By Greg Patrick
“Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing, Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before; But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token, And the only word there spoken was the whispered word”-Edgar Allan Poe
Like a breathless emissary of night, haggard after a long journey to bear tidings the dark poet faltered at last, swaying like a pendulum tolling the hour, yet commenced his shuffling walk. Like a soloist by a solitary gas lamp’s apparitional spotlight packing his case for the profitless walk back home. It was as if the restless shadows were granted form and face to mingle with the passer-by. The gaunt apparition that once commanded striking presence in the centre of candle-lit readings with the mystique of a famed conjurer or illusionist now reduced to dishevelled emaciation. He seemed strayed from the haunted pages of his stories. Raven hair maned a lion’s stare. A bard’s eyes like the lion’s vision transcending the dark. His enigmatic profile seemed to hold watch over the night, a guardian of shepherdless dream and holding sway over nightmares as shadows thronged him like an admiring public after the end of his story.
He was Atlas when the day broke and Orion when the night cast its dark spell left to songs
only the midnight scribe will dare tell. Huntsman’s return, bard’s sojourn, like a ghost march till dawn. His hand of the night scribe likewise beckoned at the few stars yet visible through the city lights like a pilgrim asking for an enlightenment just beyond his reach, as if snatching at their vigil candles, claw-like, talon-like some falling raptor that could not seize the bright quarry in the water far below but could not stop his falling for it.
Now hovering between worlds, like the voyage of a ghost vessel drifting between shores.
Snow fell around him in ethereal splendour, like frozen tears or the hailing of a dark prince, a rightful heir of shadow returned, in a crystalline tribute, the frost glistening in the dark mane of his hair, like an ethereal crown.
He seemed like the apprentice of a sage or something wild pacing a night cage, one who revisits his master after being sent on a search for wisdom and was poised the question what have you learned then in your travels of wisdom or foolishness?
The forbidding urban labyrinth with such evident squalor seemed an eerie dreamscape. The towering structures like misshapen sculptures glowered like dark idolatry. And to a sleepless brightness like the stars themselves and restless mind the stream of consciousness and words flowed like the night tides stirred by the moon. He seemed to glide rather than stride, with the air of a penniless prince humbled by circumstance, his ragged coat hems whispering on the stones like a flightless falcon crutching on broken wings though casting a shadow before him of a falcon soaring in slow motion as if guided by an elusive dream of restoration.
Sleep walker though profoundly conscious of the restless dreamscapes of the heart. The squalor of the slums he roamed like the ruins of a lost city, were unnerving to behold. The Sunken-cheeked begged for alms in the shadow of the dilapidated soot-tarnished walls. It’s uncouth denizens that congregated in circles by the patches of lights now when night fell laughed in crude mirth as if to keep the dark and foreboding at bay as he passed them like a dark rumour whispered between them...a shadow of their own world passing them by.
He staggered blinking into the beams of street lamps, through the intervals of spectral light and shadow like a dream transcending the chords of a dream catcher unhindered. The beams like moonlight filtering through the dark canopy of a petrified jungle. Like a spectre drifting through worlds and a succession of dark thresholds.
A bewitchingly composed nocturne slipping through the harp strings. He seemed a dark tear of midnight wavering against the moon. It was the voids but the fulfilment that made him seek the solace of the night. Man and moon in two solitudes. Like the first hesitant note of a masterpiece by a sleepless composer so haunting in its tone so as to seem a flight of ravens drawn by a stage conjurer’s hand. Every author leaves with a story untold and his soulful gaze like a dwindling candle flame seemed to delve the surrounding darkness for some image like listening to an endearment whispered to the night.
Every poet had a muse and the rare huntsman of the art through the poorly-lit dreamscapes of the heart can seek the perfect words but to truly find poetry is in that elusive vision was at last Poe’s gift and curse. It seemed the end was written before a worthy beginning, its story ghost-written. He found her like a pilgrimage to beauty enshrined. The sleepless brightness of the midnight scribe began to be consumed by the darkness as if enveloped in raven’s wings. As if the shadow reclaimed its own. The embrace like a long-lost friend.
“Nevermore” …His dark eyes and betrayed yearning sighs, brimming with stories yet untold welling with dark tears of an author who confronts what man secretly fears. Heir to shadow and successor to a lightless dawn. Soulful gaze like dwindling candle flame seemed to delve the surrounding darkness for some image like listening for a dark rumour whispered to the night.
He raised his glass like a toast to the stars. Like a champion of darkness mortally wounded he seemed to stride for a final confrontation with the awaiting light and it seemed even with the sensation of falling in slow motion as the intoxicating bottle fell like an hour glass and he after it to the cold night’s bower.
He crumpled like the page of a rejected manuscript by his own hand. Then cast aside…His words failed him as he failed her…
He fell then as if in slow motion, silhouetted against the moon like a tear drop of midnight down the face of a stone angel watching over the night.
Passer-by hastened by him to escape the cold in phantasmal procession. None paused for him. The hansom carriages clattered by and still he lingered as the snow swept over him softly... The chill wind like a parting caress to his dwindling senses… The steeple bell tolled the hour. His hour… He seemed drawn down by skeletal hands…. then…
As the dark melody of the chill wind, like the parting caress of an underworld goddess through his hair took voice and form it seemed a tender hand soothed his cheek and only then he dared look up.. He at last beheld her mirage to a nomad’s eyes as if she waited for him in the dusk… “Annabel Lee…”
A dual citizen of Ireland and the states, Greg Patrick is an Irish/Armenian traveller poet and the son of a Navy enlisted man. He is also a former Humanitarian aid worker who worked with great horses for years and loves the wilds of Connemara and Galway in the rain where he's written many stories. Greg spent his youth in the South Pacific and Europe and currently resides in Galway, Ireland and sometimes the states.
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