Category Archives: Arts & Entertainment

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All-Nighter

Sleep doesn’t come when I call anymore.

Maybe I’ll rub the tired from my eyes,

And write another thousand words before the sun rises.

I’ll let myself lose a dozen hours in a back-lit screen.

Just because it feels meaningful when compared with the alternative:

Lying in the cloying silence,

Inventing patterns on the off-white ceiling.

 

There is no heartbreak this time,

No creeping anxiety that drags at the back of my mind.

The weight of the cosmos is no heavier than it ever is.

Nothing to fix, nothing to blame.

These words may be the only meaning I ever find in it,

And even they won’t come easy.

night sky
“I’ll pretend every waking hour had been my decision So I can wear the dark circles under my eyes like some badge of honor.” Photo from: https://pixabay.com

Another all-nighter?” he asks,

And I return his well-intentioned smile.

I’ll pretend every waking hour had been my decision

So I can wear the dark circles under my eyes like some badge of honor,

As though my bone-deep exhaustion was a marker of academic fortitude.

But there is no significance or triumph in the reality

That rest has become some unruly beast,

And sleep doesn’t come when I call anymore.

Spring in the Alumni Gardens

The below photos were taken by Radford’s own Patricia Forehand. Patricia collects a variety of plants and enjoys photography. Walking through the Alumni Gardens near McConnell library in the spring of 2016, Patricia noticed a variety of beautiful garden trees in bloom. She took the amazing following photos of the foliage around campus.

Muse Flowers

Muse-EU

Society’s Robot-Part 1

“Remember, Cassie, don’t say anything out of line and keep your head up or you may just be pushed down.” I listened to Mother Esther as she packed up my new clothes in my suitcase. I don’t remember ever doing anything on my own until I turned thirteen and was taught how to serve the wealthy. I was sent to my first house at fifteen. They were a nice, old couple. They needed help with little things. They treated me well, somewhat like a daughter. Mother Esther told me this was not so unusual with older couples.

“Now tell me the five rules.”

I took a deep breath and messed with my heart locket. “One: Never talk back or when not spoken to. Two: always smile but never laugh; make yourself look gentle. Three: Always be prepared for anything, even if it’s a beating. Four: Do not allow the men to touch you like you’re a pay girl, not until twenty-one. And five is um…”

“Never feel.”  

I nodded my head.

These are rules I’ve had to follow for the last seven years. I’m once again being sent to a new home in New York. Rule four will no longer apply and I will not be safe from men with wandering hands and lustful eyes. I must serve every need of my new ‘owner’ and tend to his every wish.

Watching as a tree goes by my car window, I remember reading about the trees constantly being cut down to make room for new housing. Most of the deforestation was for people who didn’t have homes. Everyone has a home now, but not everyone is free. I, like many others, must serve the wealthy and elegant. I eat two meals a day, if not less. We all evolve and adjust to survive.

Most servants are girls and are met with disrespect. The few boys who end up with a job like mine are treated as nothing but trash. We are treated this way because we are orphans, unloved and unwanted. Either our parents were rich people who didn’t want a child, or we were a mistake between two lonely servants, forbidden. I’ve learned the only children raised wealthy are those who have one or more affluent parents wanting a child. Otherwise, you end up… like me.

We were taught no differently than wealthy kids, with only a few extra things to learn. About twenty percent of servant girls end up as wives to the men that ‘own’ them, so it’s not that bad.

“Miss Richards, we’re here.” The driver speaks as I look up at the towering house. Climbing out of the car to grab my bag from the trunk, the driver removes my hand and says, “Allow me, miss.” I nod and admire the area around the house. Mr. Addison seems to enjoy all types of roses; I don’t think I’ve seen so many in one place. I grab my backpack and start walking, pulling my suitcase behind me.

Zachary Addison’s would be my third home in the last seven years, although he is my first young bachelor. As I shake, I remember to keep my head up and my feelings locked away, as always. I walk up to the door and ring the bell. The outside gives an impression that the home could hold a hundred or more people, all at once.

mansion
“The driver speaks as I look up at the towering house.” Photo from: www.fm.cnbc.com

The door opens slowly. Eyes wide, I look at a man probably in his late 50’s. He has graying hair but gentle eyes. It’s normal for butlers to open doors when I arrive at new places.

“Miss Richards, I presume?”

Nodding my head, I step in when he moves out of the way. The enunciation of his vowels gave away his accent, almost Yorkshire-like. He is a foreigner, and that relaxes me. “Mr. Addison is away on business until later this evening, but he has requested for you to have dinner with him when he returns.”

“Of course,” I reply.

This is usual. Employers want to look over their new servants, confirm they are healthy and fit.

“May I know your name?” I direct my attention towards the butler.

The three servants of the home talk to each other. We all find ways to talk, release our anger, or help hide each other’s sadness. Showing either emotion is not okay.

“I am Philip, Miss. Now let me show you to your room.”

I follow him up the staircase, trailing my suitcase behind me. The house was clearly made for many servants or a big family. From what I see and hear, there are only three male servants; two were cleaning the house. “Now, you will be the cook and waitress when Mr. Addison has parties. How old are you?” Phillip inquires.

“I’m twenty-one,” I look away, careful to use only my eyes.

His eyes speak more than his mouth ever could. I will have more work than he mentioned if Mr. Addison wants to have his needs fulfilled. He opens a door but doesn’t step inside. The room looks designed for a wealthy daughter, not a servant. “This will be your room till Mr. Addison says otherwise.”

I nod, place my suitcase on the silk sheets, and look around the room.

With cream carpets and little designs running along the floor, up the wall to the edge of the ceiling, I feel out of place. One window sits opposite of the bed,  to the right of the door. Looking back to ask Philip where Mr. Addison’s room is, I see I am all alone.

Closing the door, I sit on a small seat at the end of the bed. “New home, different rules.” Gripping my heart locket a little tighter, I close my eyes and breathe. I will be safe as I always am. I will not fall or break. I will not be human.

Magic Touch

The eyes were sunken into the head of the blue-tinted body, which smelled of a familiar decomposition, similar to that dead cat she’d been forced to dissect in science class. Death was a new sensation for Charlotte, her first time experiencing it on this mild spring day. Remembering her parents discussing a missing man from their small town, Charlotte deduced she had found him. What a triumphant victory. Her feet stumbled as she ran away, but not before she had taken special notice of the decaying corpse that lay still. About a mile away – or five in the eyes of a child – was the closest road and she followed it home. Only able to conjure a light sleep, Charlotte dreamed of the deterioration she had left behind.

Creeping carefully down a path laced with hemlock, Charlotte walked along the steps she’d taken during the day. Diverging from the road, she traced an unbeaten deer path to the end of a row of trees. She knew where to go from the circling buzzards. Near a secreted lake where cattails grew like wildflowers, the body lay stagnant. The water revealed the carefully hidden body, partially submerged. Now he was more recognizable than before; he looked almost alive.

“How is this possible?” she whispered to herself in horror.

Remembering what her science teacher had told her about death and the decomposition cycle, how decomposition was a quick and unforgiving process, she began her cycle of curiosity.

She leaned in. Getting a closer look at the corpse beneath her seemed to dull her interest, but it didn’t quite satisfy it. She noted his missing shirt, swollen belly, blue tint that seemed less blue than before. She found a nearby stick. After poking his chest, she was unsure what to do next. He didn’t budge. Charlotte wanted to touch him, to feel how cold he was. She leaned in once more, now with a more devious intent. Curiosity took over her mind and body as she placed her delicate finger on the corpse’s shoulder.

Charlotte’s hand touched the shoulder of the dead man, and she was jolted awake by the shock of his reaction. She jumped out of bed, ran to her window to see what time it was. She noticed it was light outside; her parents must be at work. She grabbed a light jacket and slammed her feet into her lighted sketchers. The door crashed shut.

swamp
“Curiosity took over her mind and body as she placed her delicate finger on the corpse’s shoulder.” Photo from: www.planetside.co.uk

Charlotte knew her path. Led only by fear, excitement, curiosity, and hungry birds, she flew down along the hemlock trees and trampled the deer trail. She disturbed the lake with her feet, unable to slow her erratic pace. She looked at the body and was immediately relieved that it was all a dream. The man lay there, as blue as when she’d left him eight house ago, perhaps more.

For good measure, Charlotte had to recreate her nightmare. She leaned in, took a stick and poked his chest. Nothing moved but the water supporting the body. Looking at the unnatural hue of his face, the question crept into her mind. Do all corpses decompose this quickly? A proper girl would have pushed the thought far from her mind, but Charlotte allowed herself to dwell on the idea for several minutes before continuing with her endeavor. She reached her hand towards his shoulder. Noticing every crevice the decomposition had left on the body, she was careful not to deviate from last night’s dream.

She didn’t have time to process what his skin felt like until a blue-black, half decomposed hand appeared, grabbing hers.

15 Minutes

On one hand, a couple chuckles and mutters to themselves;

They’re lost in their own world, unconcerned with the rest of us.

On the other hand, two girls type away at their laptops;

One giggles and grins at something only she can see.

 

Time passes, the smell of pizza lingers in the air.

The couple have untangled themselves.

The giggling girl and the girl from the couple are chatting and laughing across the room.

Others chime in and the room buzzes with conversation.

clock
“Time passes, the smell of pizza lingers in the air.” Photo from: www.duratimeclocks.com

The couple eats ice cream while the two girls talk about the dog wandering through the room.

One takes the dog out for a walk, the room wishes her luck and fun.

Silence has descended about the room.

Finally, the girl from the couple turns to me and speaks.

Sunny Day

I am hiding outside

In the sun.

 

My black flats are worn –

The heels torn to the sole.

I am wearing the shirt

Your mother bought me –

The blue floral print

That falls off the shoulders

And exposes my bare back

Beneath crisscross strips of thin fabric.

 

I don’t like it –

It reveals the freckled maps

On each shoulder –

My essence.

 

girl
“It reveals the freckled maps On each shoulder.” Photo from: thenletitbe.tumblr.com

 

People glance at me

As they pass on the sidewalk.

 

I could be an Armadillo

Or a Turtle

Or poke my head out

Of this hardened shell.

I can choose to be an Emu

Or a Donkey

Or keep my mouth shut firm

In solitary silence.

 

You would be angry –

I did not wear my jacket.

My back is ice

And I don’t care.

I am a rebel without

A flag to wave –

All eyes on me

And mine on them.

Life-Drawing

Behind a locked door,

I can only think about

Simple compass circles,

And I am forced to steady my mind.

 

Your forest eyes follow me –

Will she? Will she really do this?

Slowly, I pull off one sleeve and then another.

You take me at my word,

Settling on a pose.

“Are you sure you can stay still?”

Are you sure? Are you sure you want this?

I nod, lounging across your pillow.

 

Every curve and crease

Drifts onto blank paper.

It’s the first you’ve worked me out

In pencil lines and ebony charcoal –

I couldn’t draw as you do.

You’d laugh at my sloppy lines

And squiggled fingers.

Artists scrutinize every motion,

But it’s better to lie here, still,

Soaking in sun through the cracks in your blinds.

IMG_20170129_154933_processed
The Burial, Photo from http://alexandra-sophie.fr/the-burial

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You capture the feel of my skin,

The light that strikes my eyes,

And the thump of my heart.

I am merely lines and shadows

To a cross-hatched world in your mind.

 

Finally, work ceases.

You move to me

With shaking hands.

I grasp hold of each,

Pulling you to me,

And close my eyes to feeling.

Rain and Ramen Noodles

It rains.
I wake up,
Roll over and see
Class has been over
An hour or more.
I have no guilt.

I pull myself up slowly
And move across the room
On legs that could collapse
Beneath me.
I’m ill today
And it rains.

window
“I pull myself up slowly And move across the room.” Photo from: mediacache.pinimg.com

It rains,
And I am hungry.
I pull on my jacket
And stumble outside.
Somehow,
I have not fallen.
Make my way across a flooded plain;

Reach my destination.
Inside
My treasure sits upon the shelf:
Beef, Shrimp, Chicken.
I make my choices –
Head back.

I wait:
A boiling hot cup of
Ramen.

Power Outage

I sit on my grandmother’s porch and pray for a breeze.

She complains about the heat from behind her fourth glass of sweet tea in as many hours.

The distant, unending buzz of cicadas stretch every lapse in half-hearted conversation.

She eventually disappears behind the screech of a flimsy screen door,

But I hardly notice her absence.

As I lean heavily into one of the wooden beams keeping the home relatively upright,

I pick absentmindedly at the chipping brown paint.

photo album
“Grainy instant photographs labeled with fading ink, Smiling family members I’ll never meet.” Photo from: nibsblog.files.wordpress.com

She returns from the pitch-dark house

Clutching a thick photo album in her shaking grip,

Pulled from wherever it lurked,

Locked tight in some cabinet I wasn’t allowed to touch.

She motions me to sit next to her

And I wordlessly oblige.

 

Grainy instant photographs labeled with fading ink,

Smiling family members I’ll never meet.

Wistful recollections of long past memories.

My grandmother pours decades of family history into a single, sweltering afternoon.

I couldn’t tell you what time the lights inside finally flicker back to life;

Neither of us notice when it happens.

In The Dark

Silence hangs in the air like an axe.

The clock tick-tick-ticking closer toward the witching hour.

Gradients of darkness give shape to the room.

A black mass in the corner waits, quiet and knowing.

 

A face with two sets of eyes stare,

One a ghastly green, the other a blazing blue,

Never blinking, always watching.

High above it waits, eternal.

clock
“Never blinking, always watching.” Photo from: media4.giphy.com

The axe falls by degrees, a slow draining drip of dread.

Whispers, voices, leak through the wall,

Crawling along the ceiling and echoing,

Loud enough to hear, muffled enough to hide.

 

Scratches dig deep into the door,

Claws dragging long grooves.

Just wait, wait until the night ends

And the blood red light leaks in.

R-Space Event Friday

Sponsored Content for R-Space

R-Space’s own Richard Delehanty has an exciting event planned for the Radford student body. Beginning at 9 p.m. on Friday, February 2, escape rooms will be located upstairs in the Bonnie. With eight people allowed per room, bring your friends and go through the challenge as a team. The three options range from deadly viruses to two bomb-themed rooms. Both picks are well-designed and exhilarating. They give you the opportunity to impress your friends by solving clues, working together, and escaping the areas. Complete the obstacles in the fastest time and everyone in your team will receive a sweet prize. Following your escape, join Comedy Magician Brian Miller downstairs from 9-10:30, eat free food, and visit the Radford event tables. Stay behind for bingo and try your hand at winning prizes. Some—but not all—are a long board and a Keurig.

Stop by the Whim table to learn more about us and how to get yourself published!

Floating

Ripped cellophane drifting in the wind,

Covering my childhood spot.

 

A habit of harmony and wonder

Turned resting place for all creativity.

 

Sleeping dog, covered in careful spots,

Striped with innocence.

 

I come here to dream

Drab and crass thoughts.

forest
“This place is mine.” Photo from: www.pixabay.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Never have I shared this place,

Not even as a curious child.

 

False impression of ignorance,

This place is mine.

 

My place of sin,

Shaded by fading memories.

Waiting Room Blues

We’re all sitting in a makeshift waiting room.

A drug treatment facility masquerading as a fidcus emporium

The doctor is late

It’s as if having a medical degree comes with a broken watch

All of us are here for the same reason

Our brains flood us with that feel-good chemical

Get my heart racin’ baby

We shift uncomfortably

Unsure as to whether or not we’ll get our fix

waiting room
“The doctor is late. It’s as if having a medical degree comes with a broken watch.” Photo from: www.juiceforskin.com

 

 

 

 

 

They leave us in twos

Some cross the threshold and never come back

Gone into the zone of white lab coats and Zoloft

‘Not I’ said the bipolar

‘Not me’ said the schizophrenic

We shift and stare

Trying to find the drug addict among us

Only to find that we’re all addicts,

Getting high off serotonin.

Anxiety

Fluttering, falling, fading,

Once green leaves stained yellow with groundless fears,

Buffeted and shaken by rains that once

Wouldn’t have even been noticed.

One by one the leaves die of terror,

And the branches are left bare.

But instead of doing anything,

The tree lets it happen.

The more the leaves fall,

The less strength there is to hold on to the ones left.

The wind tries to help,

Tickling branches in ways the tree once loved.

But without leaves, the wind feels harsh and exhausting.

tree

“One by one the leaves die of terror, And the branches are left bare.” Photo from: www.staticflickr.com

 

 

Branches snicker, snap, and groan

At the innocent wind.

The bare bony fingers reach towards the sky,

Scraping against the blue in desperation.

But the sky never says anything,

And only the rain that was already coming

Responds to the cries.

Soon there is nothing

To protect from the coming ice,

And all that remains

Is to do

Nothing.

Marigold Tea House

Marigold took a deep, steadying breath, closed her eyes, and pictured Comfort. She held the image of being at ease and soothed in her mind: wrapped in warm blankets on cold winter nights, settling into the soft curves of a caring lover amidst the steady sound of rain pattering on the window pane, watching fireflies from her porch in evening twilight while cicadas sang, the smell of freshly poured tea mixing with old spices and herbs in her mother’s kitchen and workshop. Some memories were much, much older than others, but they were still fresh in her mind even all these decades later.

Opening her eyes, Marigold observed her tea bags, prepared and almost ready to be set out for sale. Inside the handcrafted bags she’d mixed Chamomile and Skullcap herbs, spiced with her own blend of seasonings and marketed as a heavy duty stress reliever. Now Marigold set to adding the final and most secret ingredient. Memories held firmly in her mind, she took a small pen loaded with a dark, non-toxic ink. With a steady and practiced hand, Marigold drew the sigil for Communication on each bag. With her memories clear and present at the forefront of her mind while she wrote, the message was clear. A small taste of power glowed from the sygills, shining in the early morning light for a glorious moment before fading into the background hum of everyday magic.

Marigold placed the pen back in its carefully crafted and well-loved case on her kitchen table and allowed herself a moment to lean back in her chair and regather herself.

“A simple spell like that wearing me out…” she said to herself. “Aging is certainly no task for the weak.” Marigold smiled.

The peace of early morning reflection was nudged away by the soft and quietly insistent chime of Marigold’s smartphone. Glancing over to the counter where her phone charged overnight, Marigold caught sight of the time on her hanging wall clock. It was a well-crafted wooden piece, a gift from an old friend. The handsome face informed her eyes what the phone had informed her ears; it was half past seven and time to open her store front.

Marigold stood and gathered her things from the small wooden table. The kitchen around her was still, lit a warm yellow by sunlight peeking in through the eastern facing window. A brass tea kettle sat cooling on the stovetop from her breakfast cup, shining bright against the dull practicality of the old stove. Her sink was much more modern, shiny and chrome from when Marigold had been forced to replace the original the space had been built with. A vital pipe had finally rusted beyond the point of no return.

Her Council had been baffled by her choice to replace it the old fashioned way, she remembered. ‘Marigold, a simple sygill for Remembering and the pipe will be good as new! Why bother with hiring a plumber and tearing out the whole sink?’ Marigold remembered what she’d placated them with – something about the landlord knowing the pipe had been troubling her and the problem suddenly vanishing would have cast eyes where they shouldn’t be, easily understood and entirely logical caution for the sake of cover.

teapot
“A brass tea kettle sat cooling on the stovetop from her breakfast cup, shining bright against the dull practicality of the old stove.” Photo from: www.thetearoom.typepad.com

Marigold’s actual reason was significantly more complicated and close to her heart. If she’d been forced to put into words, Marigold might describe it as the same reason she had purchased a smartphone and tried to keep on top of how it worked. A desire to have common ground, perhaps.

But that was entirely too melancholy a train of thought for such a fine, bright morning. Placing the box of tea carefully under one arm and her phone in her apron pocket, Marigold left her kitchen and walked through the tight, light green hallway of the flat. Past her tiny bedroom and the cozy sitting room were the steep stairs to her shop below, which Marigold descended with practiced ease even at her age. Once at the bottom, Marigold reached up with her right hand and felt for the sygill precisely carved into the doorframe. The feeling of Protection and Alarm at the Ready still rang in her mind as strong as ever. No ne’er-do-well was getting in without Marigold’s knowledge and swift retribution.

Marigold opened the door. Her shop greeted her nose first, tea leaves and herbs from the world over mixing into an intoxicating aroma entirely unique to her space. Marigold Tea House was the official name, though most of her customers couldn’t help tacking a possessive ‘s’ onto it. Marigold’s Tea House really wasn’t that different at the end of the day, so she rarely bothered correcting it. She smiled as her eyes swept over the space, cleaned and prepped for facing another day of thirsty customers.

Unfortunately, Marigold’s gaze caught onto her most hated enemy. How she despised it, how she loathed it, how even the look of the thing threatened to sour her mood. It crouched on her countertop like a giant cockroach. Marigold frowned at the offending black menace while laying out the basket of tea bags.

“Now,” she calmly said to the pest. “Are you going to be cooperative this morning, or are we going to have issues?”

The cash register said nothing. Marigold wasn’t expecting it to; it was only a cash register. She calmly and steadily marched to her spot behind the counter and confidently keyed in the sequence for opening the store. The register paused for a moment, thinking over Marigold’s simple request as though it was a monumental task.

Beep Beep! The register chirped. Marigold sighed through her nose and looked at the display with a slow curl of dread.

Err//Op Not Valid

“Ah. This again. I admit it has been a long while since your opening volley has been the literal opening.” Marigold keyed in the sequence again, more slowly this time and carefully ensuring that each button press was inputted correctly.

Err//Op Not Valid

“What pray tell is not valid about the sequence that has opened your drawer for customers every single day for the past 35 years?!” Marigold tried again, more forcefully that necessary.

Err//Op Not Valid

“Technical support isn’t taking my morning calls anymore, you beast. I am going to enter this code one final time, and if you do not cooperate I swear on all the sygils known and not that I will end you. Most likely with a baseball bat.”

The register mulled things over for a while, and though Marigold knew it could not have actually heard or understood anything she said, it was very satisfying to see it finally accept her code. The cash drawer popped open with a merry ching! Battle won but war far from over, Marigold quickly counted the cash and noted the sum in the books. As she removed the various piles of bills, sygils were revealed. Smooth Workings and Sensitivity and Clean were the most obvious ones, but countless attempts at enacting her will on the stubborn machine were visible if you knew how to look for them. Marigold hardly remembered what problem she had initially been trying to fix after all this time, and she had a sneaking suspicion her continued attempts were only making it worse.

“One of these days,” Marigold muttered to herself, “one of these days I will finally grow sick enough to replace you entirely, and what a fine day that will be!”

The cash register said nothing, but Marigold knew the fiend was being smug again.

 

Hazel Eyes

The touch, the feel,

The heat, the sweat.

A hand running along the hip,

Feeling of rose petal lips against the heart.

 

Dark, spiraled hair of ebony,

The golden-green hazel eyes framed so well.

The soft, pale pink lips,

Often mistaken for a cloud.

hazel-eyes
“Those hazel eyes see horror and pain.” Photo from: www.muscledudelife.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Those hazel eyes see horror and pain.

Her pale lips are lowered.

These curls hide the face of a girl.

 

Those who passed her over,

Who didn’t bother to look beyond her skin,

Far too self-centered to see the damage,

Unable to see the women she would become.

Blind Ed’s Tavern and Crematorium

When winter ceases stalking,

Takes you from the flank,

And your bloodied coat is in the bag at your side

With the body, I know a joint on the edge of town

Where the hearth always glows.

 

Drop your bag in the back with the rest,

Then slip through the blizzard’s claws at the door.

Pick a stool—Ed will know what you need.

Take a glass to thaw your throat

While the drifting embers lick snow from your shoulders.

 

When your color returns and your breathing eases,

tavernEd shakes your hand, pressing a warm key in your palm.

Upstairs, slip off your shoes, sink into the bed,

Let the rumbling roar of the furnace roll you

Deep into a dream of summer.

 

Ed can’t help with ghosts—

He deals in miracles, not magic—

But thank him on your way out,

And tip well.  Blind Ed knows

He’ll see you again soon enough.

Cabin Boy

Each ounce of daylight he’d earned

He spent in the throes of a mad ship

Named Delilah.  Her crooked masts hung

Inches above the rumbling sea,

Her sheets slave only to the gale.

 

A cannonball hole to starboard

Ushered storm-spray into his quarters.

ship
“Her crooked masts hung inches above the rumbling sea.”

His hammock swayed between the drops

Plucking his creased forehead like a mandolin.

Neither storm nor Hell on deck could wake him.

 

Within his fragile, rounded skull

He lay nestled in the grass by a waterfall—

Its earthly place swallowed by the labyrinth of memory.

A blanket of mist rolled over him on the breeze

As the soft crashing rocked his head

 

Side to side, starboard to port,

Beneath the crackling thunder of boots.

Delilah listed toward the smothered sunset—

Pitching him through the wound in the hull,

Still cradled in the arms of the riverbank.