ATTENTION IPAD USERS!
Apple doesn't like listing me as "Will Shakespeare (poetry blogger)"
to differentiate me from the other guy, although everybody else does.
They took my first book but now won't take new ones. (Go figure.)
Since Smashwords distributes my books to Apple anyway,
just go to my Smashwords author page and download EPUBs from there.
Smashwords provides samples of my books also.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Dogged by the Curse 12

As Dietrich passed the night in fitful sleep,
A brooding figure walked the well-worn path
Where death had claimed so many of his gang.
No men were brave enough, no brigands fool
Enough to serve as bait for Chase's trap.
Now Simon Chase, hands clenched in helpless rage,
Strode down this path toward the river's edge.
He carried pistols, each prepared to shoot
A silver ball. Did he believe this wolf
To be some superstition come to life?
In truth, he had no answer to the question.
Still, when faced with situations that
Defy one's common sense, the most pragmatic
Man will often choose to hedge his bets.

He neared the spot his gang most often chose
For their activities but, unlike them,
He didn't lie in wait for him he sought.
"I'll not give him the upper hand this night,"
He swore beneath his breath, the misty puffs
Evaporating quickly into nothing –
Unlike the fear that grew within his breast
With every passing moment. Primal instincts,
Long forgotten, reasserted their control.
The businessman reverted to the hunter;
His senses, heightened by adrenaline,
Became attuned to every movement, every
Sound around him – chilly breezes stirring
Crispy leaves, and far-off owls in search
Of prey. More confident, he slowed his walk.

The growl was faint but clear. He wheeled about
And saw it – the size of a man, and black;
Its red eyes glowing, flickering like fire
As they studied him; it wrinkled its nose
And snorted its distaste. Bearing its fangs,
It charged at him so quickly…

Chase fumbled with a pistol, raising it
To fire point-blank into the creature's face –
With no effect! The hairy monster leaped
And Chase, the hapless victim, dropped his gun
And raised his arms to shield his face – a futile
Gesture borne of primal terror.

To his surprise, he neither died nor fell.
The beast dissolved before him like his chilly
Breath, passing through his hands and body
Like an icy arrow through his soul.

He gasped and dropped to his knees, clutching first
His neck and then his chest with trembling hands.
An apparition, nothing more… or so
He tried to tell himself. And yet he couldn't
Shake the fear that death had touched his soul.
A warning, this – a warning that it sought
One Simon Chase. Its grudge was personal
For reasons he had yet to understand,
And would return to claim its prize… and soon.

Unless he found a way to kill it first.

But not tonight. He ran back to the village,
Barred his door, and prayed for morning's light.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Quest for Fryer

A Black Friday legend inspired
By the old movie Quest for Fire.

The hungry tribe gathers around
An ancient burned-out FryDaddy®.
Children wail as their French fries float
Limply on the cooling peanut oil.
They can't wait for Cyber Monday.
Reluctantly, tribal elders
Journey to the feeding frenzy
Following Thanksgiving dinner.
Stretching into Friday morning,
Tribes of tired bargain seekers
Trudge along the crowded aisles in
Hopes of finding something novel,
Something to ignite the flaming
Passions of those on their Christmas
Gift lists – name brands, inexpensive
Stocking stuffers, lucky guesses.
They are at the mercy of the
Chain store buyers, clueless minions
Looking for a deal themselves – a
Deal that empties shoppers' purses.

The elders travel far and wide,
From one big box store to the next,
From department to department,
Praying for one overlooked fryer
Amid the rubble in the aisles.
Valiantly they brave the legions
Struggling through the checkout melee.
They are unable to escape
Without some unplanned purchases.
Will the trials and tribulations
They endured during this hunting
Expedition finally bring
Cheer to hungry children at home?
This they know: Their family will
Have the gifts that keep on giving…
Fried nerves, burning guilt, and every
Credit lender's hot little hands
Clawing at their empty pockets.

And the fryer will be burned out
By Sunday night. Cyber Monday
Will claim yet another victim.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus

They should just call it
"Ares vs Aphrodite"…
It's all Greek to me

Friday, November 23, 2012

Dogged by the Curse 11

Thanksgiving interfered with writing this week.
It may have been a blessing in disguise,
since I need to decide on the most dramatic
direction to go with this setup. I'm not
at all sure that having him "wolf out"
in the church is the best way to go...
At least, not this early in the story.

Father Benedict dragged himself from bed
And rubbed the sleep from his eyes.
The pounding echoed through the halls
Of the church – erratic, as though
The visitor struggled just to knock.
He draped his blanket over his shoulders
And shuffled to the door. "Who is it?"

He heard a moan. The pounding seemed to slide
Down the door, weaker as it fell.
He tried to open the door
But something wedged it shut.
With a grunt and a heave
He shoved the blockage from the door
And gasped. It was a naked body.
"Dietrich! May the Lord forgive me!"
Quickly he flung the blanket around his friend
And dragged him inside, down the hall
To his room. He placed him on his bed,
Hurriedly brewed some tea,
And tended Dietrich's wounds.
One in particular bothered him –
A gash in his side that could have been
Caused by the blast from a gun.
Powder burns mingled there with blood,
Though he saw no trace of a bullet.
When the tea was ready,
Benedict managed to get
A few sips down Dietrich's throat,
But he never truly woke from his stupor.
The Father's vigil lasted most of the day –
A worried, prayerful vigil.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Return to Cinder

Thanksgiving turkey
Had an after-dinner smoke—
Before dinner too!
It was the cook who should have
Come with a warning label

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving Hymn (87.87.66.667)

With Thanksgiving coming later this week,
I chose to write a hymn of thanks.
Hymns are often written using
A metrical index – a number showing
The syllable pattern of the verse.
This allows the same lyrics to be used
With different tunes. For this poem I chose
87.87.66.667, which is
The pattern for Martin Luther's
A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.


Thanksgiving is a waste, some claim;
There is no God to pray to.
Faith is a scapegoat that they blame
For evils man is prey to.
They see our troubled earth
And question what faith's worth
When mankind is in pain,
Each day seems more insane,
And they don't see God acting.

Sometimes we lay awake at night;
We feel so persecuted.
Nothing in life is going right;
Our hopes are all uprooted.
Laid bare, our deepest fears
Bring each of us to tears
And drive us to despair;
So sure that no one cares,
We question His existence.

As hopelessness engulfs our world
And we fear God won't hear us…
Though our emotions rage and swirl,
One simple truth should cheer us:
We may not have much say
About our lives today…
Life may spurn our control
But God still holds our souls.
He won't let life destroy us.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Dogged by the Curse 10

Chase stumbled down the staircase from
His room above the tobacconist shop,
Sleep still heavy on his eyelids.
It was early, much too early for
The heavy knocking at his door.
What kind of fool would wake a man this early?
He staggered to the door and snatched it open,
Prepared to give this fool a sound tongue-lashing…
But stopped, dumbstruck, facing Constable Garrett.
"Mr. Chase?" Garrett asked. "Mr. Simon Chase?"

"Why, y-yes, Constable," Chase mumbled,
Trying to appear more sleepy than shocked.
"Forgive me, I'm not used to customers
This early. What can I do for you?"

"I'm sorry to bother you, sir,"
The Constable said, "but this is important."

"By all means, come on in," Chase said,
Stepping aside and motioning awkwardly.
"Have a seat at the counter. You look stressed;
I'll brew us both some tea."

"Thank you, Mr. Chase," he said, removing
His hat and nodding his head as he entered.
"My morning's already been quite long."

As he brewed the tea Chase asked – as
Nonchalantly as possible –
"Does the cause of your long morning
Have something to do with me?"

"I'm not sure," the Constable said, accepting
A cup of tea with a nod of his head.
"You've heard about the animal attacks?"

"Of course. My customers talk of little else.
Why do you ask?" Chase hoped he didn't sound
Unduly interested. He feared he did.

"A small group of revelers left the tavern
Late last night – a surprise to the owner,
Who thought them far too drunk to sit
Aperch a barstool, let alone stand long enough
To leave the tavern. But leave they did.
Supposedly they spoke of going fishing.
And when they didn't make it home last night,
The wife of one complained to me at dawn.
I feared they might have perished in the river,
So I took several villagers to search."

"And did you find them, Constable?" Chase asked,
Uncertain where this little speech was leading.

"I did," he said, "and all were fine. They never
Made it to the river. Too much beer!
The poor sots fell asleep beside the path;
We found them trembling, sound asleep and
Drenched in morning dew."

Chase squinted at the Constable. "That's good…
But tell me: What has this to do with me?"

The Constable looked up, and Chase could tell
That Garrett hoped to find an answer also.
"Our drunkard friends are fine –" he paused and
Studied Chase a moment "—but other men
Fared not so well. We found their bodies,
Victims of an animal attack
Or so we think – the wounds match well to those
We found on other victims recently.
The bodies were mostly a bloody mess but
One of the villagers thought he knew one
From your shop… a man named Burgher."

"Burgher, Burgher…" Chase looked thoughtful.
He murmured the name as if it dangled
Tantalizingly just out of memory's reach.
He gently bit his lower lip, then asked,
"Was Burgher about so tall –" he held his hand
About chest level "– and slightly balding?"

Garrett nodded. "That would be the man."

"I didn't know him well," Chase lied.
Staring into space, he added,
"He rarely spoke except to make a purchase.
Strange little man… preferred snuff to cigars."
Then, looking back at Garrett, he asked,
"You said there was more than one body?"

"Indeed," Garrett said. "We found nine altogether."

"NINE?" Chase blurted before he could catch
Himself. He couldn't believe it.
The beast had killed Burgher's whole team!
Then he came to himself and,
Aware of the Constable's studious gaze,
Chase added, "Good God, man! Is anyone safe?"

Mistaking his angry outburst for fear,
The Constable said, "Relax, Mr. Chase.
As long as you stay in your home after dark,
You should be alright; it hunts in the woods,
Not in town. In the meantime,
I've sent for some help – a man well-acquainted
With problems like this. The beast isn't long
For this world." He slid off the barstool.
"Thanks for your help… and the tea.
I'll keep you informed." And with that, he left.

But now Chase was certain of one thing.
It made no sense, but he couldn't escape
The conclusion: The beast had singled him out.
Why else was it killing only his men?
Something would have to be done… and soon!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Sometimes You Can't Fly Away

Two strong wings beating
Two hundred times per second
Foiled by flypaper

Anger is wasted
Your dreams destroyed; the killer
Doesn't even care

Even the most elusive
Is not immune to this trap
Even the most cautious
Falls prey to circumstances

A cell without walls
Effectively grounds your dreams
Despite two strong wings

Monday, November 12, 2012

Full Medal Jacket

For Veterans' Day.

In our country's service, sometimes for decades,
They answer the call at a moment's notice,
Plunging headfirst into danger each time
Without a single thought for their own safety.

So many serve without our recognition,
So many fall without knowing our gratitude...

If we dedicated a dozen mines
And used all the silver we could quarry,
It wouldn't be enough for all the medals
They deserve – as if a medal (or any
Number of medals) could ever express
The love we feel for the faithful soldiers,
Both male and female, who protect our land,
Our freedoms, and our families every day.

Today we remember their sacrifice;
Today we celebrate their fighting spirit.
For they are the dream of America,
The greatness we all aspire to achieve.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Dogged by the Curse 09

The second pair of guards would fare no better.
Their evil made them targets
But their carelessness made them prey.
The first, entertained
By the songs of the drunken victims
As they approached, never saw his end coming
Nor did he have a chance to cry out.
The second, asleep at his post,
Passed from this life to the next undisturbed.

The third team died quickly… but not quietly.
One died messily, his neck broken
As the wolf violently worried it
Like an old dog with a shoe.
His companion had the presence of mind
To scream before he died,
Causing the drunks to pause as they
Staggered toward their attackers…
And warning the men in the main ambush
Of death's nearness.

Deep in discussion, laying plans and
Preparing their weapons, the wolf's attack
Caught them neither off-guard nor unprepared.
Hit from behind, the leader rolled sideways
And fired a shot at point-blank range
Right into the wolf's belly.
Supposedly a silver bullet,
The wolf ignored it.
His surviving partners raised their weapons
As the blur of fur and fangs never paused.
One man fired and missed, the second never fired
As the wolf crashed into his chest,
Tore out his throat, and turned to the survivor
With a single graceful move –
A ballet in blood, for wolf and three victims.
He trotted away from the corpses
With an uneven gait, blood drip-drip-
Dripping from his side,
A few more drops in an ocean of blood.
The drunken victims would never have noticed,
Had they gotten that far.
They were overcome by their vices
And dropped in their tracks, bodies
Awaiting discovery in the morning…

Much like Chase's nine brigands,
Except their headaches weren't fatal.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Bad Man

So… is it good or bad to be bad?

Who's the most wanted in Hollywood?
When the purse strings tighten
And the studios are looking
For the next big star, who do they call?
The bad man! The bad man!

Who's the most wanted in TV Land?
When the ratings plummet
And the viewers are looking
For the next big hit, who do they call?
The bad man! The bad man!

Who's the most wanted on the football field?
When the home team struggles
And the fans are looking
For the next big play, who do they call?
The bad man! The bad man!

But… who's the most wanted in DatingLand?
When the nice guys bore them
And the ladies are looking
For their next boytoy, who do they call?
The bad BOY! The bad BOY!

Explains a lot, don't you think?
The bad man's known for what he does
And the bad boy for what he doesn't…
Which may be why
The studios and
The viewers and
The fans tend to end up happy
And the ladies tend to end up unhappy.

Perhaps that makes the bad boy
The baddest man of all.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Eleusis (aka Arrival)

A song to be sung by the initiates
as they accompany Persephone
on her journey to reunite with her
mother, Demeter, at Eleusis during
the Eleusinian Mysteries.

Blow, Pramnian, blow! Carry our spirits
Safely to the bosom of Demeter
Where all our fortunes lie; where there awaits,
At journey’s end, the rebirth of our hope.

Dear child, allowed at last to lift your face
And feel the warmth of sunlight once again:
Committed to the ghostly world below
By powers not your own, come join with us.

Great mother, joyful countenance aglow:
Now robed in white, we come from night below
To this, the place where you in darkness mourn,
Sojourners with the daughter you await.

Reunion, sweet reunion of the two!
Long-parted by the dealings of the gods;
With our arrival, this deceit is done.
Revive us with the bounty of your love.

Bless us, the ones who guide your daughter home;
Bless us, our land, our rulers, and our days.
Accept our offerings; let us share your joy
And die no more…

Friday, November 2, 2012

Dogged by the Curse 08

The night came, and with it a chill
That bit to the bone and wouldn't let go –
Or so John Burgher told himself.
After his visit to Chase's shop,
He gathered – with effort – another five men
To carry out their boss's plan.
Fear is a potent thing; the unseen wolf
Had frightened them… but not as much
As Simon Chase, the monster they already knew.
Burgher wrapped his muffler 'round his throat,
A useless shield against the cold…
And, perhaps, the wolf also.

A simple plan it was: As usual,
A small number of Chase's men
Would lay in wait along the road
For unsuspecting victims… but
Tonight Burgher's men would be there too,
Guarding the men from a short distance,
Ready to aid them should the wolf attack.
Groups of two surrounding the group of three;
The wolf would not surprise them tonight.
Burgher and his partner found a hedge
With shelter from the wind but nearby;
A small comfort, but better than nothing.
They settled in to pass the night.

It seemed like hours passed. They heard no sound;
Neither wolf nor prey disturbed them.
At last they heard someone approach –
A couple of someones, drunk by the sound of it.
Their pulses started racing. Finally
Things began happening normally;
Chase would be pleased! They hunkered down,
Unwilling to risk a single noise
That might alert their prey to their presence.
The drunken songs grew louder;
John Burgher smiled eagerly…

He didn't know how he missed its approach.
One moment, music filled his ears;
The next, a blur filled his vision.
It ripped his partner's throat open
Before the man could so much as gasp.

Terror choked his own cries for help.
He sat helplessly as the beast turned,
Cocking its head as it studied Burgher.
Blood dripped from its snarling lips
Like drool from a newborn child.
Its nose twitched as it sniffed mere inches from his face;
The smell of the freshly dead on its breath
Threatened to steal consciousness from him.
But it was the eyes that held him spellbound –
Ruby red, they flickered like flames
As they glared at him through the darkness.
A growl gurgled in its throat,
Causing a new trickle of blood from its mouth.
It dripped on Burgher's shirt.

Burgher drooled, unable to swallow.
One momentary glance at his partner,
Throat ripped open, drove the horror home
And his voice returned – or would have.
As he drew his final breath, the one
That would have been a scream, the beast attacked.
Burgher watched the two glowing eyes
Close on him suddenly … too suddenly.

His muffler offered no protection…
None at all.