Executioner’s Song

The original version of Executioner’s Song, titled Black Tower Blues, has been published in All of Me Vol. IV, courtesy of Shadow Spark Publishing. Featured art is by Alex Ruiz.

Listen to Executioner’s Song by Richard Charles Stevens

Listen to Escape from Midwich Valley by Carpenter Brut

advancing the black tower
the journeyman suddenly stopped in his tracks…

fate had been exacted many moons before the fact
life had felt unnatural to habitat
death confessed of final breath
suggested to retract
all allegations pending lending grace to faith intact
shattered bones enthroned to go the distance and disown
a soul paroled for no good reason
owing to a wealth of treason

dark skies hung overhead
and not an angel dared to tread
the ink of dread was coarsely bled
across the meadow bleak and dead
brittle as unleavened bread
his bones bid groan
felt weak
yet even though the shadows crept
he felt no harrow
as he wept

narrow was the road ahead
though no dead end to pen him in
his knees may have been trembling
howbeit, he felt centred
dark skies still hung overhead
and angels feared no less to tread
yet even though the shadows crept
both heel and toe
he slowed
then leapt

misleading to nowhere at all
had the journeyman seen fit to peek beneath the shawl
then perhaps the messenger of death would not have been so keen the shots to call
distasteful high roller on chariot low
and all about devout towards foreclosure
with lopsided smile of a pallbearer wearing weight of disdain on serrated blade shoulders
ownership the lonely ship permitted setting sail
something wicked this way came
unnamed of blackened veil

the flame spread freely
across the parched earth
reminded its finery
and worth
the fractured terrain
was engulfed and ablaze
while creatures of night
bid continuous graze
would not permit darkness to lead them astray
for the light in their eyes kept the demons at bay

only one path forward now
and all due cause to panic
death had scrawled the ledger
hedged its bets on mortal habit
turning back was suicide
through eyes of canker brutalized
smacked only of formaldehyde
of lies for every truth survived
supervising gloom’s disguise
while re-enacting sacrifice
where pesticides were swept aside
to parasite’s delight

journeyman he might have been
yet every fibre intervened
to set a scene less unredeemed
and fight with unforeseen esteem
dream the dream a child once dreamed
see it through to bitter end
embittered by pretence that there was nothing left to give
only had one life to live and felt aggrieved relieving sweet entitlement to side with uninviting fight or flight
neither seemed applicable to fate less than despicable
and should the tower need a tsar
then he would just convert into his very own noir citadel

kiss each scar to tell the tale of failsafe resolution
needed not a namesake to revile his destitution
besides for every pint he bled
each problem led directly to solution
the journeyman was grateful for contusion
ever faithful
with playful smirk for burdened disillusion

even though the shadows crept
he felt no harrow
as he wept
both heel and toe
he slowed
and leapt
then burst in blessèd flame
the fractured terrain
was engulfed and ablaze
yet appeared to be alleviating
undeviating light reprised
the very night he died
for something pure
in wealth of kind
then breathed him back to life defined

the flame spread freely
through his eyes
a light long since sequestered
it was always within
burning bright from inside
in unending faith of remembrance
searching for flawless reflection
the river ran red
in the self-same direction
and even though the shadows crept
he owned the darkness
thus felt kept
dark skies undressed overhead
while angels nowise feared to tread
no longer estranged
for the final breath famed
was reclaimed in the land of the dead

advancing the black tower
the journeyman was then bestowed with full disclosure
stay of execution…

Richard Charles Stevens

Keeper of The Crimson Quill

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