Posts Tagged Poe

A Soft Knocking

A Soft Knocking” was originally a rather long short story, which I whittled down to just under 500 words for a contest a few years back. Every time I come across it, I can’t resist toying with it, and on one of those occasions I re-wrote it in poem form. It’s rather long for a poem but give it a read if you’ve got the time. I think you will find it 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

writer at desk 

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

   A carriage bell

      Not something I often heard

         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 whip 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

As…

 

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 flowed 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

Then…

   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 tumbled into the deep blackness outside my castle door

   Light had fled my world

      Tumbling… tumbling…

         I floated through the darkness

            Lungs burning as I breathed

               The vile substance in which I flew

 

Suddenly…

   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 ungiven love

 For this sin

   I will forever hear

      As I tumble through my madness

         … a soft knocking

 

Copyright © 2012 C. Mashburn

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