A Soft Knocking ~ the poem

This poem was originally a rather long short story, which I whittled down to just under 500 words for a contest last year. I came across it again this morning and decided to turn it into a poem. It’s rather long for a poem, but give it a read if you’ve got the time. I think you will find it to be quite entertaining.

A Soft Knocking


In my very bones I could feel

The morning dampness

My dark and dreary world

Having steeped in slow rain

Throughout the long and silent night

The lamp flickering on my desk

Cast a warm glow upon my work

But did nothing to ease the chill in the room


A faint ringing in the distance

Not something I often heard

A carriage bell

Rushed a chill through my veins

Then a woman’s scream

Sliced the cold morning air


I moved quickly to my window

And with trembling hand

Eased  the curtain aside


A coffin-like visage approached

The light snap of a whip sounded

The steed… paying it no mind

Continued at a slow trot

Then fought the bit with turn of head

When the driver pulled back on rein and brake

Sliding the coach to a stop


I turned away

Knowing with sick dread

The carriage had come for me

Then… wishing not to see

Yet knowing I must

I turned back to the window


The driver stared forward

Face hidden by shadow of brim

The stallion looked over its shoulder

Eyes wild and gleaming

Snorting steam from black nostrils



The door swung slowly wide

And a slender leg

Clad in white silk stocking

Appeared at the coach door

Then fell to the muddy road

A river of blood flowing

From the severed limb


Again, I turned away

An angry fist squeezing my heart

And I knew with instant dread

Never more

Would my pen scratch the page


I heard the “Yaw” of the driver

A crack of the knotted whip

The scream of the beaten steed

Piercing the damp air

Like an ice pick

Through a warm beating heart

And then…


There came at my door…

A soft knocking


My aged eyes watered

As one icy tear trickled

Slowly… down my rugged cheek


Not knowing how I’d arrived there

I stood looking at the great door

My mind fighting to stay my hands

As they moved toward the bolt


And once again there came…

A soft knocking


Of its own accord

The door swung slowly open

And from behind me

A small hand gently pushed


I stumbled into the deep blackness

Outside my castle door

Light had fled my world


I floated through the darkness

Lungs burning as I breathed

The vile substance in which I flew



I knew

With solemn certainty

It was the taste

The smell

The feel…

Of ink


I knew, too…

Who it was had come to fetch me

‘Twas all those of whom I had written

In my years at the desk

Those whose lives I had created

Then taken

Oft in brutal fashion

In the dark stories I’d told


But the cruelest of my acts

Was the shunning of the one

In white silk stockings

Who wanted naught

From the world

But my un-given love


For this sin

I will forever hear

As I tumble through my madness

… a soft knocking


Copyright © 2012 C. Mashburn

I’ll be sharing this with dVerse Poets Pub tomorrow afternoon on their Open link Night #77. First one of 2013!

Click on the title to read the condensed short story version —> A Soft Knocking


  1. OH!!! what a wonderful but eerie poem. Makes me rethink of all those I have ‘offed’ in my writes and perhaps 2013 will be my year to write dream sequences to bring them back …LOL
    I really liked this but you definitely scared me.

  2. Charles, this is deep! This is one you do not read one time and move on…

  3. snap…dang man, this is amazing..put me in the mind of poe a bit…the leg and rivers of blood snapped me to attention…the smell of ink….i agree this is one to return to , to truly grasp its depth…stellar write man…

    • And there it is! My first snap-dang of the year (my first ever, actually). Thanks, Brian! You nmade my day/year!

  4. claudia said

    oh my goodness…you should’ve seen my eyes…getting wider and wider…ha…i will be careful what i write about from now on…ugh…smiles
    happy new year to you charles

    • Oh? I love it when I make their eyes get big! HA!
      Thanks, Claudia! Happy New Year to you, too!

  5. kelly said

    fabulous… love the ending, the way you drew us further and further in…. i agree with brian, great flavors of Poe.

  6. Mary said

    Charles, this is eerier than your usual. I like it when a poet changes his/her approach. Definitely Edgar Alan Poe-ish! Happy New Year to you.

    • I agree, this is a step to the side for me. Not a voice I often use, but I loved writing it. Thank you, Mary!

  7. stuartmcphersonpoet said

    Charles- you have got some Edgar Allen Poe shit going down here!…This is gothic!…conjured up imagery and feelings that I love…and ink for blood?….well, that soft knocking…with all the best will in the world…i hope it never stops

  8. jasmine calyx said

    Holy cats, Charles! This is awesome!!! I just love that last stanza. GREAT story. 🙂

  9. Stunning!

  10. Miriam E. said

    oooh very chilling… vivid imagery – i hope i can sleep tonight! great work…

    • Oh, you’ll sleep fine, Miriam. Sure would be a hoot if someone came soft knocking on your door though!
      Thank you!

  11. Grace said

    A different voice but enjoyed the story Charles ~ I like the premise of the sins or omissions from the writer ~

    And its good to change voices and style & give your readers an unexpected twist ~ (For me, it means going to another blog)

    Happy New Year ~

  12. like totally not typical of your work… nice job

  13. naramalone said

    smile…possibly there is justice in life

    Clever. Loved this.

  14. nicely done, very Poe-esque

  15. Katie! said

    Absolutely Love this!! Dark, creeepy!! Definitively reminded me of Poe!! 🙂

    • It’s not often that dark and creepy are comments on my writing, but in this case they are quite wonderful! Thank you, Katie!

  16. Kelvin S.M. said

    ..i agree with the rest for qouting Edgar Allan Poe here.. your poem reads almost conveying the same feel as what Poe often did in his poetry but yours of course more of a contemporary approach… and though this goes too dark for me i’m glad you focussed with a single voice in guiding us through the entire scene… great offering for the year…

    ..happy new year… smiles…

    • Actually, it’s too dark for me, too. I don’t go this route much anymore.
      THank you, Kelvin, and Happy New Year to you, too!

  17. Yikes! A bit of an Edgar Allan Poe poem! Very chilling. k.

  18. Tony said

    Oh… My … Goodness!!! Glad I read this one in the morning – it sure made my eyes open wide!

  19. lucychili said

    the revenge of poems past =)

  20. Susan said

    Wow! I did not expect HORROR when I entered this world, but it came at me as loud as a “Telltale Heart” and I knew it as a poet’s nightmare (Quite literally!)–by end I looked over my shoulder to see what and who I had created and abandoned or created to abuse . . . It is so magical to be moved poetically by such a story. I loved it!!

  21. ayala said

    A great write, a bit of Poe, excellent! Happy new year.

  22. That was a very interesting short story (broken into stanzas), I enjoyed it a great deal. Nicely done !
    Where did you come up with that idea? Was that an actual character in another story? I actually thought this was going to be Santa Clause — due to the season. I would have been very disappointed if it had been death.
    For me story would have been more fun if it had been a bit more realistic — for example, not in a castle. It would have been a real psychological internal thriller then — otherwise, it turns into pure fiction for me. Am I clear on that?

    • It is definitely pure fiction; one of those stories that just popped into my head and came rushing out. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  23. coastalmom said

    A wonderfully, disturbingly oxy moronish masterful work of art!

    • Thanks, I think. My attention was immediately captured by the word “moronic”. ??

  24. Oh this is absolutely wonderful Charles! The atmosphere you have created I could see this as clearly as a movie I was completely sucked in and the concept I absolutely love. I don’t want t think what my characters would do to me lol

  25. Old Grizz said

    a lot of nice comments..all of them good and well deserved. I loved the twist which rises the question I am writing about in a short story for “Theme Thursday”..I call “fright or frong”….can the spirit of a character be more deadly that the spirit of real human? In your scenario I would say yes…

  26. Anna :o] said

    Oh so very good – now worrying if my characters will come back to haunt me!

    Anna :o]

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