Halloween Special

The Last Draft

Last night I had the strangest dream I’ve known
for as I lay in bed, my conscience soothed
I heard a growl of graveled baritone
and sat up straight as something subtly moved.

I saw a hooded figure dressed in black
that loitered only inches from my bed,
it wore an awful satchel on its back
and through that cloth I saw that something bled.

I tried to scream but courage in me froze
despite attempts to show a righteous stance,
the interloper drew its presence close
and spoke in tones of decadent romance:

“Bestill thy nervous noise you harried fool
for time, much like a criminal is sly
and while your life is precious as a jewel
the years, my friend will leap and pass you by”

A thoughtful pause and then the ghoul declared:
“I have with me a very special book,
considering you wish your penance spared
you’ll contribute and try to change your luck!”

Contentious with the quarrels of the grave
I took the gift and then it passed a pen,
within the tome the dark insurgent gave
I queried how to write a specimen:

“I mean no rudeness, sir but this is weird,
to write a verse while fearing for my soul,
my artists rationale has disappeared
like flushed detritus down the toilet-bowl!”

The spectre drew itself to frightening height,
its eyes, a pair of molten-metal cores
that blazed with fury, pupils set alight;
the spirit spoke, its voice now cold and hoarse:

ENGAGE WITH EXPRESS: Jim Khan is a renowned poet from England. You can purchase his latest book of poetry by clicking on the cover image of the book underneath. The proceeds from the sales of the book will directly go a UK Housing Charity.

“You’ll write if life is valuable to keep
else death will be the cost of your ordeal,
the more you choose to lick your wounds and weep,
the more I want to gut you with my steel!”

I cowered as a ghoulish scimitar
appeared, it’s edging drawn against my throat,
outside my window starlight from afar
inspired my hand and this is what it wrote:

‘A star may burn but deep inside it’s dark,
the glow emitted like a latent spark
to fall upon the dusty human stage
but life not death is all those people gauge.

They ponder on cadavers of the stars,
make myths of mighty Jupiter and Mars,
they do not see discorporate decay
but rather something sanctified and fey.

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To those immersed in starburst, comfort calls
and horoscopes are read with crystal balls,
the dead-lights of the dormant stars suggest
that wishes made may truly manifest.

The act of dying beautifully played-
a supernova starlight serenade.’

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The book returned unto its master’s grip;
the spectral fiend appeared to read the text,
away from me I felt the cutlass slip;
the creature spoke no longer sounding vexed:

“This sonnet is a rarity to find,
a thing of higher literary grade
so why would talent languish, undermined
and lay down dormant, never to parade?”

“These thoughts you catch, these images you write
are something special needing to be shared,
instead you think yourself a parasite,
detesting every story you’ve prepared!”

The ghoul then hoisted up its bag of gore;
I jerked, predicting now a heart-attack
but saw the beating bag and knew for sure-
my coward’s heart was trapped within that sack!

The spirit, nodding opened up my prize;
I screamed and tried to turn away my head
but something dragged my unaccepting eyes
toward that throbbing avatar of dread.

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I wept and shook in fits before the wraith,
it took away the sack and sternly said:
“You gave away your heart through lack of faith
and now it’s mine to terrorize instead!”

“You know of me, no doubt you see it now;
I am the institution that you built,
for everything you do and disavow
you feed the hungry demon of your guilt”

“Your death, my friend might make you very rich,
your letters might connect with everyone
but as your corpse lies rotting in that ditch
the world will see your name as just ‘anon’”

“You live your life inside this oubliette
and when they find your nameless corpse inside
I’ll own your heart completely, claim the debt
accrued by your remorse and rusted pride!”

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I clutched my chest and looked to where my palm
lay pressed against a neatly sutured stitch,
above it all I tried to keep my calm,
addressing my intentions to the lich:

“I want it back, that heart is mine not yours!”
I cried and felt my chagrined sorrow seethe:
“I’ll never die regretting in remorse;
I’ll never give surrender to a thief!”

“I’ll tell the world what misery avails
within a stolen heart that cannot beat;
I’ll vomit up my erudite entrails
with soulless stories stinking of defeat!”

“You say you see the beauty in the grim,
the contours of a sculpture made of bone?
I’ll take that bet and go out on a limb
if only to reclaim the thing I own!”

The spectre chuckled, throwing back its hood,
its laughter hollow, full of scornful spite
and what I saw was something no man should-
I saw my own visage upon the wight!

It threw my captive organ to the floor
and smiled, a frozen grin of wintry hate:
“Until we meet again, old troubadour!”-
with that I watched myself disintegrate.

The bloodied spot where horror lay festooned
was simply empty boards of knotted pine,
I checked my chest, redundant of its wound,
of surgery and scars I saw no sign.

My heart I found was thumping in my breast;
I threw the quilt aloft and sprang awake,
without a thought for even getting dressed
I seized my pen and wrote until daybreak.

As dawn approached my frenzied writing stilled,
I put aside the pen and broke the spell,
I looked to see what wisdom had been spilled
and this is what my conscience had to tell:

That flowers only blossom in the sun
and lack of it will only make them die,
the dreams we shun like laces left undone
will leave our hearts for guilt to pacify.

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