The King’s Last Stand [Short Story]

The king lay in bed with a fever. He had been this way ever since three days before, when the peasants had waged an uprising in the town outside the castle’s walls.

He could hear them dancing and singing through his window. It made him sick. How dare they take his kindness for granted?

A servant entered the room: “My lord, the people are asking you to forsake the throne. What will you do?”

The king curled up under his blankets: “I will do no such thing! Woe is me! I am bombarded yet I stand here still! I will not give up my kingdom. It is my right to rule!”

The servant slid a long dagger from the sleeve of his robe: “I have enjoyed serving you, my lord. I am sorry to hear you feel that way.”

At DVerse today, the prompt is to write a piece of flash fiction or other prose of up to or exactly 144 words, including the given line: I am bombarded yet I stand.

Photo by Randy Fath on Unsplash

The Time of Night That is Quietest [Poem]

There is always a time of night that is quietest,
whether you are awake to hear sounds absence
or whether you rest tucked beneath a comforting blanket of dreams.
That is the moment when thoughts seem to linger longer
in the spaces between dreams or nightmares or fantasies.

Though when the seas of sound part, for that one moment,
my mind, whether awake or dreaming,
cannot help but drift to you, to us,
to those visions of the future that are too far away to seem real and too close for comfort,
those visions that pause in the space between dreams and memory,
forming a perfect future from the fragments of you, of us,
of the walls we tore down
to let each other in,
and the shadows that stretch from the walls
we are still working to climb.

The quiet is so deafening is that moment
that I cannot help but to seek solace…
but you are my solace and you are not beside me tonight.
When I turn over in bed,
my hands feel empty air
and my eyes see nothing but a blinking green light
at bedside
with no late night context.

I check my phone and see you wished me a good night four hours ago,
before the quiet and the tossing and turning.
Before I woke,
temples sweating
and temple crumbled.
I smile,
hearing whispers in my ear in the tune of your voice
and I roll over into a deep sleep,
the subtle sounds of summer returning
with the chirp of crickets
and the soft hum of streetlight bulbs.

Photo by Josh Marshall on Unsplash

A Kind of Library [Poem]

“I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library”

– Jorge Luis Borges


Shards of light
through dust particles
flicker like fireflies
dancing through dim-lit rooms
in unpredictable flight patterns.

The yellow sun of noontime
shakes off its rays
across the spines
of yellowed and crackling books,
abandoned to time’s hands.

The air is stale-sweet,
the musty heaviness of sweating books
mixing with the scents of vanilla
and tobacco
that linger among the pages like memories.

Shelves born mahogany
have washed themselves
pale-brown
with the soft-bleaching sunshine
of many forgotten years

and lines of paleness have been etched
across shelf and book alike
at the angle of sunlight
through windows
to mark time’s passing.

My fingers trace this discoloration
from book to book
towards the small window
as my eyes slow-adjust to the dim light
and the ghosts that float around me.

I must be the first visitor
in ages,
my mere presence mixing up the dust
as I crack open a random book
to its first page.

There is no one here but me
and all of human history,
bound in fraying spines and crackling covers.
The solitude feels almost like how
I would imagine paradise.

Photo by 🇸🇮 Janko Ferlič on Unsplash

For Eugi’s Weekly Prompt, we are asked to craft a poem from the following prompt:

sun kissed paradise

ours is a world of our own

serendipity

My Hotel Heart [Poem]

My heart has always been a hotel –

a passing through point
on the road to somewhere else

or else a place to drop off bags
and lighten the load for a short time
during one night stays and brief layovers.

The only signs
there was every anything there
at all
are
ruffled sheets, indented pillows,
the odd forgotten sock or sweater,
a short letter,
scrawled on hotel stationary,
hidden
in the drawer
of my mind.

My arteries are clogged
with the mass
of small trinkets and memories
left behind by people
who have
long-since forgotten
staying
the weekend
within my walls.

When I met you,
my hotel heart
did not know what it felt like
to feel like home,
which may be why
we began in stops and starts,
departures and returns,
each return uncertain.

When we would fall
into a comfortable silence,
each on our own phones, in our own worlds,
connected by nothing
but your head on my shoulder,
I would fear
we were falling apart
and wait for the comfortable feeling to leave,

but it never did.

In those silences,
we no longer felt
the distance of being two people,
no longer needed words
to convey
our thoughts –

just being together was enough.

In those silences that we shared
my hotel heart
began to feel
more like a home.


Photo by Dominique APPIETTO on Unsplash

A Plant Growing in Wintertime [Poem]

The small, jagged seed
lies silently in the dirt,
swept there by the soft caress
of a summer breeze
which welcomed it
into this unfamiliar home…
in a neighborhood
of ancient and calming trees.

No sooner is the warm seed sown
than he blossoms,
birthed by the bright light
of a brilliant summer sun
and cast forward into the palms
of an old world,
which held him with care
so he was not overrun.

He grows strong in the comfort
of those light dripped days,
limbs sprawling out
across the whole expanse of sky,
longing to breathe in every ray
through tender skin –
never imagining those days
would one day die.

As he grows stronger,
the days begin to shorten,
each imperceptible second
of daylight lost
adding on to a steady stream
of misplaced time,
the breeze hinting the coming
of a killing frost.

The wide-spread, high-stretched arms
of the reverent plant
are first to catch the harsh rays
of frigid sunlight
and he cannot help
but recoil uncertainly,
afraid of the creeping winter wind’s
vicious bite.

His ancient companions
arise dispassionate
at the dawning
of each shivering winter day,
old eyes watching him near death
in cold dirt below,
knowing that to save him
is naught but death delayed.

His outer skin grows strong
under freezing wind and rain,
callused by fierce elements
that cut to the root,
drawing him closer
to his elderly neighbors,
who despite shared time
held him in such low repute.

Rising from the dirt
in steady contradiction,
his soft heart and harsh skin
resonate with the land.
His roots mingle with thousand year roots
of the trees
and his swift bloomed mind
slowly starts to understand.

The summer sun returns
to find him different,
his seed born world shattered
and reformed at the seams
so that when his tempered skin
feels warmth once again,
his young heart will begin
to fathom ancient dreams.

Photo by pure julia on Unsplash

Blinding [Poem]

Her glasses sit lightly
across the bridge of her nose,
reflecting early autumn sunlight
so that to my unaccustomed eyes

< She is blinding >

even after the sunlight recedes
and I close my eyes to sunset hues,
sun-spots bleed deep blue across my vision
in the shape of her name.

Photo by Anne Nygård on Unsplash

On DVerse this Tuesday, the challenge is to write a poem about bridges OR write a Puente (Spanish for “bridge”), which is a poem that uses a line with a tilde (~) to connect two stanzas.

A Romantic Dinner For Two [Poem]

Fried chicken, texas toast,
hold the slaw,
and add an extra texas toast.
A large sweet tea for her
and a lemonade for me.
Some extra sauce packets in the bag,
Please!

A meal fit
for a prince,
or a king,
or a god,
or just me and you,
two broke 20-somethings
with no pretenses between us.

The dining table is set across the dashboard
in a mess
of haphazardly stacked
sauce containers
and 32oz cups
packed into
already over-flowing cup holders.

The air is humming
with soft background beats
as we trash talk
and watch the street roll sleepily by,
streetlights and neon flashing
and reflecting
off the dash.

You kick your feet up
on the steering wheel mid-joke,
and my distracted hands
spill sauce down my shirt,
freezing us
in a moment
of silence.

We break the silence
with a flurry of laughter,
tears mixing with the sauce
until it seems
like the whole world
is nothing but
an absurd joke

and all
I want to do is
laugh at the world
in my sauce-stained shirt
with you
next to me,
laughing too.

Photo by Andre Ouellet on Unsplash



The Howl of a Wolf [Poem]

In late evening,
I sit on the porch
washed purple
and grey,
criss-crossed
with fireflies
and echoing
with silence.

The howl of a wolf
splits my silence
in an instant,
rending open the sky
to let all
of the passions
of the world
pour across my head.

That lonely wailing
is jazz
to my ears,
played to an audience of one
long after last call,
when the low lights
still glow
faint-mysterious.

I feel
almost sacrilegious
bearing witness
to the world’s heart
poured forth,
but I cannot help
listening to
that heartbreaking solo
drip from
the wolf’s throat
somewhere out
in the darkness.

My heart
knows all of the notes
of this haunted ode
but as it begins
to synchronize
to that arrhythmic howling,
the howl of a second wolf
join the first
with piano key-soft tones
and a third add drums.

A spark of warmth
appears
and the wolves howls
harmonize
across an otherwise
lonely night.
I feel my howling heart steady,
comforted in knowing
I have a pack
to run with
when the night
grows long.

.

Photo by Miti on Unsplash

On DVerse this Tuesday, the challenge is to write a poem in the first person that compares some trait of ours with something animal. It should not be a whale, but another creature (mammal, fish, bird, insect, etc.) with which we have something in common. The title should be the animal thing, in the same way Marjorie Saiser chose ‘The Print the Whales Make’.

Ripples [Poem]

I trap the sun in a thousand dots under my skin,
crafting them into maps wrapped around tired shoulders,
so I can guide myself by the braille of my body
when darkness shivers over me and night grows colder.

Wind scatters the mapped seeds of my dandelion dreams,
casting my traces across oceans and continents.
My second hand shoes plod through places I will never see,
leaving footprints to sprout second hand monuments.
My roots grow like thick, tangled vines through all my places,
re-drawing my map with a thousand small traces.

The night sky I thought to be unnavigable
is washed bright with the light of innumerable stars
which cast sharp reliefs against my uncertain shadow
and write me into small footnotes in the sky’s memoirs.

I find nourishment in streams whose quiet waters have 
washed clean the tarnished faces of kings and tyrants,
cleaned sacred altars of unholy sacrifices
and witnessed the rise and fall of civilizations.
The water flows its history through my tired veins,
and when the water is gone from me, pieces remain.

I am older than history, younger than time,
formed full from the beginning of the universe
and doomed to remain thus until my final days
when I drink from the river, will you question my ways?

Photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash


First published online on Pen to Paper.

What One Remembers [Prose Poem]

As on any other day, the sunset is yawning between the buildings, its edges stretching past my feet as they carry me home. The light does not bother my road-worn heels, shielded as they are by the reflective surfaces of shined leather shoes. It does bother my eyes, as reflections off those sole shields shine too bright through my irises, which are unprotected from the evening sunlight. I squint my eyes, placing my left hand between them and the ground as a makeshift shield. The light shining through my hand turns my fingers an eerie red hue.

Though by my best designs shielded, my eyes still ache. There is some pressure building behind them, as if my brain is swelling through my eyes, hoping to photosynthesize every last ounce of sunlight. I ignore the aching sensation, which seems to have a mind of its own, as it travels along the bridge of my nose up to my forehead. I squint a bit, hoping it will help. It does not, though I could not have been blamed for trying.

As if sensing I will not find my way home absent some “medical intervention”, my feet untold lead me to the door of our small corner drug store. The store owner, as he looks at everyone, looks up at me with a mixture of suspicion and distrust as I open the door. His eyes follow me along the aisles, his hand almost subconsciously reaching over to the phone, dialing three numbers, and putting the receiver to his ear. I feel the weight of his eyes on my shoulders as I snag a bottle of ibuprofen from the pharmacy aisle and a blue Gatorade with a red label from the fridges. I have never particularly liked this store owner – he was always looking at my wife a moment too long when we would slip into the store for snacks. Now he is looking at me with a similar too-long glance. I shiver as I hand him my items to checkout. He scans them without touching them, his eyes never leaving my face. The phone is still to his ear as I walk away and his gaze following me to the door quickens my pace, as if my feet can sense the uneasiness of my mind.

I no sooner leave the store than I forget the whole scene that has just transpired. So focused am I on home that all else washes away. I tap two pills from the small red bottle and pop them into my mouth. They taste like iron in the back of my throat and I wash them down quickly with Gatorade. So disorienting is the taste of iron that for a second I must pause, finding steadiness in the form of a col metal fence post, one of many bracketing the small gardens along our street. The cold – conducted from the fence post – traces the fingertips of my left hand, shivering their dimly-lit edges. I scratch my head with that fence post chilled left hand as I take in the mundane familiarity of our street, taking in the uneven pulsing that echoes my temples, distorting my mental picture of that oft seen scene. I tap two pills from the small red bottle and pop them into my mouth. They taste like iron in the back of my throat and I wash them down quickly with Gatorade.

Maybe in dim light my eyes deceive me, for I have some difficulty in making out the number next to our door. Is this my home? Suddenly all the houses on the street look the same, their distinct features melting into a grey monotony as the sun by degrees hides its weary head behind our cookie cutter homes. Twice I blink, trying to clear the fog rolling from under my eyelids. It takes a few seconds, but finally I recognize our tall wooden door, hidden amid the lengthening shadows. Through the front gate I walk, my frozen fingertips fumbled among spare change and crumpled notes, seeking my keys amid the chaos of my front coat pocket. Our doormat interrupts my search to say: “I hope you like dogs”. Did we have a dog? In that moment I was so tired I could not even remember our dog, go figure.

From within the house I hear the rustling sounds of comfort, the scrambled footsteps of a lively home. I give up on my search for my keys, so eager am I to see my family, my wife, my daughters. The door handle is strangely slippery as I turn it with my left hand and push it open.

A man I do not know is the first thing that greets my tired eyes. My wife is the second. I look at her with red eyes full of disappointment and pain. She looks at me with the eyes of a stranger, one of my long ago nicknames hanging from the corner of her trembling lips. I spill into the hallway, my bare hands forming fists, fueled by an unthinking fury. The man steps forward, looking at me with eyes full of concern and fear. He holds up his hands, soft and gentle hands, my name also on his lips.

A glint from his ring finger catches my foggy mind in its gravity, my own hands paused in halfway formed fists. I glance down at my own left hand and find that the sunset red tinge is dripping down my wrist and over my bare ring finger. I pitch forward in the hallway, my limp body almost colliding with my wife’s husband as he approaches me with tender hands raised. The last thing I remember is my daughter’s face peeking out from behind the man’s legs where she had hidden from me. The last thing I see through reddening eyes is fast drying red-brown blood caked to my naked ring finger.

What do you think has happened to the narrator in this prose poem? Let’s discuss in the comments below!