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Stop in to chat with Billy
Given Name: William Clover Age: 41 Home Region: James Park Favorite Food: French macarons
The Centuryverse's poet Conductor wants nothing more than to settle down and be a family man. But life had other plans for Billy Clover. After his wife, Stacey, passed away, Clover became a Conductor in a desperate bid to occupy is wandering mind. When it turned out he had a knack for the job, he stuck with it.
In his free time he writes poems about whatever is on his mind, from trains, to pastries, to his dearly departed wife. Between rail runs, Billy can often be found among the stacks at the Centuryville Municipal Library.
Sun was setting when it started—rain so bold and lionhearted,
Locomotion fast arrested, and I stumbled ‘cross the floor.
Through the dusk I squinted keenly: water flowing not serenely
Had appeared and started meanly pounding at my railcar door.
“Just a flash flood,” I said curtly. Then my eyes saw something more:
Water pouring through the door.
Brought the train up to a slow roll through the water to a low knoll,
Where I stopped and departed my chariot to find
If the produce I’d been hauling had been sent the car a-sprawling
When the water came a-calling for my railcar, strong and blind.
Through the mud I trudged and grumbled, feeling quite maligned,
“Damn that water, so unkind.”
Once inside I sighed, defeated. Scattered vegetables unseated
From their stacked-up crates were strewn about the soggy floor.
In the center, one large pool lay dark and gleaming like a jewel. It
Stank to hell like a dead mule. I felt the stench in every pore.
“Guess I better get to cleaning,” I said in uproar.
Thus began my awful chore.
When I neared the central puddle, I saw something that befuddled
All the senses that I owned: something was amiss.
As the night air crept around me, my reflection did astound me,
For the water, quite confounding, yawned like the abyss.
Shook my head and kept on cleaning: “Don’t got time for this.”
Then what happened next was this:
Reached to grab a stray cucumber and my wrist became encumbered
By another hand which reached out from the water pit.
Firm it held as I recoiled, stumbled, and the water roiled
As the monster rose, hand coiled, fingers tightly knit.
Shook it off and fell onto some onions. I’ll admit,
“Spare my life,” I cried to it.
To my shock the thing then turned—one more moment I had earned—
Grabbed the cucumber I’d dropped, and took it for a meal.
Now afraid to make a sound, I watched the monster from the mound
Of onions, as my mind unwound in terror so surreal.
Slowly coming to my senses, I began to feel
A closer glimpse I had to steal.
Humanoid and child-sized, the monster’s skin, to my surprise, was
Sickly green and seaweed-like, and hung in tattered shreds.
Turtle shell upon its back, webbed feet and hands, and hair jet-black, the
Monster ate its stolen snack while staring straight ahead.
Water glistened in a smallish dent atop its head,
Surface calmer than the dead.
Finally, my wits composed, my strength regained, I then arose and
Found the nerve to take a step toward the creature’s place.
When I did, the monster paused, the cucumber still in its claws, and
Soulless eyes flashed ‘fore I saw the beak upon its face.
Then I heard the piercing shriek that set my heart a-race.
“Shit.” My nerve had been misplaced.
Suddenly the beast was soaring through the air, wholly ignoring
All my pleas for it to spare me. “Surely, here I die.”
But the thing miscalculated, far too fast accelerated,
Crashed into the aggregated onions by my side.
Water on the onions meant the creature’s head was dry.
“Did that kill it?” questioned I.
As I wondered at the theory, I approached it, staying leery,
But I found the creature’s life had truly met its end.
“That was lucky,” I said grimly well-aware that I had slimly
Dodged a death beneath the dimly glistening puddle, when
Then arose a bubbling sound I couldn’t comprehend.
Puddles roiled once again.
Wind, rushing past both my ears like I’m falling
Fast, from the heights of a perilous cliff.
Screaming, but laughing, the feeling enthralling,
Holding the hand of the one that I’m with.
Warm summer air
Whipping her hair.
Lost in the moment, another forestalling.
Sun on her cheeks and her nose and her lips.
Quickly, the water below rises toward us,
Churning and yearning to lap at our skin.
“Clover,” she laughs,
“Let’s make it last.”
Holding our breath, and we crash through the surface,
Fully consumed by the love that we’re in.
When my eyes open, our hands haven’t let go.
Evening sky blooming with glistening stars.
“Do you?” he said, and “I do” came the echo.
We kiss and bid our old lives “au revoir.”
Our marriage draws
Fire erupts in the air o’er the meadow—
Fireworks celebrate all that is ours.
Crackling and rattling the Earth with their booming,
Daintily raining upon hallowed ground.
Sat by a tree:
Stacey and me.
Suddenly, fireworks no longer looming:
Cherry trees, blossoming, petals abound.
Then, all at once, they’re not flowers, but showers.
Holding her hand, we await the bad news.
Doctors inform us. The sickness devours.
Losing her now is a fate I refuse.
Letting me go,
Her breathing slow,
Fading, her final words stand like a tower:
“Sweet Billy Clover, I’ll always love you.”
Kneeling alone in the snow, I place seashells
Gently atop her grave, one for each year
Spent without her.
Is it an angel or is it a death knell?
Haunted, the ominous sound evokes fear.
Lurching awake underwater, the dream fades
Instantly as I perceive both my lungs
Desperately crave air, and panicked thoughts cascade,
Rivers of terror rush up to my tongue.
Memories flood back: I recall events played
Out on my train, and the beast I’d undone.
After the monster had fallen, defeated,
Foolishly, I thought I’d handily won.
But I was wrong.
Soon came a second, which angrily greeted,
Grabbed me, and shrieked at me, leaving me stunned.
Squirming and thrashing, attempting to break free,
Into the darkness we steadily slip.
Kick of my leg and a hard thrust of my knee,
Dastardly fingers I can’t seem to strip.
Efforts in vain,
Down, toward abyssal depths the demon drags me,
Cradling my life in its villainous grip.
That’s when I see it: The moon shining brightly
Framed by a circle—a portal below.
The creature swims
Toward the gate rim,
And I concoct an idea that just might be
My ticket out of this consummate woe.
Clawing my way through the portal, I splutter,
Coughing up water and gasping for air.
Dragging the monster behind, heart aflutter,
Grabbing a stone, I then say a quick prayer.
Black eyes appear
From water clear.
Timing important, nary a shudder,
Now I must wait for the moment with care.
There! As it hoists itself up from the portal,
Calm, I rear back and projectile throw.
Soar in an arc,
Hitting my mark.
Sideways, it tumbles—the impact is mortal,
Causing the water from its head to flow.
Satisfied that I was safe for the moment,
“Survey the scene,” the next task on my list.
Moon high above in celestial enthronement
Shone on the cave through a crack in the schist.
Terror then dawns:
I spot the throng.
Sleeping, a den full of monsters to foment,
Finding myself quite alone in their midst.
Rather than give my mind up to surrender,
Something inside of me bolsters my nerve.
“Billy, my dear,
You don’t end here,”
I hear my Stacey say, softly and tender,
Dressing my psyche with posthumous verve.
Silently tiptoeing, seeking a way out,
Holding my breath to prolong my own life.
All of a sudden, an explosive payout
Cuts through the quiet—an audio knife
Rings with a BANG,
Where did it come from? The clangorous fallout
Rains down around me in colorful strife.
BANG—I look up and I—BANG—spot the culprit:
Why are the fireworks in this dark place?
Rise all around.
Monsters are waking, I realize with dulled wit,
BANG—overwhelmed by the unlucky case.
My only recourse is—BANG—try to vanish,
Hide from the beasts as they howl and thrash.
BANG—I take shelter and fecklessly banish
Thoughts that I might now be breathing my last.
“Baby, be brave,”
Stacey would say.
“You were not made to end here in outlandish
Circumstances such as monsters amassed.”
But I’m not brave, and the—BANG—creatures find me,
BANG—and I whimper and—BANG—know I’m done.
“I’m on my way,
Sweet Stacy May.”
BANG—fear is blinding, and—BANG—they’re behind me,
BANG—comes the shrieking, and—BANG…