Winter Tales Poem by Chris Zachariou

Winter Tales


An icy North Wind sailing
on green and purple seas
whips and mauls the land.

The frozen peaks
of the Anatolian Mountains
tower in the distance
and the Moor is howling
in the Devil's Sea.

Brave warriors of five and six
shelter in hushed classrooms
until the battered day is done.
When the school bell rings
muddy boots and ties undone
pour silently into lanes and streets.

St Michael with a gleaming sword
stands on the spire of his church so high
his head is resting at the feet of God.

The graveyard with its crumbling steps
and the whispers of the lipless dead
is surely the gate to the World of Nether.
Shades linger in its darkness searching
for a child's body and a demijohn of blood.

I fall into my grandpa's arms, he bolts
the door against the anger of the wind
and banishes the whispers of the skulls.


Late at night sitting on his knee by the fireside
I listen to him spin the yarn of the Pirates and the Moor.

Once so long ago
on a darksome night
ships came draped in black
with blacker flags
of bones and skulls.

Blood dripping scimitars
and demons poured
from their bowels of hell
folk locked their doors
prayed to the Lord for mercy
and prepared to die.

In the storm-tossed night I hear howls and screams
I see shadows fighting on the walls and the room
is filled with the pungent smell of burning flesh.

Craving virgin flesh
the fearsome Moor has
come to rape and pillage.

Men and women
lie in pools of blood
and girls and boys
are dragged wailing
to open fields
and darkened barns.

Brimstone and fire
and avenging angels
pour down from
the burning skies.

In a flash of white fury
our guardian Angel
brings down his scythe
onto the Arab's neck
and hurls his writhing body
far into the Devil's Sea.


A pale sun rises in the morning sky.
Ploughmen are out in the fields once more
and shepherds are climbing up to the hills again.

Fishermen sit by the quay chewing tobacco,
they smoke roll-ups and tell stories of the ones
who drowned and of the perils of the sea.

The voices of the dead are silent.
The Anatolian Mountains have melted
in the distance and the Moor whimpers
once again in the Devil's Sea.

Winter Tales
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