Ornament has been published in All of Me Vol. VI, courtesy of Shadow Spark Publishing. Featured art is by George Redhawk.

Listen to Ornament by Richard Charles Stevens

Listen to No Light No Light by Florence + The Machine

The world was still turning
When mankind stopped learning
Returned to old ways
Just like in the old days
Roadways were cluttered
As vehicles stuttered
And muttered unmeaningful sprays
In blind rush to state a bold claim

Never cared much for role-play
Even less for audition
If I could be myself
Then I would not require permission
Maybe I could be the one stage play that got commissioned
If I listened to the voice that said enough

Enough of the guessing
Long hours spent distressing
Urgent matters ever pressing
Just to make that first impression
Enough of the perplexing games
Of bets placed on successive days
Undressed by collective gaze
Of those ordained aesthetic aims

Beauty seemed a duty
Too unproven to uphold
And god forbid
We claim to break the mould
Under the illusion we are best left in the cold
If all that glitters isn’t deemed as gold
Seemed obscene to me
That we were seen to be so shallow
When something skin deep
Should be dug deep into the marrow

Gilded arrows filled the skies
From neath my shield
Was quick to rise
As swiftly as the sparrow flies
Ten thousand pierced my flesh
With armour flayed and scars agape
I tossed aside my scarlet cape
Stood naked in the sharpened rains
And thanked my lucky stars for brave

It mattered not the colour of my skin
My creed or stature
Only that I be prepared to bleed in sparing rapture
Every piece of me released
Would still exist unceasingly
Knew this from the start of course
But lifelong course was keeping me
There would always be those chosen only with the onus on defeating me
At least I got to see the sun
Before outgunned repeatedly

I bled for seven days and nights
Despite the dread of failing light
The tread of reinforcements fled
From homesteads for a causeless fight
Had fallen from enormous height
To walk the earth with chin held high
To rise up from uneven grounds
And crown once more the gorgeous sight

The world was still turning
Finally mankind was learning
That beauty when duty is loosely transferred as a burden
That hearts unpeeled can heal
When beats are stilled beneath the curtain
Should reveal be bold and certain
As we spill with will insurgent

Be the version of the old days
Maybe state a bold claim
To be just who we claim to be
Ever unchanging
In the cold light of day
Then when night falls
Feel entitled to remain
Burning bright in energizing flame
Beautiful regardless of our colour or shade

Richard Charles Stevens

Keeper of The Crimson Quill

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