POEM: Moans

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“Moans”

 
The long low rumble

of never-ending hunger

for flesh

for blood

for life

              stolen too soon

 

The cry from deep within

made without tears

just tears in the flesh

tears flesh from bone

                                          with outstretched arms

 

This voiceless voice

the only thing still mine

without words

without control

over a body no longer my own

                                                          I reach out

 

You hear the approach of a monster

You hear the sound of my hunger

You hear my shuffling lament

You hear my deathless prayer

                                                        raise your arm

                                                        and grant me sweet oblivion

 

***Thank you to my followers for your patience. I know it’s been three weeks instead of my usual two, but I’ve had some technical problems and other things crop up. I’ve also been writing and editing and submitting to different markets. I hope you enjoyed this bit of dark poetry. Keep following the blog, and have a lovely week!

***image courtesy of BigFoto.com

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Friday Flash Revisited: Pucked Up

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Puck looked at the watch and pondered the nature of time.

It was almost as fickle as he was.

What marriage – or a good binding-spell brought on by too much drink and a serious lack of judgement – had bound together, time would tear asunder. At least it would if Puck had anything to do with it. Robin Goodfellow was not a fairy that would remain tied by one woman for long, no matter how fun bondage might be.

Belching loudly, he sat up, snapped his fingers and produced two ice-cold cans of his favorite fizzy intoxicant. Crumpling and tossing the empties, he re-loaded his beercap. He stood, scratched his hairy belly, and brooded over his newly acquired wife.

Buttercup lay frozen on the flowery bed, a beatific smile softening features that would otherwise have appeared harsh in the early morning light. No, who was he kidding? She looked angelic, no matter how much spandex she was wearing. Still, if he was tied to her by the terms of her nefarious binding-spell until “the end of time,” the obvious solution was to stop time, right?

Puck contemplated the charmed silver band that graced his finger. Buttercup was many things, but a fool was not one of them. In fact, he might even go so far as to say she was as shrewd and knavish as himself–a perfect match. So his solution seemed almost too easy. Was it another trap?

However, Robin Goodfellow was not known for his caution. Snagging the watch from the fairy king had been risky, but he knew his boss would be too busy “making up” with Titania to notice its absence. He removed the magically-binding wedding ring, then turned to face his lovely bride. He’d make the bitch pay, but there was no reason her punishment couldn’t be fun for both of them. He pressed a button on the watch’s side.

Time once more in motion, his blushing bride opened her eyes; her smile slowly widened as she took in his appearance.

“Hello, darling,” she said. “Want to play?”

##

*I hope you enjoyed this! If you are a fellow fan of the Bard, I suggest you check out the Ohio Shakespeare Festival page and find out their schedule for the rest of this year! They are incredibly talented.

I will be concentrating on some longer-term projects in the next month, so I thought I would repost another of my favorite Shakespeare sequels. The text has been edited slightly since its original appearance on my blog several years ago.

***Today’s post is an expansion of a flash I wrote at the six minute story site as a continuation of an earlier flash, Puck’s Surprise. The kernel of today’s post is still there.

***image courtesy of BigFoto.com

 

 

Friday Flash Revisited: Puck’s Surprise

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Fairies were neither prudish nor temperate by nature, but when Puck’s pranks graduated from tipping old ladies to strategically placing whoopee cushions, he crossed a line. Something needed to be done.

“But what?” asked Oberon. Puck had served as his wingman for years, so he wished to handle the situation delicately. Several compromising photos were at stake.

Titania suggested an intervention, though Oberon thought the idea unproductive.

“I agree,” called a voice. “He’ll think it’s a joke, take it as a challenge, and be worse than ever.”

“Who speaks?” called Titania.

A delicate fairy woman appeared out of the crowd and knelt before the thrones. “Buttercup, my liege.”

“Well, do you have any better ideas?” said Oberon.

She grinned.

#

Later that afternoon, Oberon searched the woods.

“Puck! Robin Goodfellow!” called Oberon. He’d thrown dignity to the wind when he told Titania that he’d fetch Puck for the party, but he didn’t dare disappoint her again. He’d never live it down.

A nearby bush moaned softly, and Oberon pushed aside some leaves. “Puck? What are you doing here? I’ve been calling for nearly ten minutes!”

The wayward fairy rubbed his temple and moaned again. “Sorry, my liege. If I had been conscious, I would never have dared keep you waiting. Do you have some aspirin?”

Oberon produced two small pink tablets. “I’m always prepared.”

Puck sat up, scratched his hairy belly, and fished around on the ground for his beer cap. Fitting it to his scalp, he popped the pills and sipped from one of the cap’s straws. “What do you need, sire? Having trouble with the Queen again?” He rose unsteadily. “You know, I could get Cobweb and Mustardseed for you. They make a mean–”

“Really, Robin, you’ve been around mortals too much! That’s depraved, even for you, and–”

“–chocolate cake.”

“What?”

“Oh…oh! You thought I meant–”

“No, of course I didn’t–”

“Of course not. Not after last time, right?” Puck nudged the King and winked with one blackened eye.

After an uncomfortable silence, the King asked, “What happened to you?”

Rubbing his forehead, Puck said, “I really don’t remember, sire. There was this party–”

“Of course,” said Oberon.

“And all I… ah, I remember. Fraternities have no sense of humor no matter what they say.”

“What did you do?” asked Oberon. “Make an ass out of yourself again?”

Puck grinned. “No, but I think I made one out of them!”

Oberon sighed. “Not the donkey head again. What is it with you and donkeys? That’s the oldest joke in the book.”

“Actually, pardon my liege, but you’re thinking of the chicken that crossed the road.”

After another pause, Oberon continued. “Anyway, you need to come to your birthday party.”

Puck perked up. “Party?”

“Oh, I know- you don’t get enough parties, do you? But yes, and Titania won’t let me cut the cake until you blow out the candles and–”

“Cake?” The color returned to his face. “Did Cobweb and Mustardseed make it?”

“I don’t know. It’s a cake: chocolate with–”

Puck took off towards the court. Thunder boomed. Puck returned, bowing low. “After you, sire.”

“That’s better,” said Oberon. “Now, let’s get some cake.”

#

The crowd formed a wide circle around the large multilayered cake. Titania sat on her throne, resting her chin in her hand.

“Can I come out yet?” a muffled voice called.

“No, not yet. You know your cue!” snapped Titania.

“Yes, your Highness,” said the cake.

Just then Oberon entered the hall, followed closely by Puck. Everyone quieted and knelt before the King. The Queen straightened up and offered her hand to Oberon, who kissed it before sitting beside her. With a small nod from the royal couple, the Fairy Court rose again.

Puck ran to the cake.

Everyone sang a tune roughly kin to ‘Happy Birthday’, and on the final line a scantily dressed fairy woman popped out of the cake. “Surprise!” she said. Puck pulled her out and kissed her passionately.

“This is going to be the best birthday ever,” he said.

She guided a straw to his lips, so he could swig more beer.

#

The next morning, Puck awoke in the arms of the lovely Buttercup. He gave her a quick kiss on the forehead, licked some frosting from her hair, and patted her affectionately on the butt. He grabbed his boxers from a nearby twig and started to dress. “Thanks for a good time, but I gotta split.”

Buttercup rolled over and regarded him through heavy lidded eyes. “Where do you think you’re going?”

Puck tried vainly to put on a boot before realizing it wasn’t his. “Oops. Sorry.”

Buttercup sat up. “No, but you’re going to be.”

“Hey, relax, babe. It was an honest mistake.”

“That’s not what I meant,” said Buttercup.

“Okay, whatever. Have you seen my shoe?”

“Look at your finger.”

Puck looked carefully at his finger. “What? My shoe…?”

“No,” breathed Buttercup. “Look.”

Puck looked. A small silver band glinted in the morning sun. “What the…”

“We’re married.”

That brought him up short. “Married? How much did I drink last night?”

Buttercup smirked. “Quite a bit, but that’s not the best part.”

Worried, Puck asked, “What’s the best part?”

“The binding spell I put on your ring. You’re bound to me for life. I know your tendency to stray, but from now on, wanderer…,” she smiled again, “your ass is mine.”

Puck mulled this over. He liked bad girls; maybe this would be fun.

“What do you think about open marriages?” he asked.

A wicked grin crossed her face. “I said you’d be obedient,” she cooed. “Get rid of your whoopee cushions this instant!”

“Yes, Mistress.”

##

*I hope you enjoyed this! I will be concentrating on some longer-term projects in the next month, so I thought I would repost one of my favorite Shakespeare sequels. The text has been edited slightly since its original appearance on my blog several years ago. In two weeks, I will post a followup to Puck and Buttercup’s romance.

**I realize I’m not posting on a Friday, but I felt I should post sooner since my INKubator announcement is no longer relevant.

***image courtesy of BigFoto.com

 

 

 

Friday Flash Revisited: As You Liked It –or– As You Like It, Part 2

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“Father, the seating arrangement simply must be changed.”

“Why, Rosalind! Whatever do you mean? The couples are all seated next to each other, as befits an Anniversary dinner–”

“But whose Anniversary, pray you? Nay, not just mine and Orlando’s, but others’ as well!”

“Yes, of course, my dear. Don’t you see? I seated Celia and Oliver across from you.”

“But what of Touchstone? And Audrey?”

“They’re to have an excellent feast in the adjoining room, just as lavish, I promise you.”

“In the adjoining room! You did not seem so hard a year ago.”

“Well, it simply isn’t proper to have commoners seated at the table with nobility.”

“What of the Forest Arden! There you were content to sit alongside the beasts of the forest, and indeed, have your daughter married in the same ceremony as a fool and his lady.”

“A wise man does not argue with a god, Rosalind, no matter WHAT his rank.”

“The god, Hymen, is a rather agreeable sort.”

“The god of marriage wished to marry you. I will not quibble with a god about his own business.”

“It seems uncivil, somehow, to separate the celebrations now that we are back.”

“Then we were, as you so kindly observed my dear, in the forest. Manners in town must needs differ from the forest, and indeed, differ widely from Court.”

“What will your friend, Jacques, have to say about that, I wonder?”

“No doubt he will soliloquize awhile, and then wander off to be melancholy.”

“He does love to do that sort of thing; does he not?”

“Yes, my dear, though I fear he may not wander far enough. He’s rather fond of our fool.”

“Of Touchstone? I had forgot, but mayhaps he shake Jacques from his melancholy.”

“Oh no, my dear! For his happiness is more a terror than his melancholy. God save me from his mirth.”

“Now, Father, you are not in earnest. I see the curl of your lip and the sparkle of your wit. But come now. What of Audrey and Touchstone? Shall we seat them near Celia and her Oliver?”

“That depends. Has Oliver the patience for it?”

“Dear father, he is, of course, a patient and kind man. How could he be otherwise, when sired by Sir Roland and brother to my dear Orlando?”

“That same brother, whose life he aimed to end, I recall.”

“A miracle, I grant you. No doubt, my dearest friend, Celia, tamed his rage with her beauty.”

“I should hope so, for her sake. He wooed in haste.”

Give thy thoughts no tongue. You do not suggest–”

“No, my dear. I know your friend to be honest, though I do not trust HIS mind. False face may hide what the false heart doth know.”

“Father!”

“So the seating arrangement stays the same.”

“I have not agreed to such a thing. What of Silvius and his Phoebe?”

“The shepherd! I grant you, allowances are made for a licensed fool. It is the nature of his craft to be allowed liberties, but a shepherd-”

“Married by the god, Hymen, in the same ceremony as your own daughter and her friends.”

“The god is hardly going to come to the anniversary feast, now, is he?”

“—!”

“Oh, my lord Hymen! Pardon this poor mortal. I did not observe your august presence. Of course, I shall seat them together.”

“Lord Hymen, my father and I are grateful for your interest in our humble feast. It doth-”

“Left in a flash, did he not, my dear?”

“That was laid on with a trowel.”

As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods.

“Too true, dear Father. They treat the world as their stage, and they are the stage managers.”

“So, my dear, I suppose you shall have your way. All the lovers shall be seated at one table, as they were wed in one ceremony.”

“What shall we feast upon? Indeed, for I mean to make merry.”

Cakes and ale, my dear! Venison, and all manner of meat. The sauces shall be rich, and our wit more so.”

“What of your brother, Frederick? Will he not dine with us?”

“He is most welcome, as always, in my house.”

“Did not my Uncle eschew meat when he vowed a monastic life?”

“He need not eat it. I shall, for my own part, eat a pound of flesh, for my salad days are well behind me.”

“But your melancholy friend, Jacques… Will he not object to the venison?”

“Mayhap my head will ache all evening, and YOU may deal with Jacques! All the world’s a stage, indeed!”

“But father, I thought him your dear friend!”

“A friend, my dear, but his philosophy is too much for my mind. Better a witty fool than a foolish wit.”

“Then it is a good thing Touchstone and his lady will be seated nearby. His merry wit may counter Jacques’ philosophy.”

“Rosalind, my dear, send for the apothecary. My head doth ache.”

#

 

*In honor of Ohio Shakespeare Festival’s premiere of As You Like It, I can’t help reposting my flash sequel. For fun, I bolded the lines that I stole… er, borrowed from Shakespeare!

*image courtesy of BigFoto.com

Twisted Tales 2016: Flash Fiction with a Twist!

Twisted Tales 2016 Cover

I know it’s a bit late, but the publication of Raging Aardvark‘s flash anthology is finally here! Please visit FaceBook for the Launch Party if you’d like to congratulate the authors, and I’m including some helpful links below for purchasing the book. I’m very happy to say my flash story, Mirror, appears in this anthology!

https://www.createspace.com/6652118 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/0994525206

If you’d like a paperback copy of the book, it’s selling for only $6.25. Twisted Tales is being sold without a profit, in order to promote the art of flash fiction. If you feel generous, please write a review when you are done. Flash Fiction, for those of you not exposed to it before, is simply very short fiction–usually a complete story under a thousand words. Every year there are events for (Inter)national Flash Fiction Day, and this anthology is a celebration of both the event and the writing itself.

If you can not afford to buy the paperback, you can also read the stories online at the publisher’s personal website, linked below. Simply scroll back though the stories, and enjoy!

https://annieonwriting.wordpress.com/category/twisted-tales/

I’m very happy to have been included in this anthology, and I hope you enjoy reading the stories as much as I have. Now, go read some flash fiction!

 

Short Story: Cliffhanger

*warning: some profanity (three F-bombs)

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George Griffith, affable and lovable nice guy, stood at the cliff’s edge, hands raised  high in the air. He was accompanied by his loving wife of twenty years, their next door neighbor, Bob, and the neighbor’s annoying dog and cat. They mirrored George’s stance to the best of their ability. Bob, however, was only able to comply with one upraised arm–as the other cradled a goldfish bowl. Inside the bowl, however, his betta fish (who was also named Bob) hovered in the tank’s cloudy waters, his long floating fins in an attitude that suggested that he held his fins up in lieu of hands. The dog and cat merely lifted their heads.

“Now, jump.”  Mary Sue motioned with the revolver’s long nose toward the cliff’s edge.

George tipped slightly to view the depth of the proposed descent, then seemed to think better of it and edged slightly away. His companions did the same, mirroring his movements half a beat behind his own. The collars of the cat and the tiny dark pug made little tinkling sounds when they moved. Wet Bob leaned further away in his small glass prison. You may think it’s impossible for a fish to lean, but I assure you, with determination anything is possible.

“Uhhhh…no,” said George, shaking his head from side to side.

His companions shook their heads from side to side. The little bells on the collars tinkled. Wet Bob swished in his tank.

It was annoying.

“Go on now,” Mary Sue said, motioning the characters toward their imminent doom. “Jump.”

George shook his head again, and his companions followed suit. They looked to George as their spokesperson. “What’s my motivation?” he asked.

Mary Sue rolled her eyes, slowly inhaled, and silently counted to five before answering. “Motivation? Are you serious?” She looked at the gun, then back at George.

George gave a quick, nervous laugh before answering. “Well…yeah. I mean, if we are going to jump off a cliff…en masse, I assume…?”

Mary Sue nodded, and he continued, “If we are going to jump en masse off this very steep and scary cliff to certain death, wouldn’t we need some pretty powerful motivation?”

“I’m holding a fucking gun on you,” Mary Sue answered through gritted teeth. “That’s your fucking motivation, asshole.”

“But is it? Is it really?” George’s voice had taken on the condescending tone of someone reasoning with an idiot, rather than a man bargaining for his own life and the lives of others. “Because from where I’m standing, I don’t see how diving off a cliff is better than being shot.” Just at that moment, an updraft from the unseen depths blew his hat dramatically from his head, whistling mournfully as if to emphasize the point. The other characters on the ledge followed the Fedora’s progress with their eyes, heads turning as the wind whipped the accessory over the edge, until it was lost from sight. “See what I mean?” said George.

Mary Sue sighed and sat down on a conveniently placed boulder, careful to keep the revolver’s barrel aimed at her intended victims. “Crap, crap, crap,”  she  muttered, then added an extra crap just to emphasize her point. “I was afraid this was going to happen.”

“What?” asked George. Taking a tentative step toward her, his movements were mirrored half a beat later by his companions. When Mary Sue made no additional threats, they took a few more steps. “What was going to happen?”

“That the characters take control of the story,” she moaned. “I mean, sometimes that makes my job really easy, you know? But others, like now, I have to worry about proper motivation, backstory, did I give enough foreshadowing. I mean, I should be able to just throw you all off a cliff if I want to, right?” She turned pleading eyes on her wayward creations.

“Well, maybe you just haven’t come up with the right scenario yet?” said George, affable and lovable nice guy. He wanted to help her, even though she wanted to off him and everyone he cared about. That need to please at any cost was hardwired into him; it was one of the things that really didn’t work about his character. She hated that.

“What better motivation could there be but a gun aimed at you and your loved ones?” Mary Sue was intrigued by his line of thought, despite herself. Well, because of herself, seeing how all her characters were just different manifestations of her own thoughts, but let’s not quibble.

“Maybe…hmmm,” George mumbled to himself, then brightened. “Maybe my wife was cheating on me with Bob!” He grinned. His wife looked horrified, but he continued. “Yeah, and I’m so distraught that I force them all off the cliff, then jump myself!” By this time, he had made his hatless way to her side and gave her a friendly pat on the back.

Mary Sue put her head in her hands. “No, same problem, right? You would just shoot them. How is a cliff dive better than being shot?”

“Because I don’t need to worry about disposing of the bodies?” ventured George.

“He could threaten to shoot me in the groin!” volunteered Bob the neighbor (not Bob the fish). “That would be pretty horrific!” He looked pleased.

“Shut up, Bob. You’re just a side character,” answered Mary Sue. “I didn’t even intend for you to have any lines.”

Bob deflated, but George carried on. “No, he has a point. Some ways of dying are better than others, right? Painful versus painless, heroic versus cowardly, that sort of thing?”

Bob nodded his head in agreement, but Mary Sue glared at him before turning on George again. “Yes, but that is the point. I’ve just always wanted to throw my characters off a cliff when I’m sick of them, alright? Call it a writer’s sadistic fantasy. I make no apologies for that.”

“You’re sick of us?” said George. Being threatened with different types of death had been off-putting, but that really hurt. “Why?”

Why?!” countered Mary Sue, incredulity dripping from her lips like venom. “Because you are annoying, alright? Your character is flawed, and you say things like en masse. What real person says such a douchey thing? The characters I surrounded you with in the story are just window dressing, not fully developed people–which is why I have them mostly just react to you, George. Maybe I’m just a lazy writer, but it’s easier to have them follow the main character around rather than come up with full personalities for each and every one. It’s a short story, so is it even worth the trouble? And the animals! Holy frakking hell, what was I thinking with the animals? Half the time I forget they are there, so why’d I include them in the first place?”

“Maybe humor? You were being quirky,” said George, unrealistically helpful, as well as affable and lovable as ever. Half a beat later, his supporting staff nodded agreement–including his wife, the dog, the cat, and the Bobs.

“They don’t advance the story,” she replied.

“What’s the story about? ” asked George.

“Me throwing you off a cliff.”

“Why?”

“Because I’m sick of writing about you.”

“Well…damn,” said George. He swished his foot in the red dirt at the cliff’s edge. The other characters did the same, except Wet Bob–who swished in his tank. “What about the gun?” He pointed to the gun pointed at himself. “That’s interesting, right? Imminent danger, all that…you could describe what it looks like, the long silver barrel coated in dust, the way Chekhov is engraved in elegant script along the side, the way you pulled it dramatically from the mantel to point it at us-”

“What mantel? There’s just rocks here and a huge fucking drop.”

“You’re the writer, right? Couldn’t you just say there’s a mantel?”

“It’s like I’m talking to myself.”

“You are, remember? We are all just different manifestations of your own-”

“Shut up.”

“-thoughts, but let’s not quibble.”

“You are missing the point.” She glared. She sighed. She hung her head in frustration. She found many ways to express herself without actually moving from the spot, adding additional dialogue, or forwarding the plot in any significant way.

“Can’t you just stop writing about us?” asked George, and his supporting cast…know what? You get the idea.

“No, it doesn’t work like that,” she answered. “The story needs to be resolved in a believable and consistent way.”

“But how is throwing us off a cliff believable?”

“You see my problem.”

“Well, for one thing you aren’t throwing us off a cliff… ”

“Because you won’t listen.”

“No, not to criticize, but I mean, you are trying to make us jump–which isn’t the same as throwing us off.”

Mary Sue brightened. “You know, you’re right. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that.”

“Technically you did,” said Bob the neighbor (not Bob the fish), “seeing how we are just different incarnations of your own thoughts-”

“Shut up, Bob,” said Mary Sue, and she shot him. “I don’t want to lose my train of thought, and I told you, you weren’t supposed to have lines.”

“-but…but…,” sputtered Bob as the life drained from his body, “but…let’s not…quibble.”

George looked at her in astonishment. So did his surviving supporting cast. Bob the fish flopped helplessly on the ground, where Bob the neighbor had dropped the now empty tank when he was shot. Both Bob’s burbled. It wasn’t pretty.

“So…,” mused Mary Sue, nudging both Bobs over the the cliff with one steel toed boot, “if I just shoot you first, I can throw you over the cliff myself. Then I don’t need to worry about your motivation.”

“Nudge, not throw,” corrected George.

She shot him. “And thanks for helping me establish my motivation.”  In quick succession she dispatched his supporting cast: the unnamed wife who resembled her own nosy neighbor, the dog that resembled the stray that tried to bite her every time she went out her own front door, and the cat that resembled the one that kept her up till three every morning with deafening feline orgies.

She set the gun back on the mantel that was mysteriously present in this deserted location. Then she bent down and shoved each one of her deceased creations off the cliff, whistling a joyful tune all the while.

Close enough, she thought.

 

*Image courtesy of BigFoto.com
**Thank you for visiting my blog. I will post my next story in three to four weeks, due to scheduling issues. I hope you enjoyed my little piece of meta, and have a lovely weekend!

POEM: Skeletal Remains

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“Skeletal Remains”

 

In visions of the dark night

I have dreamed of joy departed—

But a waking dream of life and light

Hath left me broken-hearted.

 

The sighing wind

gives breath to the darkness,

the stars lighting the ebony sky

like pinpricks of God’s grace

that pierce the blackened heavens

with dazzling white.

Who would dare disturb this quiet, wake those

that haunt deserted paths? Best

seek safety in the North Star, our pilot light

In visions of the dark night.

 

My eyelids close,

lids lowered against

the terrors that make me tremble and seek

solace beneath warm cotton covers.

The witching hour strikes–

a time too late for the faint-hearted

that quake and shake and turn away

from what they–what we–cannot bear to face:

the lonely dead, quiet and disregarded.

I have dreamed of joy departed—

 

What dreams may come

to those that can not face their fears?

Sheltering beneath shut lids

holds no solace for those

whose frightful visions follow them

beyond the veil of sleep: the blight

of a million cares and worries,

the looming spectre of loneliness

a demon–no longer safely tucked out of sight

But a waking dream of life and light.

 

The daytime hours

contain the demons that

haunt my nightly dreams.

I look within myself each dusk

–trapped between the sun’s escape

and the rising mercurial moon,– unguarded

yet I find imprisoned courage.

When shall I be released?

This time–too long before I meet my dear departed–

Hath left me broken-hearted.

 

*glosa of “A Dream”  by Edgar Allan Poe, written for the Day 9 prompt of #ReadWritePoetry courtesy of Cuyahoga Library, in honor of National Poetry Month

 

**image courtesy of BigFoto.com