“Spare your feasts now for many a meal.

Or a battle we will have with much to lose.

Life or death sir is for you now to choose.”

~

The general perplexed requested his king.

A long hour past, mum started to sing.

The crowds joined in and fears were eased.

The deal was sealed and all were pleased.

~

The general was spared potential bloodshed.

The serpent was spared her intelligent head.

The boy made an admiral though a scant crew,

with a fleet of just one and we all know who.

~

His beloved town prospered, called the boy Beau.

Replacing the name he didn’t know.

Beau got married, had many a young.

The eldest’s in a band with a grand mum who sung.

~

The End

~*~

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