Barefoot Poetry

SS Matthews


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On The Rocks

This is where I find her,
Where rocks tip truth into sea.
Where this mind knows
Not to accept what it sees.

Pushing life to the edge of the storm,
I come to the ocean a lie.
Dreaming may mend an image of self
Where ego concedes with a sigh.

Where comes the gale.
Amidst thundering waves assailing jetty stones
Reality dies so she may arrive
Wistfully walking in squalls.

This is when I see her,
All white at dusk,
All movement in grace.
Eyes shining through slits, she twirls,
Hair flying in cyclones she whirls
Leaping stone to stone,
Her dress pirouettes
The illusion of limbs
Beckoning to me.

So this is why I come,
Whenever wind rises,
Rides fiercely dark waters,
dragging truth and uncertainty behind.

I come to the ocean to dance.

SSMatthews

image= The Sea Witch by Frank Frazetta

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Gossamer Whimsy

Once half-full
or conversely vacant
fearful of change yet admonishing stagnation
the glass rests paradoxically empty
silent as infinity or the space
between these ears
where nature
in despising a void
might seek to refill
with understanding more substantial
than gossamer wings
and whimsy.

SSMatthews 4/25/18


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Driftwood

A ceaseless current rolls its course as surface oscillations-
archetypes of the human mind, in endless fascination,
seek the swifter water where the elemental flows.

Barnacles bleached and drying cling to underlying form,
all my expectations wash like driftwood to the shore,
tossed to beach and dying in the aftermath of storm-

One more piece of flotsam set adrift from isle to isle,
powers unperturbed propel this raft of dreams I ride.

Overhead a field of blue, a blazing, sullen sky,
erases known horizons,
conjures islands through refraction,
life is liquid in reflection,
on a string of faceless landfalls spread
in giant strides apart.


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A Season of Wolves (Ch 3, Pt 1) A Mysterious Death

With the last rays of sunset fading from the flowering hillsides of June, as she did many evenings, Jeanne Boulet sat keeping watch over her family’s flock. Like most girls of fourteen years, Jeanne spent her idle hours considering what future the fates might have planned for her and what prospects for marriage might present themselves. On this particular evening however, fanciful imaginings were put aside as she debated whether or not to return home. It was not uncommon for the young shepherdess to spend the night in the company of her sheep; although her vigil was due in large part to a summer night’s solitude being preferable to the combative atmosphere of her household.

Vain and selfish, Jeanne’s mother, Claudette, believed she’d been forced to marry well below her anticipated station in life. Expressing disappointment with an ever-present scowl, even as a woman grown to maturity she continued to fantasize of life as an ingénue. Garbed in the latest fashions Paris might offer, in her daydreams she would wander the grand hallways of the royal court always the focus of a passionate intrigue. In these moments, when so distantly drawn from her farm-life fate, Claudette was almost bearable company.

Of late however, the matron’s mood turned toward the darkly morose with escalating outbursts of uncontrolled violence. Striking out with her hands and throwing about tableware, Claudette’s behavior was becoming ever more erratic. So bad had it become that for all of the past week Jeanne feared to share a roof with her, considering herself better off far removed from her mother’s presence.

Jeanne’s father however, was of completely opposite temperament. Lacking any formal education, Françoise was a simple man. Good of heart and honest, he did not share his wife’s disposition for violence. Only when earnestly threatened or provoked would he place his hands upon another. What he did want was for his family to have those comforts they desired, but unfortunately could only provide those resulting from his endless hours of labor.

Loving his daughter dearly for her vibrant personality and ability to find charm in the common things life might offer; in Françoise’s eyes Jeanne could do no wrong. Yet being forever on the receiving end of his wife’s saber edged tongue, he lived in dread of provoking her and coming to his daughter’s defense, which seemed almost daily of late, inevitably resulted in another of Claudette’s hysterical episodes. So as to avoid engaging her mother’s brawling temperament, and likely a beating for abandoning her charges in exchange for mere comforts of the hearth, Jeanne elected to remain another night among her flock.


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Remembering David — lagoonaticsite

I was still a young man in 1979 when Hurricane David swept his destruction across the Caribbean. Although less devastating to the state of Florida, arriving on the heels of an extremely wet previous tropical depression, one that left many areas already saturated, this deluge of fresh rain water pushed rapidly to their limits and beyond, many waterways […]

via Remembering David — lagoonaticsite


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Satan Never Sleeps (Prologue)

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Prologue

Ending her shift at the Extended Stay on Bay View, Sylvia Sanchez took the same shortcut home as she did most nights. Though generally safe, Madison Park bordered the bay bridge, a known haven for transients and sometime hideaway for more unsavory types. In an effort to avoid attracting muggers she didn’t normally carry a handbag, keeping instead a can of pepper spray ready in her hand.

The shortcut she used was a concrete sidewalk that scrolled amidst a maze of hedges and was, for the most part, adequately lit by periodic street lamps. In seven months of nightly walks she’d been accosted only once and on that occasion the would-be thief had retreated after a brief but decisive confrontation.

Being wise in the old ways, Sylvia’s mother had provided her only daughter with a superstitious upbringing. Into adulthood Sylvia continued to maintain a firm belief regarding the supernatural authority of a full moon. She did not doubt that such an event possessed the power to induce abnormal changes in certain lost souls, especially those who sought to petition its guidance. Therefore, on those nights falling just before, during and just after a full moon, she would forego the shortcut.

The alternate route took her along 2nd Street. It took her twice as long to traverse and the fact that many of its shops stayed open late didn’t really make it any safer. 2nd Street served as a regular hangout for those trafficking in unlawful enterprises. Tonight however, a collapsing storm drain at the 2nd Street intersection with Riverside had caused a blockade to be created while repairs were made. With the street and its sidewalks in upheaval, Sylvia was forced to chance the moonlit walk through Madison Park.

Although the evening seemed otherwise ordinary, twice while she was walking the can of pepper spray slipped from sweaty fingers to clatter on the concrete. Nearing the halfway point along the serpentine pathway, Sylvia noticed a sudden change in the feel of the night around her. As the light breeze at her back became still, a hush fell over the surrounding area, silencing even the chirping of the ever-present crickets and cicadas. In the eerie silence, the sound of her own footsteps and anxious breathing seemed magnified out of proportion. Even her pulse seemed to have a distinct volume as it quickened to keep cadence with the strident clapping of her simple black flats.

Although the lighting along this particular stretch of sidewalk was rather poor, Sylvia found the details of her surroundings focused into a clarity that was unusually sharp. Not yet fully aware of the tension her body was experiencing, she bit nervously at her lower lip, drawing forth a drop of her own blood. Licking it away, she marveled at the bitter-sweet flavor and at how alive the liquid felt upon her tongue. With a sudden re-emergence of the sea-breeze, loose strands of her unbound hair to brush against her neck. Normally she enjoyed this tickling wind-play, but tonight, in her heightened state of awareness, the sensation was almost painful. Overall, in the last seconds of her life, Sylvia Sanchez experienced the world through her senses like she never had before.

Hastening her step, Sylvia peered nervously about and several times looked back over her shoulder. At this point she noticed there was another smell riding on that fateful breeze, a smell that was reminiscently canine. In her memory she could see the collie pup she’d gotten for her 7th birthday and how it would smell when sorely in need of a bath.

Certain now that she was no longer alone; Sylvia paused to see if she could pinpoint the source of her distress. There was little she could hear over the excited beating of her heart, but at the edge of her vision, she felt certain she saw some movement. Staring fixedly at a nearby hedge running to within yards of the sidewalk, she finally caught a glimpse of a tangible cause for panic. Something was stalking her.

Hunched and furred the animal vaguely resembled a large dog, but rising onto its hind legs to glare at her, Sylvia realized that it was not any hound born in the everyday world. Seeing its eyes, red-rimmed and glowing through a mottling of leaves and shadow, Sylvia had no doubt that this was a creature escaped from the supernatural realm of her mother’s teachings. The touch of that unearthly gaze felt tangibly hot, like embers against her skin and though utterly, frightfully alien, it was also compellingly hypnotic.

Spiraling into a dizzying abyss, Sylvia somehow found the strength to turn her face away. Kicking off the restriction of her shoes, she started to run. The sharp snap of a branch breaking behind her, followed immediately by a blood-chilling growl, further launched the woman’s rocketing panic towards climax.. Bounding along the concrete trail with the abandon of a doe before the wolf, Sylvia ran with a speed she never knew she possessed. Even so, she had no illusions that the creature stalking her was too fast to elude.

Hoping perhaps to discourage the beast, she lofted the can of pepper-spray leaving a trail of the irritant in her wake. Yet even over the rasping of her breath she could hear it, the sound as of a loping hound in undaunted pursuit. Realizing she would find no salvation in panic, in a last desperate act of defense, Sylvia Sanchez wheeled about to confront her attacker holding her sole weapon, the can of propellant in front of her. Directing the spray toward the animal’s glowing eyes, she began to scream.

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Tavern on the Edge of Twilight

His face was clean shaven, but framed by years of untrimmed locks. Though he seemed well-mannered and calm, his features resembled those of an untamed and rather predatory creature. Never the less Sara could not deny an instant, almost instinctual attraction to the man that caused him appear exotically handsome. Amidst her dance and twirling toward dizziness, Sara found herself caught up in the eyes of a stranger.

The compelling wildness he possessed was so pervasive that it radiated through his outter veneer of civility like the howl of a wolf through a forest. His apparel, also most unusual, was tailored to fit a lean, hard frame and only added to an overwhelming aura of mystery. This was the impression Sara sensed about him immediately when he entered. When their eyes met she also sensed she was being swept downstream by a raging current.

Never the less, for Sara this encounter was something she’d always longed for, dreamed of, and suddenly; at a time when all hope had been long abandoned, become an inevitability that resisting could only delay. She wasn’t inclined to kid herself. She fully understood that the attraction she felt was probably akin to what the lamb felt toward the lion. Still, that didn’t matter. The stranger’s initial appraisal of her was so intense that it was sufficient to set off a trembling inside that was yet to cease.

Obviously he was an outlander, but caught up in a situation that couldn’t possibly be real, Sara found herself irresistibly drawn to the table where he took seat. But not until the back of a brutish hand knocked her from her feet did she realize her poor choice in timing.

Like everyone else in Twilight, Sara did her best to keep clear of the town bully. How strange it was that in approaching the stranger she hadn’t even noticed Burk was there. Stranger still was the improbable and dream-like vision of seeing the bully flipped through the air like a puppeteer’s doll.

From where she landed on the floor, to Sara the whole thing seemed much more like fantasy than actual events. Even with the resounding thud and cracking of a nearby tabletop she remained unconvinced that she wasn’t simply imagining it all. What did seem real however, was that her cheek burned like fire and was weeping blood into her mouth.

Of Course this wasn’t the first time Sara had been struck down by an angry man. Given her trade coupled with a hopeless appreciation for men of strong will, she been in this position before. Having a forgiving heart, not often did she wish herself able to retaliate.

This time though, it was different. Swatted away from something she was utterly attracted to, her first thought was how good it would feel to wash her hands in the monster’s blood. The idea so excited her that she found herself licking the inside of her swelling cheek.

How many years had it been since such a potent passion had blossomed in her breast? Enough that so distant were such passions that she found the unbridled intensity of it startling. Regardless of her response however, any retaliation Sara might imagine was destined to remain in the realm of vengeful daydreams. Dazed and looking on, it appeared the outlander moved with the speed and agility of a mountain panther. In a single movement he’d risen from his seat and taken things in hand.

There existed also in the outland stranger’s manner yet another aura. One that generated around him a warning defying interference in his affairs. This and the patrons’ ingrained fear of being accosted by Burk caused those nearest the confrontation to back well away.

Perhaps it really was a dream, Sara mused. After all, who could’ve foreseen the dance-floor becoming an impromptu arena and this unlikely savior standing over the larger brute holding him pinned to a table by his throat. Dream or no, Sara certainly found it worthy of a smile.

SS Matthews

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This excerpt is from the stand alone short story and chapter one of Wolfe’s Bane.