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G. E. Graven


Jackson, MS, US

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The Broken Horse


G. E. Graven

The Broken Horse

I arrived quite promptly at the market square
hoping a buyer of my horse would be there
I required the pounds for a debt I'd pay
On a drunken wager lost yesterday

Since I hadn't the coinage to make the debt good
I had three horses and one of them could
The oldest was frail and sickly indeed
and this one I'd barter to cover the deed

"Damn this mare," I mused to myself
"I had two others in much greater health"
and this one I marched to the market square
a crooked old horse and a broken down mare

I grinned at the fancy of the next to own her,
Indeed he would curse me, that dejected owner
But of concern to me was a debt to be paid
regardless of trade or deceit that I played

It soon became solid as the day wore on
I would have no purchaser for which to pawn
this decrepit old mare I began to detest
and I lowered her price to a second-best

The market square secured its shops
as dark clouds clustered over naked tree tops
and the sun sunk low in the village West
along with the outlay to an any-best

The beast was not fancied, and this seemed certain
The village fled home, from the stormy curtain
that swelled to black in the Eastern sky
and men scurried by as loud as I'd cry

A gale wind coughed and I fell chilled to the bone
the eve had fallen and I surrendered home
The distance was great so I left the square
with arrears unsettled on a crooked mare

The air was ice and inkwell black
I made haste homeward, I headed back
to the simple cottage on the seashore's shelf
lived in by none but my ripe-aged self

I charged on thunder while galloping East
through a wooded trail of many o' beast
yet the clouds cracked open and wept their souls
as I dashed up the way of mud-filled holes

With reins in hand and hooves at trail
I galloped away on a mount so frail
that she cracked as a twig and fell to the ground
I drew my colt and she neighed no sound

As I scurried on foot through the sleeting air
I heard the wind whisper a whimper where
the pitch of night stood -- front, back and side
the whimper of mourn when the living has died

A cold like steel had ripped me apart
considering the dead I rushed without heart
I raced the beast at continual strain
blind to the animal's compiling pain

My pace had quickened at this culpable thought
and through the sea of sleet I fought
my way to safety; to my shelter on the shore
where the unrested being will concern me no more

But the horror had established its truth at once
when I heard a neigh from the broken horse
that I erased with my colt -- a shot to the head
and checked it for life; I'm sure she was dead

Yet now I gathered the following steps
of the once-dead beast and then perhaps
the dragging sound of a twisted hoof
as it scrapped the rocks in horrid proof
that the horse's immortal was haunting its master --
the soul that slew her was the whole she was after

"Away, you pest," I snapped at the wind
but it squalled all the greater and stinging again,
pulling and tugging at my buttoned coat seam
whilst infecting my ears with a yowling scream

For many o' mile I charged through the rain
to flee this beast of wandering pain
Its horrible hoof lay scratching the stones
and flushing a madness through my very bones

Finally I broke through the fields of my home
and fixed my sight on its comforting stone.
I broke with a passion whilst gasping for air
since I knew at the cottage, my saneness was there

Upon reaching the door, I spun wide around
to see only sleet and a fallow ground
I found no hoofed-demon as I imagined last
I bent over heaving, as convulsions passed

I studied the earth at a branch I could feel
lodged in the rear of my split boot heel
that mimicked the sound of a dragging hoof
my fear was madness as there lay the proof

I mused at the fancy of my spurious fright,
of fleeing from ghosts in the midst of night
I unbolted the door and my cheeks flushed red
as, there stared the mare with a gap in her head.

Critique The Critic


G. E. Graven

Can poems be coined merely for play
in similar manner as in olden day
or must they be butchered; dissected away
by awful autopsy after poet's decay?

"What happened to us? We demand recourse!"
Should critical dissection be the only force
that drives us poets to lay our course
in some cryptic prescription even rivaling Morse?

"We now say, no!" There are no such things
as puppet-like poems fitting critics' strings.
"Qashab!" All rhymes are rich by autonomous means
and all verse is perfect when the Poet sings.

We sing of spirits and dancing fairies,
of wine and women and moment that varies
'tween whim and madness that surely carries
with it some weight for worthy tally.

How dare you declare our words were wasted,
proclaiming our pieces as merely pasted,
when effort was such that we poets tasted
meaningful measures; preserved and unwasted.

Humble us now, oh Critical One.
Have you countered all prose we poets have done?
Comparing ourselves, you should certainly shun
in light of the Poet, the Counter-Critical One.

How must we give birth, oh Demanding One,
that our free-form fancy be your dutiful son?
Is there such a rule that you are the one
to raise our children? Your precision done?

We implore you, Critic; critique this piece
and wave your wand that it rest in peace.
"Abreq ad habra!" Cast it down as stain and crease,
as a leaf of languishing language released.

When condemning this leaf, you do solemnly swear
by the blood of all poets, us everywhere,
that All verse is worthless; All is despair
no matter the meter or genius we share.

Since this is the poem where we poets do speak:
"We are neither your slaves, nor humble, nor meek,
but are lords of these worlds you pathetically seek.
And your chains are but ours to break and critique."

Devil's Villanelle


G. E. Graven

Never lives a damon god-dog nomad as evil'r even,
As a snake, which bewitched Eve to eat of Evil, condemning Man
To wander the world, that Devil and evil jackal from heaven.

That prideful angel and wicked warlord, whence from heaven driven,
Angered God against Creation, to spawn a flood for forty span.
Never lives a damon god-dog nomad as evil'r even.

Tempter of mortals, that immoral and heretical heathen
Gambled as God against goodly Job: a gentleman better than
To wander the world, that Devil and evil jackal from heaven.

Gadarenes Man with a legion and then Magdalene with seven.
Satan's minions possess the masses; damons damned, within His clan.
Never lives a damon god-dog nomad as evil'r even.

Apostate of Apocalypse, seven heads and ten crowns given,
And Himself did Scripture describe: A Dragon awakened, with plan
To wander the world, that Devil and evil jackal from heaven.

Morningstar shines no more, since fallen in sin amongst our brethren.
That god-like damon drifts as wandering wolf, stalking what it can.
Never lives a damon god-dog nomad as evil'r even,
To wander the world, that Devil and evil jackal from heaven.

Mushroom Moment


G. E. Graven

Cracked Floor Forest Dehydrated
Leaf Crunch Air Dusty Grey Ash
Brittle Splinters Parched Logs Patient
Twig Crunching Vine Brown Earth

Blue Invasion Gray Cumulous Clusters
Air Dense Whisking Wind Crackle Flashes
Million Crystals Celestial Settle Hissing
Brown Bubble Sound Standing Tree Mirrors

Steamed Floor Swollen Worms Sunken Dead
White Flesh Caps Eve Fog Frogs Numberless
Rotting Air Wood Sponges Soaked Yellow Pulpous
Mushroom Moment No Lastingness
Spring! Sprout! Haste!