Archive for the ‘Fantasy’ Category


When Cronus Ruled the Earth

March 11, 2011

I bounced the boys on my knees
and spun a story from the seeds of my sour grapes
sharing with them the news of my disappointing life.

“When Cronus ruled the Earth”, I said,
“the Seas sang and the Mountains danced
and Cronus fretted over the Music of the Cosmos.

“He foresaw his immortality ending
he saw that he would be overturned
by the ones who called him Father.

“He worried about Delphi’s warning
and he never let his children live another day
swalling his progeny like an unpalatable meal.

“The aftertaste burned his throat
Stinging reminders of his half-baked plan
as the worry (and his children) gnawed at him from the inside.

“But Gaia galled him and Rhea lured Cronus into swalling the stone,
a menagery of misery to replace Zeus in his digestive tract
swapping one troubling mouthful for another

“And Cronus was deceived, believing his son was deceased.
While Zeus, under Adamanthea’s spell, lived in suspension,
halfway between childhood and eternity.

“But finally the day of confrontation arrived,
and Zeus slipped his father a strong dose of Ipecac
spiking his wine with a more potent brew.

“And Cronus regurgitated his five other offspring.
He looked at Zeus in shock, realizing the Oracle’s
will had won out, and that chasing fate was foolish.”

“But, my children,” I continued, “I have learned my lesson.
Your father won’t make Cronus’ mistakes.  Instead
of swallowing the echos of my disappointment

“I’ll bury them.  I’ll accept that you three will someday
soon rise above your father who raised you,
becoming the gods that you were meant to be.”

The room grew quiet, as my sons digested the lesson
of Cronus.  Their thoughtful stares lasted as long as
it took for the sounding of the dinner bell, and

All was forgotten as they headed for the Halls of Paradise,
a meal of ambrosia and nectar awaiting them
as I, the once powerful God of this realm, settled down for my nap.


Constructed by my younger daughter and me, this story started with a much darker ending in mind…  She has been reading a lot of Greek myths recently (anyone else seen Percy Jackson?) and the story was heavily influenced by what she’s been learning.


I Was There

August 3, 2006

I was there
the night they appeared
awesome in their splendor,
robed in their dark vibrant hues
of sky blue, lightening yellow,
sunrise orange and red,
pale moon white,
they split the heavens
obliterating the firmament.

These wholly profane creatures
who spat fire from their mouths:
scorching the earth with their breath,
lapping up blood and death
with their forked tongues
casually watching us flee
like terrified ants
from their stinging eyes.

I was there
the night the fireballs arrived
and the bombs burst scattering
shrapnel and bullets into the city streets
with their indiscriminate fury.

Whole cities turned to rubble
by more than the blasts and explosions
but by the terror of the flame
I stood frozen feeling the ice in my blood
while the stars fell around me
white shining lances of fire.

I was there
and I am still here
despite the scars
and the battle fatigue
and the weary hesitance

I don’t want to bear witness
to another tragedy
I don’t want to watch
my comrades die and my country destroyed

but something deep within me
spurns me onward, ever onward
until the day I finally witness
the breaking of the dragons’ spine.

I just finished the Dragonlance Chronicles, my first books of any of the Dragonlance series. I loved them, all 1300 pages. What a great summer reading escape. If only it were so easy to escape what’s happening in the Middle East.This poem is for Berem and for my friends in Israel and Lebanon. You can find good and evil in every dragon, and prejudice on every side. The real challenge is to find a place to meet in the middle.


Ours, Poetica

November 10, 2005

Imagine, were it possible to see
a world where every object was expressed
as reference to another, every tree
a metaphor, and every one addressed

by “rose” or “poem” or “ancient crooked man”.
If poetry existed as a state
of being, we could live it rather than
depend upon the poet to create

a world of imagery and fertile thought.
What would we call this world of which we dream?
Poetica her name and yet would not
her very same existence make it seem

that Poetry itself would be a sham?
A feeble, mild attempt to call to mind
a state of grace, perfection in the land,
then every single poet could remind

his reader that the work is more than metrical.
You find your own expressed as “ours, Poetica.”

For the next Poetry Carnival.



August 22, 2005

Finnegan is a tooth rat.

I know, sounds improbable. Some might even say it’s kind of gross, but in the Barkowitz family, we don’t have a tooth fairy. We have a tooth rat.

Finnegan’s story is not well-known, even to those whose teeth he collects. The bare bones of his story goes something like this: an Irish tooth rat, Finnegan lives in the attic of Read Brothers in Charleston, South Carolina (a family store). Finnegan’s mission is to search out teeth from the Barkowitz and Read families when they are placed under pillows, and to leave little rewards for those teeth.

Growing up, I accepted Finnegan as fact. My children do too. This poem is written from Finnegan’s point of view.

You left me an enamel treasure tonight,
proof that your childhood is falling out
as your roots reveal another row
of permanent changes.

I was there, hiding in the shadows
when your parents saw the first
moving pictures, lily-white buds,
later flowering into pearl-studded
crowns for a princess’s mouth.

I was there when your first teeth
broke gums. I soothed your
feverish skin with cool cloths
as your tiny hands struggled
to express your triumph and tragedy
of those first teeth.

I was there at the first check-up,
helping to count your teeth,
helping the hygienist remove the cookies
from your hesitantly open mouth.

And I will be there, through
orthodontia, wisdom-teeth, cavities
and caps. Whitening, straightening,
miles of floss and gallons of paste.

I will help hold you together,
binding you in a line to your parents
and their parents, and theirs.
Teeth stretching back through the generations.

And you will tell my story to your children,
inspiring them with the tale
of a small Irish tooth rat,
living in your family’s store,
whose sole job has always been,
not only to collect teeth,
but more importantly,
simply to celebrate your triumphs.



July 17, 2005


Riding over snowy lands,
Galloping through deserts grand,
I’m the Night Mare, owning realms
Visiting in your dreams.

Hoof-prints in an empty room
Lying near: an empty bed.
I’ll take you on a magic ride
You’ll never find a place to hide.

And some of you will never return
To empty lives and empty smiles.
I’ll come next time you have a dream:
Awaken with a scream.


Silent Shadows

May 26, 2005


Silent Shadows,
speak to me.
Tell me stories,
talk me free.

Whisper secrets
in my ear.
Tell me tales;
I want fear.

Tell me stories
full of spite.
Tell me stories;
tell all night.

Weave a nightmare,
speak of pain,
until the sunrise
comes again.

And morning gilds
the shadows bright.
And I am done
with fearful night.

So, this is a piece I wrote a long time ago.  Speaks of my love of the good horror story (and dark fantasy).

I did have three other endings which I wrote, scratched out, and settled on the one above, but you know me, still second guessing myself.

Do you like these other ones better?

Option #1

Until at last
when I awake;
nightmares past,
the Shadows break.

or this one:

Option #2

And morning crowds
the shadows down.
The fear I’ve lost.
The strength I’ve found.

or there is this final option:

Option #3

And morning makes
the Shadows weak.
The Silent Shadows
cease to speak.


Silver Bird

May 19, 2005


Silver bird
Floating on empty air
Balancing precariously on cloud banks and jet exhaust
Flying 200-something to their “final destination”
(Wherever it may be)
Are you alive?

Do you hear my conversation in your hollowed inside?
Do you sense my nervous exhilaration at your unnatural flight?
Or my overbearing tension as you touch your wingéd body to the insubstantial ground?

Some despise your fragile beauty,
Some abhor your static flights
I revel in your journeys
I adore the dizzying heights

Do you hear my silent prayer
(Silent to a bird of steel and plastic)?
Is there a spark that burns inside you
That will someday soon release you
From your all-too-man-made shell?

So that soon you will be flying with the other living birds
In the air that you call home.

This was written many years ago while commuting from Panama, Canal Zone, to Miami, Florida. Echoes relate to the 9/11 tragedy, but I have always marveled at the basic fragility of airflight…

Sorry for the time away.  I’ll try to post more (life in the FAO has been VERY busy).


Wave at Those Who Cry

January 9, 2005


While resting on a shadowed street,
I wave and smile at those who cry,
But they don’t see me, and their feet
Continue marching slowly by.

And then I see a man in black
Waving a jug of water over me.
I cannot think to answer back
Since chained to the ground are my head and feet.

And then I hear a muffled cry.
And then a sense of falling flows,
And gingerly I think “Goodbye”
And then I know…

One of the pieces inspired by my father’s death, and also intentionally written to be reminiscent of Emily Dickinson’s “Because I could not stop for death”.


A Celestial Ode

December 29, 2004


By the blue-green pools of liquid
(Such a blue you’ll never see),
By the aging, dying cedar,
(Dare you call this husk a tree?)
Underneath the moonlit shadow
Hidden now with childlike glee
There I surely will be standing
In the Wood Infinity

On the shores of Endless Ocean
Where the bravest fear to stray,
Lies a capsule without motion,
Victim of the endless fray.
Under it, within the sand-pile,
Lies a creature scared of day,
And his silent scream is mine too:
“Here I am and here I’ll stay.”

On the highest of the highest,
Deep within the Purple Chain,
Where the air is somewhat weakened
(Only crystal falls as rain),
Where the view is ever onward
(You can see to here again)
On the ridge of Highest Peak is
Where I sing of love and pain.

You and I, we are a consort,
Like two ships, we share a road,
I am Love and you are Laughter,
Like Atlas’ back – I love the load.
I am daylight, you – my evening,
To my Luna is this ode,
I, Apollo, to you kneeling,
Crave your darkness for my abode.

A highly gothic love poem.  Written to my imaginary Luna, I was imagining a love writ by the Gods.  How would you describe that?  Not sure if it works — to my adult eyes it needs some work.  Your thoughts?  Feedback?


In the Shifting Glimmer

December 28, 2004


In the shifting glimmer of the morning light
He awakes in terror at the lurid sight.
And his mind recoils from the pain of truth
That the white enamel was a human tooth.

Now his soul relaxes as the dream falls past
And he wonders once again how long he’ll last…
Will the Jews discover what he tried to hide?
Will the nightmares cease?  Will he survive their ride?

Now his mind returns to what he’d rather not,
Like the faceless faces he hoped time forgot
And the bounds are broken from the world of dreams
From beneath his pillow he can hear the screams…

For the pain inflicted sixty years ago
For the names of hurt, the things he should not know,
For the blind indifference that he turned their way
He is doomed to live for yet another day.

Now his door bursts open, he is in the street
And the passers-by don’t hear his pounding feet
For it does not matter where he tries to run
Since behind him sounds the call of Hell’s own drum…

In the fading glimmer of the evening’s light
As he settles down for yet another night
Now his mind returns to what it knows is truth:
He’ll forever pay for crimes of errant youth.

Some poems begin as ideas or images or snatches of verse.  This one began as a beat.  I heard the meter in my head first, the da-da-DUM-da-DUM-da-da-da-DUM-da-DUM, and knew I had to find a story or idea to fit it.  While the meter may reflect some kind of a waltz, I heard it as more of a haunting, increasing, and threatening drumbeat.  I imagined it accelerating kind of like a train starting up and growing faster and faster.  So with that sound, I needed an image — someone trying to outrun and escape the terrible force chasing them.  The idea of this poem was born.