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Poetry by Shigé Clark

"Let the battered heart rejoice"

Category

Narrative Poetry

Theme Week: Love – 1

Building Bridges

They built them with their happy sighs
And whispers under sheets
They built them out of reaching hands
And snow-brushed winter streets
They built them over angry words
And over river tears,
They threaded wire memories
To string across their fears.
She stacked hope stones with shaking hands
And eyelids sneaking looks,
He poured concrete encouragement
And bought blueprints with books.
They built them over years of time,
Through life, with all its ridges,
And crossed to reach each other’s souls
Two lovers, building bridges

– s. Clark

Theme Week: Innocence – 1

Unquenchable Light

He reached for the stars
but he stretched out too far,
and they burned up his hands,
left him covered with brands.
But he reaches on still,
for he measures his will
as his light,
Matching might
with the stars.

– s. Clark

You Were There

You have been there. The fight has grown so long,
I have lost count of all my battles fought.
My blade is bloodied, and my flesh is torn.
This war that we call life has made me strong,
and each success has been so dearly bought
beneath the weight of struggle and of scorn.

Though there are many crowded at the line
to watch me win the race, you shared the road.
So in the times I fell and lost my heart,
or knelt with broken knees and twisted spine,
you reached to raise me, shouldering my load.
You walked the weary wasteland from the start.

And there are always those who claim the win,
who show up for the trophies made of gold,
but you have been there for the grueling climb.
You offered faithful words and cheering grin
through all the pain, the tears, the biting cold,
through hateful words that rained like acid slime.

So let them come and boast with puffing chests,
and let them list me in their accolades.
The straws they grasp are empty as the air.
For in the times the haggard line was pressed,
I found you at my shoulder in the glade.
Through hell, with all its heartache, you were there.

– s. Clark

Neighbor

He could hear her laughing
She wrote her mirth with noisy ink
on paper-thin walls
And he read it from the other side,
wondering at the author’s inspiration.

He could hear her grumbling
as she stumbled home from work
Soft, irksome swearing,
Thump-thud of objects dropped,
stretching silence of exhausted sleep.

He could hear her singing
Muted mesh of 80’s rock
and Disney melodies
Crash, and giggle – she must be dancing
And he smirked and shook his head

He could hear her coughing
Clearing sore throat, sniffling groans,
treasure hunts for DayQuil,
And he sifted through his stores,
but could find none to bring her.

He could hear the silence,
the empty space of her absence
reaching through the walls
He turned up his music and danced
away from its grasping fingers.

He could hear her crying
Muffled sobs against the floor
She doesn’t move for hours,
frozen, immobile sadness. And he crosses
over to her door, and softly knocks.

– s. Clark

Theme Week: Adventure – 3

Shadow and Flame: The Last Battle of Leif Shadow-Sword

In Terratarn they took their stand,
Two armies fought across the strand
A demon came to to claim their land,
They fought to reach the morning

Leif danced through the brawling horde,
And stood to face the demon lord
Atop a hill, he raised his sword
And shouted out a warning,

“Let the devil come to me!
A fiend of fire he may be,
But ere this night is done, I’ll see
Him laid down low and writhing!”

The creature roared, and spread its wings
But Leif laughed, and began to sing
He made his spinning blade to ring
And sent it darkly driving.

They met, and fire sparked with shade,
Fearsome claws with ebon blade
They flew– advance, assault, evade
A storm of frenzied fighting

Up and through, and quickly glancing,
All the hordes about entrancing,
Blades of flame and darkness dancing
Each one deadly biting!

Then a cry sent soldiers turning,
Soaring spirits fell to churning
Saw a razored claw come burning,
And their hero reeling

As Leif was bowed upon the field,
His warriors all rushed to shield
The demon flared, and thundered, “Yield.”
And grinned to see him kneeling

Leif’s spirit seared and charred within,
It curled like smoke up from his skin
But still he met the monster’s grin
And laughing, rose to meet it

His limbs weighed down like molten stone,
His blood boiled about his bone,
But Leif would not be overthrown
While still he could defeat it

So forth he flew, and met its fire,
Drove blade through flesh with black desire
Made the creature his own pyre,
He could not leave it living!

For those who fought with him so brave
He would not leave for demon slaves,
So, with his final breath, he gave
All he had left worth giving.

Those looking on heard only laughter
That echoed with them ever after
Piercing through what seemed disaster
As Leif and fiend fell spinning

And as dawn came, the warring masses
All ceased in their fervent clashes,
Saw two bodies midst the ashes
One twisted grim, one grinning

The demon army ran, retreating
All their fearsome boldness fleeting
And Terratarn pursued them, meeting
Victory with raging

For though their land stayed free and strong,
They mourned their friend, lost to the throng.
So, weaving him into their songs,
Leif lived on, never aging.

– s. Clark

Avalanche

He was a quake who knew not how
To slow his rough advance
And she was snow, but in his arms
Became an avalanche.

– s. Clark

Trial of the Ages

Call the crying critics in,
Tell them to declare their lies.
Stand of strengthened soul within
Holds Him silent, burns His eyes.
“Blasphemy!”, what they accuse
With their pointing fingertips
Is the very thing they use,
Slipping from their lying lips.
Though the saintly sadists yell,
Nothing shouted stands. But still,
Who He is will not compel
Victim to assert His will.
Jesters juggle Him, the same,
Through their hoops of pain and pride,
And He claims a kingly name
Though His servants flee His side.
Soon His flesh will break and tear,
As He promised them it would,
And He calls not legions there
To defend Him, though He could.
He will hang upon His grave
And permit their taunts, that He
May no longer call us “slave”
And true Children let us be.
Call the crying critics in,
They will watch the Lord arise!
Stand of strengthened soul within
Names Him victor, burns His eyes.

– s. Clark

Theme Week: Fairy Tales Retold – 3

No More Nonsense

This crown that I am forced to wear,
Has grown so heavy on my head,
Made up of curling spikes of gold
But pressing down like gnarled lead.

My people look to me to end
The curse that twists our vibrant land,
That turns our whimsy into fright
And forces darkness from my hand.

The wizard knave that sent this curse
Has long since fled, and barred the gate.
He locked a shrunken door behind
And left us to an eerie fate.

The hatter now sits in his yard
And boils mice to make his tea,
The cheshire’s grin has grown so wide
He feasts on those that pass his tree.

We can bear no more children here,
So we grew daughters out of seeds,
Flowers that cut their brothers down
For fear their difference made them weeds.

The madness spreads across the land
(I feel its fingers scrape my mind)
And I must cease its sickly sweep
Before it ruins all our kind.

And so find I must execute
Those who have gone beyond our reach.
My edicts come in snapping rage,
Because I mourn the life of each.

But one has come into my realm,
Who somehow passed the shrunken door
Not of this place, not of this plague,
We are not hopeless anymore!

The logic brought from outside worlds
Could cure my kingdom of this curse!
But she joins with the tainted ones
And only makes the madness worse

I have the stranger brought to court
She is a pale and fragile child
A lovely flower, sweet and small,
Why did it have to grow so wild?

The sorrow stains my weary voice,
The sentence falls, “Off with her head.”
Pale roses make me think of her,
And so I have them painted red.

– s. Clark

Theme Week: Fairy Tales Retold – 2

The Sleeping Death

She didn’t know what allergies were,
she only wanted
to see the tree
stepmother had planted,
that grew in the meadow
somewhere on their farm
passed the brook on the east side,
but before the fence.

She left stepmother
staring into the bedroom mirror,
babbling to it
as she did every day
since the day father died,
and took the path she knew so well,
down passed the brook,
and on to the meadow.

She met the huntsman on her way,
coming back out of the wood
with his latest kill.
He said she should not wander,
that supper would be coming soon,
as would the dark,
but the apple tree was so grand
against the sunset,
all clumsy spilling out,
dropping its fruit on the grassy floor.

Just a bite,
not even enough to spoil supper,
and then off skipping home.
But as she walked,
her feet grew so tired,
her lips itched, her throat swelled.

She couldn’t breathe,
and as she laid down amidst the meadow,
with the trees
so suddenly dark and menacing
with branches like reaching fingers,
her soft skin faded white as snow
stained by rose-red lips,
and she fell asleep.

– s. Clark

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