Tag Archives: Tolkien

Far over the cracking pavement grass’d

Far over the cracking pavement grass’d
To supermarket car park glass’d
I must away ere it’s midday
To seek some plums to break my fast.

The other day I bought some fruit
Not yet quite ripe, but soon to suit
My morning taste. And, bag-encased,
Those plums were mine beyond dispute.

I bought red apples to give to Bill
So he’d have fruit to eat his fill.
He loves what’s sweet, and dares to eat
The food I leave in the fridge to chill.

We’ve had this argument before
Since he will oft my signs ignore.
I write “Keep out, you dirty lout.”
And “Eat this food and you’ll get what for!”

And so I hid those plums from him
Behind the milk, in a corner dim,
I’d planned and schemed, and so I dreamed
Of cold sweet plums on the way to gym.

Far over the cracking pavement grass’d
To supermarket car park glass’d
I must away ere it’s midday
To seek some plums to break my fast.

The sun was hidden by the gloom
And woke me not. In our bedroom
I slept past eight, while Bill, up late,
Had got the munchies, I presume.

The wooden floor in the kitchen squeaked
The icebox door with menace creaked
And in their sack, open to attack,
Sat plums with condensation streaked.

The bag it rustled, then it tore
That pig ate one, and wanted more.
The plums were gone, that I’d counted on:
My breakfast plans did my Bill ignore.

And on arising, what did I see
But the note that Bill left me
In timeless verse (which makes it worse):
A self-indulgent fauxpology.

Far over the cracking pavement grass’d
To supermarket car park glass’d
I must away ere it’s midday
To seek some plums to break my fast.

Originally posted on Making Light

A spark in the tinder helps the fireworks go up

In ev’ry trip you undertake
There is some trouble you can make
You spy on councils. Whoosh!
You’re on your way.

And ev’ry boring bit of quest
Will gain some interest
More thrills! More threats!
That’s what your mischief gets…

For a…
Spark in the tinder helps the fireworks go up
The fireworks go uh-up
The fireworks go up.
Just a spark in the tinder helps the fireworks go up
In the most delightful way.

A hobbit journeying in haste
Has very little time to waste
While hiding from the
Nazgûl that pursue

Though venturing into the unknown
He has an eye for any stone
To drop, or shy,
Or steal and see an Eye.

For a spark in the tinder helps the fireworks go up
The fireworks go uh-up
The fireworks go up.
Just a spark in the tinder helps the fireworks go up
In the most delightful way.

Originally posted on Making Light

Safety briefing, listen if you’re flying

Written for a parlor game post for Making Light:

Hey now passengers, look up here and listen,
Time for safety-talk, nothing to be missing!
First the safety belt, buckled up and pulled tight
Open with a latch-lift, steel shining moon-bright.

On this airplane, eightfold are the ways out:
Front and back and over-wings we point out.
Watch and learn, and may I just remind you
That your nearest one may lie behind you.

If the cabin’s dark, gaze you down at the floor
Lights will shine out, make a path to the door.
Leave all bags behind, take no stabbing heel-shoes
Jump, don’t sit down, or the slides as rafts use.

Now beneath your seat a life vest
Put on just so, double bows will hold best.
Light and whistle, tube to take a breath-draft
Don’t inflate it till you leave the aircraft!

Hid above you, masks in their compartments
But if air grows thin in these apartments
They’ll drop swiftly. Fit your own as I’ve shown
Then when you’re safe, help those only half-grown.

On this airplane, none may smoke their pipe-weed
And you must obey the crew as they need.
If there’s safety knowledge that you still lack
See the card that sits inside your seat back.

Now is time for you to stow your cases
Under or over, fitting in their spaces.
Seat backs, tables, all should be upright now
Toys off, phones off, ready for our flight now!

Settings pastiches

  1. Come live with me and be my love,
    And we will all the pleasures prove
    That we in dark and deeply mined
    Chasms of black Moria find.

    And we will sit beneath the ridge
    And watch the Balrog keep the bridge
    Above the fiery pit whose smoke
    Makes even orcish fighters choke.
  2. The watchmaker
    Who rigged for me
    The warp drive flange
    Out of space debris
    Has given my crew
    A working ship
    So we’ll make it through
    From this scouting trip.
  3. We’ve tried each spinning space mote
    And reckoned its true worth:
    Take us back again to the homes of men
    On the cool, green hills of Earth.

    Rocannon has windbeasts
    And hilfs who act like lords.
    But you just might, if you have to fight,
    Be spitted on their swords.

    To ice-encrusted Gethen
    Our coming was foretold.
    But who’d have known we’d sleep alone
    And wake up twice as cold?

    The dusty moon Anarres
    Is home to anarchists
    Who can only live because they give
    And by gifts their world exists.

    While rich and fertile Urras
    Is plagued with poverty.
    The poor all cry looking at the sky
    That the moon’s the place to be.

    On peaceful settled O
    The Night and Day are wed
    Sedoretu build on the vows fulfilled
    Both in and out of bed.

    The Hainish sent out ships
    For many a planetfall.
    But changeling breeds in time have needs
    To be Ekumenical.

    We pray for one last landing
    On the globe that gave us birth;
    Let us rest our eyes on the friendly skies
    And the cool, green hills of Earth.

(Originally posted on Making Light)

The stone-fruits of Gondolin

The morning dawned clear and bright, and Gandalf rose early to walk along the terraces and slopes above the loud-flowing Bruinen. The rising sun shone pale and wan through the silver mist, and the webs of the spiders glistened among the trees. On a small bench beside the path he came upon Elrond, who rose to greet him.

“Fine is the morning and fortunate the meeting, O Mithrandir! Long have I sat here contemplating the paths that lie before us, and now find myself in need of sustenance. I have in my cool-rooms a hoard of stone-fruits from Gondolin, which I would gladly share with you.”

“Many years has it been,” replied Gandalf, “since I have tasted the stone-fruits of Gondolin. They grow now but sparsely among the fallen stones of that once fair city.”

Elrond rose and led the way to his cool-rooms, which stood in a shadowed corner of the Last Homely House, sheltered from the sunlight by the high walls of the building around them. There he kept many foods from all over Middle-Earth, cooled by great blocks of ice carried down from the Misty mountains.

The thick stone door of the cool-rooms stood ajar. Elrond and Gandalf entered to find Pippin seated on a wooden chest, wiping his mouth with his handkerchief. Beside him lay a small pile of fruit-stones, the last traces of golden flesh still clinging to them.

“Hullo, Gandalf! Hullo, Elrond! I just popped in here for a little something to eat. It’s a long time yet to breakfast, and waiting is hungry work, as my gaffer always says.”

Elrond stood still within the doorway, but Gandalf strode forward. “Gluttonous fool of a Took! You have eaten the stone-fruits of Gondolin, which we had preserved in the cool-room for our breakfast!”

“Forgive me,” cried the hobbit, cringing before the wizard’s wrath. “They were so sweet and so cold that I could hardly resist them!”

Originally posted on Making Light

Pooh meets Tolkien meets Cthulhu

Deep in the Hundred Acre Wood
Where all that happens is for good,
Where Roo still plays on sunny days.
Pooh and friends once desperate stood.

The Bear of Little Brain then dwelled
Where honey with a U is spelled
Among the trees and bumble bees
And hero parties oft were held.

With Piglet trembling close beside
He roamed the forest, far and wide,
Where Heffalumps and Tigger jumps
Would make our heroes run and hide.

While in the background Rabbit fussed
And griped and (sotto voce) cussed
As Pooh was stuck and then unstuck
Uncured of his great hunny-lust.

The haycorns grew in sunlit dells
While daffodils and silver bells
On riverside did thick abide
And perfumed with ambrosial smells.

But deep within the river crept
A darker force, its anger kept
In check by him who, visage grim,
His watch maintained while others slept.

Until a game of Pooh-sticks played
Upon a new bridge in the shade.
When Eeyore won, his guard undone
Released the thing from where it stayed.

The cloud that crossed the sun that noon
Was not a bear on a balloon.
The darkness spread, and with it, dread
That reckoning was coming soon.

The grass grew withered, turning grey.
The river whipped up icy spray
And in the trees the honey bees
Mysteriously slipped away.

As ruin of their home they faced
Our heroes in their centre placed
Small frightened Roo, and Piglet too
While breath grew short and pulses raced.

And at the shore they made their stand
Between the water and the land
As eye met eye they knew they’d die
And with their blood stain red the sand.

Upon the bridge brave Rabbit hopped
The shadows rose and overtopped
The parapet.  Old Long-ears met
And stopped the dark, then lifeless dropped.

Then for his dead friend Tigger howled
And in response, the forest growled
Thence came a beast, like Death released
And Rabbit’s lifeless corpse befouled.

The tiger bounced then, gold and red
And from him darkness briefly fled
But the black struck swiftly back
And left him broken, beaten, dead.

Above the heroes rose a bird
By Tigger’s death to courage spurred.
No longer meek, with claw and beak
Old Owl fought (without a word!)

Then Christopher Robin turned
And saw the river once more churned
With foul mud and Rabbit’s blood
As revenant, their friend returned.

At that their blood froze in their veins.
Abandoning their meagre gains
They huddled in, while with a grin
The zombie rodent sought their brains.

And as they stood in trembling row
And watched the beast they used to know
He reached right through and seized on Roo.
And though they fought he’d not let go.

He pulled his tiny captive through
Their hopeless clutches and withdrew
His prey, held tight, soon ceased to fight
And then, “Oh, bother!” exclaimed Pooh.

And at that sound the noises ceased
As friend and foe and eldrich beast
Turned in awe, and wond’ring, saw
The Might of Pooh at last released.

A gentle humming sound he made
And through the grass began to wade
And all he touched unclenched, unclutched
As he spread peace throughout the glade.

With Kanga weeping in his wake
His way to Rabbit did he make.
The foul hare, with yellow stare
In unclean voice then harshly spake.

“You rob me of my prey, then, Pooh?
Three friends for one I’ll trade to you
If I can choose the one you lose
I’ll end it now, bear.  What say you?”

The rabbit’s eyes then opened wide
And met with Eeyore by Pooh’s side.
His voice was grim.  “I choose him
And will not lightly be denied.”

Pooh turned and peered then at his friend
“I want this Unpleasantness to End
But what to do?  I can’t lose you.”
“It’s OK,” said Eeyore.  “I’ll mend.”

“Oh, not from this,” the monster smiled
And Eeyore’s fur with slime defiled.
As Rabbit healed there stood revealed
A tangled shadow, dark and wild.

It caught up Eeyore in its night
And he succumbed without a fight
While at his side his friends all cried
And darkness howled in grim delight.

Then in the sunlight played small Roo
While from the beach bounced Tigger too.
And Rabbit, dazed, in horror gazed
At hands still smeared with foul goo.

The donkey lay upon the hill
While darkness worked its foul will.
The friends he saved watched him, enslaved
And vigil kept as he lay still.

First he grew sqamous, then rugose
His skin drew tight and wrapped him close
Instead of hair grew tendrils bare
In writhing, twisting, twining rows.

But then he moved, and raised his head.
“I see that I’m not really dead.
I should have guessed I’d get no rest.
How typical,” the donkey said.

In time the rot seemed to reverse.
And Eeyore lived despite the curse.
“These psuedopods and Elder Gods
Are not so bad.  It could be worse.”

The hundred-acre Mirkwood

Old fat buzzer humming in a tree!
Old fat buzzer can’t see me!
Buzzy-loud! Buzzy-loud!
See the cloud?
Stop your humming and look at me!
Gold and black-bands, busy no-hands
Gold and black-bands can’t spy me!
Buzzy-loud! Buzzy-loud!
Leave your crowd!
You’ll never catch me in your tree!

– o0o –

Busy Bee and dizzy Drone,
Are swarming round to sting me.
I fly ever nigh in the bright sky,
But still they cannot bring me!
Soaring leaf, clever hunny thief;
you are dim and busy.
You cannot sting me, buzzing chief,
In your swarmings dizzy.

Originally posted on Making Light

The Lady of Khazad-dûm

Someone on a website I frequent mentioned that she often gets the urge to cross The Lady of Shallot with the story of Gandalf battling the Balrog in the Mines of Moria.

I confess, I had never found myself prone to that urge. Until she mentioned it, at which point it ate my brain.

The result:

Beneath the mountains, white with snow,
The orcs about their business go
Their orders to maintain below,
In the depths of Khazad-dûm,
A sleeping evil, left to lie
Until required by the Eye.
They care for it and ask not why
They toil in the gloom.

But one who labours in its lair
Has found the Balrog in his care
To be – to orcish senses – fair.
Fires burn in Khazad-dûm
And warm the darkness of the deeps
While he his tender vigil keeps.
His charge, protected, deeply sleeps
Inside its rocky tomb.

The other orcs, freed from its side,
Have different tasks, their might applied
To warlike training, side on side.
Underneath deep Khazad-dûm
The caverns echo with their song
While artificers labour long
To forge them armour, thick and strong,
For when the wars resume.

The flames beneath Caradhras burn
While up above, the seasons turn
Until, in time, the dwarves return.
Plundering rich Khazad-dûm.
At first they linger at the top
Above the yawning chasm’s drop
But then they dig, and do not stop
And thereby seal their doom.

They fill their halls with men and elves
And carve great rooms to please themselves
While underneath, a miner delves
Far too deep in Khazad-dûm.
The orc at practice stops his blow
As pickaxe noises grow and grow.
And then to muster-points they go
Lest dwarves their charge exhume.

The beaters start to pound their drums
So from the deeps the great sound comes
And in each chest, the breastbone thrums
Roaring out, “O Khazad-dûm!”
They rush into the glaring light
And, overwhelming with their might
The feasting dwarves, restore the night,
And then their work resume.

The battle in the past belongs:
Another chapter in their songs
Of dwarven deaths and ancient wrongs.
Deep in shadowed Khazad-dûm
The Balrog shifts its mighty frame
At dreams of swords, and fear, and flame.
Its keeper strokes it, rasps its name,
And turns to leave its room.

But then, a sound. A single stone
Comes clattering from where it’s thrown
Into a well, and this alone
Rouses all of Khazad-dûm.
And as the drummers beat and pound
The battle-rhythm shakes the ground.
The orcs come swarming all around
To Balin’s stony tomb.

Then, in its room, the sleeper wakes
And with one blow, its prison breaks.
So from the depths, its coming shakes
All the stones of Khazad-dûm.
It sees the fleeing figures hide
And casts its shadows far and wide
Like wings unfurled from either side
To smother them in gloom.

And then he comes, as from its dreams:
A bearded figure whose sword gleams
With silver light. Its lancing beams
Bringing day to Khazad-dûm.
The Balrog roars with blinded eyes.
The grey-robed form its way denies:
“You shall not pass,” the wizard cries.
And still the drumbeats boom.

They struggle then, the swordsman small
Against his foe, but brave withal.
He strikes the Balrog, and they fall
Into deepest Khazad-dûm.
The fighters plunging, dark and bright,
Leave eight companions, put to flight,
To scramble upward, to the light
And, grieved, their quest resume.

Behind them, howling hordes surround
The broken bridge, while all around
From depths to heights the battles sound
Echoing through Khazad-dûm.
They clash their blades and stamp their feet
And roar defiance and defeat
At enemies they cannot meet,
Then silence fills the gloom.

But one orc gives a keening call:
He somehow sees the Balrog’s fall.
And terror comes upon them all
Standing massed in Khazad-dûm.
The wizard is of no concern,
But should the Dark Lord come to learn
Their charge is dead, then they will burn.
The Eye will be their doom.

And so the orcs depart the mines.
At night, when only moonlight shines
They march away in scattered lines
Fleeing from black Khazad-dûm.
While in the lonely, lightless deeps
The Balrog-keeper howls and weeps
Then in the depthless chasm leaps
In empty Khazad-dûm.

For my next trick, I will harness the twin engines of Tolkien and Tennyson spinning in their graves and provide unlimited power for the world.