Marie Marshall

Author. Poet. Editor.

Tag: writing

The ghost-caller

The last of my old offerings for the season of ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties and things that go bump in the night, of bauchles and bogies and long-toothed flesh-feasties, and shadows that torment your sight. Go do Halloween, but have a care for your immortal souls…

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The ghost-caller

Where once the sunlight filtered through a curtain
The woman sits, abandoned and alone;
See how such solitude is iron-certain
In deeper-darkness, and how late it’s grown.

But wait a while – though many tears are falling
And though the lonely, moonlit hours are long –
To shifting shades the woman’s voice is calling,
And ghosts and demons hear the drifting song.

These spectres are the woman’s own creations
That crawl into penumbras, opportune
And evening-timely come these apparitions,
As heat’s a trusted herald of monsoon!

But will these things of darkness leave at morning,
Or will they haunt the woman through the day?
That’s not for us to know – so heed my warning,
And from this place of sadness… come away!

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In the Echo-hall of Randomstone

Woe to you who venture too near to my old, old, Gothic verses as Halloweentide nights draw in…

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In the Echo-hall of Randomstone

I trod a wild and sunless mountain path,
for many leagues and many days, alone.
It led by rowan grove and elvish rath,
up to the echo-hall of Randomstone.
Within a silent, lofty-ceilinged room,
there stood an altar of obsidian,
on which I placed things stolen from a tomb
where lay an eon-dead Dravidian.
I summoned, from the arsenal of my faith,
such strength as I could muster in the night;
but more than that – I summoned up a wraith
that answered to my esoteric rite.
Such was her might that she took shape, whilst I
forever in this fetid vault must lie!

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Old stones that lead from heaven to the sea

From the dimly lit chamber emerges the ghost of lost love – another of my old Gothic treats – as Halloween lurks behind the graveyard wall…

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Old stones that lead from heaven to the sea –

the steps which are well-worn by bitter tears

that fall upon their grey severity,

and weathered by the winds of countless years –

they are the causeway linking love and death;

thus only stricken lovers’ solemn tread

upon this stairway sounds above the breath

of God. But still I walk in silent dread,

and downwards, downwards to the ocean cold,

yet for a reason that I long forgot,

I go; still from the roses that I hold

fall petals. Ah, she loves me… loves me not…

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The crystal ball

The plunge towards Halloween, no matter how our fingernails scrabble at the granite walls as we slide, is inexorable. So here is another gothic offering from 2006, the year I scaled the Mountains of My Madness. This one was inspired by a painting by J.W. Waterhouse…

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             The crystal ball

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Where has the seeress lost herself?
In what relentless seas
Sails she, with helmsman sprite or elf,
To seek elusive ease?

What worlds are cupped within her hands?
And where her steady gaze
Falls, are there rich, exotic lands
In sunlit ancient days?

Her lips that seem to wish a kiss,
Her beauty gowned in red –
Is all her being wrapt in bliss,
Or does she see the dead?

Lo, there! Her grimoire and her wand –
Behind, a grinning skull –
Are spirits summoned to respond,
Or are her senses dull?

What knowledge, what enlightenment
Seeks she in realms arcane?
Beware, my sweet! All’s transient,
Your loveliness will wane!

Whatever is the magic lore
Whose secrets now entice
You through a dark and one-way door –
You pay too high a price!

So lady, lay that art aside,
Forswear your mantic ball
For mind’s health, beauty’s morningtide –
Or, hazarding, lose all!

O Darkness, be my friend

Another poem from my old gothic collection, disinterred for the approach of Halloween. These poems have been greying in my family crypt, behind the rusting, wrought-iron gate that hangs off its hinges but opens just wide enough for a fearless – or reckless – adventurer to squeeze through, down the dark steps lit only by a faint phosphorescence, inside an ancient sarcophagus in which there appears to be nothing else but dust. If you want to snatch the manuscript, be quick! There are rustlings in the darkness, and the echo of what might be eldritch laughter…

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O Darkness, be my friend

O Darkness, be my friend;
come, sheath my searing shame
in shadows. Comprehend
the scarlet of my name,
the flames of which transcend
the tinsel-gold of fame!

O Darkness, take my sight;
with cold penumbras bind
these brimming eyes, contrite
in error, hard-maligned
in judgment. Take them – blight
their seeing, make me blind!

O Darkness, unto death
walk with me; with thy wand
strike dumb my Shibboleth –
my tongue dare not respond!
Be this my final breath;
who knows what lies beyond!

 

The Marseilles Diligence

In the run-up to Halloween, I thought I would dig out some of my gothic poetry from years ago, just to chill your blood. Beware the ghostly march of brides…

 

The Autumn 2019 Showcase at ‘the zen space’

Yes, it has been a long time, folks, but then I’m still enjoying a sabbatical, still sorting this old head out.

I’m not totally inactive, however. I continue to pen the occasional weird poem, and of course to edit the zen space. Speaking of which, the Autumn 2019 Showcase is now published there. Visit, please.

MM.

Pinning the tail on sunlight

Nice things people have said to me so far in 2019:

“You’re too brilliant to pin down, Marie. Like trying to pin the tail on the sunlight.”

“In my version of you, more like trying to pin the blame on an exploding supernova.”

“… arrogant bint!”

The third one there was said affectionately, I can assure you.

Not so much a revival, more a recycle:

In 2010 I opened a new website for my Lithopoesis project. I have played around on the edges of experimental poetry more-or-less ever since my stint of writing sonnets came to a close (“I’ve learned how to draw,” I said, “and now I’m entitled to pickle a shark and call it ‘art’.”), and it is now almost a decade since that particular period of work. The last post I made there, adding a forgotten piece of work, rather than constructing something new, was in 2012.

impact 01bNow, however, I have decided to add another page there, to house the dribs and drabs of what I call ‘Impact Art’. Now, you know me – I don’t like to explain what I’m doing. You read my poetry and my prose, as is, and you make what you can of them. I feel, more often than not, that explanation is a destructive process. You, on the other hand, take over the matter of creation as soon as you see something of mine, as soon as you look at it, give it attention, relate to it, react to it, interpret it. Let that interpretation run to a scholarly thesis if you wish, go nuts, it’s fine by me.

So go and have a look at my ‘Impact Art’. Clicking the image to the right of this post will take you to its threshold; or you can simply click on the ‘Impact Art’ tab at the top of the page, over on the Lithopoesis site. Follow the blog there – I’ll post an update in the blog section whenever I add something new.

Am I still writing poetry?

Yes, over at Kvenna ráð I am. I’m resting my ‘Two hundred and seven words’ prose-poetry at the moment, and dropping an occasional haikuform poem, but yes I’m still dabbling. Go there, follow that too.

Thank you.

M.

 

Pitlochry drops ‘Fearie Tales’!

I Just got the word today, via Facebook, that the Winter Words festival, which is happening as usual in mid-February in the Scottish Highland town of Pitlochry, has dropped its wonderful Fearie Tales competition! My oh my this is bad news – not simply because I have been one of the most regular finalists and therefore have had a door shut on a platform for my own stories, but because the same door has been shut on short-story-writers in Scotland in general. Boo! Get the message? BOO!

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On a positive note, the Winter 2019 Showcase at the zen space is now published, so go and feast your eyes on some haiku, poetry, unusual writings, and strangely contrasting artwork.

M.

Whichcraft

Recently, someone asked me what my fascination was with the tarocky pack – better known as tarot. I don’t know whether I can answer that, without telling a tale I first told in verse in 2008, about how I came to put on the mantle and hat of le bateleur!

Le bateleur

I met a man some time ago,
….beside the old High Road.
He asked me whither I would go,
….he bade me rest my load.
His doublet had a pearled jabot,
….pteruges, sleeves that flowed;
he asked me what I wished to know,
….beside the old High Road.

Upon his bench he set a stall,
….beside the old Highway,
with cups, and coins, and swords, and all,
….and said “I will soothsay.
All Nature answereth my call,
….no man can say me nay;
I can raise up, I must let fall,
….beside the old Highway.”

His beaver hat was lemniscate,
….beside the road to Town,
which is to say a figure-eight
….gave shadow to his crown;
a yellow thatch sprung from his pate,
….its ringlets hanging down.
His words gushed like the Rhine in spate,
….beside the road to Town.

He said to me, “Nu, zay nisht beyz’
….beside the Avenue.
“I’ll tell you all the mantic ways
….of Which, and How, and Who.”
And from his sleeves he drew bouquets
….of Pink, and Green, and Blue –
Abba-Dabar” was his catchphrase,
….beside the Avenue.

I took him for a Mountebank,
….beside the old Towpath,
that peeped and muttered, with an ankh
….scribed on his wand of lath;
or was he German, Celt, or Frank?
….“Forsooth,” thought I, “He hath
an eldritch air, a touch of swank,
….beside the old Towpath!”

“In my land, dwellings with mansards,
….beside the Country Lane,”
he said, “have in their sparse dooryards
….a trug of blue wolfsbane,
a driftwood cross, a pile of shards –
….a shattered windowpane.
Come friend, please buy my pack of cards,
….beside the Country Lane.”

I took a shilling from my purse
….beside the Old, Straight Track.
I took the cards and, with a curse,
….I put them in my pack,
as though his offer did coerce –
….I could not give them back!
The dyke and fence he did traverse,
….beside the Old, Straight Track.

I have not seen him from that time,
….beside the Thoroughfare,
although through every land and clime
….I’ve sought him here and there.
I’ve heard tell of his sleight and mime,
….at country wake and fair,
as fickle as the new springtime
….beside the Thoroughfare.

And I’ve heard tell that Woden, blind,
….beside the Great Turnpike,
where gibbets creak and nooses wind,
….walks by the misty dyke;
I’ve heard the Flying Dutchman pined
….to slip ashore and strike
his foot upon the tussocks, twined
….beside the Great Turnpike.

Along the weary moorland trench,
….beside the Boluevard,
amongst the Romany, the French,
….the Breton Campagnardes,
I searched in vain; but then – oy mensh,
….the canny old canard! –
I found his old three-legged bench
….beside the Boulevard!

No more I search, but set my stall
….beside the Old High Road.
Step up, mayn her – come one, come all –
….your fortune I’ll decode.
Come, try my cards, see how they fall;
….my scrying’s à la mode:
THE MOUNTEBANK – you’re in My thrall
….beside the Old High Road.