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StormcrowOld man shuffles down the road
Tall stick clutched against a dirty cloak,
Sometimes a curl of smoke trails behind
And some say a pair of surly crows.
Old women mutter, "Stormcrow,"
When they see him in the rain.
He turns a piercing eye on them
It is they who flinch, not him.
He is sometimes seen in forests
With a hand against an ash
Where a sorrowed soul has hung to rest
Even many years long past.
The warriors say they've seen his silhouette
On the hill after a battle
Watching women move among the dead
As the crows fly overhead.
One day a wayward tax collector
Stumbled from the wood
Mumbling of a disfigured horse
And a figure in a hood.
In the winter when the light draws low
And cold creeps in the marrow,
The children look for "Longbeard,"
Who passes merrily door to door,
Yet leaves no footprints in the snow.
And the kingdoms rise, and the kingdoms war
And the rulers seek his council rhymes,
And the ones who scoff and the ones who scorn
Are the ones who are no more.
copyright J. Shidle
Teenage TaoismGiving birth is the closest I’d ever felt to dying.
Before that, my near death experiences had consisted only of my silent announcement of pregnancy—silent, being that my social media accounts were all deleted almost simultaneously and I never returned to school in the fall, saying without really saying that I had caught the malicious disease of “teenage pregnancy”. I’m sure the whisper spread in the hallways like the Bubonic Plague. That September, sitting at home on what would have been the first day of my senior year, I imagined friends I’d never talk to again saying “she was only seventeen, and so full of life!” at my absence in the cafeteria tables, as if they were attending my funeral instead of talking about me behind my back.
"Full of life," I had snorted then, folding a never ending stream of what had once been my own baby clothes. "Literally."
I walked around like a zombie for the months of my pregnancy, deciding t
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