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by David Barber

1. From The Red Queen’s Saga

hers is the cave                     men fear to enter
the gleaming of scales          like well burnished armour
her great body coiled           deep into darkness
guarding the hoard              her brood is the treasure
like coals her eyes burn       Red Queen ever watchful

2. Greed

The greed of men for dragon eggs
(veined with gold and silver sweated
from the dragon’s furnace heat)
brought them creeping in for plunder.
Hear their bones crunch underfoot.

3. The Natural Historie of Dragons

The incandescent breathe of dragons.
How dragons fly. How to recognise
their spoor from clawprints of ash.
The origin of dragons in realms
of greater heat and violence.
How their fierie hearts stagnate
and cool in the clemancie of our aires,
whence their generations dwindle,
as if consuming themselves.
Who, nameless amongst their kind
recount no historie. Who are feasted upon
by their own young. Who cannot abide men.
Who nest within mountains and do not sleep.
Whose thoughts are melancholic.

4. Dracomancy

Being from elsewhere, dragons enable magic of sorts.
Within earshot: the sense of purpose leaks away.
(Discouraged heroes blame themselves, but it was not that)
When close: the certainty grows our world resents their flesh.
When touched: events are altered, futures recalled, the past brought into line.
A perilous magic, of slashing claws, a cough of flame, sudden teeth.

5. From The Red Queen’s Saga

nameless are dragons               their ancient lives buried
devoured by their children        that swarm in the darkness
boiling with murder                  only one can inherit
a new queen erases                  all trace of the past
until the rumour                      of men and their stories

6. Storytelling

Alone of the dragons,
the Red Queen desires
to outlive her death,
sung of hereafter
when men go afeasting.

A sword and a hero,
the old foe, a dragon,
ancient and powerful,
what chance has a man
with only a blade?

7. From The Red Queen’s Saga

the men with their weapons       no need for creeping
the singer amongst them           crying Hwæt!
hark! to the story                      the song of the dragon
the creature enthralled             by her own name repeated
like any king flattered              while spears circle closer

8. Alric the Apprentice and The Last Dragon

Cumbered with wooden shield and spear and torch,
a calcined skull sends Alric stumbling, the dragon
already mergered with the dripping rock.

And all about were worthless rust-streaked eggs,
still prisoning their malformed young
, repeats
Old Alric, when anyone will listen.

* * *

David Barber lives anonymously in the UK. His ambition is to continue doing all of these.

What advice do you have for other poets?
I’ve never found any piece of my writing feels finished. Come back to it later and my fingers itch to start tinkering. Still, at some time you have to send it out into the world.