Cantos of Blood & Crystal I-V: A Poem of Dark Fantasy


So said the hand in clutching pen,

Written upon sheet upon sheet in endless scroll

With trembling laid down, as the pitch of the sea

Fierce rolling summoned in his ink:

So began as all began

Begotten storm in song.

Swung the lantern below in theft of the Sun,

Dawning upon the Face of we travelers

Our salt face, our biscuit face, neither pearl nor stone

Squinting at the place of our journey

Stinking in brine, vomit, and rats teeth:

White daggers that dig the eyes of those who sleep

Making us as soft as the goat’s cheese that crumbles.

Clutching omens we cast our vision aside;

Incense burns our nose, Frankincense smoking out

The sickness of churning, the hunger of days;

Our lips in convulsion mutter and throw hope to sea,

To be swept along as though Hell had messengers to

Carry these bottled letters and retchings.

Not with white-tipped hands will our prayers

Be carried to holy soil; not by weeded tongues,

Nor devil-vessels, nor driftwood.

Silence is the Face of we travelers. (I.xxiii)

Our mask-face, our warp-face we carved from

Ships, carts, and barrels.

Pierced with the taste of our stomachs.

We began as all began:

Begotten in storm and song.

Storms without waves, wind, or thunder.

Quiet storms of men and long-lingering flesh

That ties from birth beyond and ghostly.

Born to the world, unborn in the ship I

Press my coins, remaining copper of poor wealth,

To my eyelids like all traveler’s masks are.

Stars in these thumbs do not lie: there is no pure

Black, only pitch black, flow black

Shifting black.

Nor do stars shift so often as the tide, for we find,

Parched of discovery, the walkways of docks

Upon water, and upon shores

And I find honeycomb sores fresh in me.

From one flow to another

Waves turn to cobblestones and skin.


The Journeyman stands rooted, rooted as always

Rooted deep into the family tree,

Before the kiln, golden-framed with soot.

Reaching deep to the past of gold,

Burning and furious, choking the throat raw.

Inhaling the sinew of old corpses

Dumped in the pile and stacked chest-to-chest

To turn to smoke and pastime for foolish boys.

With face boiled in sweat he turns to the window

Where the visions of black ships come,

Bearing soldiers who march abreast;

Forcing hobnail to cobblestone with muskets

Combing the sky proudly in glistening rows,

The stalks of progress born by the cornucopias

Of the sea and the carpenter.

New arrivals all, dough-faced, with stiff collars

Snot-lined cuffs from the habit of wiping

Darkened armpits of the work and humid air.

Shivering figures too

Weak in the heat and rough-skinned.

Torn from the bowels of the damned seas,

The obsidian rivers of sleep, and ice, and fire.

Shell women and men ripe for wasting.

The Journeyman shall root them,

Sate their lust for still life,

Prentice them to the snuffing wick.

Bloated as they are by the wander and rock

Of black-masted vessels,

He will have them.

Those who eat too much stillness, well,

Turn up the kiln and get ready

For the charring stench.

He has smelled it before, too many times,

Slinking into the corners of his belly,

Raw throat salving itself and catching the taste.


Forest floor pounding so ripe with the crushing of the dry;

Barefoot up and down into the concave bowl of earth.

Packed away somewhere in the invisible between

Where all dust goes together and together, impossible

And congealed.

Bodies thrive on the stuff bah

The bowl stuff, vision stuff dum.

All this speaks of dreams in shaded starlight bah

Speckled in the gleam of the fierce blue of the veins dum

In here there are small things to be tasted. bah dum

Their heads pinched between the thumb and nail ‘till spilt. bah dum

Dark carapace cracked: the one eye is seen thickly

and through fog with piercing

“Awaken you ask?”

So say we:

“yes!” not knowing in our shivers we are already weak.

So say murdersome children with glee-dunked knives.

The chattering scrivener’s tongue is wet with temptation.

With flicked wrist it is done: one eye seen thickly

beneath welts of sky shines and

all is a dance of cudgels.

bah dum bah dum bah dum

Air strangles with cool fingers reaching in to steal fresh kisses

bah dum bah dum bah dum

Satyr trees, who holds their ankles now? Stripped to burst

bah dum bah dum bah dum

Twitch star and cradle with hands so drenched they are wells

bah dum bad dum bah dum 

This is the bleeding well built upon the Mother’s heart

Where love comes from in all its aches and mouth-crawling,

Jitter-fanged foam.

A meniscus: the downpour is ready.

Ass to heaven and stump to Hell they are resolute dancers

Pouring from their severed necks the ruby wine of ages.

Bound to the embrace of the oak, they are splinters now.

The body is a tedious path to a river to ride

Upon soft moss that floats in slothful currents.

Loam canals for honey veins tie their cord to this fledgling planet:

A child that cries and shall be sated, one eye smiling

Fresh vessels emptied at the table

Cup after cup and jubilant in their unpacking

The worship gush is a merry spill, a holy blunder from the grip

Of a worldly child’s curious grasp.

But where is the palpitation?

There are no pelts stretched, nor clubs descendant,

Nor hearts but the one fresh and deep and weak.


In the sore tunnel of cackles his hands move

Doubled in time and shimmering

Cancerous growth of the brain stemmed outward

Reaching for some new light, more bright than this madness.

He cannot be for the branches are through

Muscle and skin, porcupined out of ears and mouth and nose

So hands shall move with long, fungal nails of spores

In the gutter sits a poor man

All bandages from the ears up, boar tusks and wool

From the nose down. Stuck aside he will tell a tale

For coppers in his cup. He knows what’s written and

Speaks it oddly with a bubbling jaw.

– What cards have you of the skull? It has spoken of you

   dryly, wry, the words that taste like barley. 

His fury burns out at the wick

These words?

Unfit for the walls they stand on.

A thumbprint is more worthy, it fits in the mouth,

It may be printed once alone like the iris.

Sunflowers mush as they chase the sun: their hope

Is the beautiful scythe.

So, shall he be cut down and picked,

Vivisected for all his worth and curiosity?

Gloam from the ocular confinements of saints: a look.

 This is not a poet 

Specimen: a Rich Find.

Bound and gagged it finds the need to express nonsense

Emphasis on finds: there is not need

Invention of the injury shall justify the pain

Madness in this case is psychosomatic, common symptoms

Include no source

What difference is there between this cancerous mouth

And a sewage prophet?

Powers are born of drunk fear

Stuck with blood in their veins they rule

With the vengeance of jealous stars

Damned to watch and be silent

This never ends and all eternities

Are a certain Hell

When this shall never pass quick enough and

Return all too soon

No, not Gods in the clouds or in the change

Nothing but thoughts to listen

Waiting as patiently as crows can

Thoughts are our carrion.

Our Murdering Kings.

So said the charitable fool, begging for what he would give away:

Once upon a time, not known whether soon or far

  There rode a dark beaked king, born beneath a bloody moon

Who swore to set his stones upon the mud ,

  And from the furrows build his unbroken Empire.

  If ever he encountered an Elven Lord,

  Antlered and arrogant, his talon would split them in twain. 

 So bloody was his beaten path that antlered elves

 Upon their thrones of thistles and thorns swore 

 To take his skull for their own

 Gray games;

           This vengeance set in motion 

           By the proud king’s culling hand

           Would end in his expulsion

           From his stolen, sylvan land.

 With antlers and arrows they drove him down 

 From the fey lands to foul countries of mortal men.

 His hands were hard and his talons torn from his 

 Journey through the joyless bogs, blood-soaked by 

 The very battles that brought him victory before and branded

 Him the Murdering King, mad and cruel, made to suffer. 

 So by selling his feathers he set himself southward 

 Till his travels took him where the river runs and twists 

 Its way to weary men’s throats, and there in the reeds

 May be found the crossroads and camp of the Murding King.

 For his crimes committed

           Against the court of the Fey

           The King was named Murderer

           And was sent upon his way

           To sleep beside the river

4 thoughts on “Cantos of Blood & Crystal I-V: A Poem of Dark Fantasy

  1. Hey there, P H! Dug the poem. I’ve had a couple of mine up on Former People. Wanted to ask you: what was your experience like publishing with Lulu? I’ve got 60 poems finished with more on the way. Been thinking about just going ahead and publishing, dispensing with further rigmarole.

    Keep up the good work! You can find some of my stuff here on wordpress.


    1. Hello! Sorry for getting to you so late, I haven’t been checking this blog as much recently.

      I’ve personally found Lulu’s print quality to be quite decent and the prices not too bad. It is definitely nice to just print your own work when you’ve put a lot together. The downside, of course, is you have to do your own formatting, covers, and editing.

      It does let you do “editions” to your books, so you can re-upload new print files if you find errors that you want to correct.

      The other downside is simply limited distribution, but independent poetry printing is quite limited in outreach anyway, so if you don’t mind that you can at least get some pretty nice copies into the hands of family and friends even if online purchases are limited.

      Hope that helps!

      Liked by 1 person

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