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📅 Published on March 29, 2017


Written by

Estimated reading time — 5 minutes

During nightly hours of yore, in a time of horror and war,
I would sit on a dank oak bench with my eyes shut, calm and closure.
Then, my eyes open when I sense a figure approach me with grace.
One of nature’s eccentric frights perched itself above my shoulder.
It croaked into my ear, with its feathers amusing my bare shoulder,
Sharing glee with its mother.

Ah, how the wiry can descend to the depths of despairing sin;
This absolute essence and seduction to persuade another,
Learned by my petite one’s watching of a man’s unrelenting haunting,
Frightened by the chary taunting of the one he still remembers.
That demoralizing moment that rest upon his right shoulder,
Widowing since December.

He rose from his feeble sorrow, evident now through tomorrow.
He pressed his face on the image of her beauty, taken back by her.
Her southern voice still soothed his ears, though he has not heard her in years.
She gleamed from her portrait, and tears ran down it as he ponders.
I could see inside his soul of what he could no longer hinder,
To end his throbbing bare.

I continued to watch him drown; still showing was his dreaded frown.
Cleansing himself over a bottle of whisky, tears still timber.
Clearly, his love is still showing, not ceasing, forever growing,
From which I then started loathing, famished for what he considers.
I stroked my friend’s head and smiled for what it did earlier.
It taunted the widower.

An hour passed, then he left home with his bottle in hand to roam.
He staggered to a grimy crossroad, standing at its center.
On his knees, he waited to see someone able to set him free.
Hands folded he began to plea, somehow a release over her.
Suddenly, a foul smell lingered in the air. It reeked of ember.
It was then that I entered.

Behind him I stood with no sound, my feathered black dress touching ground.
He turned with some fright at my appearance, but then he stood eager.
Hell-hounds at my left and right, blood slavering from their mouths, eyes white,
Snarling from the unshorn man’s sight, with burns and scars replacing fur.
I smiled, alerting them to heel, and then spoke to the stranger.
“How can I help you, kind sir?”

He glared both wonder and remorse at seeing my mystical source.
His legs trembled, sweat soaked his palms, and his breath was sorely bitter.
I smiled while he grew silent, waiting to hear why I was sent.
Then, with a grimace and knees bent, he descended again to surrender.
“Please,” he pleaded in misery, “bring me my wife, my sole lover,
Out of eternal slumber.”

Droll it was to see how the will to avail could entice the frail.
This thing was gripping his fingertips into the gravel mire.
Of the beings that he could see, he bestows his mislaid soul to me,
An angel whose wings cease to be, stripped during the quarrel’s latter.
However, in this loathing outcome, which would one’s sorrow prefer?
Move on, or know no longer?

I paced about the feeble man, witnessing his fate in my hands.
Our eyes followed like two warriors ready to strike each other.
Bound we were to this circumstance of one’s happiness based on chance;
His soul taken just for the glance, the touch, the smell, the love of her.
“I can fulfill that task,” I said. “Once more, you will be together.
You will claim what you remember.”

He gave a soulful expression; possibly from my compassion.
I usually show no apathy when dealing with a martyr.
Some desire the act of lust, others pride for statures above;
Power, with everyone else shoved, thinking they are superior.
This man, though, simply desired his one significant other.
His one love to transpire.

He gave a subtle, grieving look, knowing of the wrong path he took.
People consent to an offer and receive not what they prefer.
He glanced at the hounds by my sides, staring. Flames were in their pearl eyes.
Thinking what I said was a lie, he asked for some honest answers.
“She will be healthy, yes?” he asked. “No sickness and death hereafter?
As before her departure?”

“She will be sane,” I said calmly. “Say ‘yes’ and she will come shortly.”
A tear ran down his right eye, then the left. My patience was a blur.
“You justly mourn your wife, Lenore.” His eyes, at the hounds nevermore,
Shot at mine, stronger than before. “Love is not without loss, good sir.”
His frown became a grim expression, and then I heard him mutter,
“I know you. I remember.”

His mumbling tone intrigued me with a sense of astonished glee.
To think that he would ever view though my attire of feathers,
My elegant, roguish presence, or my foul, demonic essence;
Standing by him without sensing this was not our first time together.
His eyes widened and his thoughts heightened. He could clearly remember.
I was the black tempter.

“You were the raven at my door that always quoted ‘nevermore,’”
He said with his tone shrieking every word so that I would hinder,
Splintering my cold-hearted dying ember so I would be cringing.
My tainted flesh ghastly bleeding from fear of one man’s sole valor,
However, his endeavor to seem clever through his wan gesture
Will cause his own disaster.

“My eyes wander and I see all,” I told him. “Soon you will fall.”
“Enough!” He grouched. “Do as I told your servant with its black feathers.”
“I thought you hated loneliness.” I stroked his face and gave a kiss.
He quickly gripped my arm and hissed, “You foul beast and burdened sinner.
Why do you indulge me with pleasures you cannot truly conger?
My wife, deceased no longer?”

Thunder roared as I saw his right arm raise a knife of iron form.
“We are Legion, for we are many. Turn away now, or suffer.”
I laid on the mucky soil and watched him gradually foil.
All the months that he toiled, yet he could not commit murder.
The temptation of my raven that left his mind to surrender
Simply exposed his hunger.

“For months after our encounter, I researched volumes of scripture,
Locating any elapsed lore and legends on demons and tempters.”
I stared as he stood there saying, “I vowed many hours hunting,
Torturing demons, questioning; curious on how you labor.
He threw his blade down at the soil, knelling towards me and whispered,
“No more nightmares, forever.”

He brought out his hand and helped me stand on my feet, sobbing at me.
“I have spent my remaining life marveling how you things venture.
You, the raven, found my despair with your constantly throbbing glare,
And I had to figure out where you were and forget what I remember.”
With a gentle kiss, I was gone, and he stood at the road’s center.
There is no end, however.

Vengeance is the same through all eyes, and I do not tolerate lies.
This stranger may have sympathy for my presence and my divine power,
But my doubts justify my mind, fore this man’s mood became too kind.
Deducing further I could find that he did not simply torture.
Confession is good for the soul no matter the sin or sinner.
I gladly made an endeavor.

As he surveyed with his head turning, I stood from behind, staring.
Surroundings altered to sooth my fondness, soaked with blood and fire.
I made sure that he would whiteness proper torture with no dismiss
In the underworld of abyss, knowing only my image of her.
His corpse laid sprawled at the crossroad with a bottle by his shoulder.
Nightmares never disappear.

Credit: Christopher McBride
Note: If you are unfamiliar with the work being referenced here, please read The Raven and Lenore, and enjoy!

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