I write novels, but I also very much enjoy writing poetry too. One day I will dig out the first poem I ever wrote, which was done when I was in kindergarten and was almost 100% certainly about a cat. But for now, I will occasionally post some poems on this blog as well. Some are recent. Some are quite old. Regardless, I hope you enjoy them.
Past a stretch of gnarled pines,
so old they’ve forgotten to stop growing,
through a tangle of thorns so thick the rodents have trouble navigating them,
over a hill devoid of green and covered in dust,
under the shadow of a great craggy mountain, formidable and stern,
the Empty One lives.
His home is a broken-down promise,
an ancient stone hideout.
Once it was beautiful, once it had meaning.
But now it has been weathered by wind and fog and curses,
so it stands like an unwanted boulder, too heavy and cumbersome to bother moving.
The Empty One does not care, he remains still.
Inside there are remnants of a former life, gathering cobwebs like trophies, one more each year.
And it has been many years.
An animal skin covers a rock wall, but what it was in another life is lost;
It is simply dead now.
There is a cauldron, cracked, putrid, leaning against the hearth,
although the Empty One would not call it such.
To him it is just a pot.
No bed graces the dwelling, just a nest, a true bird’s nest,
huge and daunting, man-sized.
Even though the Empty One is no man.
Occasionally the Empty One will wander outside, to eye the toothy mountain above him
or to scrape his rusted fingernails against tree bark,
enjoying the pestilent shriek it creates.
Sometimes, if he’s quiet and still, blending into the disfigured landscape,
he can catch a crow or a squirrel.
Once he might have cooked them or even tamed them.
No need for that now — now he calmly rips their heads off and chews.
No one visits him anymore.
They did long ago, back when he was less empty,
but these days the world has forgotten him, gladly, eagerly.
He does not mind, he does not care.
After all, he will be there after they have faded into the mists of memory.
The Empty One does not remember.
He does not forget.
He passes his days in bursts of nothingness.
He can sit on the packed dirt floor of his home for weeks without moving,
without thinking, without breathing.
Sometimes he chants.
When that happens, his voice cracks and raises and slowly becomes so loud
the mountain shivers and pebbles rain down from the sky,
and pine needles slip from the tree branches and slither down to the dead ground
and thousands of miles away people can feel the sharpness of winter ice.
Other days the Empty One digs at his veins with a dagger, looking for blood.
His favorite time is when the moon is new.
He can see it, though others can’t.
If he wanted to, he could pluck it from the cimmerian sky and swallow it,
feeling the orb slide down his throat, a viscous lump of celestial matter.
He doesn’t though; he just watches it with swollen eyes
and imagines dancing on the pitted surface.
And only on these nights,
with the etching of the hidden moon stenciled in the sky,
does the Empty One cry.
– Saratoga Schaefer, written December 2017