This poem was written in response to this challenge from the D’verse site : Bring us to a time and place in your poem. Give us the smells, sights and sounds of your setting.
The Fourth Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Death,
astride his pale green horse,
rides over the hill
bringing Hades with him,
and leaves the embers of trees and dwellings
in the mouths of dreamers and grafters.
At the relief centre, ash-grey ghost faces atop automaton bodies
straggle in to be recorded as being worthy of pity.
Fresh-faced city social workers wait in vain for custom
in their caravan with a sign offering ‘COUNSELLING’.
Later, they are offended when the women, farmers all,
reject communal ablution blocks and craft classes
and ask for fencing and sheds
(clearly bullied by their husbands).
The strong go on being strong
but the frail begin to unravel
when the very earth beneath their feet betrays them.
The peat beneath the topsoil remains alight
and as, one by one, the wooden fence posts fall,
the strugglers also start to burn from the feet up.
In time, God is back in his Heaven,
and the paddocks turn a deep green
as if to cry victory over Death’s horse.
But the smell of Hell is primal,
and is etched into the people’s nostrils
until the day they die.