Pagan Paul Feb 12
She walks the castle walls at night,
with a rose held fast in her fingers,
the mist rolls away across the land,
the memory of her lover still lingers.

Cold flagstones beneath her slippered feet
hold the histories of the aeons tight.
Old battles, wars, and terrifying sieges,
ghosts of ancient warriors wail in the night.

And still she clutches his parting gift,
she wears the bond burden of his ring,
his love weighs upon her broken heart,
tears flow free with a melancholic sting.

They fall upon the stones and disappear,
additions to the heavy tomes of history,
little gems writing sadness in a story,
as she stares into the distance so wistfully.

© Pagan Paul (10/02/18)
Terry Collett Feb 12
George sat at the dining table
for evening dinner.

It was the first time
he had been down to dinner
in many months, since being sent home
with shell shock in 1916.

He sat quiet,
staring at his sister
who sat opposite.

Other guests
sat along each side
of the long table,
and his father sat
at the top end
and his mother
at the other end.

He wanted to shut out
the chatter; it grounded
on his fragile nerves.

The man next to him
(lord something or other)
tried to engaged him
in conversation
about the War,
but George turned
and gazed at the man,
gazed at his moustache
rising and falling as he spoke,
the words floating in the air
like wounded birds.

His sister said:
George doesn't talk of the War,
he finds it disturbing.

The man looked at the sister:
I suppose he must;
are on your leave then, Sir?

George turned away.
He wanted his wife.
Where was she?

He searched along the table
on either side, ignoring
the man next to him.

Where's Polly?
He said anxiously
to his sister.

His sister leaned forward:
Polly is busy, George,
you will see her later,
the sister said
in a soft voice.

George bellowed,
his hands shaking,
his eyes staring
along the table.

His mother got up
from the table
and went around to George
who had pushed back his chair
and was standing shaking.

Calm, George,
she said.

She put an arm
about him
and began to lead him
from the dining room.

The guests stared in silence.

Polly who had been outside
waiting to take meals in,
came in and spoke quietly
to the mother,
and taking George's hand
led him from the room.

George is suffering
from shell shock,
his father said,
he has not quite
got through with it yet.

The guests nodded
and spoke in soften voices
offering apologises
and words of sadness
and such as guests do.

George held tight
to Polly's hand.

Who are those people?
He said,
his hands shaking,
his eyes staring around him.

Just dinner party guests,
Polly said,
leading him
up the stairs,
what the butler will say
about her entering
the dining room
other than as a maid.

They climbed up the stairs;
George crouched down
thinking the bright lights
were flares.
He was a bachelor,
A free soul without bother.
He comes home from work,wan,
The house is spick and span,
Every thing is perfectly placed,
The table,with food laid,
His pyjamas neatly piled on the bed,
That is the maid.

He gets married,
He comes home tired,
A little clutter here and there,
But the bedroom is done with care.
There is soft music, perfumed candles and flowers,
Romantic nights for lovers,
For dinner,mostly takeaways and leftovers.

They have children, three,
He comes home, weary,
There is chaos,
The house is a  mess,
Children are crying and shouting,
The dog is  barking,
The wife is howling and screaming,
Before she starts complaining,
He takes over the  kitchen,
Tells  her to see to the children,
For, household chores,
She abhors.

The wife and kids go to her mother,
Home is quiet, no clutter,
For a while mum has come to stay,
Once again hot meals everyday,
The house is warm and clean,
He only has to see to the bin.
Mum is the best,
But he misses his wife and kids nevertheless.
Though there are ups and down in his married life he has adjusted and loves his family.
Tess Jan 4
A masculine figure; a girl in disguise, fear is imminent when you realize, their mission's the same, both hired to kill, but not for the money, but simply the thrill.
Pitter-patter, pitter-patter, their steps draw near. They're prepared for the kill, they won't shed a tear.
The blade sings silently when pulled from its place. A hideous ecstasy is marked on his face.
The sticky crimson formed a very thin line. Both of their memories traveled back in time, to when love was real, and pure from the heart. They swore it to each other, ''Till death do us part.''
Yet limp in his arms, his dead beloved laid, a crossbow in arms disguised as a maid. Though suddenly ill, he took a step back and found the pills she hid behind her back.
He remembered the challenge from when they were younger. Who was the best, who could last longer?Compelled on his knees, his hand 'round his neck, he was suffocating, the breath pulled from his chest.
Foul words he uttered and thought of his drink, and how his partner was smart like a sphinx. Though he was stronger, her wit was uncanny; he had tried to best her one time too many.
She knew she couldn't beat him, for he was too strong. She decided her death she wouldn't prolong. Like a lamb to the slaughter, she decided to come. When the pill took over, he'd know she won.
And he'd know it was true, on his very last day, the deadliest assassin was dressed as a maid.
Terry Collett Aug 2017
George's father called Polly
into his study.

She had been there
a few times before
as a maid
but this was different.

Sit down, Polly,
he said.

She sat down,
all the time
looking at him,
taking in his greying hair
and that moustache of his
and those dark eyes
piecing at her.

How is George?
he asked.

He is a little better,
she replied.

His mother said
he ignored her
when she came
to see him
the other day,
his father said.

He doesn't talk
to anyone much,
Polly replied.

He talks to you,
his father said,
why not others?

I don't know,
Polly replied.

The day before
walking with him
in the grounds
he spoke only
a few words.

How noisy
the birds were,
he had said.

And that time
the other night
as Polly was
putting him to bed,
he had taken her hand
and said: come to bed.

But she hadn’t;
she said,
later, George,
but never did.

That would be unfair
to him and her,
she thought,
not like the old days
before the war,
or before his shell-shock,
when she and he
made love in his bed
at his request.

Has he improved at all
since he returned home?
his father said.

I think he is slowly,
Polly said.

I would have tried
to get him a man
to take care of him,
but he seems better
with you
and if I got a man
he might go backwards,
the father said.

I'll take care of him,
Polly said,
all the time
he needs me.

His father studied her,
his eyes searching her,
and she wondered
if he knew about her
and his son before this,
knew about the sex
and such,
but if he did
he didn't say
or give any hint
or say as much.
Terry Collett Jun 2017
They're out there
George said
peering out
the window
of his room.

Polly who had been
making his bed
looked over at him.

Who are George?
she said.

They think
I can't see them
but I do
creeping along there  
by the trenches.

She came across
and stood beside him
and looked out
the window.

Cows moved
in the field
over the way
tails wagging slow.

They shot Briggs
right through the head
and he was beside me
one minute
he was talking
next gone
a hole through
his forehead.

They won't get me
like that
he said.

It'll be
all right George
just keep near me.

She held his arm
a cow moved
behind the hedge.

Back back
George said
and held her close
and away
from the window
his eyes large
and staring.

She kissed
his cheek
he turned
and gazed at her
his eyes
frightened looking.

They won't kill me
will they?

No George
not now
she said
holding him.

He stared ahead
his eyes watching
a moving cow.
Terry Collett May 2017
George walked
to the door
of his room.

Polly who
had been sitting
by the window said
where are you going?

I need fresh air
he said.

He went out
she followed
he walked along
the passage
down the stairs
his footsteps
walking slow
on each step.

She kept him in view
wondering if he
was going to have
another turn.

He crossed
the hall
straight ahead.

She followed him
walking past
the new maid
who had replaced her
a timid girl who now
shared the room and bed
with Sally the maid
she once slept with
before George
came home
from the War
shell shocked.

George opened
the front door
went out
into the grounds.

Polly followed
closed the door
after her.

She watched
as he stopped
by the trees
at the horizon.

She walked
close to him.

They're out there
some place
he said.

Who are George?
she said.

The Hun
he said.

He stared
at the trees
in the distant

See their big guns?
he said.

She watched
the trees sway.

Keep behind me
he said to her
snipers out there
he pointed across
the grounds.

There was
no one there
just the wind
and birds
no war sounds.
Terry Collett Apr 2017
George lies
on his bed
in the dark.

I sit in the chair
by the window
curtains drawn.

I could have gone
through to the room
next door adjoined
by a door
where his man
used to sleep
before the War.

He joined
George's regiment
but was killed
just after George's
brain gave way
on the Somme.

I sit in case
he wakes
and panics
if I'm not here.

His parents
are not happy
that I am here
with him
but he insists
I am his wife
not the maid
he used to bed
while home
on leave
and before.

The nurse he had left
after George refused
to have her
in the room
and only me
to be there.

I wish
he was well
and back to how
he was
not this
broken man
who lies on his bed
in the  dark
moaning through
another nightmare.

I peer through
the slit where
the curtains meet.  

I see a narrow
wedge of field
and trees and sky.

I wonder what god
it was who brought
George back
but left
his man to die.
Terry Collett Apr 2017
Having put George to bed
and after making sure
he was asleep
Polly goes to the adjoining room
where she has the bed
which was once
set aside for guests.

She closes the door
and looks around the room.

It is the best room
she has ever stayed in
better by far
than the room
in the attic
she once shared
with the other maid Susie.

There it was cold
and she had to share
the bed with Susie
who spent a good part
of the night hugging her.

Now she could
sleep in a bed
all by herself
and a bed
comfortable and warm.

She wishes she could share
George's bed as she used to
when he came home
on leave from the War
but now since his return
mentally broken
she can only watch
as he struggles
with his demons
and fears and sights seen.

But if he hadn't been
so attached to her
and imagined she
was his wife
she would still be
in the double bed
with Susie
up in the attic.

She undresses
and puts on
the nightgown
and climbs into bed alone.

She hugs the pillow
and wishes George was there
kissing her
and making love to her
as he used to do
in those stolen nights.

George asleep
in his own bed
sees frightful
and deadly
wartime sights.
Terry Collett Feb 2017
The nurse had left.

George had improved little,
but got angry when the nurse
was about, and was only calmed
when Polly was in attendance;
so His father let the nurse go
and allowed Polly to nurse him.

Dudman didn't like it,
but could do nothing about it;
another maid was employed
to cover Polly's duties.

George sat in chair
by the window
staring out,
January sun
was dull in the sky,
clouds drifted slowly.

Polly tidied up the bed
and arranged
George's clothes
by the side.

Look at them,
George said,
pointing out the window,
creeping along the trench.

Polly went to the window
and peered out
where George pointed.

The old gardener and his boy
walked along by the hedge
carrying tools.

Germans, Polly, see them,
where's my gun?
George said anxiously.

Polly stood beside him:
it's Cartwright and his boy
walking by the hedge, George,
she said softly.

George peered hard:
Not Germans?

No not Germans,
Polly affirmed.

George sighed,
held Polly's hand.

Look like Germans,
he said.

She wished
he was well again,
not unhinged
by shells and gunfire.

Shell shock,
the doctor had said,
who came the other week
after George had a bad attack
of nerves and shouted
and hit out at the nurse.

Only Polly
calmed him down
and he held her
as he wept.

Dunton was there,
George said suddenly,
one minute there next gone,
blown apart,
blood on me
and his arm in the trench
a few feet away.  

Polly hugged him,
kissed his head.

George saw about him
the walking dead.
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