Roses for The Ferryman. A Poem by Joseph Armstead.


The crystal lamp burns lazy and dim,
And the mastiff hounds howl ‘pon the moor,
Heralding a prophesy of a return of him
Who once with strength and anger did deplore
The unjust decrees of a distant heaven
That had robbed him of his life’s single joy,
Leaving him empty, bitter and deadened
Little more than uncaring Destiny’s broken toy.
The Children of Lost Hope anxiously do wait,
As across the vast moat of blackest dreaming,
Old Charon does ferry a Herald of direst human traits,
An unmade priest, lead voice of a choir for screaming.
Crossing the Styx, the waters of night filled with souls,
The Ferryman brings ‘cross the Traveler, solemn and dread,
Unconcerned with Justice or for whom Truth’s bell tolls,
Only knowing his duty, to carry the lost shades of the dead,
Journeying ‘twixt the worlds of the Light and the Dark,
Asking no questions and hearing no tales,
Seeing only the movement of Fate, cruel and stark,
And hearing the songs of torment the unholy wail.
Without shame and in regal distress he would return
This princely cleric of tattered soured belief,
And words of his cold gospel would again burn,
In hearts and minds of those for whom Faith is not relief.
Light turns to shadow and the echoes of howling fade,
As from the dreaded ferry he does finally stride,
Bringing a legacy of broken promises to trade,
And the highways of nightmare he is anxious to ride.
Pensive at the castle’s gates she stands,
Wrapped warm ‘gainst the wintry night,
The dry remnants of a waxen rose in hand,
Memento to lost bittersweet delight.
On the hill, the moon behind the oak is dull,
The trip was long and the night chilled,
The Lady holds her secrets close, memory full,
And she waits entry to a home of mysteries filled.
Dreamt she on her journey of her strong beloved,
A knight, a knave, a paradox of moods,
And her sadness grew, fitting soul like a glove,
‘cause on his untimely demise she did brood.
The Dark Lady of the Midwinter’s Night,
A cheerless child her father named Angelique,
Waited in tearful solemnity, to the Devil’s delight,
To go home one last time, her tragedy unique,
As alone and bathed in starlight cold,
She tried to quiet the voices in her head,
Some just brittle whispers, most angry and bold,
For it was because of her that her Knight is dead.
An empress is she, royal and majestic and grand,
A queen of the evermore fallen eve,
Her cold fragile heart clasped in a pale undead hand,
Her life the dire web of a spider’s weave.
The Ferryman unsmiling did bring her across,
She followed a Pale Priest of Dead Hopes,
And into Charon’s hands two coins she did toss,
Taken off sightless eyes at the end of Life’s rope.
The Ferryman is tired, yet his labors never cease,
Rich and poor, weak and strong, all he does carry,
While the Clock of Life shreds Time piece by piece,
The line of travelers is endless and he cannot tarry.
So a Saint of Flesh and Shadow, he returned to the living,
And a gentle Lady of secrets and red despair,
Today second chances at redemption he is giving,
A hollow hope Love and Memory can be unburden’d,
Yet well he knows that of this Life all is prior written,
And though triumphantly from darkness have ye returned,
By poison fangs of Destiny, All has already been bitten.
When at last he returns to his nightmare shore,
Endless eternal day’s task momentarily ended,
He spies a thing of beauty, naught could shock him more,
A bouquet of black roses, left alone and untended,
A gift of Grace from some fractured unyielding soul,
Knowing that they yet reside in Hell,
But daring to set forth an honorable goal,
Of thanks to a ferryman for a job done well.


Joseph Armstead is a suspense-thriller and horror author living in the United States’ San Francisco Bay Area. Author of a dozen short stories and ten novels, his poetry has been published in a wide range of online journals, webzines and print magazines. A mathematician, Futurist and computer technologist, Mr. Armstead’s poetry often defies easy description, but frequently includes neo-classical imagery, surrealist viewpoints and post-modern themes.
Poetry Life & Times

Share and Enjoy !