All posts by faithlesspaladin

About faithlesspaladin

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

Parka Dark

Parka dark, faux fur lined hood pulled over her head, black hair spilling out.

Waiting at 5 am, at IHOP, to meet her best friend who says he’s in love.

The chill of a dark and wet October morning, and the colors you can’t see in sprawl.

The pop hits playing from the 90s, her parents youth, and the too bright light.

She waits, unsure and unsettled, if this is all real, or right, or if he’ll be true.

She once fell asleep on his shoulder, in the backseat of Eli’s car, coming home from a show.

She remembered it sweetly. She felt so warm and content. Yet, something itches in her brain.

5 am, and the music is second hand sentiments, and the soda is sickly sweet.

5 am, and she wants to believe he is true, but this town is cold; you don’t meet good people here.

No more soda, or pancakes, or staying for him. She settles the check, walks home in the dark.



Skinny and sporty girl, with golden brown skin and dark hair, always in a ponytail, swish swish.

Both of us Freshman, riding with older kids, and as we cross the bridge I hold my breath so I can make a wish.

Her name is Elizabeth, and I am in love, and we talk in the back seat, listen to the cool music.


Eli’s house after school, we sit in the cradling roots of the willow tree, summer on it’s way, end of school soon.

Her dark hair is starting to lighten from soccer games and practices. I bought a Mia Hamm Jersey like hers.

We talk about life and magic and fantasy books. She also wants to talk about Jesus. She wants me to go to church with her.


I think of her as I drift off to sleep, so maybe I’ll dream about her. I imagine her as an angel, as Joan of Arc, as the Woman Clothed in the Sun.

Red Dragon chasing her, chasing me, but I hesitate, not to protect or love her, but in believing God is faithful or cares.

Red Dragon, up in the sky, and Elizabeth offers her hand, and it is also the hand of Jesus. I love her, but do I love her Lord.

The Beloved Dream

She sleeps in the bed, cocooned in comforters and pillows, a nest to hide in the dark.

I’ve been up all night, sitting in the chair by the window, watching for a threat, watching the stars.

She’s leaving me in the morning when she wakes. I will not marry her. I refuse to bring children into this world.

I love her. I want her to stay. But this world is doomed. Humanity has slit it’s own throat. The beloved dream has been taken from us.

I watch out the window. I feel a darkness I cannot name. I watch the skies. I watch for angels walking in the streets.

What a stupid race is humanity. How blindly we burn ourselves. How selfishly we destroy.

She is leaving in the morning. I will drive north after that, to the last wild places, away from my own kind.

Dark Cotton Hoodie

Friends feel like enemies and strangers, rictus smiles behind glass.

I watch the soft rain, finally cool autumn, colorful leaves in wet clumps in the street.

Dynasty Express doesn’t have coffee, but sweet hot tea, and this night it warms me.


Brother in Christ, but am I in Christ, any more?Love is not enough if it will not wipe away tears.

Brother, has not lived me life, cannot understand why I am angry and afraid.

Keep smiling, all is well, but from this time now I will keep my distance. I will not trust him.


Dark cotton hoodie becomes dark as it’s soaked in the rain. Pretty girls laugh beneath umbrellas.

Water soaks in the cotton, a matching line punishing and pushing back.

So much that isn’t protection, despite what we want, what comforts us.






Mermaid Tears II

These ghosts do not leave. There is no reconciliation between those that leave and us who are left behind.

On this Newfoundland beach, I watch nor’easter roll in, not wanting to leave you alone in the cold waters you walked into.

Mermaid tears on the beach, cool and blue, for they wept for you, and have taken you in, in the Atlantean world, where all is well.

But as that nor’easter comes in, I hear in the bitter wind your voice calling out, but you are gone, and I cannot answer you.

Mermaid tears and my own tears, as the mermaids keep you warm so deep below, a soft light because I cannot follow.

Not true mermaid are soulless; they are the only kindness left in this world, the only love in the dark and cold winter.


The soft rain, cooling this too hot October morning with the damp air and the grey caul covering the infant sky from the mother sun.

The edges of morning ¬†quietly tattered to nothing, I drink my hot coffee, black and bitter, and wonder if I’ll go see her today.

Her dark hair and eyes brown like tiled earth are more beautiful on cauled days, more the earthen hope when the infant is crying.

Dark times now, and words become actions, and I don’t if I can trust her, or which side she is on, and war comes if she’ll slit my throat.

Dregs in the coffee cup, my heart filled with cold stones, and I want to hope, but soft rain cleanses nothing, and nurtures what is lost.


Still Morning

It’s 5:30 in the morning, and she rides her fixie in the park, not as cool as it should be in October, but still with diffuse and late coming soon, and the gossamer and damp fog.

Saturday morning, no hustle and bustle of the work-a-day world, it’s all hers, a queen of a still and unawakened kingdom, a queen of something being lost, to the world and to growing up.

She stops and stands with her bike by the little creek that runs through the park, clear and cold, but still with trash and cigarette butts discarded in it. The little creek that mesmerized her as a girl, that her mother told her to stay away from.

She didn’t bring her earbuds this morning, and she heard the wind rustling the leaves and the tall Cat Tails in the water, and heard the calls of the morning birds.

And she heard a mermaid sing. In the distance, in that thin and wet fog, she saw the shape of the siren in the first of the rising sun, combing her long, dark hair, and singing into the world.

She put herself back on her back, and slowly and silently pedaled her way to the mermaid, not even fifty feet ahead of her. The song clutched her heart, made it ache, made her long for something she could not name.

The song filled her ears, a high and sweet melody, sorrowful and beautiful.
The mermaid combed her hair and sang, and looked up at the sky, as all the stars were retreating.

She pedaled to the mermaid, but the mermaid finally saw her, and dived into the water, swimming to were the mouth of the creek met the lake, and was gone from site.

She stopped and stood again with her bike, seeing only ripples were the mermaid had swam away. In the back of her mind, a thought picked at her, that mermaids had never swam away when she was a child.

The morning was still again, and her heart ached, and she wiped away tears. The fog and the peace and what little cool there was was starting to lift and leave the waking world. The world awoke, even on a Saturday.

She looked into the water, where the mermaid had fled, until the ripples were still. Then she got back on her bike and rode back to her house, realizing everything would change and slip away.


Emma was ragged and worn, desperate to get to her hotel room and get a few, frantic hours of sleep before leaving on in the morning, when she felt a tug on her ponytail. She cried out, dropping the ice bucket she had been filling from the common machine in the nook by the soda machines. The bucket made a dull crack noise, and crushed cubes of ice scattered all over the dull and stained carpet. She heard a little girls laughter.

Emma spun around, wandering who was letting their mischievous brat out to run about at this dark and dire hour. But where ever she looked, down both directions of the hallway, and down the stairway just passed the ice and soda machines, their was no child, no one at all.

Emma, sighed, and stooped down to scoop up the spilled ice, when there was another tug on her ponytail. She again spun around, falling awkwardly falling to one knee, and thrusting cross chest with the plastic ice bucket. Again, their was the childish laughter, which she know realized was that of a little girl, though there no little girl, or anyone else around.

Emma fell back on her haunches, kicking away the scattered cubes at her feet. Exhaustion and stress of leaving home, of things having gone so wrong so quickly, of the desperate hope for her so far north in Rochester. She just felt wrung out, as if all her strength was squeezed out into nothing, and still, she had so far to go.

Emma, again, felt a tug on her ponytail. She sighed and turned around. And she saw a little girl, giggling into her cupped hands. But the girl was ethereal, thin and translucent like morning fog in the chill of October. The little girls clothes were easily thirty years out of fashion. But she was still playful and mischievous, like any other little girl.

Emma laughed with this spirit, laughed and held her middle as all the last weeks troubles fell out of her, her and the ghostly child playing at their game in the dead of night, in an old hotel in the dead of night.

Emma looked up, but the girl was gone, leaving only echoing giggles as the night grew still again. A child’s game, now over. Emma collected up the ice and went back to her room.

Bitter Year

A bright light just above the rising sun.

Venus, they say.

The endless plain and swallowing sky.

Venus, I pray.


I sit on the concrete steps, smoking.

Night, without reprieve.

The thorns in my thoughts, torment.

Night, none believe.


Thorns cut thought, blood drowned.

They’ve come.

They fill me with this darkness.

Demons, become.


The harsh cigarette now finished.

Light near.

Taken to be broken again.

Bitter year.

Then, She Touches My Face

In the cemetery after school, sitting beneath a tall and pensive stone angel, guardian of a girl who died in 1952.

And that girl from 1952, sits beside me, tells me stories of Elysium and what gold coins by.

She tells me she seen the darkness I see in this town, seen the demons indwelling humans, who invited them.

I tell her the boy she loved moved to New York, and was righteous all his days, and still dreams of her.


We’ve fucked the world, so there are no red and yellow leaves to make the fading sun a kaleidoscope.

There is no crisp evenings in dark hoodies, us walking like wraiths with our dreams as the veil thins.

She says she remembers the cold of her time, and the spirits that wept under teenage ballads on the radio.

She says she remembers the color riot of the leaves, and the mellow sunshine that made her feel free.


I sing her the song she said was her favorite, about a boy going to war, coming not the boy he was.

She lays her head on my shoulder, and the sun has been buried for a night, and when we go there, we never return.

Another war coming, another threat coming from the sky, people welcoming demons like old friends.

I sing her her favorite song, as the stars promise to be her jeweled crown in the underworld.


Then, she touches my face,

The only one I do not fear…….