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Poetry by Shigé Clark

"Let the battered heart rejoice"

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narrative poetry

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

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

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

Dragon Maid

A Dragon Maid must show no fear
If she would bring the dragons near.
If she would tempt that daring fate,
They must not sense her hesitate.

A Dragon Maid must not be frail
She may not stand by, meek and pale
The dragon rules the sprawling skies,
He must see fire in her eyes.

A Dragon Maid is strong as steel,
For she was made to fight and feel
And cannot falter under pain
She only grows through heat and strain.

A Dragon Maid cannot grow cold
Her life is lived of passion bold
Her heart must always burst with flame
Just as the dragons she would tame.

– s. Clark

The Ancient War (Rain in Korea)

The boom, the charging call,
And forth the water droplets go!
To wage war with their ancient foe
The Earth, to which they fall

A crash, the crack of light,
Their ally leaves but ash around
As, speeding passed, he smotes the ground
With streaks of burning might

But Lightening flees as fast
And leaves the Rain to wage her war,
As endless hordes of soldiers pour,
Each fighting to the last

The Rain remembers when,
Just once, she beat the prideful stones,
And swallowed up Earth’s battered bones
To cleanse the race of men

And since, she cannot yield.
The Rain will rest when she has won,
And only retreats from the Sun
To storm another field

– s. Clark

Encounter on a Plane

“That would be me,” I told him,
Pointing to the seat beside,
He stood and held his hand out
Offering it as a guide.
“I saved it for you, highness,”
He said, twinkle in his eye,
“Though so many pretenders
Claimed your throne within the sky!”
I thanked him for his valiance
In defense of my good name.
He laughed his gratitude, for
No one else would play his game.
So I scoffed and looked affronted
As we took off into flight,
Lamenting that the world could so
Ill-treat a gallant knight.

– s. Clark

The First Day: The Roman Invasion of Britain

In massive ranks they form upon the sand
The Romans, each behind his golden shield
In perfect lines, in majesty of war,
They march in eager order for the field
And on the far side of the silver beach,
Emerging from the rocks as insects freed,
The Britons, in a mass of swarming swords,
That fly to death in reckless warrior’s need.
For death it is, and at the battle’s front
The soldiers with their gleaming armor press
To run through their aggressive enemy.
The bold blood stains the fur upon the chest
Of each barbarian lord who falls before
The teaming onslaught, groaning at his fall,
While over lifeless forms one Briton flies
To face his foe, the largest of them all.
And each wears on his wrist a broken chain
To say he will be free at any cost,
Yet, still, two ragged natives turn their backs
In fear, for they can see the battle lost.
The brightly colored robes of roman guard
Stand yet unstained by wounds to make blood flow
And on the shoreline of the violent sands
Are ships neatly aligning in a row.
Yet while the Romans fall upon their prey,
While, pierced by spears, the Britons by and by
Submit to death, the land stands looking on.
The silent stones, the peaceful sea, the sky.

– s. Clark

Leif Shadow-Sword

Come, and I will spin for you
A tale of long ago
You may know legends, strong and true,
Who slayed an evil foe
Or heard you tell of mages fair
Whose power came to grief?
But not a legend can compare
To lore of valiant Leif

In Terratarn, the Land of Swords,
Where war seems not to cease,
In fields removed from brawling lords,
Our hero lived in peace
Leif felt not of wealth bereft
Nor need to conflict raise
In patient silence, gladly left
The fools their wicked ways

But he could turn aside no more
The day, within his glade,
A fighting band made blood to pour
From townsmen, helpless slayed
They laughed, and riding, burned the woods
That Leif called friend and home
Scarred and stained the earthen good
He loved, and lived to roam

In rage he dashed into the night
Beneath a raven cloak
The hateful band knew not their plight,
What force they had awoke
So when Leif came upon their camp,
Stepped boldly in their midst,
Some brutes began to laugh and stamp,
Their comrades smirked and hissed

“What fool is this, approaching now,”
They snickered in their pride
“With fury etched upon his brow?
We’ll flay your skinny hide!”
Unheeding of the stranger’s ire,
The raiders leapt to fight
By magic’s will, Leif took their fire
He would not need the light.

The only sound ever betrayed
The dogs to coming doom
Was ring of drawing ebon blade,
Unseen within the gloom
Their cries rang out into the air
And listeners could not tell
If pain and torment they heard there
Came up from earth or hell

The moon looked on in silence, and
The stars shone bright, but still
As though in judgment by the land
For all the men had killed
When dawn revealed the scene that day,
A score of rogues lay dead
And crimson rivers ran, to pay
For blood that they had shed

Now ever if you walk within
The land called Terratarn
You may hear whispers, tense and grim,
From those who would bring harm
The lords have fallen, in their wrongs
Received their dark reward
Let villains fear, for night belongs
To Leif, the Shadow-Sword.

– s. Clark

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