A single brass needle

XI
A single brass needle pricks
Three drops of blood from a vein
Strange words scratched on parchment slips
And now our bargain is made

For seven years I serve you
When that time ends, you serve me
A master and his servant

 

The heir to a fortune squanders his inheritance on wine and gambling. Destitute and alone, he makes a desperate bargain with a gentleman he meets one midnight. For seven years he will have all the riches he craves. But when seven years are done, what will become of him then?

Sheridan Le Fanu’s story of a man’s pact with the devil is retold in 14 poems by Rufus Woodward.

‘Sir Dominick’s Bargain’ is Chapbook number one of four volumes published by the Olgada Press.

To read all four for free, please visit us at Amazon, Smashwords, ibooks,or Barnes and Noble.

 

Advertisements

Take this gift and belong to me

X
“Take this gift and belong to me,” he says
He does not lie to you
Though the truth he tells will be
Too terrible for you to hear

A handsome gentleman with a hollow smile
With a gold laced coat and a voice like warm wine
He does not offer a name
But you know who your master will be
It is the sharp edged taste in the air that tells you
It is the way his eyes know you
The way each hair on your neck stands high
The red itch on your chest where your crucifix lies

“Take this bag of coins and more will follow,” he says
Not pebbles, not stones, not nutshells
Not empty promises to taunt and mock
And disappear come morning
A bag as wide as a hat
Full of guineas bright and new
A dreadful brightness to take in your arms
It is the heaviest load you will ever carry

“Take this good fortune and use it all,” he says
Though your heart tells you not to
Though your scalp creeps and your hands tremble
And your skin turns cold at the thought of it
You do just as he says
Because debts are due with more to follow
And demands rise on all sides
And there are no friends left to turn to
And there is nothing left to do
But continue the journey just begun

“You found the money good but not enough,” he says
“No matter. Come with me.
Are you willing?”

 

The heir to a fortune squanders his inheritance on wine and gambling. Destitute and alone, he makes a desperate bargain with a gentleman he meets one midnight. For seven years he will have all the riches he craves. But when seven years are done, what will become of him then?

Sheridan Le Fanu’s story of a man’s pact with the devil is retold in 14 poems by Rufus Woodward.

‘Sir Dominick’s Bargain’ is Chapbook number one of four volumes published by the Olgada Press.

To read all four for free, please visit us at Amazon, Smashwords, ibooks,or Barnes and Noble.

Gamble and gamble again

IX
You know some men who would rather lose than win
No matter what game it is they play
Losing becomes an addiction for some men
The taste they crave is bleak and bittersweet
The acid cut of recrimination
The shifting fog of lost illusion

Some men will do anything to lose
If it will bring their hand to a swift end
They will happily squander a fortune
Betray all their family, shame their name
And think nothing of it. These men you know
Might choose to die at any moment
And be glad of it. And be grateful

This is not the kind of man you are
You are a gambler. You are not
Afraid to lose, but you will not love it
Even with the most hopeless hand you will
Stay at the table, you will fight and play
You will wait for the game to move your way

So now, at midnight in the wood of Murroa
Darkness so thick you cannot see your step
Why play a move you could never return from?
No. Take off the noose that hangs round your neck
Stay in the game while the dice are still rolling
Gamble and gamble and gamble again

 

The heir to a fortune squanders his inheritance on wine and gambling. Destitute and alone, he makes a desperate bargain with a gentleman he meets one midnight. For seven years he will have all the riches he craves. But when seven years are done, what will become of him then?

Sheridan Le Fanu’s story of a man’s pact with the devil is retold in 14 poems by Rufus Woodward.

‘Sir Dominick’s Bargain’ is Chapbook number one of four volumes published by the Olgada Press.

To read all four for free, please visit us at Amazon, Smashwords, ibooks,or Barnes and Noble.

Come home

VIII
Come home to go away again
Come home from far off places. Come
To see Dunoran one last time.
Come home, blown on an anxious wave
To see, as if for the first time
How small the old place looks, how grey
How tired and unimportant.

Come home laughing. Bitter laughter.
Bent double over a tree trunk
Coughing out curses, choked on a
Thought that sticks in your throat. Who is
The joke on if not you yourself?

Come home, not like a father, not
Like a lover and not like a
Soldier returning from a war.
Come home like a ghost to walk these
Cold walls at midnight when noone
Can see, to stand in the darkness
With noone to wait inside for you
Noone to sing sweet songs for you
Noone to weep or mourn for you
Noone even to notice if
You ever come home at all.

Come home with a plan in your mind
Come home with a purpose you dare
Not voice, not even to yourself
Come home
Come home to go away again.

 

The heir to a fortune squanders his inheritance on wine and gambling. Destitute and alone, he makes a desperate bargain with a gentleman he meets one midnight. For seven years he will have all the riches he craves. But when seven years are done, what will become of him then?

Sheridan Le Fanu’s story of a man’s pact with the devil is retold in 14 poems by Rufus Woodward.

‘Sir Dominick’s Bargain’ is Chapbook number one of four volumes published by the Olgada Press.

To read all four for free, please visit us at Amazon, Smashwords, ibooks,or Barnes and Noble.

 

A fair and a feast for a new Squire

VII
A fair and a feast for a new squire
The young master of Dunoran
There was dancing and fiddling
A welcome for all to come see
This grand estate at its finest

We had wine for the gentlemen and ladies
Beer and cider enough to float a ship on
All the farmhands and the stableboys
All the maids and the servant girls
All the pipers in the county came to
Raise a cheer for our Sir Dominick

Feast for a week and then feast for a month
Feast till the weather breaks and work returns
‘Till none but the master was left feasting
And dancing and drinking and dicing
A sinful darkness upon him, they said,
A bold compulsion to drain a fortune
As though it were a barrel. A fever
That raged and barked, that burned all it touched
‘till everything was gone and nothing was left
And the house we feasted in stood empty
And disgraced and quiet and alone

The master of Dunoran
The last of the Sarsfields
Shame of an old family
Gone to travel abroad
Gone to flee the money lenders
While debts still grow and this sad
Old house rots in the woods

Gone for a year, gone for three
Waiting for an east wind
To blow home through the mountains
A cold and lonesome sound
So hopeless and afraid
“It is all over with me,” it says
“It is all past praying for now.”

 

The heir to a fortune squanders his inheritance on wine and gambling. Destitute and alone, he makes a desperate bargain with a gentleman he meets one midnight. For seven years he will have all the riches he craves. But when seven years are done, what will become of him then?

Sheridan Le Fanu’s story of a man’s pact with the devil is retold in 14 poems by Rufus Woodward.

‘Sir Dominick’s Bargain’ is Chapbook number one of four volumes published by the Olgada Press.

To read all four for free, please visit us at Amazon, Smashwords, ibooks, or Barnes and Noble.

 

The woods here are nothing they once were

VI
Hazel and birch tree, oak and fir
Down in the wood of Murroa
Where roots burrow deep
Where leaves grow so thick
That no full moon ever shines.

In the dark wood of Murroa
Who knows what a man might find?
Shadows that speak
And beg for release
While the devil himself rides by

A gentleman walks out at midnight
A rope tied to a noose in his hand
At the end of his path
Is a door like a trap
For the unwary soul to fall in

So it was when I was a boy
When my grandfather told this tale
But time is a child
That burns all it finds
And now only his story remains

This grand old wood of Murroa
Cut down till the mountain is bare
Now the shadows are quiet
And the doors are shut tight
And the woods here are nothing they once were.

 

The heir to a fortune squanders his inheritance on wine and gambling. Destitute and alone, he makes a desperate bargain with a gentleman he meets one midnight. For seven years he will have all the riches he craves. But when seven years are done, what will become of him then?

Sheridan Le Fanu’s story of a man’s pact with the devil is retold in 14 poems by Rufus Woodward.

‘Sir Dominick’s Bargain’ is Chapbook number one of four volumes published by the Olgada Press.

To read all four for free, please visit us at Amazon, Smashwords, ibooks, or Barnes and Noble.

This story still has some telling to do

V
It is an old story this one
But, you’ll believe me when I say
All the more true for being so

My grandfather first told it me
When I was only a tiny boy
And I’ve spoken and I’ve sung it out

More times than you could ever count
To anyone who’ll listen
To anyone who will hear me

But my back is twisted now and
My head is grey and I know that
Soon enough I’ll be put under this turf

Where my skin will rot and my bones bleach
And there will be nobody left
Who’ll want to listen to me

So this story is yours now
Take it and tell it any way you like
Tell it as many times as you like

In dark forests and by firesides
On dusty pages, in songs or sonnets
Shape it and change it and turn it

This story belongs to you now
This strange legend of dunoran
This story has some telling still to do

 

The heir to a fortune squanders his inheritance on wine and gambling. Destitute and alone, he makes a desperate bargain with a gentleman he meets one midnight. For seven years he will have all the riches he craves. But when seven years are done, what will become of him then?

Sheridan Le Fanu’s story of a man’s pact with the devil is retold in 14 poems by Rufus Woodward.

‘Sir Dominick’s Bargain’ is Chapbook number one of four volumes published by the Olgada Press.

To read all four for free, please visit us at Amazon, Smashwords, ibooks, or Barnes and Noble.