Aphelion Issue 281, Volume 27
March 2023
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When The Pale Horse Came

by Chastity Heather King

I have seen the face of Death,
I let him pass on by.
In the vanity of youth,
thought no consequence for time.

I have lived some years since then.
If he passed my way again,
I would gladly follow him,
grinning like a madman all the while.

But, if the pale horse had not come,
bringing too swiftly Fate’s unbiased hand,
taking their evil and their best,
counting not sins or goodness done,
that dream I have long since laid to rest.

I did not protest or beg for them.
I did not advocate or fight for them.
I told myself prayers would be lost on them.
A lie I cannot now, nor could I then,
make myself believe

His rider was a gory apparition,
as if a corpse half rotted in the grave,
rose up to do the devil’s bidding,
and was quickened by each that met his blade.

He rode in the surest way,
as one who needs no direction.
Smiting all with his great scythe,
which he held close and careful,
as if for the blade he had some affection.

What followed him was fire,
that formed an ardent, feral beast.
The rider held a massive chain,
to which it gave relentless struggle.

I prayed my witness to strike me blind,
that I would no longer see,
the faces of the souls be damned,
reaching out to grab my hand,
as if I were a better man,
there to set them free.

It devoured all that the rider had slain,
until not one soul was left.
None to bury or bury them,
none to mourn their death.

My mind now is a twisted thing,
that I may never find my way,
and peace none could ever bring,
nor ever will I hear the angels sing,
When even in my grave I lay.

I still linger with them there,
borrowing their pain.
I rock them to sleep at night,
but sometimes it becomes too quiet,
and I wake them again.

2018 Chastity Heather King

Chastity King has been published in Eternal Haunted Summer, Gothic Shadows, The Big Book of Poetry, and Aphelion. She has a short story coming out in the anthology Guts and Gore.

Find more by Chastity Heather King in the Author Index.

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