I guess you could say
I failed to love him.
But what does love mean?
The word tastes sour… raw,
Like fruit past its prime,
Or wine marred by air.
You could as soon say
He failed to love me.
But no one taught him
How to woo a girl.
So he just… bored me.
Words thrill me more than
His meek touch once did.
But I spoke too soon,
Too much, and too loud,
Words he did not earn.
So I quit, for shame.
I packed my flushed cheeks,
My iced tears. My pens.
I left him, and wept.
Asked “Why...?” and “Why not...?”
“Whys?” get old fast, though.
Life sprints on fast, too.
I hear he’s found love.
I hope that she’s sweet.
I don’t see his face
when I close my eyes.
Just those deep smile lines…
Those bright brown North Stars…
But I don’t miss him...
Just the dreams he gave.
(C) Lenore 2020
#nostalgia #love #breakup #poetry #memory
Sidenote - Hi everyone! I’ve been MIA for an incredibly long time - I might do a proper update sometime soon, but basically, I graduated, moved, got a big girl job, and continue making music. Life got busy and I had to prioritize other things, but **thank you** to everyone who’s continued to follow my work. You all motivate me! I’m very rusty when it comes to creative writing, but hopefully I’ll get into the swing of this again soon. Sending you all love for the holidays!
my love flutters by
like a painted butterfly
but deems not to land
though i clothed myself
in spring’s colorful verdure
and sighed sweet perfumes.
what is it i lack?
i watch, forlorn, as he flies
into lily arms.
should i blame my thorns?
those off-putting secret shames
i cannot control?
will there ever be
a butterfly brave enough
to venture a kiss?
until then, soft tears
glisten on my petal cheeks
like the twilight dew.
To an unfriendly gent
I know not what you think of me,
Nor why you choose to snub me, cold.
I know I am not glamorous.
Perhaps I am too bright, too bold.
But in my boldness, I am glad -
A woman who knows her own mind.
How disheartening, then, to know
No man I've met will love that kind.
Perhaps behind your stoic face
You wish to find a lover, too.
You think, perhaps, I am too good,
Or else, not good enough, for you.
I own, I think the same by turns.
You seem so far out of my reach,
Then I recall my wit, my smile,
My voice, my kindness. My charms each
would earn, I'd hoped, at least a glance.
Alas, it seems, you tire of me.
I, your indifference have earned.
But how I have, I cannot see.
A Queen of Blood
Narrative Poetic Novella. Excerpt - Chapter I: Naomi
She was alone and lost, and he was kind.
He offered her a ring, and her hand shook
as, gently, he slipped it on her finger.
She had never felt the cold kiss of gold
against her peasant flesh before that day
when she became the king’s favored betrothed.
With doting eyes, he promised her the world.
She knew he could give it. The thought scared her
and excited her at once. Girlhood dreams
realized. Out of poverty came mercy.
Security, the sweetest gift of all,
he offered her, in taking her as bride.
She, obscure shadow that she was, echo
forgotten on a breeze, sweet, simple girl
with haunted eyes, subsisting on mere dreams,
would be queen.
It did not feel real to her.
Even as the king held her calloused hands
as she floated into his fine carriage
buoyed by surreal hope, and disbelief.
Even as he brought her to his palace
and warmly murmured, ‘Welcome home, my dear,’
and they reclined before the hearth, like friends
as he, ever kind and earnest, asked her
questions no one before had cared to pose.
Her past, her dreams and fears, he tried to gauge
through his affectionate attention, but
she was so unaccustomed to being
acknowledged that she hardly knew how to
reply. Yet he was patient, and in time,
she came to trust him with her thoughts, her mind,
her heart and soul as well.
She liked the way
that the brazen firelight danced in his dark
eyes, the color of grief and loneliness,
that shade, both unwelcome and endearing
in its familiarity. It seemed
their fireside talks each night before they wed
coaxed light, and with it, life, back to his heart
until his eyes sparkled again, even
in dark. She could not know how she lit up
his imagination with lustful hopes.
He felt again a youth, in love and lust
when he gazed at his maiden fiancée,
pure in her rustic rural loveliness,
with a kind heart that beat in tune with his.
Both broken, aching, yearning to be loved
And love her he would, pamper her
with roses, red like blood on virgin snow
and ruby jewels that lay, cold and heavy,
at her throat. Silken gowns, and golden crowns,
and a fine, tall mirror, gleaming crystal,
which he had bestowed with a love-struck smile.
“Now you can see the beauty that enchants
a king. Naomi,” he murmured, “I am
spell-bound by you. Let us wait no longer.
Sweet one, marry me, tomorrow.” he begged.
She sought his dusky eyes, and saw his need.
His devotion and faith, hunger, and hope.
She could not tell if there was love. She had
no experience to recognize it.
But she recognized the want, hope, and dreams,
so she nodded, and he enveloped her
in his muscled arms. Slowly, she breathed him,
Scent of man, of soap and smoke and aged youth.
It did not feel real to her. Even as
the servant girls, her servant girls, draped silk
and lace, and threaded pearls through her thick locks
where pine needles and petals used to cling.
Even as pipe organ music pounded
in her mind, like bizarre thunder. Even
as he gazed, and a smile, the first in years,
peeked through his regal beard to encourage
his bride, who trembled like a frail white birch.
Even as his warm, soft hand greeted hers
and lifted her immaculate white veil
beneath whose daintiness she did remain
a browned peasant girl who had known much grief.
Even as he kissed her for the first time,
to claim her irrevocably as his,
and his whiskers scratched her tender pale lips.
Even as he placed the rich, weighty crown
upon her brow, bellowed “Long Live the Queen!”
And his subjects – hers, too, now – cheered loudly
but whispered amongst themselves their disdain
for the wild commoner. How absurdly
inappropriate, that their dear, great king
would take a peasant as bride, and so young!
With swarthy skin, and acorn colored eyes,
and charcoal hair. Woe! Sweet Queen Eliza,
of golden locks and eyes emerald green,
would die of shame - to see her faithful king
bed such a woman, let alone crown her
with the diadem that she had worn first -
were she not already cold in her grave.
It did not feel real to her. Even as
their hateful whispers echoed in her ears.
Even as her royal groom whisked her out
of the church and to the carriage and he
squeezed her hand, fondly kissing her bare neck
as they approached the castle. Even as
the minstrels played and nobles spewed phony
compliments like toxic honey for the
newlyweds as everyone drank, feasted,
and danced at the wedding banquet. She saw
more food than she had known existed; but
she could hardly eat.
Even as she felt
him take her hand and gladly lead the way
to their bedchamber, aglow with candles
and she heard him lock the door. Even as
he carried her to the bed. Even as
he shed his coat and belt, and stroked her neck
and hair and arms and back and face and lips.
It did not feel real. Only numb.
she felt him break her vulnerable flesh.
Pain pierced the very depths of her. The dream
over now, forever. Was this marriage?
She had never known the body of man.
No one ever told her the mystery
of summer twilights, of lovers at dusk.
She had not expected anything but
to be embraced and caressed as he had
done before, and she had borne, in quiet
contentment, void of lust, happy only
to be wanted. But this electric shock
raced through her nerves, and she could bear no more.
She sobbed and pushed against his heaving chest.
At her resistant cry, he pulled away.
He looked at her, his lust dissipated
as he saw her tears. “My love!” he murmured,
disturbed by her grief, shocked and ashamed to
hear the way she wept. He had not meant harm…
Had no one warned her, of a virgin’s ache?
His tender bride, his angel of new hope
recoiled from his touch.
He rolled over and smoothed away her tears
though she shrunk from his hand. “Forgive me, love.
I swear to soothe the damage I have done.”
His voice was tender, empathetic, warm.
“I love you,” he swore, “and I seek to please!”
With husky murmurs, he sweetly crafted
a requiem for virgin-hood.
heard nothing. The peasant girl thought only
of the vibrant crimson drops she had spilled;
such scarlet had poured from her father’s chest
on the battlefield, turning grass to rust.
He had thrown himself at the enemy
to protect the king, and welcomed in him
the foreign sword that pierced right through his starved,
unarmored peasant frame. It had killed him,
but not before he had murdered his foe
in final, fatal vengeance. He tumbled
to the ground, at the feet of the shocked king
who knelt beside his doomed savior subject
and cried, “Thank you, my friend…My poor, good friend!
Tell me, what is your name?” Her father smiled
his last, grimace-like grin, as he sucked air.
He clutched his king with the last of his strength.
“Find my daughter,” he breathed, “provide for her.
Naomi is her name... Sweet Naomi.”
He had laughingly sobbed,
Blood red. Blood red.
The memory haunted
the king, who was noble and true. He sought
to find the maiden. When at last he found
her dwelling, sequestered in the forest,
he could scarcely believe that anyone
could live in such a place, isolated,
with wolves for neighbors, and only the moon
for light. A drab little cottage, of wood
and mud, and a sad little weed garden.
He had found her at the well. When she saw
him, on his white horse, and armored, and crowned,
she stared, wide-eyed, but said nothing.
pounded as he observed her. He had thought
she would be a child, a girl in two braids
prancing through an apple orchard, her Ma
chasing after her, laughing. Before him
stood a woman, cloaked in sorrow and fear,
who seemed to know, before he gently told,
that her father - her only kin - had died.
Her eyes were hunted, and haunted, and lost.
She was quiet, but in her heart turmoil
brewed like a winter storm. He asked after
her mother, and she whispered she had died.
She had no siblings. She was all alone,
Shivering, barefoot, and with dirty hands.
He could not look away from her. Her grief,
her violet twilight heartache, cast a spell
over him, for he recognized the ache.
But there was something sweeter in her looks.
He saw in her wide eyes, like deep-set gems
her tremulous lips, and dew-moistened locks,
a beauty, rough and picturesque, and new…
And he had known then, that he never could
marry her off to some nobleman, or
give her money and leave her in these woods,
or make her a lady’s maid. He knew then –
from the way she held herself, quietly
poised, and yet wild…
like a majestic wolf that stares into
your soul to see if you are friend or foe –
that he needed her, as she needed him.
Without the faintest quick heartbeat of doubt,
he offered her himself, his greatest gift
his heart and hand and crown. She accepted.
And here they were, husband and second wife.
Brought together by murder, then by lust.
Her father crowned her by his sacrifice.
Now they were sealed together in blood, twice.
Blood in, blood out.
As he kissed her, she lay
lost in her thoughts, imagining the woods,
pretending his whiskers were the needles
of the pines she buried her face in when
she felt all alone, and tasting apples
on his lips, which smelled like ale and longing.
Thank you for reading this excerpt from my newest work-in-progress, "A Queen of Blood." A novella in narrative poetic form, "A Queen of Blood" re-imagines the Snow White tale in a way you've never read before. Immerse yourself in the classic story through the eyes of Naomi, a young, melancholy peasant girl chosen by the widower king as his bride. Become a part of the intrigue as wide-eyed Naomi navigates a tumultuous relationship with her step-daughter, Blanche - a manipulative, seductive young woman hungry for power. Drama, romance, and blood-thirst combine in this surreal retelling.
Details as Requested
Working Title: A Queen of Blood
Genre: Narrative Poetry, Romance, Suspense, Fairytale
Age Range: 16 + (due to some sexually suggestive and violent content)
Target Audience: Poetry readers & fairytale lovers ages 16 + (most likely female)
Author Name: “Lenore” (aka, M.C. Please inquire privately via Prose message for full name, age, and hometown, or contact me at email@example.com)
Bio: I am an undergraduate student of English Literature and Government, and a part-time classical soprano. I currently study at Dartmouth College and write for the platform Prose. I pride myself on my diligence, attention to detail, and intellectual curiosity. My writing consists mostly of poetry, including free verse, metric formal, tanka, and haiku, but I also enjoy writing prose in the historical fiction and fantasy genres. My hobbies include classical singing, Irish dance, and academic tutoring.
(c) Lenore, 2017.
Photo Credit: Sonam Kapoor (I do not own this image)
This is my first go at a project of this type, so I'd love to hear from fellow writers/readers about whether this is something you would be interested in reading in full. I realize that narrative poems aren't for everyone, and this piece is especially (and intentionally) surreal and bizarre, so I hope you will check out some of my more mainstream works if this isn't your cup of tea. ;-) I consider this "formal" verse, but it is not intended to be metric. There are, however, 10 syllables per line. Thanks so much again for reading!
Thank you! (And an overdue introduction)
Wow. I am so humbled and honored by the support of this community. I have always loved to write, and Prose has given me the forum and the confidence to share my work with a wider audience. For that, I am truly grateful! Thank you to each and every one of my first 100 followers! Your support and readership mean so much to me, and I will strive to continue releasing quality content! I also love reading your words and getting a glimpse into your wonderfully creative minds!
Currently, I am in school full-time and also hoping to submit work to poetry contests/journals in the future, so I may publish here a bit less frequently – I’m realizing now that some publications are finicky when it comes to work previously posted online. Still, I look forward to continuing to post, reading your work and creating new challenges!
I also realized I’ve never made a proper introduction, so here goes! I’m a young woman born and raised in New England. Currently, I’m a full-time third year college student of Political Science and English, as well as a part-time classical singer. Though I’m woefully indecisive about my future, I am interested in becoming a lawyer, teacher, or editor. I love anything involving chocolate, fiddle music, Broadway or Bollywood. When it comes to literature, I gravitate toward 18th & 19th century works, especially those by Austen, Dickens, Mary Shelley, the Brontes, and of course, Poe.
I’d love to know more about all of you! If you’d like, comment below what you do, what you love, and/or who your favorite authors are! I’d love some book recommendations!
Again, thank you so much for welcoming me to the Prose community. :)
All my best,
(Excerpt from a novel in progress. Please see comments for context*)
The minstrels’ lively tune wound to an end beyond the looming doors, and Anna’s thoughts flitted to Andre. She wished he could see her tonight, and imagined a look of unfettered love on his face if he beheld her dressed in her finery. It would be disheartening to feel lovely and be greeted only by the callous reserve of her betrothed. For one night only, she reminded herself, but nagging guilt accompanied the thought. She suddenly hoped Ungar would be as cold and stoic as usual; his disinterest would make her feel less villainous. Soon, a booming voice filled her ears. “Lady Anna, bride of Lord Ungar of Kaskani.” The introduction shot a shiver down her spine. She forced herself to breathe.
The doors opened, and vibrant sensations rushed to greet her. Savors of ham and goose made a heady cologne in the air, blending in a strange mélange with ladies’ perfume, wood smoke from the furious blaze in the fireplace, and the dewy sweetness of the roses adorning each corner. Women gowned in every rainbow hue lined the walls, accompanied by well-groomed gentlemen, all illuminated by the hundred candles of a shameless chandelier.
Two hundred eyes flew toward her. Anna’s stomach tied in knots, shrinking from the intense, curious stares. She did not know the faces; they were a massive jury of strangers, evaluating, intrigued, awed. She scanned the crowd, searching for any familiar glance…
Then she saw him.
He stood beside the fire, isolated from the hovering masses. The blaze cast shadows upon his face. She gasped: obscured by the darkness, it was as if his every scar and blemish and boil had been erased, and all she could see was the regal cut of his nose, the way his coat strained over broad shoulders. In an instant, Ungar’s eyes met hers. They were impossibly breathtaking, like ice reflecting an azure summer sky.
As he beheld her, his expression transformed. His eyes widened, and his chest rose as he drew a sharp breath. His taut lips parted, grown tremulous, and he gazed at her, unblinking. She did not recognize the emotion in his eyes, at once fraught with longing and pain. She felt her heart accelerate and offered a small, hesitant smile. For the first time in their acquaintance, neither broke their gaze.
She could tell he hesitated to leave his shadowed refuge, yet he emerged, and approached her quickly. In the full light of the ballroom the spell was broken; his features were ghastly once again. Yet Anna saw only his eyes as they arrested hers. Soon he was before her, in all his towering height.
“Lady Anna,” he murmured, his voice deep and rich. He bowed low before her.
“Ungar,” she greeted him cordially, and his eyes flashed to hers again, filled with admiration, as if to hear her speak his name was a treasured gift. She lowered her gaze shyly and curtseyed, willing her heart to stop its eager, fickle patter, lest he hear it.
He cleared his tense throat. “Shall we?” She obligingly took his offered, black-gloved hand. Slowly, he led her to the center of the ballroom, then drew her toward himself, placing his right hand at her waist. The minstrels launched into their piece, and the two were dancing. Anna hardly had to think about her movements – they came effortlessly with Ungar’s massive arms guiding her. The music bewitched her; despite Andre’s absence, the violins crafted a hypnotizing lament.
In response to Ungar’s closeness, Anna’s heart pounded against her ribs like a raging convict. Could he see her thoughts with those frigid, piercing eyes? His vast chest was inches from her tender breasts, and she wondered if, beneath that hardened muscle, his heart leapt in giddy panic as hers did.
She avoided his intent gaze, looking over his shoulder to witness the room sparkling and spinning around them. The peering faces were rouge blurs now. Tafettas and silks of persnickety waistcoats and haughty dresses swirled together in a glorious mess, the vibrant palette of an indecisive painter. As the room spun faster, the wash of color faded until all Anna knew was Ungar’s warmth. The sound of the minstrels’ serenade drowned her. She couldn’t think… All she longed for was to know his heartbeat…
Caught up in the strangeness of his proximity and rapture of the music, she did not notice that she tripped, until suddenly her body was pressed to his, the omnipresent space between them but a memory. His arms tensed around her and restored her to balance before she could fall. Her eyes flew to meet his, and her world stood entirely still.
She had never been held by him. The very thought of his close embrace had seemed so impossible and frightening. Yet here, clutched in his arms, she did not want to pull away. The tightness of his grip, his scent, his sharp intake of breath, the shimmering beauty of his eyes, filled her awareness. The song and artist’s palette were details of a forgotten dream. His heartbeat… where was his heartbeat? Surely he could feel the war drum in her breast. She yearned to lean closer, to rest her ear upon his chest, but fate did not permit it. The moment was past, as if it had never happened. The dance continued; he kept moving, making their momentary closeness part of the choreography as he re-established the space between them.
Anna’s head swam. “Thank you,” she whispered breathlessly. She sought his gaze, but he would not meet hers. His jaw was set firmly; his cheek paled. They danced on in silence. It amazed her how sensational his hand felt upon her, even through his leather glove, her stays and layers of sapphire silk. Fleeting thoughts entered her mind before she could check them… ponderings of how his skin would feel, that skin he always concealed, and how she might like it if his warm, bare hand were to rest… wander… upon her own delicate flesh…
A blush scorched her cheeks. At once, the fog lifted. What strange spell had captivated her, she could not be sure, but awareness now sharpened in her like a knife. She was dancing with a tyrant, a hideous creature, who had bought her for himself and then abandoned her to loneliness.
The spectators were clear now. She could see her mother following her with a predator’s gaze. It no longer felt like the room spun; she knew it was just she and Ungar who circled in their silly, half-hearted dance. Two marionettes appeasing their audience. Music-box figurines inseparably bound in a ludicrous embrace.
She knew, too, that outside in the gardens, someone was thinking of her, someone whose touch she craved, the man she loved. She wanted to draw away from Ungar. She needed air…space... time to think. She needed to make her escape, to run to her lover, to taste forbidden fruit. Her body tensed and she increased the distance between them.
“Are you alright?” Ungar murmured with concern, softly so that the brightly-plumed birds of prey surrounding them would not overhear.
She managed a faint, “I am tired.” From the way he slackened his grip on her, expanding the void between them as much as possible while continuing the dance, she knew he sensed that fatigue was hardly what troubled her.
“The dance is nearly finished,” he muttered solemnly. She felt a nag of guilt that perhaps she had hurt him, but she could not bear to search his face for proof. She concentrated on her movements; without his closeness, the dance grew more difficult.
A familiar, uncomfortable silence hung between them. Anna was grateful for the swells of the violin to fill the emptiness.
“Do you enjoy the music?” he asked quietly.
“Very much,” she answered over his shoulder.
“Really?” He sounded surprised, and moved ever-so-slightly nearer. “I suppose a song has much the same magic no matter who plays it… but I worried the violin would not sound so sweet to you in different hands.” His tone was nonchalant, but she knew the weight of his words. Indignation stirred inside her, but she stifled it.
“How the song is played matters more than by whom.”
His eyes flicked to hers, surprised, and she met them steadily. “And how should it be played?” he prodded.
“A true minstrel knows that of his own intuition. The song itself will tell him, if he allows it.”
“Tell me,” he uttered earnestly.
She felt her resolve falter. She hated him, did she not? Something in those topaz eyes…
“The song is almost over,” she softly replied. “You should listen to it while you can. If you cannot learn its secrets now, you never shall.” He could not know what she meant, yet there was a tormented look in his eyes that made her wonder if perhaps he understood.
“If only the song could last longer, perhaps I could learn to do it justice.” His tone was pleading. His eyes begged her for something – could it be forgiveness?
“If you had paid better attention, you could have known it in its opening phrase,” she whispered wistfully. The space between them halved and she felt his strength again, his unexpectedly tender touch on the curve of her spine.
He bowed his head and replied in a murmur so soft she could barely distinguish the words. “I have never had an ear for music; no one ever taught me. But should you impart its secrets, I would honor them. I swear it.” With this sincere entreaty he met her gaze, and the unwonted vulnerability in his eyes struck her to her core.
Where was this coming from? Why, in these last moments together, did she understand him better than ever? Why, before she would abandon him forever, did she feel for the first time that perhaps she could be… happy with him? That perhaps, the man whom she had thought an emotionless tyrant could… love her?
The song crescendoed, nearing its finale. Ungar drew her closer. “Please,” he breathed. She felt the warmth of the word upon her cheek. Then, in time with the rhythm, he led her through the traditional choreography. The room whirled as he guided her in turns and spins and finally lifted her off her feet, his great hands spanning her waist as she clutched his shoulders. He spun her around in the air, her long curls tumbling down to meet him with their sweet perfume. And then she was being lowered, slowly and with great support from her partner’s powerful arms. Her body slid down against his, their eyes locked all the while. As she looked upon his tortured flesh, she felt no longer fear, but grief, and, somehow, longing. Longing that this night had happened long ago, before everything became so irrevocably complicated. Before her heart pledged itself to another.
Soon, too soon, her feet were firm against the ground. He still held her wrapped in his arms, and she did not pull away. She felt a curious urge to weep. At last, at last, she felt his heartbeat, and it gave her bittersweet satisfaction: it pounded with such force it could have burst from his chest. She wondered that it did not hurt him.
Then, she realized that perhaps it did.
With a mournful minor tone, the minstrels struck their closing chord. “You see? It is too late,” she whispered to his eyes.
His brow furrowed and Anna felt certain he could read her thoughts, could sense her plan to flee. “I will remember it. I will learn as best I can. Won’t you help me?” he implored.
But the dance was over. She stepped away from him with a sorry smile and, remembering himself, he backed away and finished the dance with a low bow.
The colorful blurs were humans again, smiling and applauding in their fragile-china way for the alleged lovers.