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Trolls, Shadow Grave



Worship at the altar 

of intoxicating smoke

is but folly, and galleying

to the ship of fools.


My devils are old pros;

they saw the burning

                     of Constantinople,

they laughed at the sinking

                     of Atlantis

and the stinking decadence

                     of every Empire since.


They'll make you weep iron filings

in the scrying mirror of self-hate.

Keep 'em bottled, in Solomon's crucible;

one guffaw, one smirk, and out they come


sharply parading in raiments of wit,

hilted with words best left unsaid.

The smoke of inspiration

                     is their bold incense,

the intoxication of mirth

                     their drug.


The kitchen of viciousness

is a quaint nunnery compared

to the mischief they conceal

and harbour for their delight. 


When you thought you

                   had it flayed,

and with sharp tongue

                   played it smart,

a devil grabbed your willing ear,

and you thought you had me slain.


I threw you with a smile,

I murdered you with a wink;

you played your last card the Fool

and floundered in my devils' ink.


Shadow Grave

Let me be buried in accordance

with Maori custom,

my bones blessed by the Dog Priest

as I meet old stars in the barque of Ra.

It was only a glance, now gone;

that star, at my shoulder.


A reminder of the short span of life

compressed in a winding tapestry,

a canopy of threaded years, flickering

across ageless canvases of jeweled

night, a picture of my existence

unravelled upon a rotating wheel.


That star, a glimpse of light

caught in the Reaper's scythe

recalled a shallow grave on Black Craig.

My body never found, a single bullet

felled me like a stone.

What blood smeared the earth, stained black


crying the form and visage of Anubis?

A howl of desolation on the wind

searching the ground which covered my corpse;

what clue would betray this awful secret?

The murmuring dry grass scratched

winged words of the God's lament.


A rasping at the door; a note nailed in the wall;

an anxious sign seeking the messenger 

who would dream I died and know

the meaning of its cry. Sound-sigils whispered

in the sleeping mind of a tohunga,

and he followed, dreaming, to their dark source.


Elegant in European attire

yet robed with his ancestral world,

he entombs the dead in pomp and mystery.

The God of Death, Lord of the Perfect Black

knows his own and inscribes him upon a tablet

with the ancient wisdom of Egypt.


Let me be buried in accordance

with Maori custom,

for they brought Egypt to these shores.


Elizabeth Barton is an artist and poet from New Zealand with work featured in Pink Plastic House, Spillwords, Fevers of the Mind, Black Bough Poetry’s Rapture and Christmas/Winter Edition 2021, and the Hyacinth Review. A winner of the White Label Cinq poetry competition in 2020, she has a collection soon to be published with Hedgehog Poetry Press.

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