All posts by faithlesspaladin

About faithlesspaladin

I am a writer from the Appalachian Foothills of East Tennessee.

Lake Pontchartrain Causeway

The sun is coming up, and those ruined waters are deceptively pure.

On and on over the lake, to the city below the sea, hopeless, so unsure.

The sky is wide open, and the clouds are wine dark, and slouch away.

I listen to the news, another mass casualty shooting, what good to pray?


Emily sleeps beside me, finally quiet, and like all angels she is unquiet,

and fearful, and plagued with nightmares, because love will not deny it

when blood is spilled and innocence taken and it’s all just a fucking mess.

I am her priest, the one to wipe away her tears, to listen to her mourn, confess.


Just the highway raised over water, and that water off into every direction.

Emily insisted we drive all night to see St Joan in the French Quarter, a connection

to why I became a priest, and why she didn’t give up on this misbegotten race.

I dreamed before her, unadorned and broken, and that she tenderly touched my face.


The news is off to another grisly death, to the stock market, to the hottest winter in years

Christians can’t write psalms anymore, pushing down every doubt, choking off all tears.

Emily’s vibrant blue spiral bound notebook is filled with the drawn blood of aching faith.

To follow God is to be beaten down and tired, trying for a fix to get by, oh Holy Wraith.


Emily stirs as we leave the water separating heaven and hell, heaven and earth.

The statue is a totem, made holy in our hope, in the torn heart that awaits rebirth.

I squeeze her leg to reassure her, and I give her a smile, and she smiles back to me.

Priest and angel and all the sum of our weary hearts, bitter hopes, baptized in the sea.




Wearing out my welcome, again.

The night is cold and vast, like the

Sahara or the Antarctica, it is

impossible to fill.


Outside the bar, belly full,

heart empty, I try to think

of a place to run to, any escape,

anyone who would receive me.


I can’t stand the cold, the night,

my apartment, my exhausted heart.

It is February, and it is its own night,

and it is just as endless and unfillable.


Self-medicate with Sad Bastard music

on the way home, or with ghost stories

on an audiobook, marking time until

all is quiet, and I have to live with my ache.

Cinders At The Bright Gates

Chosen, St. Catherine, St. Michael had come to her,

led her to where the sword was behind the altar,

told her to make a banner of Jesus in Heaven,

and she went to war.


She sat on her steed, the tall and dark warhorse,

and looked out at the battle field. She’d carried the day.

She felt the light of the sun warming her skin

beneath her armor.


Frail from the war, the muddy camps, and little food.

Tired, but willing to go on, willing to drink from her bitter cup.

She grieved even for the enemies cut down, for the carrion crows.

For all this wicked world could be.


She turned her head, and looked to the sky.

The sun was bright and untroubled by it’s sight.

Was it not the eye of God, after all?

Did it not see all this blood and death?


A fire in the castle burned, and Joan was transfixed.

St. Catherine and St. Michael had told her what was to be.

She drank from her bitter cup, but the weight was the sky.

Fire would raise her ashes to heaven, cinders at the bright gates.

Teal and White

She wears a black hoodie, hood up, with layers and thermals underneath.

She has a St Joan coin in her pocket she fidgets with, devoid of any belief.

The wind is harsh, and stings her face. Strands of her dark hair dance about.

She is looking on a street of bars and restaurants, nothing to soothe her doubt.


Winter is neither friend or foe, just a fact, like the sun or the rain or coming death.

The hard, striped candy, teal and white in her mouth, puts a hint of mint on her breath.

She could kiss St, Michael, but he can’t keep her safe, or even offer warmth for a night.

He loved the hint of mint on her breath, when she was still worthy in his hallowed sight.


The crowds and the lights and the noise threaten to overwhelm, but she stays so calm.

There is no voice in prayers, only begging. No remorse from forgiveness, just acid balm.

In dreams she still craves cigarettes. Waking she settles for black coffee, unshed tears.

A flyer for college crusades crushed in her pocket, with St. Joan, a sigh no one hears.


She walks to the back of The Strip, up towards Hodges Library, to pass the night there.

Tuesday, open 24 hours. and all the words of the poet she loves are hers, like cold air.

Up the hill, too out of breath, not enough fire the burn the fury that made Hel strong.

That fury could at least make her feel brave, even if we all lose if we sing the die song.

Lines of Poetry


The day is over. She drinks a cold beer. Smokes a cigarette.

An old boyfriend’s dark, flannel shirt, plain jeans and boots.

The road she looks on goes nowhere. It goes to the lake. To home.


The insects give their grating, hissing howl as the sun fades.

Her hair she’s kept long, but it’s always up in a messy ponytail.

Her hair is dark. She sips her cold beer. The cigarette burns perfectly.


This little place is hers. Coyotes have been seen nearby. Motion lights.

There is no god to notice her contentment. Or her fear. Or muttered words.

Coyotes, ever close. And turtle doves nest in her pear tree. The road takes pets.


Last drop of beer. Cigarette burnt out. Time to type out her harsh words.

The lines of poetry, like the lines of barbed wire fences, stop her enemies.

The lines of poetry, the only prayers left, speak to those she does not know.

The Mermaid’s Body

The mermaid’s body lay rotting on the beach.

Ravaged and choked, the water poisoned again.

The coroners collected her up, tenderly placed her in

the body bag, knowing even magic is finding death.


There were more by noon, as the children watched,

sobbing, finding loved dreams only in their loss.

Another wonder discarded, taken for nothing at all.

The coroners again saw the results of indifference.


The water was red, and the work went on and on.

We found another race, another kind, in our own world.

We found them only in death, after we took everything.

The coroners again saw the results of indifference.


Supernova In Her Dark Eyes

An old backpack in the back of the closet, with Sonic Youth and The Cure patches.

Clean out the closet, you find lost things, things best forgotten, or left to remain still.

I open it up, and find notebooks of melodramatic and love sick poetry.

I find old cassettes of bands once loved, but now left behind, as innocence faded.

And I find the mixtape I made for her.


High quality blank, with the white and yellow drawing of an angel, and all those

songs that made me think of her, made me swoon over her, dream of a perfect fairytale.

Infatuation intoxicating and making you believe their was life among those dead stars.

Making her face the face of God Herself. The exquisite sorrow of hoping for a kiss.

The dream that we’d escape this mortal world.


No tape player or Walkman still around. I look at the songs, and sigh.

There’s no fool like a young fool, who’s never been fooled before.

Girls are not angels, just flesh and bone, and as fucked up and lost as you.

The dream didn’t see her face, just put supernova in her dark eyes.

Youth is a drug that breaks your spirit.


Pink and white wetsuit, her pixie cut black hair barely waves under the water.

It’s Valentines Day, and though I have no hope now, I have a pretty gift I bought her.

She says dolphins are love, that they are pure, but they’re are sorcerers, just like men.

It’s Valentines Day, and all the world is going to war, civilization a game no one will win.


A gift I bought her, a silver necklace with a medal of St. Jude, patron saint of all she loves.

Hearts are fools, high on their own supply, and we are lost, not two cooing turtledoves.

The dolphins never betray her, never by cruelty break her heart, but sorcerers still.

Hearts are fools, chasing the dragon of the first time, before all was just the war of will.


This is her world, perfect. Research and play, can’t see how she so betrayed them.

There is more to hell than licking flames. There is a tiny world with no room to swim.

All the world is going to war tonight, everything is just the will to power, might and right.

There is more to hell than licking flames, a stain in our souls we don’t even try to fight.


The Mermaid Walks In A Tourist Town

The mermaid walks in the tourist town,

when the bright lights are out, when the shops shut down.

Even stragglers gone home, no more fun tonight,

gone to fancy hotels that stand at a great height.


All through the hot June day, I would come again to see her,

In the aquarium tank, I would see her smile, swim, my heart would stir.

The children watched in wonder, their parents would smile,

and I felt like what summer used to be, for a little while.


And now, at this late hour, in the bones of all joy for sale,

and I see her, long red hair, emerald eyes, out of her tail.

She is sighing, smoking a cigarette, and I catch her bright eye.

She smiles, I say hello, and then we walk on, without goodbye.


She’s might be from far away, from Kansas City, or Jacksonville.

Following her girlhood dream, a magic creature, realized by iron will.

All magicians spend time out of robes, all mermaids out of their fins.

Backlot of paradise, the grubby streets of a tourist town, saints and their sins.


Conch Shell

The mermaid swam to the bottom, farthest corner of her habitat, to where the little pile of seashells were lain. It was the last moments of darkness, of the navy blue dim, before the aquarium opened, and the bright lights came up, and she was expected to smile and wave and be happy for all those plump, arrogant and demanding faces.

Her last moments to herself, in as close as she could find to peace. She’d never even been in the wild and tempestuous seas, never been to it’s abysmal depths or it’s aquamarine shallows, or been free and fierce in all in it’s glory and danger. Her mother had been bred here, and the mermaid was born, and this was all she had ever known.

And there, in the back corner of her tank, of her little world, lay the little pile of sea shells. She picked up a conch shell, pointy crowned and white and pink. Her mother said when you placed the shells to your ear, you could her the ocean and it’s crashing waves. The mermaid placed the conch shell to her ear, and dreamed, and wept.