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, May 31, 2013

Dogged by the Curse 37

Benedict’s world erupted in fire –
Not an uncontrollable wildfire,
Not a shapeless conflagration,
But a landscape sculpted from tongues of flame.
A forest of flickering trees blazed
Like tarred poles, their smoky leaves
Fluttering down about his feet,
Settling thickly on the molten ground;
A meadow of glowing embers opened
Onto a wide clearing of charred earth,
And a tangle of hard coal paths
Crisscrossed the ghostly wilderness.
They wound their way back into
A choking haze that might have been mist
On a spring morn in the real world.
He wheezed harshly as the acrid air
Raked at his lungs; it stung his eyes,
Filling them with unbidden tears.
He covered his nose with the sleeve of his robe
But the effort proved useless; his sinuses burned
All the more, and the pungent miasma
Refused all efforts to make it more breathable.

He stumbled forward, barely able
To see the path under his feet,
Driven only by his fear and guilt.
How long had he wandered through smoke and haze?
Benedict neither knew nor cared;
All that mattered was Dietrich and Lilian.
He clutched his robe tighter around himself
And focused his cares on them, hoping
His ragged breathing would care for itself.

Then suddenly, the smoky haze was gone
And shock took its place. He knew these woods!
At least he knew woods like these.
Earlier that very day he’d stood in
This very clearing with Constable Garrett.
Indeed, at his feet was the very rock
Imprinted with the footprint of the mystery wolf –
Or rather, it was a chunk of glowing
Coal, similar in size and shape
And bearing the selfsame mark. Around him
Stood a grove with flaming trees
And smoky leaves and a river of lava
Flowing gently beside the river path.

“At last! Welcome, my wayward priest!”
Chase’s sickeningly cheerful voice
Echoed among the rocky cliffs.
“Come and join us! You’ve kept us waiting
Much too long. The lovely lady’s
Boorish hound is eager to hunt.”
Benedict heard a ghostly baying
From somewhere deep in this hellish wilderness.

Again Chase called. “Come, my priest,
And let me teach you all where power lies…
Or you can die alone. It matters not
To me, as long as you and the hound die.
The girl will merely long for death.
Come, try to save her if you dare!”

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Rocky Mountain Fly

John Denver never imagined this…
but I’ve been there. He should have.

I was bored in the summer of my thirty-seventh year
Leaving home for a place I’d never seen before
I flew out to Colorado, thought I’d have a little fun
So I hit the trails – then I thought I heard a roar
Guess it coulda been a wildcat, coulda been a grizzly bear
Or it coulda been a buzzsaw running wild
But it had a bloody stinger twice the size of Braveheart’s sword
And I knew without a doubt that thing was riled!

It was a Colorado Rocky Mountain fly
It came screaming down like lightning from the sky
It buzzed around and laughed at me while I hopped around and cried
Rocky Mountain fly

I scrambled up the mountains, stumbled through the highland snow
And went tumbling through some briars that cut my face
Even got a little crazy once, playing Tarzan in the trees
But behind me, I could hear him keeping pace
So I hid out in some bushes where I got all tangled up
And I didn’t move, for fear of being found
Though I held my breath and closed my eyes and hoped he’d zip on by…
He found me and I left in one great bound

That Colorado Rocky Mountain fly
He’ll sting you in the ears and in the eyes
Then buzz around and laugh at you while your screams intensify
Rocky Mountain fly

Now this wilderness of wonder has become a house of fear
Haunted by a beast that preys on little me
I had to drive him from my life! There was just one thing to do…
My plane flight left at seven twenty-three

And the Colorado Rocky Mountain fly
It hovered near the plane and waved bye-bye
Then it buzzed around and laughed at me as I left for Anaheim
Rocky Mountain fly

Yeah, they’re Colorado Rocky Mountain flies
I’ve seen them raining terror from the skies
Welts all over campers and everybody cries
Rocky Mountain flies

Monday, May 27, 2013

TMI (Too Much Information)

For everybody who ever ended up
On the wrong end of a vicious rumor…

So tell me, Mr. Curious
Discerning minds must know:
Was it truly necessary
That your nasty rumors flow
From the lowest bottom-feeders
To the predators on top?
I don’t like the toxic fallout—
All that gossip oughta stop!

Oh, you’re brutal, Mr. Curious
When dishing out the blame
And you’re indiscriminate when
Weaving webs and naming names.
But remember this if you intend
To tell your lies on me…
Mumbled words from swollen lips are
Just a curiosity!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Dogged by the Curse 36

Another short section, short for two reasons:
one, because I'm trying to figure exactly how
to handle this confrontation; and two, because
I'm still experimenting with various forms.
You'll note that the second stanza is done
in rhymed couplets with lines of uneven length,
searching for something that doesn't sound singsongy...
although I'm still not happy with the result.

Benedict’s breath came in ragged wheezing gasps
As he stumbled through what had once been the doors
Of Chase’s tobacconist shop. He paused,
Feeling a breeze that shouldn’t have been there,
A chill wind from back in the shop.
He tightened his grip on the knife,
Lifting it like a stubby sword,
And easing his way forward.
Like Dietrich before him, he found himself
Walking down a slope, descending slowly
Through evil so thick it pressed against his skin.
His heart pounded so that he feared it might burst
But the bitterness of his guilt wouldn’t let him stop.
No more, he told himself; no more will others
Suffer for my foolish sins.
Again he regripped the knife,
As if that might somehow fend off his fear.

How long he descended into the earth, he didn’t know;
Time had no meaning here and the distant glow
Seemed to recede with each of his hesitant steps.
Still he pressed on, his journey into the murky depths
Stealing what little hope remained within him,
Even as he muttered vows to avenge them…
Until the truth in the glow ahead became clear
And all his strength was drained away in fear.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

PowerBall

After that huge payout a few days back...

Six little numbers
Printed on a line;
Only two dollars
‘Neath the lottery sign.
Millions of people
Praying it’s their time…
But the IRS says
“It’s mine, mine, MINE!”

Monday, May 20, 2013

Cloak of Visibility

A poem about perceptions, both real and poetic.
Is the “invisible man” in this poem really invisible
or is it just his belief? Likewise, the poem
seems to be made of rhyming couplets
though it really isn’t. But it still sounds right
even if you leave out the parenthetical lines,
even though those are some of the rhyming lines
(which also question the man’s perceptions about himself).

No one ever sees him;
No one ever notices the quiet ones.
He wants to be noticed,
He wants his moment basking in the sun…
But what can he do?
He really doesn’t stand out.
What can he do?
No matter what he’s planned out
He’s afraid it’s all in vain.
It doesn’t matter what he does,
He’s still a little plain
Compared to those around him.
(Or so he thinks. Perhaps they feel the same.)
He wishes he could find a way
To be more than he is today
But no one ever sees him.
(Or do they?)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Dogged by the Curse 35

That fear—palpable, cold—clawed at Dietrich,
Its jagged nails raking down the length of his spine,
Probing for some weakness,
Any weakness it might exploit against him.
And yet, even as it pawed at him,
Even as it sought a fingerhold
The wolf felt something, a touch so familiar
And yet unknown for so long—
An evil so dark it couldn’t be forgotten.
He had faced this prey before,
Long years before,
Before the hunt burned within him
And his pursuit of the guilty wove its way
Along this frail mortal plane.
The fullness of the sin he scented now stung his nose,
A pungent odor that all but pulled him forward,
Downward, ever downward,
With a satisfying richness he had missed for so long.
This, yes, this was worthy prey!
He would run it to ground
And drink deeply of its tainted blood;
He would set his teeth into its thick neck,
Shake the life from its vile body
And sate his desire for justice.

Almost without thinking he picked up his pace,
So eager that the flames engulfed him
Before he had time to react.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I Can’t Come Down

Having a little fun with a Bible story
from chapters 2 through 6 of Nehemiah,
a book in the Old Testament. In verse 6:3
Nehemiah answers a letter: “I am doing
a great work and I cannot come down.”
That couplet is deliberately off-meter
in this poem, by the way.

Old Jerusalem was ruins
When the king of Babylon
Sent his servant Nehemiah
Back to get a rebuild done.
But the locals didn’t like it;
They were threatened by the act.
First they tried (and failed) to scare his crew
By planning an attack.

After Nehemiah’s critics
Couldn’t scare them off the job,
They tried luring Nehemiah out
To kill him on the spot.
“Yeah! We’ll pound him into pudding!”
Sneered the evil Sanballat.
“He’s a slave, he’s easy pickings.
That’ll be the end of that!”

Nehemiah wasn’t stupid
And he didn’t mess around.
He said, “I got a lot to do
And I can’t come down!”

They sent many other letters.
Every answer was the same:
“I got better things to do today.
You oughta be ashamed!”
Sanballat bought off some prophets;
He bought off officials too.
He paid lots of folks to lie…
But Nehemiah wasn’t fooled.

Nehemiah never wavered
And he never messed around.
He said, “I got a lot to do
And I can’t come down!”

As the walls got ever higher
All the workers’ spirits rose
While their enemies’ sank lower;
Fear of God had gripped their souls!
And when all the walls were finished,
Sanballat could only frown
‘Cause it didn’t matter what he did…
They wouldn’t come down.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Spotted Howl

Thrashing through the underbrush,
Leaping over creeks,
Spot has got his sniffy on –
Squirrels are what he seeks!

Posing with a lifted paw,
Sniffing at the breeze,
Then he’s on the run again,
Barking at the trees.

Frantically he dashes ‘round
Howling at his prey…
Doesn’t seem to realize
He scared them all away!

I was watching from the porch.
The chase was spirited
But once an hour had come and gone
I sighed and shook my head.

My dog is quite intelligent
When schmoozing with his master…
But Spot has got a lot to learn
If squirrels are what he’s after.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Dogged by the Curse 34

Even poets have to serve jury duty,
so this week's installment is a bit shorter
while I play catch-up on everything else.

It was dark inside the tobacconist’s shop.
The wolfhound that was Dietrich skidded to a stop,
Baring his teeth and snarling angrily.
Something was wrong; the walls were missing.
That sense of enclosure, that sense of being
Inside a building was simply gone.
He heard no echoes, nor did he smell
The aroma of tobacco or mint. Instead
He felt the gentle breath of a breeze
Bare of the woodland scents he knew.
He glanced back over his shoulder;
The glow of the moon could not be seen
Through the shattered door – indeed,
The door itself could no longer be seen.
He moved forward slowly, a throaty
Rumble growing ever louder with
Each prowling step into the darkness.
Slowly he began to descend – a gentle
Decline moving him ever forward and
Deeper, deeper, deeper into the earth.
The skin beneath his fur began to sweat
As he sensed her, terrified… and nearby.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Tooth Ferry

A few years back I was at Disneyworld
riding the ferry in front of Fantasyland.
I talked to a young boy who was confused by
the difference between a ferry and a fairy.
That’s where this idea came from.

She’s a riverboat queen
On a mystic Mississippi;
Got her paddlewheel a-turning
And her captain’s kinda chippy

‘Cause she knows tonight is busy –
There’s a million little shippers
With a load of teeth for pickup.
They’re such greedy little nippers!

She goes zipping ‘round the planet
With the help of ferry dust…
And a massive roll of greenbacks
To assuage financial lust.

But I wonder why she does it?
Baby teeth seem pretty useless
Though it might be I’m shortsighted
And am blinded by obtuseness.

I suppose somebody somewhere
Might be making tiny dentures…
But to me it seems the silliest
Of money-making ventures.

I suppose I’ll chew on this a bit…
But doubt I’ll ever swallow it.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Phantom Minutes

I know they were there; I lived them.
I know they were there, but
I can’t remember them.
Every day I get the same number
Of seconds
And minutes
And hours
And yet
I don’t remember all of them.
Where was I? What happened to them?
They’re gone, wasted,
Chunks of my life that slipped away
And I never even noticed their passing.
They’re not even memories;
They’re merely faceless phantoms,
Incapable of eliciting even
A brief flash of recognition from me.
Meanwhile the clock keeps running,
Adding to their number
Each day,
Even as I bewail how little time I have
Each day.
Tick, tick, tick…
This phantom menace is real.
It threatens my universe and
No screenwriter can help me.
I’m on my own.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Dogged by the Curse 33

I feel the hunger. I AM the hunger
And I am free to feed at last.
The scent of evil has grown strong this night,
Stronger than I can remember,
And I struggle to keep my sanity
As I anticipate the taste,
The sticky sweetness of guilty blood
Flowing down my throat in greedy gulps.
I run faster, throwing myself into
The pursuit of my prey, covering more ground
With each and every thrust of my legs.

I speed through the streets of this town.
There are humans hiding in the homes
Lining this road, hiding behind the doors,
Their breathing heavy with anxiety;
I smell their fear thick in the air
But I race onward, undistracted.

My lungs burn from exertion,
My legs burn from effort,
My mind burns with bloodlust
As I reach my destination and
Fling myself into the devil’s den.
The heavy door shatters like kindling
But I neither feel the impact
Nor slow my headlong rush into hell
For I am death incarnate, the hungry grave…
And at long last it’s dinnertime.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Swing Thought

In golf, players sometimes think too much
about the mechanics of their swing.
(“Do this, don’t do that…”) A swing thought
is a single image the player uses to simplify
his thinking so he can just hit the ball.
I used that general idea as inspiration.
This poem is an experiment – I ignored
regular stresses and just created 6-syllable
lines with a terza rima rhyme scheme.

Although I look okay,
My head is still spinning
From that mess yesterday.

That was the beginning
Of today’s merry chase.
I’ll have to start thinning

This blur of thoughts that race
Recklessly through my brain,
Or I’ll never keep pace

With the other rats. “Aim
For the top” – that’s what I
Tell myself, but the strain

Just makes me wonder why.