A Royal Feast

 Imagine a feast. A feast from long ago. A stone room, lit only by a firepit and a hundred tallow candles. The light flickers, shadows twist and turn like backlit monsters on a screen. A table. A rough, wooden table laden with game and grease and mead. A king sits at the table. Madly bearded, dressed in his wedding day finery. An ogre of a man, at home with his own power. Beside him his new wife. Dressed in ceremonial, almost sacrificial, blood red robes. Small. Timid. Fragile beside her new giant. Her eyes full of apprehension as the wedding bed approaches. Surrounding them, The Court. Rough warriors to a man, in their cups and boisterous with it. A cacophony of drunken revelry. The king stands, abruptly. Bangs his fist on the table for silence. He gets it. He holds the royal mead cup aloft, savouring it with his eyes. Struck from finest gold, it glows orange in the overwhelming firelight. Beautiful. Holy. Kingly. He turns his eyes to his followers. Picks them out one by one, asserting his dominance. He speaks. In a terrifying, Brian Blessed like voice, he speaks.

 

BEHOLD!

MY CUP OF ORANGE!

‘TISN’T YELLOW! ‘TISN’T GREEN!

 

Behold my cup of orange!

Hear ye BELLOW! Here ye SCREAM!

 

I hold my cup of orange,

I, Othello! Royal sheen!

 

BEHOLD!

My cup of orange.

Fair thee well… my Crimson Queen.

 

 He turns and bows to his new bride. Kisses her hand. Holds her eyes with his. She sees nothing but flames beneath those close knit brows. She nods gracefully. And inside she weeps.

Midwatch (AKA Warts and All)

A short (300ish words) story I wrote whilst walking home from work.

Midwatch

The hand was small, and wrinkled, and had a wart on the third knuckle. I didn’t like the look of that wart. It spoke of disease, and a life submerged in others’ filth. I looked across at Shaw. He had a calf, and was face deep in flesh. Lucky bugger.

Jenson hadn’t opened his carton yet. He was eyeing my wart-ridden hand with unconcealed distaste.

“Blind swap?” I asked, without much hope of success. I was right to be pessimistic.

“Not a chance.” Jenson was emphatic. “That wart is horrific.” He patted his carton. “Whatever’s in here, it cant be worse than that wart.”

“Last chance? You could have toes in there. Or even a scrotum. Is it worth the risk?”

Jensen grinned in pity, and began to fiddle with the seals of his lunch.

Summarily dismissed, I turned my full attention to the hand. It still disgusted me. I picked it up and tilted it into the light. The fingernails had been removed, of course, but looking closer now I could see that the cuticles still remained. Once covered by carapace, the now exposed half-moons were a filthy, discoloured yellow speckled with flecks of red. Blood or disease, probably. Neither option was appetising.

I looked across at Jensen. He’d lucked out and got a forearm, complete with faded naval tattoo. He caught my eye and held up his prize in mock salute. Bastard.

I contemplated the hand once more. I still didn’t want it. I had the duty watch next though, an all nighter. I’d never make it through without some food in my belly. Beggars can’t be choosers.

I held the hand close to my nose and sniffed. Quelled a moment of nausea. The wart seemed to be winking at me, it’s sparse white hair like an old man’s eyebrow.

But beggars can’t be choosers.

I held the hand up to my mouth.

I closed my eyes.

I ate.

445 – The Butcher Rises Early

Poem number 445

The Butcher Rises Early

.

The Butcher rises early

Tiptoes gently from the room

Leaves behind his Mistress

Snoring softly, in the gloom

.

Washed and dressed he breakfasts

Natural yoghurt, branflakes, fruit

Hat, coat, shoes and keys to van

Embarks upon his route

.

Butcher tools beside him

In a bag upon the seat

Drives around the district

Peeling eyes, a hunt for meat

.

A tramp is sleeping by the road

The van slides to a stop

The tramp is swiftly slaughtered

Boxed, with ice upon the top

.

The engine starts, another mile

A postman in a trap

The van pulls up, an open door

A neck, a twist, a snap

.

The hunt goes on, a paperboy

A milkman, hikers two

The van is at capacity

Before the sun pokes through

.

Harvest chores complete at last

The Butcher mops his face

A pristine linen hankerchief

With trim of scarlet lace

.

Drives back home through rising dawn

Parks neatly by his shed

His mind already skipping

To his Mistress in their bed

.

Stock transferred to freezer bags

Refrigerated store

Shed locked up behind him

Combination on the door

.

Butcher tools rescrubbed, away

Slaps on some aftershave

Climbs back in with Mistress

And it’s time to misbehave

.

Mistress gives a little grunt

A negligee so sheer

He slides a trotter to her rump

And nips a hairy ear

.

Waking slowly, Mistress

In an early morning bliss

Snout slides from the covers

To bestow a snuffling kiss

.

Bristly cheeks together

Oinking softly, lovers now

The Butcher and his Mistress

Killer Hog and hungry Sow.

A poem to kick things off

This is one I wrote a long time ago, but I’ve still got a soft spot for it.

Dinner Is Always Gone Too Soon

Dinner is always gone too soon
The plate too quickly cleared.
Leaving worn ceramic patterns and a fat man’s lonely fears.
In the darkened hours that lie ahead
Before the next meal comes
Will the hunger gnaw and worry or the weakened heart succumb.
Will the urge to simply eat again
Drive slippered feet to creep
Out of bed down to the kitchen whilst the thin men lie asleep.
Will he sit all bathed in fridge-light
While his hands scoop deep inside
And the ice cream dribbles off his chin whilst tears begin to slide.
Will the silence all around him
And the darkness in his soul
Drive him deeper into madness as he guzzles sausage rolls.
Will he wake, once more at daybreak
Slumped down on the kitchen floor
Where at last he’d stopped his eating when his jaws could take no more.
Can he make it to tomorrow
To those three permitted meals
Now that dinner’s too soon over and the hunger’s all he feels,
Eternity before him.
And an agony of mind
Now that dinner’s too soon over and today’s food all behind.