Jack of the Lanterns

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Jack of the Lanterns

It was a day like the others,

But the sea was at rest,

The crew was getting restless,

Including Lady Pen in the nest,

It seemed days since we had rum,

“Captain Jack,” said I so bold,

“I can almost hear a distant drum,

Someplace where there’s lots of gold,”

“Aye,” he muttered, “we need to find,

Something to do to distract their minds,”

“Captain, if I may humbly suggest,

Bring Lady Pen down from the nest,

I heard her talking to one of the crew,

She had some ideas on what to do,”

Now Jack don’t take to ideas quick,

But he knew Pen’s ideas would be slick,

He grabbed one of the men by the arm,

“Tell Pen to see me, but no need for alarm,”

She looked a bit worried, timid she be,

As she climbed down she glared at me,

“Did this tar say something, he’s worthless you see,”

She smiled provocatively at Jack, and batted her eyes,

“I’m ready for duty, you can count on me,”

“Lady Pen, I need some ideas to stir up this crew,

I need them fast, I feel trouble starting to brew,”

“Captain,” she said with a twinkle in her eye,

“I’ve been thinking while up in the sky,

If our flag was different than any other ship,

You’d become famous, Edward Teach would flip,”

And I have ideas about decorating and such,

The world would love us and it wouldn’t cost much,”

“Ah, Lady Pen,” said Jack with a twinkle in his eye,

“You’ve turned out to be a special kind of guy,”

With scissors and thread she started the flag,

With bits of clothing, curtains, and rags,

She’d requested some gourds when we found land,

Gave no explanation that the Captain could understand,

She toiled without stopping until she was done,

“Captain,” she said, “Now, let’s have some fun,”

The Jolly Roger came down, a pumpkin flag was raised,

The crew was perplexed and partially dazed,

The gourds were carved with precision and care,

All had smiles, but an evil stare,

“These gourds will be lanterns to guide us at night,

And the evil faces will give others a fright,”

Candles were lit and placed in each gourd,

“I’ll reward you handsomely,” said Jack, “you have my word,”

The ships demeanor changed, it was eerily strange,

Ships surrendered before we got into range,

As we boarded ships that we found,

Jack would call out, “Put your arms down,”

“Give us your gold and something to eat,

And no tricks we’ll play as we take our treats,”

It wasn’t long before the word spread,

That a great pirate ship was one to dread,

It was filled with spirits with evil grins,

It never loses and always wins,

Captain Kidd, Teach, and others heard of its fame,

And Pen was selected to give it a permanent name,

“Jack’s lanterns, to her just made sense,

And jack o’lanterns  have been called that hence,

Even now should you on the open sea be cast,

And a pumpkin flag is flying near the mast,

Look closely at the Lady dressed prim and neat,

Her eyes will be glowing as you close in to greet,

And beside her will be a captain, Jack be his name,

Take them seriously when they say, “Trick or Treat!”

Many a ship has been plundered out at sea,

I wouldn’t want that to happen to you or me,

When jack o’lanterns be smiling with an evil grin,

Be aware of the danger you could be in,

Should you be courteous especially to Pen,

Their hospitality is fabulous for all their friends.



Troubled Sleep

The Zarn's spacecraft rests in the Mist Marsh.
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When dreams
carry me far,

life’s reality to distant star,

It is then I
find answers to my fears,

Or discover
what I hold dear,

memories stroll two and three,

Reminding me
how it used to be,

Am I awake
or in a dream,

forever in a wayward scheme,

My needs, my
wants, my heart’s desires,

between ice and raging fires,

My fantasies
are not long to keep,

As I drift
back into troubled sleep,

My muse tugs
impatiently at my mind,

up! There are worlds to find,

Time is
fleeting as you sleep,

And you have
promises to keep,

Stories that
have risen from the deep,

Must be
captured for the world to keep,

You don’t
really need to sleep,”

Weary from
travels within my head,

Miserably I
stumble from my bed,

No reason to
argue with my muse,

That’s a
battle I always lose,

For gentle
thoughts become a crowd,

Their cries
to be heard grow very loud,

And where is
this wisp called sleep,

It was released
early, not mine to keep.

The Destination Is Up to You

A square-rigged sail
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The sails of
his ship were made

From butterfly wings,

He conquered
the imaginations,

Of poets and

He shared
his adventures

About lands
far away,

Then he caught a passing breeze,

And floated to
a secret bay,

My small universe

A trickle
became a flood,

The stories
he told,

Now run in
my blood,

I’ve set my
course to reach,

Just one
distant star,

And fill my
notes with memories,

Of things as
they are,

When I
return to this earth,

My travels I
will share,

You may
choose to soar with me,

If you take
the dare,

there is a forgotten land,

I’ll need to
take a look,

And you with
your writer’s eye,

Can describe
it in a book,

For not all
get the chance,

To see all
that we shall see,

If you write
with words that live,

Those worlds
will become reality,

Take the
helm of this ancient ship,

And let your
imagination play,

If I had
clung to this earth,

I wouldn’t
be here today,

These sails
are woven,

From butterfly wings,

And covered
with stories,

From poets
and kings,

I’ve sailed the
oceans blue,

nothing this ship can’t do,

Just steer
for a distant star,

destination is up to you.




“I’ll Promise You This”

Primavera, Spring, made in 1638, part of a ser...
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A cloudburst
in summer,

Soaked to
the skin,

My heart is

“Won’t you
please let me in?”

A blizzard
in winter,

I’m frozen
to the core,

My love is

“Won’t you
open the door?”

The flaming leaves
of autumn,

Are starting
to fall,

How long
must I wait,

“Don’t you
love me at all?”

When the
birds are returning,

At the
greening of spring,

I’ll tell
you, “I love you,”

And give you
a ring,

My heart is

But I’ll
promise you this,

I’ll dance
at your wedding,

And give you
a kiss,

If my dreams
were real,

As real as
could be,

I’d enjoy
the four seasons,

Having you
here with me.

“Just Like Me”

Series for social welfare 1961, fairy tale of ...
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She read to
the birds once a day,

It was her

Of saying
thanks for all they’d done,

They made
life fun,

and sparrows at her feet,

They took a

intently to the stories she read,

About pieces
of bread,

That Hansel
and Gretel dropped on the path,

Hoping to
escape the wrath,

Of the
stepmother and find the way back,

But they
lost track,

Birds had eaten every single piece of bread,

And now as
she read,

The audience
of birds had gathered from the sky,

Some had
already begun to cry,

“That’s such
a sad story,” said one with shame,

“It’s true,
birds were to blame,”

“Don’t you
fret, my dears,” she said with a smile,

“The ending
is happy after awhile,”

I’ll tell you about Snow White,

So have a
good night,”

“And bring
me some of your songs to sing,

Just any
pretty thing,”

“I want to
share songs that you’ve taught me,

About the
wind, the sun, and the honey bee,”

“Your songs
could bring joy to girls and boys,

They might
forget their toys,

And discover
how much is in this world to see,

And learn to
love it just like me.”






English: Vladimir Bystrov. 2006 Russian Premie...
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Suffering is
unique for me and you,

I haven’t experienced
what you’re going through,

I don’t know
the depth of your pain,

Be patient,
I’m trying your perspective to gain,


migraines that don’t allow you to stand,

I’ve never
experienced them and I don’t understand,

I’m trying
my best to know what to do,

I don’t have
answers for the agony you go through,


I’m trying
to ponder who handles suffering well,

Is it
someone who’s already seen one side of hell,

Someone who’s
had everything taken away,

And still
smile and say, “It’s a wonderful day!”

Or a person
with cancer who continues to pray,

“Thank you,
Lord, for each bonus day,”


I told my children,
“In life you’ll have choices,

yourself with those who have wise voices,”

And when you
run and scrape your knee,

To ease your
pain right there I’ll be,


Bad things
might happen so learn to be tough,

Because life
isn’t perfect, it can be rough,

I can’t fix
your problems but I can ease your pain,

And I’ll be
there to help you get up again,”


I wonder if
my answers match my own life,

Do my
answers hold true when I face strife,

Do I blame
someone when life knocks me down,

What part of
my misery is shared with those around,


Did my bad
choices create my own pain,

Does my anguish
count for loss or gain,

Is my trouble
because of evil or good,

What part of
my distress is misunderstood,


If I use my
own sorrows to help me grow,

I’ll understand
you better for now I know,

If being
there to listen will ease your pain,

I’ll listen
and help you get up again.


A Spooky Spectacle

In front of haunted house during Halloween sea...
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A haunted house
was advertised in the paper,

playing a misguided prank,

The ad was
pulled too late, the damage done,

The list of
the curious never shrank,


dilapidated two story worn out manse,

stood in spite of the local shame,

Its history
linked with the rich and famous,

The mansion
had only them to blame,


Years had
left it collapsing in the middle,

A perfect
haunt made for the night,

Stairs creaked, screams trapped in the walls,

All the
windows and doors sealed tight,


of popular ballroom affairs,

People were lined
up and waiting their turn,

Anxious to
see the scariest house around,

One that frightened
and made stomachs churn,


Cars filled
a field and lined the road,

evening and monsters weren’t out,

ghouls, big ghosts, gracious hosts,

Hidden with sounds to make, shrieks or shouts,


Blood thirsty
tales of murder would draw visitors in,

Those who
wanted to be scared came to this place,

Stories were
told about a missing man,

Who roamed
the halls without a face,


Fear that
was expected didn’t last,

Messages everywhere,
claims of death scrawls,

Evidences of
rudeness from the past,

Urine and
blood had been splashed on the walls,


A cemetery lay
stationed off to one side,

Rectangular plots
still open and ready to fill,

It was eerie
since a shed with its door open,

waiting just a few steps up the hill,


The manse was
a spectacle that I knew quite well,

I lived a
few houses down on the same street,

And I
believed the mansion sat at the edge of hell,

This was not
a place to go Trick or Treat,


There were
no tour guides, the routes were crude,

witches with their friends the bats,

Swooped low
to scare the intruders,

Who were
avoiding the black cats,


Chaos and
confusion reigned through the night,

As uninvited
guests tromped into each room,

Often visitors
were disappointed by unbidden sight,

realizing this house was a house of doom,


The druggie
in the corner, the starving child,

The wolfman
on meth who menacing and wild,

The monster
with chainsaw who chased at will,

Too old to
catch anyone, too old to kill,


Yet even
with evil residing in the house,

No one was
injured, not even a mouse,

sat at the corners of the yard,

children and staying on guard,


Other forces
stood ready to do their part,

To keep all
folks safe, especially the heart,

Though it
might be weird to keep folks from harm,

To the unprotected
the forces would swarm,


Halloween is more than tricks or fear,

It’s more about
fun, the message is clear,

Should you
have scary neighbors next door,

Be wary of
where and how you explore,


It’s just
one night, with a year between,

Stay safe
and have fun, this Halloween!










Halloween Treats

Group of children in a primary school in Paris
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Here’s to excited
children searching for sweets,

On Halloween night there are good things to eat,

Lurking in
the dark strange creatures are stirring,

gone, their minds are whirring,

Only the
pranksters will venture the streets,

While the
rest will be home counting their treats,

Every parent
will know if their children are safe,

Each ghoul
and goblin are counted even the waifs,

No monsters
are allowed in their dreams tonight,

The little ones
might want to leave on the light,

stories after they’ve been tucked in bed,

Each thought
of candy gone from their head,

All parents
will know how they’ve been blessed,

To see eyes
all closed and the children at rest,

Stretching in
their sleep and smiles on each face,

Sweets for
the sweet, at the right time and place.

“Sleep Well!”

"My cat."
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The scouts
gathered around the crackling fire,

And asked me
about my lonely life,

Why didn’t
you travel across the seas,

Why didn’t
you take a wife?


“I’m growing
old, though I’m still young,

And I’ll
share a tale or two,

I didn’t have
gray hair a few years ago,

But now,
that’s what love will do,


I pointed to
my locks of hair,

Which they
could clearly see were white,

“I’m going
to tell you about a creature,

Who might
bite your neck tonight!”


“These Ouachita
Mountains hide some ghouls,

Oh, dear
ones, they’re hidden very well,

watching you day and night,

You might
fall under one’s spell,”


“I was smug,
I didn’t believe the tales,

The forests
looked so peaceful and green,

How could
creatures be lurking about,

everything appearing so serene?


It was noon,
or maybe three or four,

I strolled
about the forest green,

In a dense
thicket I discovered a clearing,

And the
prettiest girl I’d ever seen,”


Her hair she
brushed until it gleamed,

I was
blinded by the glare,

Her lips
were full and rosy,

I was
captivated by her cold dark stare,


“What brings
you here?” she demanded,

I didn’t
quite know what to say,

I thought
the forest was mine to explore,

But she said
I’d gone astray,


I was off
the given trail, it’s true,

I shouldn’t
have wandered there,

Her rosy
lips pulled back into a snarl,

Revealing fangs
she was ready to bare,


She crouched
low before she sprang,

The forest
suddenly grew quiet,

One thought
flashed through my mind,

“I’m going
to die tonight!”


Now I’m not
a man to brag or boast,

I knew I had
but a few seconds to live,

I cried out, “You’ve already captured my heart,

And I still
have love to give!”


statement caught her by surprise,

She hesitated
while in midair,

Her fangs
drew back into a smile,

Her kiss
caught me square,


It was everything
I needed,

It was wonderful
and took my breath,

She held me
and loved me,

Her kiss was
not a kiss of death,


All this
happened just a few years ago,

Scouts, you’ll
just have to believe,

These Ouachita
Mountains will tell you true,

Because I know
they won’t try to deceive,


If you
should happen on strange folk,

Who snarl
and show their fangs,

Back away
and run for help,

Before they
have hunger pangs,


And love,
let it be your last resort,

Just before
your final fight,

See these
wounds upon my neck,

That’s why
my hair is white,


Yes, I love
her, I truly do,

But I wouldn’t
recommend my fate,

She thirsts
after my blood,

I have to
hurry, my love can’t wait,”


“If you
wander away from the group,

Be sure to
take a friend,”

Their eyes
were wide and very big,

As my tale
came to an end,


“The forest
is beautiful but take care,

Creatures live
close by the trail,

Now I must
hurry and be inside where it’s safe,

Remember my
story, and be sure to Sleep Well!”


The Coin (Conclusion)

One Pysar Coin from Zanzibar circa 1299 AH (18...
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The Coin  (Conclusion)

waited confidently by the river.  There
was no point chasing Vanna.  The coin
would bring her to him.  She would know
it was their fate to meet and interact.
Reggie was sure she would think he was on the run, afraid of her and the
coin.   But she would not know this was a
trap. The coin would not warn her in time.
Reggie knew the coin had powers over people and Vanna controlled it.
That’s why she would be overconfident until it was too late.

Reggie had a
secret.  The coin’s powers would work for
Vanna while it was in her possession unless….someone had control of the rest of
the coin collection.  Fortunately he
still had the collection and it was nearby, locked in his car. He The
collection was nearby so the powers would be stronger. She would walk right
past it and never know.    When
she was least expecting it, the coin’s powers would be turned against her.

stayed in the shadows where he was less likely to be noticed.  He wanted to surprise Vanna.  If she was accidentally alerted by someone, Reggie
wasn’t sure how she would react, or for that matter, how the coin would
react.  The situation could get ugly.

Two young
men loitered by a bar on a nearby street.
Reggie wondered if they were looking for an easy mark, someone tipsy or
alone.  He hoped they would leave soon
and be out of the way.  If not, he would
have to take matters in his own hands.

arrived later than Reggie expected.  He
was tense and irritable and eager for a confrontation.  The two men were still there, apparently unaware
of him, staying close to a streetlight.
Reggie was tired of waiting and ready to make their lives uncomfortable.

He had
almost given up and was sliding out of the shadows when a bus stopped at a
corner two blocks away.   A woman got off
and the bus pulled away.  Reggie knew it
was Vanna even before she turned and walked towards the river.

A woman
alone was easy prey.  He could feel the men’s
excitement increasing.  He wasn’t worried
because he knew she had the coin and at any time she could unleash its powers
against them.  He was uneasy about
letting others crash his party,  but he decided
to relax and enjoy the show.

Vanna stopped
and talked to the young men.  That was
unexpected. They didn’t follow her which also surprised Reggie.  They stood there for a few seconds surveying
the scene, trying to determine if they were being watched or followed, before
disappearing into the darkness.  Reggie
decided the coin had worked its magic and they wouldn’t be a problem.

Reggie was concentrating on Vanna and the coin
because its power was zeroing in, challenging his authority.  Because his attention was diverted the sound
of  breaking glass never registered, and
he never dreamed that the two young men would ransack his car.

Vanna stopped a few yards away and called out,
“Reggie! I know you’re there.  Come
out!  Don’t make me use the coin’s

laughed.  ”Vanna, you don’t have as much
power as you think.  The coin is mine and
will do anything I demand of it.”

Her knees
were weak and her stomach was churning.  The
coin was vibrating and she felt her control weakening.

“Just like
before, Vanna.  You’ll do what I want.”

She stared
at him for several seconds and then began slowly gyrating, dancing to music she
remembered from before.  Reggie urged her
on.  “Keep going, baby.  Feel the rhythm.”

She wanted
to resist but resistance was futile.
Unbuttoning her blouse as she danced, she watched Reggie. There was no
change in his expression but she could feel his hatred turning into

At first she
was chilled by his expression and the cool breeze coming from the river.  Then a strange warmth began in the pit of her
stomach.  The warmth came in waves, each
wave increasingly invasive.  She hated
him and yet she was beginning to want him, feeling love in spite of her hatred
of all he had done.  She continued to
dance for him until she stood before him naked and waiting, obediently ready
his next command.

The coin,
still clutched in her hand, began to vibrate.
She took several steps back and pressed her hands to her head.  The trance was broken.  Suddenly she looked up and defiantly said, “Where
are your powers, Reggie?  Did you lose

stared in disbelief.  “Don’t even try,
Vanna,” he snapped.  “Do you really want
to challenge me?  Vanna,” he ordered, “go
jump in the river.  It’s time for you to

She ignored
him and began getting dressed.

Reggie was
losing his self control.  “What did you
do?   Where is my collection?”

He noticed
the two young men standing nearby.  “This
is your chance!” he shouted. “I won’t stop you whatever you do. She’s yours for
the taking.”

one man said, “you don’t have power over us anymore.”

eyes narrowed as he recognized one of the men.
“Karl, where is my collection?”

“I put it in
a safe place for Vanna.  I trust her. She
is in charge now,” Karl responded.  “She
can answer your questions.”

“Vanna, give
me my collection and I’ll let you go,” Reggie gasped.

“Reggie, it’s
too late for you.  You won’t hurt anyone
ever again.  Karl found the collection and
it’s in my possession.  You wanted me to
die in the river.  I’ve decided you can
take my place.”

Vanna rubbed
the coin.  Reggie backed down the levee
bank and stood ankle deep in the water.  “Vanna,
please,” Reggie begged.

She rubbed
the coin again.  Reggie’s hands gripped
his throat and he fell to his knees.  He
gasped twice and then pitched backward into the current.  He was visible only for a moment before he
sank into the darkness.

Vanna turned
to her brother.  “It’s over, Karl.  Now you’ll have to get your life in
order.  You can’t continue being with a
gang and living on the edge.  The coin
will turn against you if you forget. Now you and your friend go home.  No more trouble.  Understand?”

Karl knew
she was right and he knew he had no options.
She would be in charge and life would be different.

When she
returned to the apartment there were several messages from George.  She didn’t want to deal with his probing
questions or even to talk to him.  She
didn’t feel the same towards him. Yet George was persistent and one evening she
found him waiting at her front door.

“You don’t
want to see me, George,” she warned.  “I’m
not the same person you knew.  So much
has changed since I last saw you.”

“I don’t
care,” he insisted. “Whatever you’ve done or wherever you’ve been does not
matter to me.  I don’t want to know
unless you want to share.  All I know is
that I can’t live without you.  I love
you, Vanna.  I always have and I always

His arms
surrounded her but she pushed away.  His
arms were too confining and reminded her of the humiliation and torture she had
endured and the conflicting moments of pleasure.  Could she forget any of that?  Could she ever be a good wife and mother?  George would expect life to be orderly and under
his control.  She had gained her
independence and it was too soon to give it up.

She looked
into his eyes and said, “I’m not ready to make any commitment.  Give me some time.  You deserve someone special.”

“Vanna, you’re
the one I want.  I’ll take care of you.  Get those silly notions about being
independent out of your head.  I’m
disappointed that you don’t want to have a life together.  You’ll change your mind.” He grabbed her arm
and pulled her towards the door.   “You’re
going with me to the priest right now and we’re going to say our vows.  You’ve been brainwashed by someone.  You’ll be straightened out in no time.”

“Let go of
my arm!”  Her tone got his
attention.  “I said, let go of my arm!”

different,” he said, “but you’re mine and you’ll do what I tell you.”

She rubbed
the coin and George fell to the floor temporarily paralyzed.  “Don’t ever touch me again without my
permission. You don’t own me and you never have.  I’m not a possession. Stay away from me
unless I decide you can be in my life.
Do you understand?”

Perhaps the only way he could learn was a
simple jolt that would shake him to the core.
She waited a few moments before releasing the power that held him.

George.  Someday we might work as a team,
but for now I have my doubts.”  She would
have preferred a less harsh way of dealing with him.  That door to her past was closed and George
was probably gone from her life.

Vanna knew
her life would be going in new directions.
She was not timid or obedient anymore.
She was ready for excitement and with the coin in her possession she
would turn her neighborhood around and make it safe again for families.  For now, she had much work to do.
























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