Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground 

Illustrations based on the song by The White Stripes 

Dead leaves and the dirty ground
when I know you’re not around
shiny tops and soda pops
when I hear your lips make a sound

Thirty notes in the mailbox
will tell you that I’m coming home
and I think I’m gonna stick around
for a while so you’re not alone

If you can hear a piano fall
you can hear me coming down the hall
if I could just hear your pretty voice
I don’t think I need to see at all

Soft hair and a velvet tongue
I want to give you what you give to me
and every breath that is in your lungs
is a tiny little gift to me

I didn’t feel so bad till the sun went down
then I come home
no one to wrap my arms around

Well any man with a microphone
can tell you what he loves the most
and you know why you love at all
if you’re thinking of the holy ghost

Copyright 2017 Shannon Cooper

Valid Point (a #31ShortHorrors tale)

I made a valid point

but still he cannot see

how or why it hurts to see him blur

lines effortlessly

I made a valid point

couldn’t cut through the defence

granite pillars too thick and strong

for flying my sentence

I made a valid point

one he had made before

and I’d adjusted all my tethers

on my demons at the door

I made a valid point

but he refused to listen

it’s all my fault I am too weak, too pitiful to reason

I made a valid point

I kept my head on straight

but all my logic and frail words

were turned back at the gate.

He refused to listen

the gander over goose

and now my demons run amok

with hatchets and a noose

I made a valid point

but it fell on emptiness

down the darkest of black holes

and I am the abyss.

The Rope, Sliced Through (a #31ShortHorrors Tale)

The Rope, part 1

(note: this poem is based on Neneh Cherry’s single Love Ghetto, from her album Raw Like Sushi)

I hit a home run on the last stretch of life

Finding you finding me

Seems so long ago

I focused on the rope across the canyon

I focused on the rope across the ocean

I focused on holding on, I searched for your oars

The weather ripped at the rope

We nipped at the rope, others hacked at the rope

Sharks gnashed at the threadbare rope

The rope shivered and shook as I inched across

Tugs from behind shook my grip as I crawled

Halfway there, no longer stuck on my island

You saw the tugs as my receding

I crawled, I lost my grip in the wind

I clawed my way back up the ravine, began again

A puddle of misunderstanding like a sea between us

Come rain come shine, I crawled and I clawed

Leave the love ghetto behind, I crawled and I clawed

I made it partway once more when I saw you take your knife

Convinced I’d fall, what your eyes tell you

Your ears can be deceived

And this chase is haunting me

I focused on the rope as you chiseled with your knife

Just a trim, just a butter knife

It isn’t all that sharp

But dull knives still slice damaged substrate

With enough persistence

The sharks were swimming up for me

As I clung on to the rope

You were calling out to me

As I clung on to the rope

Terrified, I cried out too

And clung on to that rope

Good intentions bad connections

I saved you from saving me

Forever is only like the sky and the sea between us

The winds of time and distance, mangled language not believed

The teacher keeps on crawling but will never be relieved.

The Rope (a #31ShortHorrors tale)

Stolen Paradise

Shouldn’t talk about it

But we have to and we do

What happened to our Paradise?

Stuck in traffic, the traffic of life, the traffic of reality

Suspense controlling my mind

I have to find my way out of here

Maybe I can tunnel out

Or open the front door and just waltz out into the sunshine

The bitter cold air on my free face

Free fall into the void

I know what’s on the other side of the void but I’m scared of the journey

Travel is a necessary part of life and how one learns

I need to learn

I need too much

I need to travel and run and escape

The void is not nothing

The void is everything loud and brash and too much

The route through the void is a tightrope

Not tightly strung

It’s loose and fraying and swaying in the wind

I have one tool for balance and it’s unreliable

I lose my balance so often though my target never changes

It moves

As I move

Creeping, crawling, along the rope, so slowly

It seems I’m not moving at all

Millimeters at a time but forward progress to forward Paradise

I’m halfway there, halfway across

It’s so loud and bright and swirling so fast around me

I focus on the rope

Not on the frayed broken strings

I focus on the rope

Not on the wind that throws me off, hanging on by my raw fingertips

I focus on the rope that will take me to Paradise

My yellow brick road is unsolid, wavering, shuddering but clear

My Oz is real

This rope is real and

I focus on the rope.

For My Love

My love, my rock
My shining star
You’re steady through my waves
Let me rescue you
Right now
Pull you from the depths of caves
So dark and lost
Been there, my love
You saw me through that maze
So empty, blank
You’re there, my love
Let me relight your blaze
We’ll find our way
Into the light
Please take my hand
Please feel me
Let me rescue you
Right now
We’ll build a life
Please trust me
We can only
Look up to our dream
And march into it
I’m ready for us
Our future
Let’s run o’er fire to it
We’ll grow up and old
This I know is true
I’ve grown up, become myself, within our love.
It’s you.

Otherwhere (a #31ShortHorrors tale)

She stared at the ceiling

And beyond it

Willed a scene into her head

And beyond it

What if, what else, what might have been

Alternate universes casually seen

Through the telescope of her mind

A door opened, and what did she find?

Her dreamworld far and wide

Rolling hills and snowcapped mountains

Jagged cliffs and fog

A man climbing a steep wet hill

Panting with his dog

She called out to him

Then the pup

But neither could give answers

She gave chase to the pair

Please wait for me right there!

They couldn’t hear her for the fog

And soundwaves can’t flow here

In the Dreamworld of her mind

Frustration, flowing tears

They vanished up the moldy hill

And she was frozen still

She spied another door cracked open

She entered into light

A beach of endless proportion

An ocean roared its might

Strung and stung, she wandered the hot sand

Only water pounding shore

Sharp seashells in her hand

A mirage down the stretch at last

She’d been walking hours

She ran towards her visiondream

The one with her same powers

She yelled his name, and called his pup

But he stared out at the ocean

I’m here, I’m here! She screamed at him

But he could only look on

His dog yanked at her leash, Let’s go!

And so he followed after

Never seeing, hearing, touching her

Out of reach, with bitter laughter

She walked into the cold bright waves

And never stopped until

She fell into a trapdoor

On a sandbar

And a whale nearby sucked krill

She landed in the barrio

A place she’d often been

She knew the alleys and the lanes

Rowhouses on the main

No grass but heat

No smell but wharf

She looked out on the harbor

She entered what seemed to be the house

The one her conscious warned of

She opened every drawer and door

She heard the creaks and groans

Footsteps overhead somewhere

Everyone is somewhere

Her memory served her well

Those wonderpets would never miss

A chance to ring her bell

She took the narrow staircase

How many landings? Five?

Eight, twelve, and she stopped counting

Realized she’s still alive

This house of death had never offered

Solace or retreat

And now familiar rustling

Hurried panicked feet

She hurled herself upward

Ready to meet her agony

Once more she prepared

Her goodbye speech

Count of three, I fall and flee

What’s this? I’ve finally reached it?

The casing at the top? No more steps

The door is locked

Por supuesto, how could it not?

Panic rising in her throat

They’re coming for her now

Up the countless steps behind her

She set her teeth for blows

She crashed into the attic dust

And slammed the door she thought

It swung closed slowly like a wind

Weakly fought the lock

A tiny greasy window looked upon alley below

And there he was, her target

With his little dog in tow

She banged the glass

She raged she stabbed she tried to break it free

As mumbling in the hall outside brought her to her knees

Please help me find me see me hear me

I’ve never been this far

I don’t know where the next door is

She searched the room

A bar

A country western bar with smoke

And beer and stench and sweat

She stood at the jukebox

Pulled the lever, made a bet

Her quarter clinked and roared to life

His voice in the next set.

She slouched against the chrome and glass

Vibrations traveled through her

Reality was everywhere

But she chose this nightmare

Night after night she opened doors

Seeking out her other self

The one who read her mind and

Kept it from splitting in half

Without her partner she had lost

Her own reality

Finding him would find her home

His roots, her sanity.

The real world disallowed her search

She functioned there no more

Making do with Otherwhere

And other, distant shores.

A boundary-less dreamworld

She was trapped unless she found him

In her mind forevermore.