Tag Archives: fear

The Silence of Old Men

by Thomas Davis

 As old men sink into their silence, words
Become entangled in the memories
And moments that are like a flock of birds
So dense in time and space they start to freeze
The meanings that an old man means to say,
Or be, or clarify to those who’d listen
As if he still had thoughts that might convey
Some sense beyond the silence of his person.

Inside the living room I watch his eyes.
I feel inside myself and try to hear
The silence as its heaviness denies
Old age’s bucketful of pains and fear —

And as I watch I know the old men in their silence,
Their frozen faces and their look of patience.


Filed under poems, Poetry, Published Books

Emerging Into Freedom

by Thomas Davis

Waves rolled with curving lines into the shore.
Lake Michigan horizoned into sky.
They watched a dark brown, white crowned osprey soar
Above the waves and heard its hunting cry.

Inside pinched spirits chained by slavery
And endless hours of suffocating fear,
Bonds loosened as the dream and fantasy
Of freedom suddenly seemed real, so near
To where they stood above the giant lake
They were not sure they had not reached a future
Aware of who they were, the earth awake
To spirits that had passed through deadly danger.

Inside the distant swamp they’d been but slaves.
They stood upon a hill and listened to the waves.
Note: I have been working on a novel about a black fisherman community founded on Washington Island prior to the Civil War in the wilderness of Wisconsin. This is the eleventh sonnet published here that heads chapters in the novel. I have made slow progress, but the novel keeps expanding, so we’ll see if I have the energy and capability of finishing it. I am less than half way through at this point.


Filed under poems, Poetry, Thomas Davis

In the Aftermath

by Thomas Davis

The woman wrapped the child against the cold
And walked into the forest where the glow
Of moonlight pooled a deeply shadowed gold
Beneath the trees on softly shining snow.

She gathered wood, the baby on her back,
And built a fire, its warmth a dancing light
Upon a great flat rock protruding black
Into the lake’s infinity of white.

Then, in the dark, sat, death-still, beside
The flames, the baby in her arms, the smear
Of stars above their heads a radiant tide
Of silence singing to the ebbing year.

At last, her voice a permutation slipped
Into the night, she started chanting words
Born deep in spirit as the blackened crypt
Of waters stirred beneath lake ice, and birds,

As black as mourning shrouds, began to fly,
The forest stirring like the waters, wind
A whisper as the baby voiced a tiny cry
And shadowy trees began to sway and bend.

The woman got up on her feet, her voice
As silver as the moon, and sang as deer
Began to bound onto the ice: “Rejoice,”
The woman sang, and as she sang the fear

Felt during hours of pain-filled, labored birth
Dissolved into the biting wind and light
That danced with deer upon the lake, the earth
And living integrated with the night.


Filed under Poetry, Thomas Davis

Love’s Coming

by Thomas Davis

As bright as any stone alive with mind,
Pygmalion touched his statue’s stony lips
And told sweet Venus that he’d strike her blind
If stony thighs were not made fleshy hips.

Cold Venus smiled a stony smile and laughed.
She put Medusa’s mask upon her lovely face.
Pygmalion stared at stone-wild eyes half daft,
Afraid of stone, still filled with hope for grace.

With wily wonder in her lovelost look,
Sweet Venus snaked her hair into the night.
Pygmalion’s mind turned stone, his flesh, cold, shook
With fears inspired by stone’s wild face of fright.

Then Venus smiled with warmth, took off her mask.
Pygmalion’s love fled stone. Alive at last!


Filed under Poetry, Thomas Davis

The Begging Gangs of Pakistan

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

A young man tells
of his daughter
kidnapped by gangs:

“They kidnap children
and cut off their arms or feet,
sometimes a leg,
and set them
in front of mosques so people
will drop coins in front of them.

“They place them throughout the city
and kidnap many children.

“Our daughter had escaped.
They pulled all her hair out.
She is always terrified.

“I used to think the Devil
was outside of us….
but we are the Devil.

“Humankind is the Devil.”


Filed under Ethel Mortenson Davis, Poetry

48. Upon the Brink of Destruction

a passage from The Dragon Epic by Thomas Davis


As Sshruunak and his followers began
To flee the village, Mmirrimann sent out
A panicked plea to stop. Ssruaanne had swerved
To miss the ground near where Ruanne was chanting
Her power song and started following
The beaten dragon horde toward the chaos
That swirled its void around the village walls.

“Join with the witches’ singing!” Mmirrimann
Demanded. “Find a balance for the world!”

The realms of death swept over cottages
And sang their chaos deep in sentient minds.
Ssruaanne wheeled in the sky and linked her mind
Into the song Ruanne was singing, coldness
Numbed deep beneath her scales into her hearts.
She felt the power flowing from the singing Wei
Who’s linked into the words Ruanne was chanting.
She felt the search that Wei was making, lost
Inside the storm of nothingness, the flotsam
Of spirits, once alive, a ghostly dance
That swirled into the living universe
And started disassembling the order
That made time’s arrow flow, its winging gluing
Together possibilities of sentient life.

As Mmirrimann’s strong spirit joined the song
And other dragons found the stream of beauty
Entwined into the magic Ruanne made,
The cording of the music found the fear
In human, dragon hearts and grew until
The silent sound formed bubbles that surrounded
The village and the forest and the lives
That gave the earth its meaning laced in time.
Reality, assaulted by the winds
Of death, rose out of humans, dragons, trees,
And shimmered as another war erupted,
The chaos trembling over all of life
As life fought back with sentient hearts and song.

Below the floors where children hid from dragons,
Their mothers held their small ones close and tried
To ward away the chilling cold with love.
Inside the caves where guardians hovered over
The clutches of the dragon eggs, stunned dragons
Reached out to find the song Ruanne had started
And tried to use the warmth inside the song
To keep the eggs from crumbling to mist
So fierce it penetrated stone-deep walls
Protecting caves and cliffs and dragon life.


Ruarther tried to move his legs toward
The cottage wall he’d almost reached when mist
Descended over him and took away
Reality from eyes and touch and smell.
He felt the Spirit Bear, still whole, beside
Him, looking for a way into his physicality,
But, like he’d done inside the weirding wood,
He drove into himself until he felt
The song Ruanne was in his life and started
The process of building who he was from scratch,
His burning core alive inside the deadness.

He could not feel his movement through the mist,
But still he struggled, pushing out from deep
Inside himself into the world he knew existed.
Then, like a hint of morning light before
Light filtered dusk into a cloud cloaked sky,
He thought he heard Ruanne, her sweet, strong voice,
Outside his head, but still inside his mind.
He reached for her and fell into abyss
As dragon minds and human minds were linked
And drummed as loud as any symphony
Had ever been at any human time.
The power of the mind-song slammed his heart.
He even felt the song sung by the stones
That only moved inside eternal time.

He moved inside the sound until he found
The chanting of Ruanne’s sweet voice and joined
His voice to hers and wove a melody
Of two inside the strands of music weaving
Defense against the terror of the void.

There needs to be some certainty in life,
He thought. Inside the certainty is love.

To listen to this passage, click on .

Note: This is the forty eighth passage of a long narrative poem, which has grown into The Dragon Epic. Originally inspired by John Keats’ long narrative poem, Lamia, it tells a story set in ancient times when dragons and humans were at peace. Click on the numbers below to reach other sections, or go to the Categories box to the right under The Dragon Epic. Click on Dragonflies, Dragons and Her Mother’s Death to go to the beginning and read forward. Go to Living Inside Chaos to read the passage before this one.


Filed under Poetry, The Dragon Epic, Thomas Davis

Sun, Clouds, Goose, and Reeds

a children’s poem by Thomas Davis

A dragon ate away the night!
Clouds, white from fear, fled through the sky.
A morning trumpet stormed to flight
As reeds lay silent, hushed and shy.

The sun burned red into sky-blue.
Great ships sailed white from burning sun.
A lonely goose with honking flew
Up from hushed pickets, slim and glum.


Filed under Poetry, Thomas Davis

41. Fate and Sentinels

a passage from The Dragon Epic by Thomas Davis


As Cragdon stood upon the field stone wall,
He felt a wind so cold it drove through flesh.
The weirding in the wind came harrowing
Into his spirit, forcing him to hunch
Against the battering that rolled from mountains,
Past where he stood, into the village humans.
He strained to see the dragons in the skies
Ruanne had said were coming full of rage.
The men had taken up positions meant
To let them fling their arrows from a wall
That would not burn when dragon flame belched out
Toward the vulnerability of human flesh.
The mothers had their children hidden, buried
Beneath the slabs of stone beneath the floors
Of cottages built when the dragon wars
Were devastating human, dragon lives.

He straightened up against the chilling wind
And thought about the blackness of the dragon
He’d fought beside Ruarther in the dark.
Inside Ruanne’s small cottage, dragon eyes had slammed
Into his spirit, forcing him to fall,
But now he stood determined, stronger than
He’d been just weeks ago, a warrior armed
With weapons that he’d use to fight the evil
Swooped raging from a night-black silver sky.
He felt the dragons even though he saw
No trace of dragons in the morning light.

He shifted on the wall and tried to see
Beyond the distance walling in the sky.
He’d fought a dragon once, he told himself.
They’d not use claws and fires to devastate
Ruanne and all the men who’d sought him when
He’d stumbled through the blinding of the snow.
He’d use what strength he had to shield his wife
And child against the possibilities
Horrendous in the wheel of human fate.


The black rage boiled at Mmirrimann and stirred
His blood to mindlessness, Sshruunak’s rebellion
A seething hatred as he turned away
From what the human girl had generated
Out of her mother’s need and looked toward
The mountain skies where dragons rose to war.
Ssuranne, beside him, stared at him in silence.
She stood beside the human rainbow dragon
And waited as he conquered mindless rage
And started calculating what response
Made sense as miracle confronted fate–
Tinged with the promise of extinction facing
Continuance of all of dragonkind.

The other dragons, ringed around the girl
Transmuted to a dragon, seemed distraught,
Eyes shocked by feeling blackness ricocheted
Across the fields of snow, Sshruunak a nightmare
They’d thought would go away, but dreaded deep
Inside their in-most thoughts, rebellion woven
Into the history all dragons lived.
They seemed to hesitate as Mmirrimann
Decided what he’d do to meet the challenge
Sshruunak had sent into the dragon host.

“He’ll end the dragon race,” growled Mmirrimann.

“Responding will create a dragon war,”
Ssuranne replied, her thoughts intense and sickened.
“No dragon’s fought another dragon since
The Time of Mindlessness and Gorgon’s fight
To build the strength of dragon sentience.
We cannot fight the daughters and the sons
We saw break from their eggs into the light.”

The rainbow dragon, still pulsating light,
Looked calmly at the two of them, her changing
Done, humanness a part of who she was,
A dragon on a field where other dragons were.
Her song was softer than a dragon’s song,
Her voice so musical and clear is was
Like springtime winds whooshed through the leaves of trees.

“The dragon race will live,” she said. “The war
Will not disgrace the strength of who you are.”

She spread her multi-colored wings and drove
Them downwards as she rose inelegantly
Into the air above the frozen pond.


As Reestor lit the fires inside the pots
The men would use to light the arrows used
To splash flames over hardened dragon scales,
He cursed the day and said a heartfelt prayer
To Selen, hoping love could overcome
The pain and suffering about to bloom
Into the garden of the wondrous earth.
Ruanne, beside him, said no word, but sparked
The flame into the pot he placed beside
Each man, eyes grim with fear and strength of mind.
He could not hear the children hidden dark
Beneath the cottages, but knew they cried
And pleaded with their mothers for their love
As life became a dream they’d never dreamed
Would change their lives while they were still so young.
He thought about the horror of his father’s death
And wondered why the ancient horror marched
Alive into a time when wars were in the past.

He almost dropped the pot he held when flame
Flared up too high and almost singed his hand.
Ruanne just looked at him, still silent, scolding
Eyes wild with brewing, devastating spells.

Unsettled, Reestor looked toward the wall
Where Cragdon and the others strained their eyes
To see the dragons flying at the village.
Someone would see them coming, shout their warning,
And life would change from what it ought to be,
And nothing would be like it once had been.

To listen to this passage, click on Fate and Sentinels

Note: This is the forty first passage of a long narrative poem, which has grown into The Dragon Epic. Originally inspired by John Keats’ long narrative poem, Lamia, it tells a story set in ancient times when dragons and humans were at peace. Click on the numbers below to reach other sections, or go to the Categories box to the right under The Dragon Epic. Click on Dragonflies, Dragons and Her Mother’s Death to go to the beginning and read forward. Go to The Shock of Rage to read the passage before this one. To read the next passage in the epic click on The Deadly Dragon Horde.


Filed under Poetry, The Dragon Epic, Thomas Davis

35. Determination, Doubt, and Dreams of Victory

Inside the cave he’d clawed in mountain rock
Sshruunak’s resentment at the inconvenience
Of living rough outside the dragon lairs
Far from community he’d always known
Kept waking him, the cold intense enough
To make him wish he’d spent more digging time.
He kept on saying that discomfort made
Him miserable right now, but soon the moon
Would be invisible and then the song
Of dragon wings would beat so dreadfully
The earth would tremble from the flames of rage.

The thought of nineteen males, six fierce females
Now following his lead to dragon war
Seemed like a gift more precious than his hearts
Inside the small cave’s dark, a bolstering
That made his plans more promising than he
Had dreamed that they could ever be before
Their force had left the caves to find Sshruunak.
Inside his head he saw his clutch of dragons
Spread out across the skies, their bodies large
Enough to make irrelevant the men
That scurried with their deadly arrows through
The lanes between their small stone cottages.
He felt the power of their thundering
Inside his hearts and felt so potent-wild
He thought that he could burst out from his cave
And wrest the ancient stories from ancestors
And make them live in glory in this time.

But then the image faded as he thought
About the news his new force brought: Of Mmirrimann
And all the elders on the conclave’s stone,
Especially Ssruanne who’d let her mate
Assume her place upon the dais to call
For dragon war, huge dragons battling dragons
So that the dragon race would grow and thrive.
The old ones’ foolishness enraged him, made
Him want to spew his fire into their smug,
Old surety with force enough to make them cringe,
But still, his followers were young and strong,
But could they face the dragons from the caves?
Could victory be carved from dragons first
And then from humans with their puny strength?
What had he done? Created dominance
That would ensure that dragons lived without
The endless threat that humans represented?
Or made a war where dragon claws and flame
Raked only dragon hides and forced a slide
Into extinction Mmirrimann was fond
Of warning all the dragon caves about?

He’d trained the young males that had followed him
In discipline and strategy, but now
His newer followers were here to join
The battle that he’d planned for carefully,
And though he’d lead his forces through the skies,
What would they do when dragons they had known
The moment when they’d left their eggs for light
Confronted them and came at them with flames?

He’d somehow thought the elders would sit back
And let him fight the humans in his war
And cower in the caves, afraid to stop
Him as he moved to rid the world of humans,
But if the dragons that had left the conclave
To join him in the mountains had it right,
His war against the humans was a part
Of what they faced, the other part a war
He had not planned or even contemplated.

The doubts gnawed at his stomach, made him want
To bawl his fear and helpless feelings out
Into the quiet night and make them vanish,

But if he showed his feelings to the others,
He’d heard the hesitancy in the way
The new ones told of elders at the conclave
And felt the cold dismay the males had felt
To feel the possibility of war
Fought with their fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers…

What could he do? he asked himself. What should
He do before he could not stop events from moving
So fast he had no choice but forward movement
Toward a destiny that was not guaranteed
To be the destiny his dreams had formed?

He thrashed inside the cave and cold and moved
His wings–and then had left the cramped, close cave
For air that whistled as he flapped his wings.
Stars shined so bright they rained their silver light
Upon the valley far below his flight.
Great dragon bodies moved uncomfortably
To hear him leave his clawed out earth and soar
Into the crystal darkness of the night.
For hours the newest dragons had clawed earth
To make themselves a cave where they could sleep,
But mountain rock was hard, and days were needed
To make a cave, not hours before night came.

Still, no one followed him into the sky.
One day to train the new ones how to fight
A war with strategy instead of rage,
He thought. Stoormachen and the others who
Had learned the tactics had to take the lead.
The clutch he led would not be quite as fierce
As what he’d dreamed when he had set his rage
Toward the moment when he’d wage a war
Against the hunter who had sent his arrow
To blind his eye and wrap him deep with pain,
But cowering was not the dragon way—
Not even if Ssruuanne and Mirrimmann
Were strong enough to fill the skies with dragons
Opposing him and what his mind had willed.

He drove his wings down, spurted higher, up
Into the thinner air toward the stars.
They’d win, he screamed inside himself. They’d win!
They had no other choice than victory.

To listen to this section of the epic, click on Determination, Doubt, and Dreams of Victory

Note: This is the thirty-fifth section of a long narrative poem, which has grown into The Dragon Epic. Originally inspired by John Keats’ long narrative poem, Lamia, it tells a story set in ancient times when dragons and humans were at peace. Click on the numbers below to reach other sections, or go to the Categories box to the right under The Dragon Epic. Click on Dragonflies, Dragons and Her Mother’s Death to go to the beginning and read forward. Go to Metamorphosis to go to the section previous to this one. To read the next section of the epic, click on Mesmerized Cave Dragons.


Filed under Poetry, The Dragon Epic, Thomas Davis


by Ethel Mortenson Davis

He’s not behind the door
or under your bed,

but in the school
and down the road.

He rapes,
and eats children.

Oh, yes, Virginia,
there is a boogieman.


Filed under Ethel Mortenson Davis, Poetry