On Reading

I would slip anchor, watch the patchwork sails,
Swell-bellied with the winter’s cracklip blast,
Strain sunset-bright against their hempen bonds
As sea-soaked shadows scud their faces, cast
By clouds that brave the billows, daring down
The crashing wave that breaks across the bow
And, kissing-close, entwine the rising mist
That coils its serpent-scales around the prow
So figureheaded, let my word-borne craft
Cross seas wine-dark, moon-pale and corpse-kiss grey
Where islands bright as jewels and dark as pitch
Hold secrets safe in cave and port and bay
Then let me stay a while, drop anchor here
And dive beneath the ocean’s moonglass face
Submerge in story, lose myself anew
Another time, another world, another place

Copyright © 2018 by Finn McLellan.  All rights reserved.

Hunter and Hunted

“Do you people never learn?”

The hunter whirled around, crucifix held out protectively in front of him – as a precaution, of course, because this particular Creature of the Night had been well and truly staked, and therefore…really should not have been standing right in front of him wearing a rather aggrieved expression and gesturing to the large bloodstain on his coat.

Which was, however, precisely what he was doing.

The hunter stared.

The vampire stared back, steadfastly refusing to become any less inconveniently alive.

The hunter cleared his throat. “Um.”

“I said, do you people never learn?” The undead rolled his eye, attempting to pull the edges of the hole in his waistcoat together. “That’s the third time I’ve been staked this year, and it’s starting to get more than a little infuriating. And I fail to see how that-” he waved a hand towards the crucifix “-is supposed to have the slightest effect on me.”

Shaken, the hunter reached into his pocket for his flask of Holy Water. That would work. It had-

“Had t’be a fuckin’ teetotaler, didn’t y’?”

He whirled back around – only to see the other vampire, the one he was sure he’d killed, leaning against a pillar, holding his Holy Water flask. And, by the look of it, having just taken a sizeable drink from it.

“Y-you…I..,” the hunter began, and then stopped, having completely run out of words. “Um,” he ventured, eventually.

“Y’picked a sixdamn fool this time,” the Son of Darkness holding the flask opined, tossing the offending article carelessly over his shoulder.

“An obsessive fool,” his companion corrected, moving closer to the petrified human. “And I didn’t pick him. As a matter of fact, he picked us.”

“How d’y’mean?”

“I mean that he’s been following us for the last six months.”

The vampire with the rougher accent laughed, also stepping closer to the hunter. “You et one of his relatives? I et one of his relatives?”

“Not as far as I’m aware.”

“So why th’-?”

The Creature of the Night smiled a little.  “Because, as I said, he’s an obsessive fool. He also thinks we’re evil.” He paused, apparently lost in though, then added “Of course, it’s possible he’s right. I certainly gave up being ‘good’ some years ago, and you-”

“Never were, ain’t ever goin’ t’be, we goin’ t’kill him or not?”

The hunter clenched his fists, looking around hopelessly for a way out.

There did not appear to be one.

What there were were two not-vampires, both smiling in a way which made the sharpness of their teeth abundantly clear.

The hunter finally found his voice. “Demons!”

There was a blur of movement, and he found his back suddenly pressed against something warm and solid.

“We ain’t demons,” said a voice, very close to his ear.

“We’re worse.”

Copyright © 2018 by Finn McLellan.  All rights reserved.

Cold Lover

It’s a chill wind that blows through a churchyard
As cold as the grave, so they say
Well maybe that’s truer than ashes and cinder
For darling I’m colder than clay

And your breath is as warm as the firelight
And your blood is as hot as the sun
Won’t you hold me once more now, my darling
Though my days in the sunlight are done?

Won’t you give me the light from your eyes, love?
Won’t you give me the strength from your hand?
Won’t you give me the blood from your veins, love?
Just a drop or two, that would be grand

For it’s colder than ice in this churchyard
And the winds here will blow me away
But your blood and your breath make a fine suit of skin
For to hide my poor bones from the day

And your blood is as cold as a snowfall
And your breast is as still as a stone
I will hold you once more now, my darling
For you’ve left me a life all my own

Copyright © 2018 by Finn McLellan.  All rights reserved.

Canto III: Virgil

After Dante’s Inferno, Canto III

At length I find thee, cowering in the dark
Thy vaunted skill subsumed by shudd’ring fear
A mortal soul, possessed of life’s own spark
That by its flick’ring brightness draws me near

‘Art shade or living man?’ thou criest to me
And I, approaching, speak thee of my fate
I take thy hand, and bring thee forth to see
The looming arch, the grim foreboding gate

Above it stands a warning, plain and clear
‘Abandon all hope, ye who enter here’

Copyright © 2018 by Finn McLellan.  All rights reserved.

Baker Street

Around the book my fingers close
The binding smooth as glass
And past the rain-smeared window pane
The cars go roaring past
Yet in my hands the pages turn
And soft a firelight glow
Fills up the room and ushers in
The days of long ago
A golden yesteryear, where still
The smog lies thick and low
And through the lamplit London streets
The rain-soaked hansoms go
And you and I, more modern ghosts
May still with spectral feet
Go walking down the well-worn way
That leads to Baker Street

Copyright © 2018 by Finn McLellan.  All rights reserved.


In the hollow of my hand, I hold eternity

Here, caught on the fault-lines of fresh skin
Dandelion-seed, breath-weight, bright as a new star
Shimmering, liquid light, spilling soundless
Through gaps between curled, curved fingers

Here, standing in pure paper-white oblivion
Feet firm on the shore of nothing-in-particular
I stand, sole singer of creation

Here, where the first strands of night boil out
From puddled pools of glowing, silvered light
Where spreading tendrils seep, call sea, sky, land
From blank eternal brightness
Where the stars, jewel-bright, one by one
Glitter into sparkling existence

And darkness, new and bright, black as a crow’s wing
Seeps in through eyes and nose and mouth and ears
Caresses skin, slips soft through pores,
Enshrouds, enwraps, enfolds
Kisses swirls and curlicues, curves, arcs
On red-sheathed bone, strong as a sunrise
Black-ink brushstrokes of a new beginning

I stand, and hold an infinite universe between my fingers
And sing the stars to life


Copyright © 2018 by Finn McLellan.  All rights reserved.