I

THE CHURCH BELL

 

No one graced the tower when the church bell rang.

Pastor Bill had left his flock alone as Heaven sang,

for the demons and denizens of all hell rejoiced

as they praised the Emissary of their Master’s voice.

 

The Dark Horseman sat before a fiery ‘set,

atop a hill of sand and stone which had not yet

been swallowed by creeping, snarling Night.

And the quiet town knew not who took them all in sight.

 

Blazing eyes ‘neath a brim of coal-dark shade

spied the homes in which the lost souls played.

Rough hands caressed a stubbled, chiselled chin

as the mystery rider recalled their deepest sin.

 

Upon his hip, a six-shot weighed the Devil’s Curse,

from which bullets of dark renown would soon reverse

the dreams and hopes of those who betrayed.

Upon their souls the six-shot weighed.

 

The brass song of church awakened many,

and gathered they in the Square to see if any

would find the courage to address the lone rider.

Argued they ‘mongst themselves about the outsider.

 

Yet before resolution and courage was found,

heard they the creaking and clopping sound

of leather on horseback approaching the crowd.

Turned they to look at the blazing shroud

of purpose and promise of deadly intent,

and the horseman spoke of a chance to repent:

 

‘Know you must that I come to judge

‘pon all you righteous who would not budge

from the inflexible faith that grips your souls.

It is for y’all that the church bell tolls.’

 

His voice was of a brimstone throat,

that echoed deep from within his coat

and seemed not to come from his mouth at all.

Such was the tone of mankind’s fall.

 

‘Yet what have we done? Such as us know not sin.’

Argued they their case from their ignorance within;

that place from which absolute faith overrules

the accountability of weak and impressionable fools.

 

‘Know y’all of your guilt,’ the horseman replied,

‘and know you also of the innocence died.

By the next sunset I’ll take the sinners.

I promise y’all…there will be no winners.’

 

Turned he his mount and rode into the town;

rode he in the path of a home burned down.

They noticed him pause as passed he the gallows,

where the land all ‘round had long been fallow.

 

Vanished he into the lingering dark of night,

leaving them all to ponder their plight.

Some amongst them slipped away to confess,

their memories devoid of anything less

than minor transgressions and small oversight.

Most of the town knew only of right.

 

Of those who were left in the darkening Square,

they could do nought but stand and stare

at the now absent spectre who promised their doom.

Silently shared they their guilt in the gloom.

 

Knew not they this devil who had come among them,

nor how the claxons of god clearly sung when

Pastor Bill had, it seemed, up and ran…

 

leaving his flock for the Dark Horseman.

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