Barefoot Poetry

SS Matthews


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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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Available at:
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Barns & Noble

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


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Vale of the Fallen Moon (intro)

Wearing a blouse of linen dyed blue, paired with black ox-hide trousers and riding boots, the stranger sat astride a tall stallion the color of an autumn sunset. His hair, a shade of pre-midnight, hung straight past his shoulders, framing sharp, pale features and eyes that mirrored the sky. Coming to a halt, his hands came to rest upon the stallion’s back. Slumped slightly forward, the boy could see either the over-long hilt of a sword, or possibly the stump of a demon’s wing protruding over his shoulder. Whichever one it might be, thinking the Angel of Death was upon him William wondered why the devil was smiling.

“Do you have a name boy?”

As if searching for a memory distant, the boy hesitated a moment before pronouncing, “My name’s Will.”

“That’s a fine name for a brave lad. You are alone and very far from your village?”

“I can look after myself.”

Appreciating the boy’s defiant tone, the rider thought that at one time he would’ve answered very much the same.

“Who do you safeguard?” The rider voiced the question with a tone that would not brook evasion.

“Only the witch.”

“What witch is that?”

“The Singing Witch.”

Clamping a hand to his mouth, as if trying to trap a secret already set free, a chagrined look crossed Will’s face. Rowan could tell he was ready to run.

“My name is Rowan. I’m not after your witch, but your snare on the hillside has entangled a dancing hare. If you don’t mind some company, I’ll build a fire while you fetch it?”

“You’re not here to take me?”

“No Will, I’m not here for that.”

SS Matthews

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Available at

Smashwords
Amazon
Barns & Noble

This stand alone short story is chapter 2 of Wolfe’s Bane


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Thief Saga – Jewel of Night part 1&2

Jewel of Night

Part 1

A spell is best cast upon those who believe,
that power through practice of magic achieves
superior craft when one’s talent is rare
to call from the shadows what things you might dare.

A firm non-believer may discount results,
never-the-less beware the occult.
Dabbling in darkness may offer a thrill,
but lurking within are things that can kill.

From velvet chambers she conjures a Name,
invading my night with her summoning game.
Called from my card play to heed her demand.
Does she think me novice and hers to command?

For here’s a magician awake in the night,
able to shine an experienced light
on some would-be sorceress testing her fate
by compelling a demon to dance for a date.

A trio of knaves I fold with a frown
placing a threesome of winners face down.
Gambling for coin requires no heart.
I make no excuses, just rise and depart.

The curse that I carry does grant me a boon.
To spells of control I am nearly immune.
When muttered at midnight amidst full array,
even a specter might fail to delay.

Some find me more than a shadowy spell.
Some even think me an agent of Hell.
Her witch-work is potent and tough to defend,
drawing me into a this contact with men.

The stench on the street is nearly to much.
Streets should be vacant of riff-raff and such.
As torches of pitch throw their intricate weaves
of shadows down alleys, the playground of thieves.

I spot the two bullies, clubs poised to transfer
cherished possessions from my hands to hers.
Did they think me easy, a target of sport?
My dagger by moonlight will swiftly retort.

Dull eyes from darkness leer red in the night.
Mistress of magic how deadly your plight?
Fool of a bully, come fill then your grave.
Torch-light I wrap and reflect from my blade.

This phantom is more than some ox at the block,
this fine cloaked pedestrian’s head you would knock.
A blur is my answer, your mate must now grieve.
Red eyes roll upward and blood stains my sleeve.

What vanity drove you to wear this grave face?
Your thug-mate retreats at full speed from this place.
Fleeing this figment of death’s steel caress
may save him some breath and sudden arrest.

I’ve no time for chasing a wet-legged fool.
The witch that awaits me by her gazing pool
will see by the shadows a-swirl that I come
and wonder if mayhap her deed is undone.

Part 2

Arcane reminders to visit by day
circle her threshold and would keep at bay
most any practitioner of ill intent.
By spoiling their purpose my message is sent.

Withering sigils, well-crafted in blue,
might stymie the best, but I weave and pass through.
Having shadows for allies provides me an edge
to slash through illusion when out on the ledge.

As final announcement alerting the lass,
the old oaken door cries aloud as I pass.
Faintly a glow from her corridor’s end,
warns me away from invading her den.

A pentagram smoldering crimson conforms
to a waxwork geometry set round her floor.
Surrounded by candles reflecting her gaze,
she stands in her witch-light miasma ablaze.

Feeling secure when ringed by designs,
an elegant mistress of dark paradigm.
The envy of monarchs is won by her stare.
The envy of ravens is won by her hair.

Black is her raiment, black as her frown.
a web-work of lace to suffice as a gown,
Youthful and supple, I study her form;
voluptuous assets with skin pale but warm.

My interest reveals her control near its ebb.
She lifts from a table a bowl brimming red.
“Hold witch!” My dagger tip tickles my palm,
“You got lucky once, be still and keep calm.”

Her mouth sags to open, her robe reveals all.
A practiced beguilement, a trick to forestall.
I should not indulge the shape of her thigh.
“You’ve brought us together, I want to know why!”

I send forth a thought. She winces in pain.
Feeling my power she utters a name.
“No one can help you, but he whom you face.
Last time I’m asking, the truth, every trace.”

“You have many secrets of vigor and youth,
while other men stumble about most uncouth.
Fables surround you and legend’s your name.
I crave to learn these, to be just the same.”

“So is it my talents you say that you need?
Lying is painful, might cause you to bleed.
Your story, I will with spells, rip from your mind.
You’ve kept me this long, yes, I have the time.”

“Onto the table witch! Off with that robe!
Look not so shocked when acting so bold.”
A light from my hands quells her every protest.
She did as I bid and I did the rest.

Her story she utters in mutters and moans.
My real adversary stands right of the throne.
I left her to dreaming amidst her designs.
Magic has uses, yeah, magic like mine.

Barefoot Poetry
SS Matthews


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Thief Saga – Jewel of Night pt. 1

Jewel of Night

the sea witch by frank frazetta
The Sea Witch by Frank Frazetta

A spell is best cast upon those who believe,
that power through practice of magick achieves
superior craft when one’s talent is rare
to call from the shadows what things you might dare.

A firm non-believer may discount result,
never-the-less beware the occult.
Dabbling in darkness may offer a thrill,
but lurking within are things that can kill.

From velvet chambers she conjures a Name,
invading my night with her summoning game.
Called from my card play to heed her demand.
Does she think me novice and hers to command?

For here’s a magician awake in the night,
able to shine an experienced light
on a would=be sorceress testing her fate.
by compelling a demon to dance for a date.

A trio of knaves I fold with a frown
placing the threesome of winners face down.
Gambling for coin requires no heart.
I give no excuses, just rise and depart.

Some find me more than a shadowy spell.
Some even think me an agent of Hell.
The curse that I carry does grant me this boon
To spells of control I am nearly immune.

Yet muttered at midnight amidst full array,
even a specter is urged to obey.
Her witch=work is potent and tough to defend,
leading me into this contact with men.

The stench on the street is nearly too much.
Streets should be vacant of riff-raff and such.
Torches of pitch throw their intricate weaves
of shadows down alleys, the playground of thieves.

I spot the two bullies, clubs poised to transfer
cherished possessions from my hands to hers.
Dull eyes from darkness leer red in the night.
Mistress of magick how deadly your plight?

Did they think me easy, a target of sport?
My dagger by moonlight will swiftly retort.
Fool of a bully, come fill then your grave.
Torch-light I wrap and reflect from my blade.

This phantom is more than some ox at the block,
this fine cloaked pedestrian’s head you would knock.
A blur is my answer, your mate must now grieve.
Red eyes roll upward and blood-stains my sleeve.

Your thug-mate retreats at full speed from this place.
What vanity drove you to wear this grave face?
Fleeing this figment of death’s steel caress
may save him some breath and sudden arrest.

I’ve no time for chasing a wet-legged fool.
The witch that awaits me by her gazing pool
will see by the shadows a-swirl that I come
and wonder if mayhap her deed is undone.

Arcane reminders to visit by day
circle her threshold and would keep at bay
most any practitioner of dark design.
I tingle a little, but cross it just fine.

Withering sigils, well-crafted in blue,
might stymie the best, but I weave and pass through.
Having shadows for allies does give me an edge
for shredding illusion when placed on the ledge.

Barefoot Poetry of
SSMatthews


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A Season of Wolves Ch. 2 / Pt. 5 The Witches of Malzieu

Set upon by a trio of female assailants, the maid was attacked and knocked to the ground. Beaten until she could not stand, she was assisted to her feet, falling twice before being bodily dragged. Lashed to a sapling for the purpose of burning, it was at that point Antoinette’s true torture began. As if no more than a diseased animal they cut at her. In testament to this, lying on the ground like a symbol of their hatred was the abandoned reavening sickle used to abuse her.

Furthermore, her assailants had been free from any sense of haste. Rather, upon discovering a wicked enjoyment in carving at the defenseless girl, they had taken their time. All of this was made clear by the clues left behind. The puzzling part of the grotesquery however, the part that called for an intuitive explanation, was that not all of the prints in the area belonged to the women. In light of this discovery, why the fire was never lit and their departure so sudden seemed quite understandable.

By shape, I would have thought the prints belonging to a wolf of incredible size and most unusual design. Counting six toes upon each paw, with four forward and a pair facing rear, I knew of no creature in the animal kingdom that could account for them. Standing on four feet, it may have equaled the height of the tallest of the women. Its sudden appearance would certainly have given them the fright of their lives.

Leading both towards and then away from the tree to which the unfortunate girl was bound, the tracks indicated that upon reaching her position, the animal had risen up onto its rearmost legs. Resting his forepaws on the girl’s shoulders or chest, he had taken the time to kick away much of the kindling from around her. Balanced directly before the trussed and helpless maid, the beast had then performed a diabolical mating.

Abused and bleeding her life away, anyone might deduce that the unfortunate Antoinette became the first victim of the monstrous wolf of Gévaudan. But what I witnessed advised me differently. Upon reaching her, the beast had stood on his rearmost legs so that he might ravish her. The evidence, though of a delicate nature, was clearly presented and hardly mistakable. Due to the girl’s already wounded state however, I could not determine if intercourse was forced or solicited.

Impossible as it might seem to imagine, for some unknown reason the idea came to me that while delirious from the loss of blood and distraught from the hurt of jealous harm, Antoinette might actually have invited the beast to partake of her. Recognizing him as a creature not of this world, perhaps she even implored him even to drink of her blood and afterwards render his bite, so she might herself arise and walk at his side as a wolf of the night!

Shaking the unbidden and unwelcome image from my mind, as unlikely a mystery as this was to reconcile, I could find no evidence that Antoinette had at any point been dragged or carried from that place. After all she’d been through, certainly she had not walked unaided, that is to say, I could find no evidence that she’d managed to walk away on her own two feet.

What I did find indicated the unreal possibility that she had walked away on four. Otherwise, how should I explain a mysteriously appearing second set of wolf-tracks? Beginning abruptly at the base of the sapling, they led but in one direction. Undeniably they were the prints of a she-wolf and departed the tragic scene by leading away into the forest.

*A Pagan song of midsummer; Eliza Cook’s Journal

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