On a stormy Autumn’s ending as I nosed through tomes pretending
That the ceaseless crackling towards me no ill will bore;
Suddenly there was a bursting as of heaven and hell thirsting –
Thirsting for the spirit dwelling in the skin I wore.
Eerily the thunders’ bleating brought to mind a sinner’s pleading
For respite from demon’s beatings in those pits I’ve dreamt afore.
“You will not have me;” I wept meekly, “For my sins are not completely
Damning, no, I will not cross that devil’s door.
I shall seek my own exemption; I will have divine redemption;
For no fiend can hold preemption on the soul within my core!”
Presently I sought to censor (with some spirits) my torment’s tensor:
The crimes I had committed with too many a blaspheme whore;
Oh, how I longed to disremember every deed of dread December,
To snuff each still-dwelling ember of the flames I yet yearn for –
Though all had tempted my desire, each lured me closer to the fire,
And I feel a Pagan’s pyre burning past the threshold of death’s door!
Like the thunder’s seething crashing had my own mad-minded thrashing
Sent my spirits vessel smashing into shards upon the floor.
As I howled out my displeasure, and moved to mend my mindless measure,
Had I noticed a man of leisure lurking outside in the pour;
His erratic frantic pacing set my heart again to racing,
And I found my soul was bracing when he knocked thrice at my door!
Oh! From the sill I fled, retreating, away from ill-omen’s beating,
Yet this stranger kept entreating, seeking shelter from the swelling pour-
“Please,” Said he, “Dear sir inside, I only seek a place to bide
Until this tempest will subside, I beg you, please unlock the door!”
Yet again resumed his battering, sent my sacred silence shattering,
As I set the locks to clattering, throwing wide my manse’s door.
From the dim there came no greeting, no man stood to make my meeting-
Though I glimpsed a shadow, fleeting, lurking outside in the pour-
Some silhouette repeating of a deathly fiend of ages yore!
Such a frightful adumbration could shock Troy’s walls from their foundation
And I, a fragile fearful craven sought to end this doom’s flirtation
At once, set to barring my manse’s door!
Up the stairs my feet went flying, then to my books – trembling, trying
To ignore the curious crying starting ‘neath my study’s floor.
But neither poems of Keats nor Byron could outcompete that haunting siren;
Seducing my resolve to iron- Again departing for the ground floor.
Down the stairs I hurried, glancing, at the storm’s tenebrous prancing,
Swifter still I kept advancing, lest despair consume my core-
Yet as I breached the stairwell landing, such dismay took form, expanding,
Finding myself startled, standing, staring at the creature on my floor!
Oh! What horrors did awaken within my heart freshly forsaken,
My faulty courage – shattered, shaken by the terror sprawling on my floor!
Where once was room for guests and dancing, now there lay – burbling, lancing,
Grotesque tendrils of a creature Man had not survived before!
Such a foul abomination! In size and stench like beached cetacean
Rotting long in isolation on some putrid alien shore.
Its maw opened, began sounding, its voice a score of hammers pounding
On a field of iron, pounding! Such a voice that Man had not survived before!
“Fret not, friend, I am no danger – Once a chorister, but a changer-
Something strange, but no true stranger, our meetings teemed in times before,”
Within my mind its voice was blaring, sunk my spirit to despairing –
Such a creature not God’s caring nor His mercy could adore.
“Perhaps with prodding you’ll recall of our first trysting in the Fall,
Two decades back, now, back in Gaul, when vital youth stirred your core –
Do you remember her blood beading, how quietly seemed all her pleading
How your shot-shell sent her speeding; sent her spirit speeding to my door?”
From there the spider spent time spinning such a story of my sinning
That my grimace turned to grinning, twisting ‘neath the guilt I bore.
How quickly my heart jumped to revel, set to see by death or devil,
Each and every profane level of the evil stain I wore!
With this truth I gained the knowing that my sin would send me, throwing
At my end to fires glowing, to all the horror held past death’s door.
From this fate was no exemption, not God Himself would grant redemption
For I, the fiend, still held preemption on the soul within my core!