By Charles Eades
What the Stone Sang
Out of the darkness it came Voice of thunder We huddled in our cave When the sun rose The mountains glowed Not a bird sang There on the heath The marker stands alone On the third day They woke to find a stone cross Where none had been before Garbed in symbols Weather worn As if it had been there for years None could explain As they journeyed on The cross melted away in the mist When the storm hit They took shelter in a deep cave Waited for the rain to stop Grim faces watched them Carved upon the walls Frightened of the dark They stayed near the mouth For foul noises came from the chasm behind The storm would not yield They slept The thing that walks is not human Ravenous, it sings the stone The land cries out for blood Faceless figures observe without eyes You try to run but there is nowhere to go Rock covers the world It will always find you Cower in the dark Where the dead ones crawl Lay your face on the stone It conjures you, drinking you in A thousand voices whisper your death The feeders descend At dawn a red sun rose The travellers ventured into the wilderness Rocks littered the plain like scattered bones Footprints could be discerned in the mud A buzzard watched from high above The trail twisting and turning From behind came the sound of pursuit We are alone here Abandoned to the elements Playthings for something ancient and huge Beneath younger skies A traveller of ill repute Shot a hare and left it to rot The next morning, he was found Exposed to the air Pecked by carrion The few settlers knew not to offend the land They said their prayers by night And stayed indoors no matter What noises from outside When industry threatened They departed for fear of what it might provoke Now the houses stand empty Walls like skeletons The land remembers. II She would not look at me Turned away as I tried to kiss her Sometimes all you can do is leave On the 16.31 from Congleton I laughed to hide The world is bigger than this, I thought In a thousand years, who will care? A billion souls carve pieces for themselves Forgotten in the dust Should have gone to Magaluf, they said Beneath empty skies the pain catches up with you We wander aimlessly, not speaking Behind us, something laughs When we return to civilisation What is there for me? A cold smile A look of contempt Alone here, alone there Night has fallen We sit in the dark Too scared to light a fire The wind has a voice Non-syllabic sounds of hate and pain Fools we were to trespass here All we want is survival But what do we survive for? A few more paltry, fearful years In this dying world of manipulative lovers And strangers we despise The woman in the moonlight is beautiful I wander if she belongs here? We go to her one by one Sink into her arms The rock is smooth and pale Music lulls me to sleep Far away, an owl screams Follow the gritstone trail… What trail? Getting dark… Trail leads to the standing stone… There’s no trail. We’re on it now. Where are you looking? Maybe turn back? Been walking for hours. How about we stop? Yeah… Just here. Hand me that flask. Damn, I’m cold. Can’t be far now. We’re lost. Not lost. Should have gone to Magaluf. Shut your face. Any signal? No. No. Should have learned to read a map. Should have learned not to visit the middle of bloody nowhere. Remember Duke of Edinburgh? Nah. Best trip ever. Freezing your arse off in a tent? Brewing tea with Heather Soulsby. Oh aye… There was a bird. What happened to her? Married a wife beater. Figures. Took her to Blackpool once. Yeah? All them rides. October, it was. Beach was packed, even then. I bought candy floss and we walked by the sea. Watched the sun go down. All them lights behind us. Glittered on her face like diamonds. Best kiss I’ve ever had. After, we went to the arcade… Do you hear the drums? …walked, ran, through them lights, so many lights, not like here, now, the dark… Do you hear the drums? …gone now, just a lovely face in an old arcade full of light. Wouldn’t recognise her now, I reckon. Are you cold? I’m cold. They are closer now. Wish it weren’t so cold. Closer. Cold. Now we walk in shadow Under the gaze of the mountain When the sun rises We shall disperse like air And wander the earth A hundred thousand years The rock speaks Do you hear the drums? We take hands and melt into the soil Beyond the peaks In the ashes of the old gods Music from the dawn of time Plays upon the instrument of creation Sleep now The song has ended When the land moves The world will turn We will be reborn Carved upon the rock Sleep.
I am the Thing Inside Your Dreams
The house remembers Every word spoken Every fist raised Every heart broken Leaves a trace in the walls Echoes in the timber Whispers in the eaves While we short-lived creatures come and go The house remembers Creaking on its aged foundations Watching the world go by with windows like sightless eyes If it dreams Its dreams are troubled I am alone here Shut away from the world I no longer care for No troubles No distractions No voices to ask me why Only dwell here in silence With the house for company I pad from empty room to empty room The walls absorb every sound I will not speak Will not break the spell Wrought by forgotten fingers In a long dead past My own fears Built up over a lifetime Might finally be smothered Here in the dark Where I sleep Who is the girl at the foot of my bed? There in the corner, do you see? Strange, if I look at her directly She is gone As if perception would undo her She’s still there Watching me Pale eyes in a pale face Impossible to read Afraid? Appealing? Antagonistic? Perhaps all of them If I should wake to find I dreamed her, what then? No comfort there She may yet return When next I close my eyes Something has changed in the house Maybe something that was always here, dormant, has woken Footsteps in the dark Movement just out of sight Voices whispered And at night, disturbing dreams Curious that I am not afraid Puzzled, yes But these visions do not repel me I feel more and more a part of this place Like furniture Or a painting on the wall Perhaps it wants me here It shows me excerpts from its history To prepare me for living here The more I know, the more I want to stay Tell me more The dreams grow clearer I wish they hadn’t A child weeping on the stairs Hands raised in anger An agonised cry Animal or person, I cannot tell Dark, cold water pulling me down Filling my lungs Drowning the light I trust this is not the result of a restless mind The girl returns every night She seems more tangible, more solid I have never seen her blink I have found the water A pool on the edge of town Like a great wound in the earth Lifeless Nothing to see beneath its black surface Someone drowned there A child of twelve, fifty years ago It might have been an accident She’s still down there Too deep to dredge I wonder if in her watery grave She dreams of the house As it dreams of her I am beginning to feel unwelcome Sleep gets harder every night Bringing such terrible nightmares I fear to close my eyes Days are consequently wearisome I catch myself nodding Amid a strong sense of being watched The house seems afflicted with damp Water accumulates where it should not Wet footprints A maddening drip, drip The source of which I cannot locate I know when I am not wanted The house will no longer force its tormented memories on me There is no shame in running away Time to go She will not release me She follows me to a drab hotel I see her in puddles Pools Rivers Even bathwater I avoid water like a hydrophobe Never leave the tap running Hide from the rain Still she comes to me Every night As I wake from horrific dreams The house calls me home What to do but answer? The house welcomes me back Like an old friend I do not sleep Walking the corridors at night Every step echoed by another close behind Though I am alone Who whispers my name in the dark? Who takes my hand Leads me out Through the empty streets To the lonely pool Draws me in To the cold, black water Further and further Away from the world I shunned Wraps its arms around me Fills me up Down Down Down Now I belong to the house And while you short-lived creatures come and go I remember Creaking on my aged foundations Watching the world go by When I dream I dream of you Somewhere in the future Months, years, decades We can wait Sooner or later, you will come I will watch you sleep I will fill your head with horrors I will take your hand and lead you To the dark, cold place We will walk there together For we are the things that haunt the house And when the house dies We will be free to haunt the Earth Forever.
The Heart of the House
And who drew the sea in this time capsule? Long nights in primordial stillness Gone are the days of adventure Like frightened children We huddle from the dark Dream of happier times Why hope for better The light will not penetrate Where the door is closed The black cat in the window Has not moved for twenty-eight years Owls shriek in the darkness Naïve, we think we keep the world at bay An illusion of control The universe is huge and full of terror Life ends Too swiftly In pain and despair I can remember aged nine Hiding in the bathroom one night Afraid to go back to my dark bedroom For fear of what I might see As adults we still fear the dark We chase it away with electric light Because we know deep down The power will not last And when the lights go out All we will have is ourselves Along with the real monsters Within our minds A storm that melted the Earth Fireworks out the window Visiting my grandfather shortly after he died Evil spirits haunting my school A naked girl in the water Monsters in the corner shop A meteor from the far side of the universe The family cat coming to see me Months after we buried her A dinosaur watching me The wolf in the hall The king materialising through the floor A room where many died violently Dead babies in a stagnant pool A slight detour into a war zone The spider that could fly A brief glimpse of heaven The first time I put pen to paper I wrote of superheroes We grow out of such things A thug in a cape no longer holds much appeal Yet we still think of heroes As athletic men with super strength Tight suits Mostly white Who never seem to get hurt Who always triumph in the end Why does it seem patronising To say the real heroes wear uniforms Dry tears Hold spoons Grow crops Teach children Without reward, thanks or praise In a society that doesn’t care Looking back on games I played as a child I wonder how the toys might have felt Recurring violent death and endless conflict Could be wearying If you had the sentience To understand what was happening But then my characters have gone through worse I never stopped to think how they might feel Where were you the day the world ended? I was in a classroom Wondering what was for dinner Is there anything more magical than a kitchen radio? Here I can listen to the planet burn As I drink my morning coffee Music drives away the terror Bruce Springsteen reminds me of home Smell of bacon frying brings comfort Life is short but not without pleasure I can remember Sitting on the sofa Listening to my dad Read about lions, witches and wardrobes I have never felt as safe Or as happy A child goes down to the cellar Only a candle to light her way The stairs creak underfoot Shadows flicker on the walls Rats scurry beneath the floor A black cat watches in the gloom A voice whispers from the darkness She reaches for the bucket of coal The handle coated with slime Something crawls over her foot A claw gently brushes her face Laughter echoes all around She drops the bucket Turns to flee A hand grabs her ankle She falls Struggles Screams for help None can hear Tomorrow another child will come down to the cellar There’s always another The cellar can wait In pain and despair Too swiftly Life ends The universe is huge and full of terror An illusion of control Naïve, we think we keep the world at bay Owls shriek in the darkness For twenty-eight years, the black cat in the window has not moved Where the door is closed The light will not penetrate Why hope for better Dream of happier times We huddle from the dark Like frightened children Gone are the days of adventure Long nights in primordial stillness And in this time capsule, who drew the sea?