Ignoble, They Won

They were not the remainder,
But the remained.
They were not an illustrious past,
But an ignoble future.
The loud and the slovenly,
Those who hid,
Relics of a world made mad:
The lunatics inherited it all.
Whilst those who tried:
The thinkers, the generous,
The less gregarious smiles at open doors;
The welcoming quiet,
Suffered.
As they always had,
But would no more.
Perhaps it was for the best.
Perhaps it was never meant to be.
Which shames me
As I type this final note,
For we should’ve tried harder
To change them.

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As the Lights Dim

“There’s never been a day without darkness.”

I remember my dad’s words with a clarity not afforded much else. He’d adjusted his starched collar with one finger as he spoke them, a bead of sweat noticeable beside one eye. This was unlike him; he never got flustered.

As I’m sure you’re thinking, too, every day is followed by night, so why the need for such melodrama? Why the need for such histrionics?

Now, as the lights dim to a claret night and the fire burns behind my eyes, as bones crack and the animal appears, I understand the truth. Soon, so will you.

Time & Man

I lost a grandparent today and just needed to write something.
Time is tempered by the lifespans of man. So many notches on the tree of life are we, and little else. Yet, when the next generation, and the ones after them, and them, seek out the truths of the past in word and memory, they’ll find the truth in those carvings in the bark. We all leave them. His were just cut deeper than most.
Richard

Gothic Departures

Antoinette had a propensity for exaggeration. Tonight, however, she had not. Rain dripped from the over-elongated archways as though some god had reached down from above and pulled them toward him, only to grow bored and release them halfway. Backlit by the moon, as the castle was, I thought myself about to walk beneath the angular backplates of some leviathan of myth, or dinosaur of ill-repute.
The whoosh of a bat distracted my overactive mind and returned me to the task at hand, my commission. I cracked my neck, shook the water from my hat and cloak — a pointless exercise if ever there was one — and continued on my way.
The courtyard loomed up into the night in varying states of disrepair. Once magnificent, the Van Arnfeldts had allowed the place to diminish in the same way as they, badly. Loose brickwork lay smashed to pieces all over the cobbled ground, the lichens having taken over the more moist corners and left the rest to rot. How could Antoinette live in such a place_I mused? Then remembered, she did not.
I approached the oak-panelled door, ran my gloved fingers across several deep gashes, then pulled myself together and knocked. If my knuckles made any sound within it was lost to the thunderclap without.
The rain came down heavier, as if sensing my unease, seeking to douse it out of me like a drowning rat. So distracted was I that I neither heard nor noticed the door open only the words, “Bonjour Monsieur,” as they split the evening air.
Antoinette stood in the cobwebbed doorway in stark contrast to the world about her; she was exquisite, and my resolve weakened. Her perfumes, something metallic, if I was not mistaken, exuded from every inch of her, the affect quite overwhelming.
“I see you have arrived,” she purred.
“I have,” I agreed.
“I should’ve known you’d choose this most awful of evenings to fulfil your duty.”
“I make no apologies for the weather, Madame, for whatever the clouds bring it is always a good night to die.”
“Ah, ever to the point.”
“In my line of work, the point _is
the job.” I inadvertently fingered the heft of my blade. It did not go unnoticed, although Antoinette never batted an eye.
“Shall we get on with it?” she said, her impatience evident.
“Madame,” I nodded.
She led me indoors to a gloaming equal to, if not worse than, the malevolent conditions outside. At least it was dry, no thanks to the pathetic excuse for a fire that burned like a wetted match in the extravagant fireplace.
“I like what you’ve done with the place,” I quipped.
“I’ve done nothing with it,” a bristled reply.
I gathered that enough chit-chat and walked the rest of the way in silence. Through corridor after dark corridor we strode, me with my boots clip-clopping the way, she silent as the grave.
When Antoinette turned down a staircase decorated with stone gargoyles of a grotesque and upsetting nature, I paused.
“Scared?”
“Bored,” I lied, and set off again at a trot. It made no difference, for no matter how many steps I took in one stride, she took more.
When we emerged into the dankest mausoleum I had ever had the misfortune of frequenting, she sighed.
“Regrets?” I asked.
“Non, Monsieur, the dead do not have regrets. They only regret not being able to have them.”
Whilst I pondered her words, she drew open the lid of an obsidian coffin carved from a single slab of stone and hauled herself inside.
I’d had quite enough of the place by then, so decided to get on with it. I drew my sword, hung it above her cold, dead heart and awaited her settling.
She looked sad then, if a demon might. Her black eyes swallowed the light of the single candle that flickered on a small table, a rivulet of smudged kohl running away beneath across her porcelain cheek.
“Are you ready?” I asked.
About to take the plunge regardless of her answer, I readied my arms for what must be done. “May God take mercy on your soul, Antoinette Van Arnfeldt.” That was enough of an epitaph, and I thrust down with all my might just as the candle extinguished.
It is hard to judge time in absolute night. I might have stood there a second, an hour, or a day. But it wasn’t until I felt the fingers around my throat that I realised, for me, time was over.
“I’ve had a change of heart, Monsieur. I think I’ll take yours, instead.”
Death came in infernal increments beneath those gothic towers. A vampire hunter had become the hunted, an uneasy alliance broken. All I had to show for a life of paid murder was an eternity with those I’d condemned to death, and they, an eternity with me.

This Rock

Above the clouds where seasons change by the minute, you tower.


In ochre rock, snow capped peak prevails; I envy you your seclusion.


Awash in sunlight, sparkling, just sparkling, without hint of bias from the scaremongers, you astound.


And whilst the climbers, the walkers, those just there for a view, do stress, you observe in patient majesty.


This rock, they say, but they don’t know you. You’re so much more than the stones you’re built from, for dreams run through your seams, and shall until you crumble.


Personal note: That’s the top of the Eiger in the Alps, my favourite view in the whole world. How I wish I could view it every day.

Legacy

I am being stretched.
Filament by filament,
I unravel.
It is a slow unwinding,
A ponderous affair,
But the inexorable
Skew towards nothingness has me.
I can neither resist nor retract,
Stabilise nor step back,
Though I would if I could.
At some point soon,
All too soon,
I shall cease to be
And those who have known me
Shall fall in my wake
Like lost smiles.
Then, what will I be
But my own legacy.
What will I be
But a dream.