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Gnarled Shadows

Through shadowed trails, beneath the moon’s cold stare, 
     Its Amber gaze: a burden hard to bear.
This feathered prize found peace in my gut,
     No slumber dreamt; no answer could I get.

Eurasian owl, with orbs of liquid flame,
     My every stride, a prideful, haunting game.
Then, fate unveiled, upon a gnarled limb,
    I, no mercy, watched the hunted, stand, grim.

A rifle cracked. A feather's silent fall.
     Forrest convulsed: lifeless body, empty hull.

In moonlit boughs of ancient, Fortingall Yew trees,
     Where shadows twine and twist with eerie ease,
A serpent of smoke licks my dying fire, hissed.
     A tarnished quill, a strigiform, mocks my quest,
Scrawling nightmares on this haunted, hallowed crest.

Runes of vengeance etched in bark, ancient and stark,
     Throb crimson 'neath the moon's cold, watchful mark.
This crumbling shrine, where trophies once held sway,
     Now a visceral warning at the close of day.
Yet in those Amber eyes, watching, dreadful, dismay

Of deeds, they taunt, dreams forever lain,
     Feathers, like lost dreams plucked, bear cold and pain.
The tarnished quill, a taxidermied spine of ice,
    Inscribes his vengeful design, a chilling price.
Buried beneath a sky of obsidian, reason takes flight,
     Through spectral night, each rustle a talon of fright.
In boughs where nightmares crawl, no sanity found,
     Only the shadows stalked their fallen king, precarious.
And in those Amber eyes, demise, perdition, carious.

"Remember, mortal," screech fills the chilling air,
     "The eyes you stole, forever watching, ever there."
From his perch above the hearth a gnarled branch, shines his ire,
     Twin orbs of Amber pierce my soul's dark, smoldering pyre.
They burn with secrets, hidden by the cloak of night,
     Reflecting sins in their unyielding, haunting light.
The quill, a conduit, upon my hand it bled,
     Each stroke a tremor, each letter, a burning brand that feeds.
And in those Amber eyes, doom, malediction, my shame.

Madness burrows, a spider silk of terror in my skull,
     Webs of horror petrified, where reason wanes, turns cold.
Amber eyes, unblinking, piercing, Oh, so cold,
     Mock my torment, acerbic as each tale unfolds.
As moon wanes pale, fresh shadows coalesce,
     The cabin shudders, secrets released, enmeshed.
Whirlwind of feathers, pinions tore, stillness, swish
     And in those Amber eyes, doom, my penance, deranged.
And in those Amber eyes, death, penance, must be paid.

A sudden tremor, not of wind or leaf, nor breeze,
     A feathered silence whisps through the ancient Yew trees.
From moonlit depths, a spectral form takes flight,
     The Eurasian Eagle-Owl ascends, bathed in the ghastly light.
Thrice he circles, a haunting serenade,
     His gaze, a portal to an endless, shadowed glade.
My stolen prize, once perched upon this gnarled limb,
     Now soars above, reclaiming, vengeance, itself, him.
And in those vile Amber eyes, pierce, penance, possess.

The quill I clutch, once triumph's gleaming prize,
     Now crumbles to dust, beneath the watchful skies.
"Mortal flesh to ash," fire hissed, "vengeance burns hotter”,
     "Forever haunted, by a relentless, burning quagmire."
The owl reclaims his throne, a specter of vengeance in his flight,
     And I, once the hunter, now the hunted, enslaved.
In mirrored eyes, madness seeps, a corrosive weight upon my soul,
     Owl, fire, reflections of a tormented troll.

And in those cruel Amber eyes, 
     Retribution, torment, abyss.
          And in those dire Amber eyes, 
               Wraithful gaze, 
                    Burning pyre, 
                         shattered soul.

The fire fuses branded secrets, a purging inferno cleansing my plight, the Eurasian Eagle Owl, with those Amber Eyes takes final flight, Leaving me alone with that foreboding blood moon, …a nefarious succubus of the night.

Copyright © Daniel Henry Rodgers