In the Shadow of Windmill Cottage

Behold this welcome image,
where a hill rises from a bay.
There a tiny sheltered village lay,
in the shadow of Windmill Cottage.
Pleasant breeze’s most every day.

Sails from afar spill their goodwill.
From their nets sea treasures abound.
Farms thrive above on fertile ground.
Good fortune trickles down the hill.
Sea birds fill the air with sound.

Ancient timbers shade from lofty stage.
Labored grain grows upward at the season’s rate.
Winds howl, warmth’s aglow on the hill-top grate.
Flour flows freely down from Windmill Cottage.
Where nature’s breath spins the wheel of a poets estate.

He attends happily to familiar chores.
Quarterly ledgers bulge beneath waistcoat fair,
a quarterly journey to the bankers’ lair.
His shadow alone opens Main Street doors.
Harvest moon will guide homeward the fortunate heir.

Dusk creeps up as day slips by.
Must avoid the many scrupulous gaze,
modest and ordered with nothing ablaze.
In the shadows inhibitions die.
A visit with strangers, heads all a daze.

Journeys end in darkness where hill meets bay.
Tufted coaches dash the posh up to their inns.
Others huddle by fire pits drinking homemade gins.
The trades of the night swap those of day.
Church bells echo, atoning for their sins.

He’s just another hazy face on the wooden shores.
Where the day’s death lingers and ships bells ring.
Taverns fill, ale flows and drunken sailors sing.
Fiddles play and jigs are had on the dirty floors.
Habitual killers all, Oh what joy they bring.

Few will stay, most homeward bound.
Some laugh loudly while others cry.
Some will fight, some will die.
In search of peace to be found,
in the deep or endless sky.

Faceless comfort fills empty space.
Men with silver are sick for a day.
Boys with gold suffer years away.
Moonlit romance lingers on perfumed lace.
Then life’s anew beyond the tiny bay.

Sharing much common thread,
In this moment they’re brothers all.
Whale lamps flicker on sooty wall,
making friends while breaking bread.
All await the Bosun’s call.

In a corner where shadows overlap,
the poet searches for his light.
Here the day’s brew flows all night.
Safe for now from his hilltop trap,
layers of darkness, out of sight.

Behold this most unwelcome image.
The seat no more where the poet presides,
now in his shadow a filthy little demon hides.
Return not quenched to Windmill Cottage –
And wait again for the new moon tides?

Lonely candle spews depth on a lonely face.
Unseen pests sing their unwanted song,
the scent of time ticking long.
His travels must be many, all left a trace.
In the darkness our senses are strong.

His hat brim low to hide the shame.
The poet stutters with utter surprise.
The traveler snickers, doesn’t rise.
With sideways glance he asks the poet’s name.
Honestly answered by the fear in his eyes.

When after long hesitation a hasty reply –
“A traveler like you” was all that he said.
But after some ale the silence was dead.
Yard by yard many distant words fly.
Palettes grow with faces shaded red.

Cider was next and followed by rum.
The traveler’s tales – all told in prose.
The wetter the lips the faster it flows.
He’s hated by most, loved by some.
That’s how a traveler’s life often goes.

The poet proud – a rather long fellow.
The traveler meek – a short poet by name.
So many ports traveled they all looked the same.
His heart pumped blue, the poet gay and mellow.
Opposite sides of a coin, no one is to blame.

“With little time to hone a craft –
with a draft from an open door.
To close then return no-more.
To open then evermore – the draft.
Spirits gone, gone the craft – nevermore.”

“What dribble do you speak my friend?”
The poet inquired in disgusted tone.
“The dribble I think when thirsty and alone.”
The traveler quipped with message to send.
“I’ll tell you another, that’s my own.”

Silent words are never heard –
The voiceless poet stuttered.
Repeated babble muttered.
His rhymes always sputtered.
More mindless words would be absurd.

The air he breathed was glutted.
His helm so poorly ruddered,
his shirts all heavily buttered.
From his many toasts self-uttered.
His mind is so free and uncluttered.

His weaknesses many but unobserved.
Blinded to the Reaper’s shadow – deserved.
Soon the voiceless poet will be unheard.
Then blissful quiet on his paths wandered.
His silence welcome  – forever heard.

Drunken rabble roared with delight.
The poet withered belittled.
The traveler’s attention fizzled.
When laudanum’s sipped out of sight.
The poet escaped most grizzled.

Out of the dark into the night –
bellowing air; cold, wet and starless.
His poisoned lips know no finesse.
His state of mind out of time – not right.
The poet’s mind wanders aimless.

While the traveler tucked snugly in his bunk,
with help from many new joyous fan.
All loved the howls of this traveled wild-man.
His tales make perfect sense – drunk.
The favorite carried and a silent poet ran.

His boot heels clack on cobble slick.
The poet stumbles upward with achy head.
While his stallion slumbers atop golden bed.
If only to have aid from his gilt throat-ed stick.
This shadowy path he may be found dead.

The wind that is my fortune is slowly killing me.
This hill of heritage too high for me to climb,
with forceful push from the hands of time.
Drawing me back to a frigid sea –
my misery oh-so great – it is oh-so sublime.

Head tucked low, bottom up always slow.
Darkness wanes to purples then red.
Day is born, horrors of the night soon dead.
Hands and knees bloodied and bruised – falls of woe.
Alas the bodies of servants to guide to downy bed.

Winter behind, graven plans regress,
fevered sleep past, shadows of death dawdle.
Summer awaits, the poet’s lessons dwindle.
His magnum opus went off to press.
Journey’s soon to Main Street for praise to guzzle.

Surveying high atop his magnificent mount,
the poet exclaimed “behold this welcome image”
Deceived by the bustle – not he the homage.
But a tome by a worldly traveler, no doubt –
“In the Shadow of Windmill Cottage”

The End

Sck101614

Advertisements

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

~*~

sck092015

Journey’s Home

~

I’m not just me, I’m at least three.

One sailed far hoping to be free.

One steamed airless more recently.

The oldest walked a vast frozen sea.

 ~

With passing generations this matrix grows complex.

A boundless atlas made of tiny specks.

Paper lines divide the pages of our time.

Ignorance is bliss, blindness sublime.

 ~

Unfurl the man-made charts, the journey’s just begun.

The ship of fools adrift, nowhere left to run.

Invaders, settlers or immigrant be –

all driftwood from the churning sea.

 ~

Time whispers on the ever-changing breeze.

One-eyed pirates still plunder all the seas.

Children wander a water-less beach.

Welcome shade out of reach.

~

To find a paper line they roam.

To find a future to call a home.

Pages of the atlas grown,

each a page we call our own.

*

The End

Sck101114

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

The Blob

.

Was out to lunch this early fall,

with my sweetheart, disturbed by a call.

Tried not to answer, boss wouldn’t wait.

Go to the harbor, he yelled, before it’s too late.

 

Duty calls, I sped to the pier,

swerved through traffic as fast as I dare.

Screeched to a halt at the dock by the bay,

the boats motors revved then underway.

 

Holding on tight I asked what’s the fuss?

The skipper pointed up at the blob over us.

It was big and gray, no particular form,

battered and tattered like a dingy in a storm

 

It hung from balloons, one at each end,

letting air out slowly to descend.

It kissed the calm harbor with hardly a swell.

A slit appeared then a putrid smell.

 

Followed by a ladder of rope dropped to the sea,

then an old head popped out “Ahoy thar matey.”

We climbed aboard the blob that fell from the sky.

Inside appeared to be a ship with no sails but masts high.

 

A portal to the past or future, it wasn’t clear.

My eyes wide open, couldn’t fathom what’s near.

Bos’n whistle blowing, ships bell ringing,

Captain’s on deck, old sailors singing.

 

Adrift in time for many a year,

brass shone bright, decks scrubbed bare.

Beards grown long, spirits grown weak,

searching endlessly for the end they seek

 

I asked many questions and he of I.

“How did you come to fall from the clear blue sky?”

He shrugged and answered “balloons in the sun.”

He asked how the war went; I said “you won”

 

Pleased by the news, great joy was abound.

The captain and crew, spirits were found.

We told him our location, name and job.

He told us the story of his great flying blob.

 

“I built her to survey the rogue enemy.

Launched in the spring, eighteen sixty-three.

But she rose too quickly and at too fast a pace.

Caught in a current and thrust into space.

 

She’s wrapped in layers of thick blubber.

Fin of spruce to serve as rudder.

A ship out of water floating in space,

propelled by methane made from our waste.

 

And in her belly the mighty tree grew;

wood for repairs, air for the crew.

Trimmed to perfection, nurtured with care,

the trees demise is all that we fear.”

 

“The tree is the living when all else seems dead.

Greens for the birds then eggs we are fed.

Twigs feed the fires for heat and our light,

the roots of survival the engine of flight.”

 

The captain paused for word from the mate.

A decision to make before it’s too late.

The blubber was oozing in the midday sunlight,

absorbing seawater, soon too heavy for flight.

 

He called out the order to make all lines taut.

Bid us farewell and shared one last thought.

“No matter how far our souls may roam –

the journeys not over until we are home.”

 

The blob sailed off high in the sky –

then disappeared in the blink of an eye.

The captain and crew homeward at last,

seeing the future, choosing and the past.

 

The End

 

Sck092914

Lessons

DSCN6495

The more costly the watch the freer the time

The louder the song the looser the rhyme

Turn on the light half the world’s dark

Smell the gas we see with a spark

Life in a bubble called atmosphere

Poking holes without a care

Drink deep from fragile stemmed glass

Candlelit dreams with time to pass

To guess and be wrong a zero gain bet

The higher the proof the more wrong we get

To prove the proof a wasted equation

Pens against bombs can never be won

Words in the air unheard over fuss

Numbers on paper not to discuss

Lessons of life shared by all; never stand, never fall

Never swim, never sink, never thirst, never drink

Always bright much unseen, blind to details in-between

Never laugh, never weep, never dive unless it’s deep

Never leap in the melting caps ice

A lesson we can never learn twice

The End

sck081914

Sharing

~

People that yell have nothing to say.

People who yawn sleep all day.

People who sniff also smell.

Preachers of lies go to hell.

`

Thieves take for their greed.

The meek give when in need.

The globe’s split by distant light.

Half is day. Half is night.

`

Half is X. Half is Y.

Thunder booms in forever sky.

Drowning reason with buoyant screams.

Pushed and pulled to all extremes.

`

Hiding behind a glass veneer.

The mirror see’s we all don’t share.

But share we must our only place.

For life’s reflection, not a race.

`

The End

Sck081714