All posts by faithlesspaladin

About faithlesspaladin

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


Winter is here for the moment, all black sludge and rotting leaves in the yard.

Mud and torn away grass. Stillness as wiser animals sleep until the sun returns.

I’m heading to the First Martyr, the one who saved me, so long ago.


Cold and almost barren mountains, just tall grass and none of the deep forests.

Flecks of snow, not like the blizzards you’d believe. Sunlight brittle as sugar glass.

The journey here has worn me down, disarmed my defenses.


The first whisper of what would become the war was the Judas Kiss on her cheek.

But words scrawled and still remain, the memory of her keepers, allow her to speak.

I was a changed man even as I fell away. I am still her conversion.


I sit by the memorial, that brittle sunlight that shatters as it touches my skin,

and the harsh wind that makes me a ghost who is not there, but in a dream.

The war is almost here. I must peacefully resist.


Honor Her

I never knew her, but I’ve tried to honor her.

Saint who went into death with open hands.

Death came, pain came; love never left.


Fearful, bitter, I look suspiciously at the others.

Whom is to be trusted before or after the war?

Death comes, pain comes; will love stay?


I am not a saint. I try to touch with love.

Fear and hate so dark and tempting here.

When death comes, when pain comes, will I love?


St Joan is no touchdown saint, but that’s why I’m here today.

She touched my face when I was low, and so I knelt at her feet.

These destructions that are this place’s favored past time carry

her national seal, and so I watch it, cheer it on, sighing in mockery.


Over the mountain, in the deep and soft and rain cradled forests

their is a church, and I venerate those saintly, brave women, not my God,

and so I think maybe, I’ll make my way to see the place prepared for her.

But those that built it have broken their halos, and so I stay away


And did I hear a call, somewhere inside my mind, my distracted heart?

Snow falling light at night to silence the demons and put a beauty

on the sludge black of dead December, like an embalmed corpse rosy cheeked.

Did I hear a call, sword in the field, pick up and trust the flame to burn Satan.

Sickly Menthols

I forgot how nice it was to hear a pretty young woman speak with a Southern Accent.

She is perhaps a mist spoken off at dawn. She is perhaps a star sighing on it’s cigarette break.

She makes me forget the blasphemies that come from theodicy, and trying to force God’s wrath.

Just enjoy her company, and sit silent beside her on this cold night as she smokes those sickly menthols.

She’ll tell, in that sweet drawl that was never my home, of her life and that rat bastard boyfriend.

She’ll tell you the truths she found, and will give you love of a deep thinking night, because the war has not yet started.

Enjoy the place you are from, before it burns down.

Up From The Ground, Down From The Sky

Up on the plateau, on the rocky ground and thick and damp woods, she used to walk barefoot, angels whispering in the high leaves and the lurking of demons that tangled their fingers in her black hair.

Maybe a soft and cold wind whipped those fingers away, like her mother’s angry hand when her brother gets a fistful and pulls down to make her cry. Maybe they just make her cry again.

The demons and the angels were snarling and howling, up from the ground, down from the sky. Did they really want her, or was she just a prize in an endless war? Would the angels hold her hand while the shadows swallowed her at night?

A little clear pool from the creek. She comes to it, washes her hands, washes her face. The angels and demons follow her here, letting nothing be hers. Her own kind came from another world, and the pool showed their light.

She heard her brother calling from the back patio of their house. Mother wanted her. Mother who fretted over her, didn’t know what to say. She walked back, with the water hiding her face from the sky.



The fighter jets strip the sunset, ripping it from the sky overhead.

The snatching of the soft light wakes me in my warm, frail bed.

A saint’s relics buried beneath a bombed out bunker cannot rest.

The white burial shroud chokes out the angels, of that, I can attest.


The city on black, cracked glass, grey dishwater colored waves roll,

and a saint went to mop up the blood, the plagues burning from bowls.

Beneath the bombed out bunker, the forced veil covering her face from me,

and she is restless, wanting the angels to soothe her already, this accursed destiny.


Those jets strop the sunset until the light is just another vampire of our sighs.

Jests that are tearing away even the gentleness of blue, the season that terrifies.

A saint marches into death with open hands, suffers for God’s inscrutable glory.

I keep her journals on my nightstand, the scriptures of the bitterest, brightest story.




The priests wouldn’t let us in for communion, because we were two boys holding hands.

He sends us away, tell us we are sinners and not Children of God.

After the service he fucks the church secretary.


They stopped my mother from aborting me, when she was 16 and pregnant and scared.

They told her life begins at conception, and that all life was a gift.

But now they toss me to the side like trash.


Me and him sit in the park, weary, trying to enjoy the last ice cream of summer.

We always have to watch our backs. So many strangers could be enemies.

We still hold hands, eat ice cream, knowing what may happen.


Nothing is cheaper to Pro-Lifers than human life outside the lines.

Forest Station

She is there, with her lamb. Dressed in black, her sneakers and hoodie, and bandana with the white flowers.

The lamb zooms in circles and baaas at her for attention, as she sits in on the cracked and cold concrete of the little train station, just the slab and the little building, out in the forest town.

The lamb is restless, and yet she is still, as the day clears from the threat of rain, and the sun warms her face, and a breeze makes the pines rustles and sway.


The train will be here soon. Today was the last day of school, at least here. High school finished and now onto the world. The pines are ancient and cannot leave. She is fleeting and must move on.

The scratches the lamb behind the ears. The lamb is growing, no longer the perfect size to be cradled in her arms. He is growing beyond her care. Is it just to be slaughtered? Is innocence brought to this world to die?

The train station will close down behind her. Be shut down and boxed up and put away. Merciless is reason and time. All things put away. All things passing. In 300 yrs those pines will no longer be there.


The high and lonesome horn of the train howls beneath the blue sky. It is the howl of remorse, the cry of the penitent demon. She stands up and pulls the lamb into her arms, almost too big to carry.

A tinge of what she wishes she had done. The tinge that things are changing, and she doesn’t know what to expect of what comes next. The knowledge that penitent demons never forgive themselves.

The train stops, all steam and metal electric clicking. She goes inside, takes a seat, puts the lamb in the seat beside her. The train chugs, the whistle howls, and they are on their way.

Will she be lost in the world? Can she always protect the lamb? What is it this world makes of us? What do we make of this world?


Conversation comes in fits and starts as I drive you to Johnson City to visit the VA.

Too often, their are bursts of cursing from you, at some idiot on the road, though you’re not driving.

Like a summer thunderstorm, your anger comes quick, and is quickly gone.


A long car ride, and still we don’t talk. Neither of us can find the way in. Neither of us understands the other.

If these fucked up times has gifted me anything, it’s that I now know what you believe, and at least something of what you feel.

But who we are is men, who we are as people, or what faith means to us, is still a mystery we cannot speak.


And at home you read your military thrillers, watch the news and Rome burns and Nero fiddles, and scroll Facebook for hours and hours.

Sometimes you sit in your recliner and look out into the distance, and I want so badly to know where it is you go, what you see.

Does the past, despite it all, still offer comfort to you? Is there someplace that is your alone that claims you?


I just now, I cannot go.

Saint Gwendolyn

Saint Gwendolyn, on the back of that Vespa in Rome, with a boy you hope won’t hurt you when you get to the gates of the church. The Passion never stamped his passion, and his holy cross is just another blade to your throat.

Your long golden hair billowing behind, the shimmering banner of heaven, announcing your God in the streets thin and cramped, shimmering into the slim alleys alight with the riches of war.

You’ve been damaged and broken, a child of grace and confusion, and you love the whole world but every boy might be an enemy. They’ve tarnished the night that, almost dying, Jesus cradled you in his arms.

Damaged and broken, the true saints know the dirt, and remember it, as they grow to the sun, entwining into the lattice of daylight. Grace is freely given by those that know it’s absence and refusal.

I remember our last night together. I remember how it all went wrong. The exorcist saved us but the damage had been done. Jesus held you in his arms, cradling you like and infant, wiping away your tears.

I still have a lock of your hair. It still smells of your strawberry shampoo. Tied in a red bow and placed in the black leather bible on Revelation 12. We were down in the dark and know you are in the desert, fighting to save your child.

The gates of the church, a church imposing and strong, but cold inside. You see your breath before you. You wave goodbye to the boy and run up the steps as he curses and speeds away. Any holy place will give you shelter.

The desert is everywhere, just beneath the visible light. The child grows in you now, and The Red Dragon roars his rage to shatter the stars. What can come of your child now, that all seems lost. But we’ve always been lost in this world. We know our way.