Aphelion Issue 279, Volume 26
December 2022/January 2023
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Nightmares Fell My Fantasy

Richard H. Fay

Atop my tower of dreams
Banners snap in warm spring winds
And spires stretch toward blue sky.
I spy pastoral vistas,
Verdant hills and golden fields,
Darkened by oncoming strife.

A deathly grey pall descends
Upon pleasant thoughts and scenes;
Hell troubles this paradise.
Choking smoke dims bloodied sun
As village cot and crop burn
And nightmares besiege these walls.

Devilish war devices
Batter battlements to dust
While wheeled engines inch closer.
Tall wooden belfries disgorge
Legions of grotesque wretches
Intent upon mad slaughter.

A churning, monstrous rabble
Overtakes ramparts ruined
By storms of hellfire and stone.
Bent hunchbacks bear rusted mail,
Twisted hands hold wicked blades,
Contorted mouths thirst for blood.

Wave after sinister wave
Of surging demons and fiends
Wash over this breached fortress;
All break before that black tide.
Doomed defenders drown beneath
A savage, murderous sea.

Noble knight and humble serf
Find morbid equality
Amongst the dismembered dead.
Steaming gore stains defiled hall
As devils gut this castle
And strip my defences bare.

Alone I confront vile ranks,
Jeering hordes of dreadful beasts
Spreading hateful destruction.
My sword seeks bitter vengeance,
Parting foul spirit from flesh,
But soon they overwhelm me.

Pounding fists dent burnished plate,
Fanged jaws sever buckled straps,
Ripping claws tear cloth of gold.
Beaten and naked I lie,
A great lord made sacrifice,
Upon their makeshift altar.

Celebrants chant hellish prayers,
Imps dance a triumphant jig,
Dark heralds proclaim my doom.
Sharp blades thrust between bruised ribs,
A knife's cruel edge cuts parched throat,
Then blackness envelops all.

Terror numbs the blinding pain.
I tumble through a cold void
Of my own fell creation.
Swallowed by the pit I scream
A soundless cry in the gloom
'Til dawn shatters that grim spell.

(Originally published in the Scattered Verses, Moonlit Curses grim poetry anthology, May 2009)

© 2010 Richard H. Fay

Richard H. Fay is an author, artist, and home school dad who resides in Upstate New York. He is inspired by medieval history, myth, and legend, and the classics of fantasy literature. His diverse and interconnected interests drive his artistic endeavour. He writes fantasy prose and poetry, as well as dabbling in science fiction and horror. Recently he has decided to begin writing as more than just a sideline, although he has been writing seriously since the 1980s.

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