Reading Tomes by Candlelight

Researching tomes by candlelight,

the old library smells

of tea and flowers, parchments,

and Indian ink wells.

Along here with the candlelight,

a fire crackles low,

and in the shadows of the shelves

dark laughter echoes so.

The dark and dusty shelves are full

of dark and dusty lore,

and spells to summon love sublime

or terror at its core.

The hairs and hackles of my hide

now stiffen in the air.

Of malevolent presences

I’m suddenly aware.

“What is it that you want?” I called,

but only silence came

in answer to my query

and the quelling of the flame.

Now sitting in the utter darkness

terror binds me still,

and all the will within me

chooses ‘cower’ over ‘kill.’

I know not when these things will slay,

they play with me the while,

and snarl and snap the air nearby

with fanged and feral smile.

They close the distance daily,

incrementally it seems,

So reading tomes by candlelight

yields nightmares and mad dreams.

I’ll leave the book and note for them

to find here in the day.

I don’t know if my corpse will be

devoured or on display.

Explore the tomes at your own risk,

perhaps your luck will hold.

Just know capricious spirits

have no use for human gold.

And maybe friend, just maybe,

they will bind you to the fold.

The Gauntlet of Forgotten

Silent now,

this once rambunctious band

of warriors.

All of them

silent now,

except me.

All these years later,

I still remember

the Elder’s advice

as she covered her knees

with her blanket.

“The cause you fight for

will never be absent

in the world,

for the hearts of men are

ever self-serving.”

She watches from among the stones

and remembers the day

she saw her son die.

I mourn with her,

prayerful, fearful,

in the light as she fades from view,

her tears gray as


and colder than


The Lovely Eyes of Death

The lovely eyes of Death were dark,

no white in them to see.

She passed me in the marketplace

and smiled and winked at me.

She fought me on the battlefield

but saw me safely home.

And holds my hand when traveling

as o’er the world we roam.

Revealing mortal wounds that we inflict on girls and boys,

Her laughter rings displeasing at whatever she destroys.

Sometimes when she is holding me,

she’s gazing at the sea,

but is the sunlight dying there for her,

or is it me?

I know one day she’ll look at me and say to me, “It’s time.

“So kindly end your story now,

and rhyme your final rhyme.”

Until that day I hope to fill the world

with works of worth,

Death’s lovely eyes the last I see,

ere I return to earth.


The stars above me were legion, diamonds strewn across celestial black sand.

My breath was visible in the cold air, and a crescent moon crooked like a beckoning finger, leading me along the stony path.

The dark spirit that walked beside me was lost in her own thoughts.

“I don’t understand,” I said, breaking her reverie. “Surely you have others to choose from.”

She considered my words before she answered. “But you were the one who wept at how bereft of purpose you were; the Master has given you one.”

“It still seems pointless, telling the tales of things past, things dead.”

“It is, now. It may be that later, it makes all difference in the world.”

“I doubt that.”

“He can do it. Indeed, he already has, at this moment.”

“You would have me believe my own Master died for nothing?”

She laughed. “I would have you know that.”

“Is the soul then nothing, that one would risk his very life?”

“Believe as you will. Your fate is all the more intertwined with ours.”

We walked on in silence; it seemed she would say no more.

We went up the mountain path, me behind her, the gusty wind threatening at times to pluck us off and cast us down; but handholds were plentiful enough, some provided by those who’d gone before, others naturally formed.

“The dwelling is around the bend.”


It was the mouth of a cave, one that I had to bend to get into, with the wind getting relentlessly restless, the sky black crystalline velvet behind a silver-white moon.

The dark spirit was docile, her dark robes barely stirring.

“I’m to go in there? Alone?”

“Yes. You’re to tell our stories..”

“For how long?”

Her smile was enigmatic. “I have to go, and you must soon get started. You’ll see that all has been prepared for you.”

“But how am I to tell these tales?”

“In verse. In story. It matters not. Each one will bear their tale, and tell you what you need to know.”

“And if I say no?”

Her arm extended. “Feel free to roam, but you’ll never descend from here.”

She waited, watching me. There was nothing more to say.

I entered the cave, found stairs descending, and walked what seemed endless flights until the bottom finally appeared.  The ensconced torches that lit the way extinguished themselves as I walked past them, the only light from the eldritch one’s eyes and hands.

When I finally reached the bottom, there was a lantern placed on a meager desk with an ink jar, a pen with a black quill, shining with blue highlights, and stacks of journal books with blank pages.

The spirit emerged from the opposite side. “Come, sit down.”

“Spirit, I…”

She pulled out the chair, arching her brows.

I sat, and she turned the chair to face her.

“What do I do now?” I asked.

“You wait. You listen. You write.”

“But when will they be here?”

“When they are ready.” She took the pen from my hand, laid it on the desk.

“Be patient,” she said. ” I must go.”

“I’m to sit in silence?”

“Yes, if need be. They will come to you of their own choosing. Farewell, my friend.”

Bewildered and lost, I found myself giving way to a quiet despair.

“Farewell, spirit.”

She faded, and the cave got colder. After some time, my body began to shut down, reacting to the cold.

There was nothing I could do to stop it, and then I heard a whisper in my ear, though no one was there.

“In the beginning…”