Poem: Sunshine

A ray of hope

a ray of sunshine

pierces through the clouds

strikes the ground beneath our feet

brightens up the crowd.

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Poem/Story: With Unmatched Fury / Mere-Wife’s Curse

So this one is a doozy. But I wrote it for Lit class. College and stuff has been taking up a lot of my time lately! And with good reason, I expect. Soon I’ll be transferring- just this semester to go and I’ll be off to earn a degree in english and creative writing! Hopefully….

This was my creative option- and the paper was actually due today. (Yes, I did turn it in!)

So enjoy. I hope to have enough time to write more of this type of thing. Yes, those are line numbers next to the poem / story. No, I’m unlikely to do them for all the poems I write.

—–

With Unmatched Fury / Mere-Wife’s Curse

The fists fall swift, battering at the abomination

Her, he lifts, high in the air, squeezing both with his arms

And with the armor that coated him,

Trying in vain to crush the life from his foe.

It is against unmatched fury she squirms free of his hold, (5)

The steel-vice grip of his armor’d hands.

 

The fingers that held and rent at her flesh but moments before bite

No longer,

And her eyes flash fire that dares him to come for her again, (10)

To test his might against her beauty and wonder.

 

Swift, with steps long as shadows,

He tries,

Forward, forward with arms stretched wide

As if to embrace her as any husband would (15)

Again, those arms close around and about her frame

Again they are rebuffed with the slick of her home’s cold fame,

By the slipping and sliding of the water from the mere

Where it drenches her curls and the skin at her sides,

The arms that she ducked made to look like a fool’s. (20)

 

As he steps for her again, Beowulf of Hrothgar’s Halls,

Beowulf the Lord– but not Lord yet,

The warrior who under the lake now is set,

To finish the task that was started with Grendel–

fiercest of all the fighters of hell, heaven and the vice-land (25)

He grasps at her wrist with fingers as those on an ice-man

Tugs her close to him and falls to be sure he can have her

Pinning her down to the ground underneath her,

Snaring her close with the form that needs her,

And has needed her once before he is sure, (30)

Though from where this thought comes his mind can’t lure

As he forces her down to the stone and makes good

On the oath to the Lord of the land- or would

But the mere-wife is slippery and slides from his grasp,

Yet again avoiding her fate and his wrath. (35)

 

He reaches out with hands and digits,

These fingers that fight, fret to finish her now,

Look like her son’s-

Just like the ones

Grendel’s hands had in birth been endowed. (40)

 

And Tall is the Geat who faces her down,

Tall and strong and fast as the wind,

Wild and fierce as the hill-grass wends,

Covered in thorns like the thistles in the fens,

And armor in husk like the beetles that crawl (45)

On the forest floor outside of her watery hall–

In the glade and the grotto where the mere must lie.

None of it matters to her in minds eye;

If the fight with this man goes on she will die.

 

“Stay hands, stay arms, husband dear!” cries she, in fear, (50)

About face struck, and body, there, here,

Leaving bruises like those as if done by a bear

Wrestling forgot in the warrior’s despair,

The black heart of rage that seethes from within

Threatens to swallow the mere-wife as it did her kin. (55)

 

As the blows still fall she catches one, then two,

Holding his fists with the strength of ten men.

Beowulf, though, has the strength of twice that,

And grinds her against the stone wall flat,

Slamming her there with a fury in his eyes (60)

That words soothing or pleading cannot from them prize

To this wild man she will strangle or bake

Left to dry in the sun’s bright wake

 

“Curse you to death, kin-slayer,” the mere-wife rasps,

As all life is wrenched away from her grasp. (65)

 

With every moment that he pins her there,

Throat in hands that another time ran through her hair,

The Geat remembers yet more of his past

A daring, youthful time that couldn’t last

The truth of his power is a hidden affair (70)

Both from his mind and the men who yet dare

To call him a hero.

But these cursed words from the man’s rage now snap him,

Catch him and taunt him as his old love lies

As dead and still as dry peat dies. (75)

Here, the wolf of the Geats stares down,

At the form of the wife he meets– now with a frown,

On the blood and skin they shared by vow–

How now can he stand it, indeed- how now?

Cast in doubt by the sight that lingers in his eyes (80)

He staggers to his feet, struggles to rise-

But outpaced is he by the corpse of his son-

Dark is the cave

But still he can see

The vengeance to be wrought on him (85)

Beyond the grave.

Sorrow is writ upon his dead brood’s face,

A matter that is nothing which he wishes to contend,

So, Gods help him and fates forfend,

He reaches out blindly as clawed hands close, (90)

Hands that he helped to create in his woes and the loneliness

He’d found beneath grotto and mere

Where a strange, beautiful wife had once begged him to give her–

For true and for dear–

A child to do combat with the loneliness queer. (95)

A son he’d now killed for fame and reward,

Justice to be done in the name of just Lord

Who presides over the castle that he’d rightfully took,

From a rival long ago,

Whose name is lost in a nook or cranny (100)

Of time.

 

Sobbing, no, weeping, he reaches for the sword,

A sword he’d found buried once where there was no ford,

In the middle of the mere and the depths down fair

In the depths of the grotto where now lurks fear (105)

Or the death he deserves for killing his wife

It is his son who now reaches to stab with a knife

On the ends of each of his cold dead fingers, as black as his hands,

Twisted to claws to meet dark soul’s demands.

 

If truly the father is just like his son, (110)

If truly this work is his to have done,

Then it is Beowulf who reaches and grasps at the sword

That remained the only sign of his kind

The monsters from beyond a time after time,

Ancient with blade as sharp as a grin, (115)

A sword he had lusted after once and again

In the night where treasure glints dangerous as sin

And beckons all men to fights they cannot win.

 

Twice and then thrice he strikes at the body,

Which glistens in the half-light of the cave, (120)

Wherein lurks his wife whom he’d sent to the grave-

But no yet she stirs and he feels an urge-

To strike her down and with a new victory emerge,

To tell a tale that all the world would see.

 

But defeat for the mere-witch who watches him now? (125)

Accusing eyes tell the story, and how!

Surely she couldn’t have meant this to be,

To be slain by the love who’d twice crossed the sea,

In search of adventure and wonder and beauty

Who’d loved her as only a proper man should (130)

When alone he had found her, alone in the wood.

 

As he stares at his wife who gasps for breath on the floor,

He remembers his oath

An oath made in silence beneath the stone cave

An oath made in waters as ancient and grave (135)

As any which touched the lips the gods gave

And had given him strength and power untold

This well and spring deep under earth bold

Now he remembers his disregard

For the oath he had made to this beautiful creature (140)

To drink not once but twice from the depths

Had a curse on him laid- to be kin-slayer

Except-

Now he decides he will never go through

Even as her stare holds hatred in truth (145)

He gazes down at her with sorrow and fear

 

His stare she returns with intensity and life,

The same vibrancy which had drawn him first there,

So long ago, in search of a wife

A pulsing, a rhythm, a strength in the air. (150)

From her, wondrous things, and her silky black hair

A smile as sad, sullied and sobering as the sea

The same one now that on her tired face is free’d

As the Geat turns to walk, to swim away.

 

A woman whose strength glimmers brighter than the sun, (155)

What fault has he for giving her a son?

Only now that he took it away is he sure

That deep down in the depths of black hell

His soul will be taken as soon as he has fell

To blade, arrow, tooth or claw, (160)

And demons there will his essence gnaw.

 

To Beowulf, here in the cave of stone raw,

It is made plain by the water-lapping waves

As they crash

On the rock-gilt floor no one can brave, (165)

That he is a man no god would save.

No one but Beowulf, champion of Hrothgar’s Hall,

Knows the truth of his pact or the truth of his thrall,

Knows he is not really a hero, brave and tall

No, in truth, he knows that he is nothing at all. (170)

 

Nothing at all as he swims towards the surface,

Taking the sword with him and finding his purchase,

In lake and in mere’s side he pulls himself up,

And out onto the bank where he tests his luck

By standing and staggering back towards the hall, (175)

Vowing to speak of his wife not at all.

 

A monster beset him and hall, that’s right,

A monster he knew would come in the night

After the death of his son and hers-

Not knowing the tried and true nature of the beast (180)

He had slain

Is no excuse for this monstrous, morbid feat.

To his wife whom had taught him his warrior’s oath,

Taught him the ways of the sword,

For the mere-wife who lies on that cold cave floor, (185)

Gathering the strength to again form words,

He cannot even weep for leaving her there,

Not out here in the cold, open air

Not with all of his men hanging here

In the shimmering, shining, soulful sun. (190)

 

He vows to her now he will leave her alone,

Vows to return now victorious and stone,

Victorious and stoic and empty of his task,

But truly happy only in mask.

A lie for his Lord and a lie for himself (195)

To keep in his soul on some forgotten shelf.

 

Her curse weighs heavily on mind and in hand,

In the hilt of the sword that burns like a brand,

The sword that he brings back as proof of success,

The sword to remind him of his wife and of home. (200)

Into the hall strides Beowulf the bold, surrounded by men and warriors, young and old,

Demanding the tale of his victory, victory from the Geat who lived ‘cross the sea,

But defeat mires heart, where truth eternal bides,

While from his false lips spring naught but

Lies. (205)

——

©October 2013, Sam Oliver (Eris)