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Charles Griffith


Monroe, NC, US

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Charles Griffith

A ruined outpost in a gothic wood,
to this we march single-file;
a resting place for weary feet,
a perfect place to sit and eat
at the end of a roman mile.

A squad of soldiers, of which I am one,
sits upon the old stones to rest;
in the shadow of Caesar's legions,
in the midst of this alien region
in which we are only guests.

Rifles stacked, shining in the sun,
our helmets off and pistol belts undone;
I think of battles lost and battles won;
the harrowing deaths of brave men,
the barbarian slaughter and the battle's din.

But now cigarettes and coffee go round
as someone jokes about a whore;
perhaps a centurion said the same thing
in this same spot, one day in the spring
two thousand years before.

But my friends can't see from where they lay
on this sunny afternoon in May
that the ghosts of the legions watch over us;
they still stand guard
with a gaze so hard
and a vigilance that is ever righteous.

And as I sit upon this noble ground
my thoughts continue to stray;
how many men more
on their way to unknown wars
have yet to pass this way?

But now it's time to move out
and put away these thoughts so noble and good:
time to end our stay,
time to march away
from this ruined outpost in a gothic wood.

The Wanderers


Charles Griffith

Cold and still, a careless mist,
the failing light of a winter's day;
ancient shadows cast themselves across the path
as weary feet move forward.

Cloaked in hooded attire they trudge onward,
their gnarled staffs leading the way;
straggling forth, their eyes darting,
always marching on, always looking back.

Through pine and fir, with dusk closing in,
the haggard party, so veiled in doubt
overtakes another shadowed turn,
hoping for refuge, finding only the road.

A lunar glow now shows the way,
bringing strange shapes and stranger fears;
a spirit once free, now wrapped in dread
struggles through the wooded menace,
always marching on, always looking back.

The ears now hearken to a chirping chorus
from distant lakes and still ponds;
the cries from yesterday and beyond,
like the vague meanderings of a dream.

Travellers on a dreary night,
no hope for lodging.
a longing that grows,
a singular notion
now a spoken thought;
tired bodies now shudder to a halt.

Then the Light

Peering through, mirky questioning faces,
a peasant feast wafting through dim hallways;
a newness that swells up to meet them
as they leave the darkness behind them.

A merry crowd, old and young
frolic and dance to protest the night.
empty hearts now filled with light
lose their strangeness.

Even empty stomachs are now filled,
cold fingers warmed by the fire;
mirth, merriment and ale
mingle with the smells of the kitchen labours.

And now quiet slumber awaits,
warm and snug;
yet the shadow of Day still casts itself onto the night;
uneasy visions grasp at our delight
as the covers are pulled closer.

And now morning comes, rested but still weary;
broken dreams revive as well.
once more, hooded eyes gaze upon the pathway;
well rested, well fed,
yet still tempted,
always marching on, always looking back,

Travelers on the Road

thoughts from long ago


Charles Griffith

a cool breeze,
and the night whispers in my ear;
it brings me a song, on a note so clear

the flow of the tune leads
me to gentle thoughts;
those of life and hope,
of a future i have not yet wrought

still i struggle with the darkness outside
and that within,
but what was once, is not yet dead;
the light that dimmed, will shine again.

The Road


Charles Griffith

A shining moment, that once shined so bright,
now washed away, as the sun to the night;

Once carved in stone, now no more;
the soft sand, swept from the shore.

A time so precious, yet none could see
what a precious jewel this came to be.

But a bridge once crossed is not crossed again;
look where you're going, not where you've been.

They meant so much, those days now gone,
but much too fleeting, like a careless song.

The faces, they flare and flicker, then disappear;
my heart leaves with them, but not my tears.

For never would I have made it to this day
if the road I traveled had not passed that way.