The Grave of Mark Wright
As I sit to write I shiver, my legs wobble, shake and quiver.
So frightened, but must deliver an account of what occurred tonight.
Oh! Things went altogether wrong, what began with a laughing throng,
Friends gathered for drink, smoke and song ended in fleet-footed flight.
And though I dare not say I’m the only to escape, I might,
For Terror owns this bleak night!
It was a crisp October eve, when we resolved to take our leave,
I, and friends o’er whom I now grieve, take leave of home’s hearth with log alight.
The notion of our mind’s jollies, from those minds of vapid dollies,
The most arrogant of follies a mind could devise to light.
To take from hallowed earth the marker marking a man’s last right.
Steal the marker marked Mark Wright.
Hanged in seventeen-sixty-one for the vicious crimes he had done,
Wright had slashed and hacked all but one of a neighboring family one night.
Only their dog Wright did not kill, for it was, Wright said, the dog’s will
That prompted him to slash and spill their entrails upon the site.
The killings freed his strained mind, Wright proffered in no way contrite.
The dog’s neck, too, was hanged tight.
Once good and dead Wright’s head was chopped, and in its place the dog’s was propped.
Thus into the ground Wright was dropped, all trace of the crime now out of sight.
Wright’s mother bought a granite stone, around which my own tale’s been thrown.
The villager’s anger had grown, for they thought the stone a blight.
Two men tore it from the earth and were found not at all alright.
Slashed and hacked! And one dog’s bite.
The stone was found returned next day, and the people all stayed away,
Fearing for their safety if they came too close and were marked for death’s rite.
This is the tale we all knew well, a yarn around a fire to tell.
But soon our chests began to swell as we thought we had the might
To take that marker that marked the tomb at the grave of Mark Wright,
Sealing all our fates tonight.
What was that! Just a branches’ scratch. Merely a branch against my thatch.
Though it creaked much like my front latch, the latch I locked against pitch of night.
No! Write down this morbidity causing my gut’s acidity,
Of this great monstrous entity, to which this eve we gave flight.
‘Twas a branch and nothing more scratching in the breeze of the night.
Back to what occurred tonight.
Ancient limestone rocks walled the yard where our quarry stood chipped and scarred.
Time and weather had left it marred. Our laughter dimmed at its solemn sight.
There was no question whose it was, whose stone covered in lichen fuzz
That stood amongst the cricket’s buzz, glowing bale in the moonlight.
We stood in silence staring at the stone, chests once swelled now tight.
Two words, plainly etched. Mark Wright.
Five in all, this doomed band of thieves, creeping slowly on fallen leaves.
Halting there, where the cold earth heaves the mark of eighteenth-century fright.
Thomas had a shovel in hand, and as if by silent command
Pitched it into the clay and sand, due to the fear or in spite.
His stitch through the sod silenced all that make their home in the night.
And aroused one out of sight.
The earth did not tremble or shake, no thunderbolt cracked in its wake.
No gust swept the leaves like a rake, nor a thing could be seen to excite.
We all breathed a sigh and then smiled, the cosmos seemed not at all riled.
Thomas renewed the job reviled, that of wrenching from the site
That worn granite stone upon which the moon refracted its light.
The stone marker marked Mark Wright.
What was that noise out in my hall! I’m sure not a real thing at all.
The night’s brush by the Reaper’s shawl driving my mind to fanciful flight.
Though it sounded like a shoulder thudding against my wall, colder
Than a living beast, and older than is possible or right.
But I escaped. I’m home quite safe. I’m safely home, quite alright.
Back to what occurred tonight.
Gravity, that natural force on which Newton lent great discourse
Proved its worth when time to divorce the stone from its marshaled pose upright.
One last shovel and with a thud the stone fell upon the freed mud.
With no more soil to act as stud the stone fell to our delight.
We tied the thing with rope to drag it into the silent night,
Away from its owner’s site.
A mile on Fred needed to rest, the sort of resting that is best
Done on one’s own and soon addressed, thus Fred left to attend to his plight.
While those of habit lit and smoked we rested in that wood and joked
How our legends would soon be stoked, Men Without Fear! they would write.
Chests swelled once more, all thoughts of the beast’s dark revenge out of sight.
Oh! How I wish we were right.
In an instant all sound was gone, like a led curtain had been drawn
Between night’s horrors and the dawn, all of our senses brought to their height.
Then from the darkness came a foul, frothing, gurgling, merciless growl,
Followed by Fred’s voice in a howl, ending as if strangled tight.
Our blood all turned to tin and from chests to throats our hearts gave flight.
Fred’s corpse then thrown into sight.
His skin was torn loose of the bone, between chest and back nothing shown.
His throat would never again moan, ripped and torn as it was out of sight.
Only bone and bits of muscle had survived Fred’s deadly tussle.
Our heart rates raced to a bustle, we who viewed that ghastly sight.
Slashed and hacked, stripped of skin. Bones slickened with blood glistening bright.
And throat removed by dog bite.
What was that scratch on my room’s door! I’ve never heard that sound before.
Perhaps a mouse and nothing more, though doubt outweighs hope that I am right.
Perhaps my latch did open wide! Perhaps a cold shoulder did slide
Down my wall in my hall inside my most sacred, cherished site!
Perhaps I’ve minutes, mere seconds to convey the tale tonight!
It’s nearly done, but not quite.
We all ran our separate ways, each in a terror-addled craze,
Thrusting into that wooded maze, fleeing far from fear’s most fearful fright.
I was soon running all alone, from or towards that beast, unknown.
My path was dark and overgrown, only one bright dream in sight.
To fly as fast as ever I could and return to hearth’s light.
To make my way home tonight.
Jeff was the next to draw last breath, his screams filled the wood’s length and breadth,
The gurgle and rattle of death choking the echoes of his last plight.
I stopped again when Thomas yelled. His violent shrieks were also quelled
By the thing whose marker was felled by five courting fame tonight.
Keith’s final words too were torn from his throat by unearthly bite.
Five now down to one tonight.
I cleared the wood. I cleared the glen. I made it to my home again.
My lungs and sides pierced with pain when I locked my latch against the dark night.
But now it’s not safety I feel, having survived that great ordeal.
I fear my own skin will yet peel from its boned mooring tonight.
For my room’s door shakes and clatters with force of unearthly might.
My home now my own gravesite.
Perhaps I have but ten breaths more, before the beast breaks down my door,
And wrests my soul that I adore from the place where it keeps my life’s light.
The door jam now straining to hold, my soul’s living warmth from death’s cold.
My mind searches scenes new and old. I don’t want to die tonight!
Oh God! Dear God! How I wish I had never wrenched from that site
That Cursed marker marked Mark Wright!