Ode to a Governess

My governess, I maintain a sickness at heart […]

Ode to a Governess

My governess, I maintain a sickness at heart:
   It is for your love, and that is all: base, low love.
Your eyes change with the seasons, autumnal gazes
   That dance in playful bind, striking at my strings:
Then Summer’s hand strokes your golden hair—
   And once again you are in my arms, breathing,
      Supplying me with wise, considered counsel:
How you saved my life! How you brought me metre!
      How I watched the light stream through your locks,
Eden in your glow; these prime moments are countless.

Yet Winter’s grasp places all kindness in stasis:
   So in this waning light my love is yet forlorn:
Your humours reborn as the seasons shift inconstant,
   Guidance on my thread becoming evertorn—
Your eyes an icy grey, your pale flesh shivers
   At my finger’s touch, your gold mane hiding
      A naïve foolishness, countering your wit
Regarded in the warmer months: it quivers
      And turns blind from my sight, never minding
   Nor caring for my heart, ne’re even a bit.

A thousand lines to your laugh! O, what else
   Can I do, my governess? My tutor dear,
Beloved madam of the morning mile—
   Nay, turn away; nay, take my hand! Where
Should I turn for one to snare my thoughts
   And turn me towards the mighty Spring?
      Should I blossom with you, or else detain
My arch-aching atrophied blust’rous madness?
      Aye: for two must be done at once, nature
   Should be tempered with human restraint:
      In these forty days, I shall prove myself
         A man kindly unworthy of your care:
   Only then, my love, temp’rance be my wealth,
   Yes, only then shall I be worthy of your stare.


The Last Song

This is the last song that I shall ever sing […]

The Last Song

 

This is the last song that I shall ever sing:
A cadence to the skies that hold the swelt clouds
E’er with utero-bairn of scorching rain,
To let free that child of thund’rous eccho
And have it born upon a borderland
That prays for icen shards and martyrdom
Of Ophelia’s calm, drowned innocence.

This song is for the shores of bless and Heaven:
It shall see the end of marks upon the clock
As is ushered in the bravest era,
Whence pathology and ambition’s tide
Were carried forth as a seasonal bourn,
And weighed upon the shoulders of alb time.

The last song is for Hypnos, sleeping tight:
As for now he dreams only for himself,
And all other dreams are gone. They are not dead—
For a thought can only truly ever live
In the brainpan stream of evocacy
Wrought from a Christ’an child wise beyond years.

So shall that thought wreak more than my last song:
So shall that symphony o’ertake my ditty;
The childe’s harmony is thunder’s reverb
Upon the peak of everdreaming’s tilt—

Unlike my chant, it shall forever live;
Bring the swollen mists of skye’s replete womb
To the crooked apse of dryed riverbed:
Gust the pews with worthy lioness milk!

This is the last song I shall therefore sing:
I kneel aside for Ophelia’s life;
I die so she may live, it is my all
To lose all sight and taste for one so pure.
For time is ever-changèd, and marv’ling—
Dazzling scopes of future vistas, birth-right
Of the New Daughter: so comes the kind rain,
Apocalyptically altruistic,
To wipe all clean for the Age of Virgo.

 

Duchess Songs

A set of six poems: In the Amber Grove, Duchess in Tempera, όραμα, A Match of Squares, A Vain Shadow, and She Turns to Say Farewell.

Duchess Songs

 

In the Amber Grove


Her Lydian wrist,
   Dappled rose and brown,
   Fraught with flaxen hairs
That catch the sunrays,
      Reaches out to touch
      The golden bough’s leaf.

Duchess enkindled,
   Closed eyes and sighing.

 

 

Duchess in Tempera


Speak of her heritage: she sat serene
Upon daybed, surrounded by suitors
That she entertained, painted tempera
Upon a canvasse by portrait-maker;

A near-woman with a presence-shimmer:
All stepped into her fulgence: one-sided.
To carry her name into future-world:
Duchess painted in a golden dream.

 

όραμα


Resting
terra verde:        ἁγνεία dreams,
Sylvan,        vision of sacrificial embers,
Aeternal duchess      of the amber grove,
Everydying yet  preserved she slumbers.

 

 

A Match of Squares


The duchess smiles: elliptic,
                  A coy fortune:
                  Liquid reticence. 

 

 

A Vain Shadow


In prone and fitful moon’s tide, I visit
Her German palace: wander empty halls
Where her silence falls, complete echo’s lack;
Gracing the walls, holding silver chalice,
Her likeness stares back; but yet my duchess
Is absent: desolate are the ribbed vaults.
In the night, wind cries from the firmament,
The creaking boughs despair; and I can find
No consolate sight of my beauty’s host,
Nor her voice; nor her breath; nor her ghost.

 

 

She Turns to Say Farewell


Morning’s blurry haze
      Brought day’s sight afore
      Nemi’s mirrored banks;
            Diana’s statue
            Gazed on from the trees
            At the lake’s yawning edge:

      Duchess wets her clothes,
      Which start to glitter
      Sanguine rose and gold;

            She turns back to look—
            Her amber eyes hold
            A single, fated tear.

 

Unto Gehenna

I took my oath at once: I knelt at God’s Throne / And chose that path of solemn protection / Of those below me, those of calfen youth. […]

Unto Gehenna

I: The Templar’s Oath

I took my oath at once: I knelt at God’s Throne
And chose that path of solemn protection
Of those below me, those of calfen youth.
Honour-bound I was, damnation the threat
If I should fail; the Templar makes his deed
As good as his word. Addrest with long sword
And crest’d shield, fond and boastful with rites,
I travelled anon thither to the Keep
Where I, unsubtle paladin, would take
My place amongst God’s chosen Knights of Law.

Discounselled by none, my quest thus seemed apt;
Friends abound flocked me as I departed,
Yet still I felt in shades that something else
Watched me go: some sprite of evil deceit,
A shivering scent of remaining fear,
As if the Arch-Enemy drest my path.
But idle was I, ignored such portents
And rode further ’pon chestnut steed across
Lands my sight decided rude and wastefull,
Until I reached forested Darkthrone Keep.

At castle walls I adjourned my entrance,
Seeking rest afore I met the Lady
And Lord of Darkthrone; I did not question
What it was that kept me from those cold gates,
And spent hours steadying holy resolve,
Drifting to dreams of penance for sinners
I had known in my younger, darker years,
When I was strangely passioned, and before
I donned steel plate, sought yron resolve,
And took the oath that bore me to these gates.

At dawn, I rattled my blade at the bars,
And then called out my regal intentions:
At once the gates opened, and I crossed ’neath
Gothic architrave bearing cherubim,
Finding myself upon great garden path
Where autumn leaves lay dying in summer.
’Twas not the entertainment I thought of:
No slaves to greet me, only sallow sound,
As if Hell’s hordes sang behind the great doors
I stood before, thinking of my bared oath.

The castle of Darkthrone lingered tall, proud
Of its embyron, increate omens
That trickled through my aching, heben sight.
With sword, shield and armour of embossed steel
I stood, heralded myself to the keep;
And likewise, Darkthrone heralded to me,
So I suffered my doubts and quested on:
Iron doors stood agape, awaiting me.
Nothing swam in the ebon shade beyond,
But with that yron resolve, I stepped forth.

 

II: The Crying Darkness

Beyond the walls of icen jet construct
I walked, seeking Lord and Lady bearing
Noble heritage, whose absence defied
The words of the council who had sent me;
In lieu of advice or royal presence,
I could only but walk griesly shadows
Tentatively, making known my presence
By calling, my armour clanking withall.
Through corridors I crossed, alone if not
For the black-sheened walls and the ghostly wind.

At last, the whispers layd low, and I heard
A cry, youthful and full of aw; whimpers
Of a lost lad, and in my gall rose might
Enough to sally with haste in my step,
To seek the source of my righteous despight.
I weened it to be close, and thus I ran
With all my knightly sleight to yonder source;
Young cries bringing to my thoughts memories
Of shrights of my erstwhile companions, alive
Then but since passed in pain; o, pitteous!

At dusky corner I found the poor lad,
Ensconced from some cruel, invisible foe;
Wareless of my presence, I took his hand
And spoke: “Lad, I am a knight; an errant
With mind to take a vengence on those who
Harm young friends like thee — I am Allister,
Sent from the city to this keep upon
A singular quest, to protect and fight
For the calfen youth who cowers in dark;
With this oath, I shall take thee to safety.”

The boy quelled his cries and in his soft eyes
Came a recognition; desperation
That I shared to now leave this eldritch tomb,
This catacomb I felt was lost to Hell.
He cast his eyes to me, and he thus spoke:
“Sir Knight, I know not where is my cousin;
I cannot leave her here. Those cries were her
Name: but she answers me not, and so I
Fear she is lost below, beneath the ground:
I beg of thee, find her, and take me with.”

I discovered the lad’s name was Titus,
His lost cousin known as Desdemona.
With fury and audible rage, I swore
To uphold his cousin’s life, no matter
How deep she had fallen; I grasped his arm
And we set to embrew ourselves below
In hope of rescuing the fair girl-child.
Through labyrinthine corridors we flew
Until we reached great hall lined with gargoyles:
And at once their foul mouths began to speak.

 

III: The Masked Icons

“We seven Masks dictate thy oath, Sir Knight:
We shall judge thy sleight, thy very honour;
And to prove thyself worthy of thy name,
Thou must perform with true precision.”
Their cruel, foul faces looked down upon me.
“To be a Knight of Law, thou must respect
Those who came before; for they signify
What thou wish to be, thy own quest withall.
Art thou understanding, Sir Allister?”
I gripped my long sword, and Titus’ hand.

“Who art thou, to speak unannounced?” I cried,
“Who art thou to tell me my quest? Thou art
Demons, foul sprites, gargoyles! I should strike thee!”
An infest of laughter barraged my mind,
Unlike any chorus of Heaven born;
Were these allies of Lucifer himself?
“Nay, Templar; thou cannot strike us! Foolish
Young wight, these are but icons of ourselves—
And we shall choose whether thee, young paladin,
Shall be forever damned to Gehenna!”

I could do naught but kneel in sad despight,
And hold my sight upon their carven looks.
“Then let it be so,” uttered I, “For I
Am not the Devil’s friend, but let it known
That I shall not forget thy cruel misdeeds.
What must I do now to fulfil my oath?”
The masked icons whispered as Acheron
Itself might, the disembodied chatter
Of souls bound to an unkind life, dreaded;
And then they spoke of my approaching fate.

“Beneath the body of Darkthrone Keep lies
The Vault of the Eidolon; hereafter
Thou shalt find Desdemona, if thou seek
Her: and if harm comes to her or Titus,
Then thou shalt know nations of pain and shame
In the bowels of dark, lusty Gehenna.
If these lost childs are delivered unmarred,
Thou shalt be known as a Templar Errant
Worthy of the Kingdom of God Himself.
This is thy only quest, Templar. Now stand.”

Upon my own two feet I rose again,
Strapped my shield to my back, long sword in hand,
And ushered Titus away from the fiends.
I crossed the hall with foresight, exclaiming:
“It shall be done, Icons — and then it ends,
For I shall oversee thy destruction!”
As the great doors to the vault slid open,
Again the Arch-Enemy’s chorus sang;
Murky and oblique, it revyled my soul:
Brought to mind my final destination.

 

IV: The Vault

In darkness we descended, quite afeared,
’Tho my face kept stern, to ease the young lad.
As impious thoughts invaded my wits,
I held yron resolve above them all—
And prayed to the Lord Above for His grace.
As the steps waned, shadows arrived aggrieved;
I heard Titus cry out, and I knew why so:
For forms lingered just beyond sight, beyond
The eterne rite of vision; eidolons
Of those who had perished in that cold vault.

I held the lad close to my side, creeping
Through the black maze, with prayers not to be seen
By the ghost-shapes with hollow, mourning eyes,
Following the distant, stricken murmurs
I felt to be of youthful human source.
My sight slowly renewed itself, the walls
Of the vault tangible, Cyclopean,
Hemd with treasure: rubies, gold, and silver;
Runes of origin cryptic and foreign;
They shewed within them secrets yet untold.

With the Good Lord in thought did I view
These heretical patterns; for they bled
Into my mind, spoke of riches, wenches—
Diamonds and lust, liquors, those which I
Had cast aside in the name of great God;
I saw a thousand futures that called me,
Tempted my yron resolve in exchange
For the child under this knight’s protection;
But with the Father in my heart I pushed
Aside such Satanic dreams of evil.

Now in my sight appeared the slim outline
Of girl-child; Titus then spoke her presence
As that of young cousin Desdemona.
In childish dress she sat, singing a plaine
Of soft melancholy that thrild my ears.
Titus lifted her to her feet afore
The ghouls took care to notice us at all;
And, arm in arm, we yfere did return
Through many of the twisted corridors,
The Stygian runes winking at me still.

Afore we reached those rising stairs to light,
A hand did touch my arm; I stood aside
And behind my self the childs I did shield:
But standing there amongst the runes, clad in
Flaggy dress and of auburn curling hair,
Was a girl — her visage that as the child
Behind me. I pointed my sword forward,
And she winced. “Help me,” she cried, “I am lost,
I am no ghost, I seek my cousin, please.”
Titus dropped my grasp; I turned with a cry.

 

V: The Eidolon

Titus was gone; Desdemona also:
Or, who I had thus weened to be the girl—
Before the shadows sunk low, and this child,
The one crying at my sleeve, had appeared.
I screamed for my God — for this trickery
Had confounded me, and now I was lost,
Like the children I had promised to help.
Dreams of Gehenna swept my weakened wits—
Hellfire, Stygian torture for evermore,
My failure designed by Satan himself.

I brought myself round as the shades took form,
Their limbs stretched to pluck the girl back within
The growing mass of shadows she had fled.
My sword still drawn, I swung it towards them;
But only air met the blade, nothing more.
To the girl, I spoke: “I am Allister,
And I will protect thee with my own life.”
With hardiment, the girl and I did flee
The encroaching army of lost spectres,
Searching the shadowy pits for the boy.

Without fire, my waning sight did fail;
My faith was put in Desdemona’s eyes,
Refined from days alone in the darkness.
At our back, the shadows, the eidolons,
Abjured enemies of the light, they crawled
The black corridors in a hungry search.
Still voices did rattle in my frail wits,
Beseeching me to sacrifice the girl.
My hand grasped her tiny hand with resolve,
Until she finally pointed it out:

Two figures did dwell deep in the shadows,
One quite small; as I approached, girl in hand,
I spoke: “Release the boy. I am with God;
I am just. Thou cannot defeat me, beast.”
The second figure materialised:
In shining plate, with solemn eyes, he stood;
His long sword raised, he smiled; for he was me.
My eidolon came forth, and struck out true—
Poinant pain filled my side, where armour lacked;
In wrath, my own sword lunged, but met nothing.

Keeping my footing, I stared myself down
As blood dripped to the floor. I struck again,
But my blade passed through the eidolon’s form.
“Thou will die a mere failure, Allister,
And then all will be mine, as was promised.
Thy God will not receive thee,” spoke the ghost,
And its spectral blade did perce me once again.
I thought of the Lord, of his shining throne—
I saw the calfen youths at vile mercy—
And plunged my blade once more at the spectre.

 

VI: The Mark

As sword-tip struck the wraith’s false plate armour
It glowed with heavenly fever, my blood
Seeping to the ground as the eidolon
Cried out in fiendish dismay, thus surprised
At the power of the Word of the Lord.
“Thou art decayd, thou ruthful entity,”
I declared, my disguiz’d ribs engendered
To seep upon my now-rustie armour;
And thereafter the wraith faded in shock,
Leaving only the children on their feet.

I rose, bringing myself once more to stand,
And spoke: “Thou art in safety now; we must
Leave at once, however, for this tomb
Holds many horrors we could not believe.
The Lord will deliver us; let us go.”
As we crossed back through the ashen hallways,
Young Titus and Desdemona embraced,
Sharing tears that fell alongside my blood.
My spirite, I knew, was draining; I would
Die before the day was done, in honour.

The corridors were silent; the spectre,
The eidolon, exorcised for the time,
Could no longer bring harm to the children.
As we three ascended the stairs, I glimpsed
Upon Titus’ neck a mark. I spoke:
“Lad, what is this?” — and I examined it;
It was small, but bloody; marked by the ghost?
Titus spoke in a soft hush, as in shame:
“It hurt me. It had sharp claws. It hurt me.”
“Well, lad,” I spoke, “it can’t hurt thee any more.”

We crossed the threshold into the great hall,
The stony gargoyles staring down at us.
I fell to my knees, now too weak to walk;
The children turned. I ushered them closer:
“Leave this place, fair youths. Go and live thy lives.”
With tears, they embraced me, and turned and left.
I looked up at the grotesques, my teeth clenched.
“I have given my life so they may live,”
I uttered. “Let me die now, and ascend.”
I heard a grim laughter, and their voices
Began their tormenting, Hellish chatter:

“Thy quest has been vaine, young Sir Allister;
For the boy was harmed, and thou the sole cause.”
“Deceit!” I cried, “Titus walked out alive!”
My vision failed, and I could see naught, nor
Could I speak thereafter, tho how I wished.
“He was marked by the eidolon, fool-knight:
And the clause was that he would be unmarred.
Thus thou hast failed, and soon thou wilt be dead;
Another knave prone to misween’d bruteness—
Another knave borne unto Gehenna!”

O cruel failure! O wicked ridicule—
Pared down, wounded, but the boy did escape;
My body’s journey was done—
Thus my sight did wane, and yron resolve
Fled my form; at end of all life—
I heard (in broken rattles)
Arcane, hideous, cackling gargoyles,
As, in death at last, I collapsed: bent forth
As life-water drained through
Cuirass, and at—
Once, blind and mute and—
Out of God’s own time:
Felt my good ghost desert me at once,
And knew myself cursèd to a vile fate:
Quite gnawed I would be, gnashing and weeping,
Destined to burn eternal in the realm
Of wicked Moloch and Master Satan,
The churning, stenching pit of God’s design:
And such was I borne by braying shadows—
A failed knight and no more than a sinner—
Unto the Stygian pain of cruel Gehenna.

 

“And so it ends: thankless and without fare”

And so it ends: thankless and without fare […]

“And so it ends: thankless and without fare”

And so it ends: thankless and without fare,
A simulacrum of friendship that speaks
Only in professional dance and act,
Where you play the part that communicates
A song of respect and honest ranges.
Branded with names, branded with a black soul,
An aura surrounds you that speaks your curse
To all fine men and women of this land:
To fair forewarn them of your blackened gall.
But those of spirit innocent and free
Hold testimony that you have not failed—
Unrecognised by bold social tensions
But adored by those you protect, inform:
Yes, their care returned emboldens to try
A life in which you live, and do not fly
In fear to shrouded pandaemonium.
To hold such weight and never know, that is
Indeed the paradox of innocence:
To mean so much, and not ask in return
For anything but your time and presence.

 

“Exeunt! Exeunt! Hosannas to my love”

Exeunt! Exeunt! Hosannas to my love […]

“Exeunt! Exeunt! Hosannas to my love”

Exeunt! Exeunt! Hosannas to my love
Follow, follow! Let us cast off the stage
And speak, not act — no shame, no shame, exeunt!
O masquerade of priceless love bring forth
Princess parade pared to finest echo
Glory, glory as we embrace the streets
And freedom holds our kindred hands to see
Such sights beyond the pallor of the moon
Great girl, we walk bestowed with passive sighs
Yes, yes! You are the essence of our faith
Leonine, leonine — grand-crested, bold
Future rose, erstwhile glimmer, present lamb
Who dances of concrete dreams now made flesh

Exeunt! Exeunt! We leave for pastures fresh
And cast our shawls of silken night aside
Follow the priest of modernus, exeunt!
Aye, we are nubile yet, await the day
When we are wed in harmony of soul
Glory, glory as we discover sight,
Our hopes abide the climes of racing Time—
We hope our forms will yet warrant appraise
Entrusted to wingèd eohippus—
Yes, yes! That is the paradoxical—
To grow yet wise, and pray to keep our youth
A fallacy of the young; grim once old
But dancing still in fleshly, concrete dreams

Exeunt! Exeunt! Awesome boones to my sweet
Leave, leave! Lest your engendered breast is pierced
And lack falses our path beyond the bornes
O sorrow, fate! I feel you now, you cur:
Let it known what fickle fiend you favour
When it is Autumn bloom upon the globe’s room
The stage is you, the stage is me: so how
Can we find space to flee?— O spirus fate!
Conspire to force old age; ensign of death
Runs black, half-mast, it sits upon the bow
Of schooner pale, with steersman blind — ’pon waves
Of seas that dance in material dreams

Exeunt! Exeunt! Hosannas to my love
Follow, follow! Let us cast off the stage
And speak, not act — no shame, no shame, exeunt!
But the costume does not remove with ease
Instead it empeaches joyance contained
Glory, glory beyond the universe’s planes
And the ’straints that shackle spirit withall
Now greet sights once met in moontide slumber
Great friend, with visiting cheer and tinctures
Yes, yes! Wash away such thoughts of fleeing
Serpentyne, now slither thither, wither—
Future rose, erstwhile glimmer, present lamb
Who dances of hidden dreams now made flesh—
And writhes in litany ever out of sight—

 

“When we were young, we shared our bread and milk”

When we were young, we shared our bread and milk […]

“When we were young,
we shared our bread and milk”

 

   When we were young, we shared our bread and milk
Played games in the woods, chased the spirits there—
Caught a glimpse of something more, never scared
Were you, just laughed off the ghostly face
   Even when it appeared at your window
At night, and whispered secrets yet untold
What did it say to you in the darkness?
I always sat rapt, struck, when you spoke
   Of the depths of the encroaching forest
And how you saw another world inside
The reflection on the piano’s sheen
Just smiled as you fingered dainty tune.

   When we were teens, we never got too close
A hug or two, once a kiss — nothing more
But we never didn’t smile, best of friends
A boy, a girl, in love with the world
   But you always wanted more, spoke of things—
And when we wandered in the pouring rain
Your mind wandered to darkness, I knew so,
And I wondered what cold dreams you saw.
   We fell into our patterns with swift ease
And made those signs that only we did know,
I wanted to never see you depart—
But you were bruised, your eye red, swollen;
With stolen alcohol, you smoldered.

   It had been half-decade we didn’t speak:
I got out of town after you showed me
The room hid beneath the abandoned house
That lay quiet, unpleasant ’tween trees
   Skeletal and in constant winter grey—
You held my hand too tight, I remember
And something was wrong in your hazy sight.
I never knew I loved you before
   Then, the moment I knew I feared you much;
And after we went to mine and ate sweets,
And didn’t speak until you said goodbye
And left a shadow in dreadful wake.

   When I returned, it was on your request—
I found you at home, dilapidated
Plaster, pebble-dashed tomb where on the floor
Lay shrunken mess of erstwhile father.
   No longer woman, but dusk-changeling
So far from girl, Acheron followed you
With perverted grace of vindication:
I shivered to see your serpent smile,
   And wept when you told me what had to come;
Sweet childhood friend, dark empowered sorceress:
Shadows crawled upon your father’s dry corpse.
I watched man turned to messy chaos,
In hands of girl I once broke bread with.

   When you were young, you were stranger than life:
In cryptic patterns you danced fairy dance;
Snakelike smiles replaced that kind childish grin
As you stowed away your pain from me
   You hid the acrid scars and acid burns,
And listened close to whispering souls of which
Offered dark gifts of ancient sacraments
You uttered of, in hushed tones aside
   Gabbling crick in oaken glade we called home;
And you spoke to me what you meant to do,
One day, when the wind was rising eastward:
Comeuppance for your red swollen eye.