shadowfell/ [collaboration]

tara caribou + Michael Raven | ©2021

artwork ©2021 | tara caribou, used with permission

through the damp wood
dim and heavy,
humid with the tears
of Danu’s children
from ere they dwelt
in their mounds,
where betwixt and ‘tween
the misty veils
lies a fortress forbidding 
bare and stark
built of
black mud,
river boulder,
bone and feather

in single file dressed
all alike, 
black robed and solemn,
they
walk the pathway
climb the tower
up the stairway
‘round cold bricks about my heart
tight, so tight, i cannot breathe!
worms trying to
shatter those stones
reshape my world, theirs

                     yet… 

‘neath the soul’s window 
on the ledge 
there stands a raven 
black and dark
her feathers silky
beak so sharp
eyes that glitter
in the night

upon stairs tread
by boots of traitors
line they then 
of one accord
first the one
and then the other
bend a knee
lift arcane stave
as one voice
murmur dark curses
known only to those 
across the vales
 
all at once 
with sudden vigor 
raven surges upon her wings 
takes to air 
caws and cries 
an eerie shouting 
a dismal spell all her own

to their horror 
and great amazement 
notice they,
the twelve of cloak,
within her claw 
she holds a blade of silver 
etched with runes 
they cannot bear

rending these speckled sill
maggot interlopers asunder,
them vying for a premature seat
at the funeral feast

This is a collaborative effort with Tara Caribou, who provided the starting material which we both built from over the course of several editing periods over the past few weeks. After reading her initial suggestion, I felt it should appear as a seamless piece that could have multiple authors, or a single author. She may have had other goals — we hadn’t discussed that element during the process of creation. That goal, in my opinion, was largely met with the results above, although I suspect you could probably extract who did what if you really wanted to make such an effort. I honestly wouldn’t waste your time doing so — you’ll just get annoyed because it isn’t by stanza and I won’t admit to anything.

I’m very pleased with the results and look forward to working with Tara in the future (assuming she’ll continue put up with me and my weird habits of notetaking on other writers’ writing and abstract, nonsensical comments).

As always, I am interested in collaborative efforts, should you wish — be it with fiction, poetry, music, or some combination of all of the above. It makes a different part of the creative mind work than that which creates solo efforts, and I feel it has the potential to make both participants better at what they do as a part of their overall growth. It won’t always work, sadly, and I will honestly (and yet politely) say so if it comes to that — but we’ll never know if we don’t attempt to work together.

play/

these masturbatory mind-games
i play
reek of desperate hell
brimstone and spunk

my body burning
fevered, tense
enthralled by mendacious 
lies born from inside

the tongue touching teeth
edging towards oblivion
a shattering glass 
falling to the floor

bleeding

© Michael Raven

a prayer for the dying/

Another relic from the reliquary; I’m guessing it dates to about 1995 based on the other dated poems found in the box next to it. As you can see, I wasn’t always prone to minimalism in poetry. Modest edits made, mostly in the nature of culling or slight modification to word order to get away from the flowery feel it had that made if feel stilted in places.

I’d point out some of the intentional symbolism, but I don’t believe in doing that with poetry.

restless, the wind's whisper
through autumn leaves
the hoarseness deafens

i am the stars 
i am the moon
i am flowing, silent, liquid

i am the turgid sickness

i drag my stiffened body
along our tangled life's skein
towards the calling --
my name whispered 
across the waves

the ninth wave,
from beyond that
white crowned crest
calling for to join
and i weep for
the restful release

© Michael Raven

yuletide/

carry cold iron if you'd
venture to the hollow hills
this yuletide eve --
for the fey flummox with
snowflake flurry and
spirits seduce, those unseelie sidhe
promises and lies
tricks and treachery
entreat you, step deep inside

© Michael Raven

tik-tock/

tik-tock
the time slipstreams
caught inside the maelstrom
two ravens whispering
present and past
but never tomorrow because --
tomorrow never knows

old grim, one-eyed
drinks to you health and hearth
knowing you'll dance on air
in the forever night
singing songs only shadows know
if only to escape the storm

tik-tock
midnight's kiss
growing cold on pale lips