It’s Prompt Night 2017, this time on the theme of winter (again).

My prompt was from Virginia Woolf: “Melancholy were the sounds on a winter’s night.”

Kind of creepy, but I’m not afraid of her. Ahem.

Here’s the poem, intended as a cautionary tale for children whose moralising parents don’t mind traumatising them:



They pick their way among the slaughtered dead,

Those ragged folk on that field of red.

Fourteen they number, though once there were more,

The rest lost to hunger, murder, or war.

They moan in despair, a keen in the night,

Their souls as black as the winter is white.


The dead need no riches, scavengers say,

So these men adopted the magpie’s way.

Once they’d sought silver, or boots, or lost blades,

But greed and self-hatred shrunk them to shades.

All too often, they would bloody their knives,

Stealing rings, gold teeth, from those yet alive.


From there, the magpie easily turns crow,

Carving meat from those they find in the snow.

The gods condemned them, and cursed them to live,

Though branded for sins too vile to forgive.

They now have no kin, no loved ones, no home,

Cursed to unlife, so forever they roam.


Don’t pity the ghouls; they pay for their sins,

The names of their crimes carved into their skins.

But consider: they were once decent men,

Who sinned once, then twice, and then yet again.

When you hear the ghoul’s winter keening,

Yes, flee, but just remember its meaning.



The header image is The Ghoul King, by Dmitry Burmak, from Frostgrave: The Thaw of the Lich Lord.


2 thoughts on “Poetry – Winter Keen

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s