Two Dark Poems by Tom Duke


Solemn and alone, he steps from the grey confines
of his tiny flat in the city
descends the stairwell with a burglar’s grace
casts his glance each way
then traces a path through the foggy night.

The moon hangs overhead like a tarnished pendant
the buildings, gaunt and tall
rise up like tombstones in the night
and a faint breeze passes through sleepy streets
like a sigh.

Pausing in the black throat of an alley
he watches the shuffle of whores wrapped in wool
as they lead drunk clients
through the maze of shadows and filtered yellow light—
they will be warm tonight.

And then he is alone again
with loneliness, his friend
and the shadows that crawl upon the walkways
and the yellow mist that wetly creeps along
gathering in folds about his feet.


Under the umbra of a grand rock elm
He sat in a nook along the river’s sweep
The breeze whispered tales he’d heard a thousand times
Soothed him, as he slipped into an amber sleep.

In his dream a boy not too unlike himself
When he was young and fishing in this stream
Played a clever hook against the current’s pull
And caught a rainbow glittering in the dream.

He followed barefoot down the grassy slope
Through pearly mist, around a hidden bend
And came upon a steep and stony fall
Far from home—a place where rainbows end.

He wondered if his dream was something more
So rubbed his eyes to softly set it free
Blew it gently with his waning breath
And watched it sweep as far as he could see
As far as he could see.

Both “The Recluse” and “After a Long Walk” first appeared in the Horror Zine (Spring 2022).

Tom lives in the foothills near the Palomar Observatory (Hale Telescope) with his wonderful wife, Michelle, and three critters. His work has appeared in Wyldblood Press, The Horror ZineSirens Call, Hiraeth Publishing, and HellBound Books (pending).

If you would like to be part of The Chamber Magazine family, follow this link to the submissions guidelines. If you like more mainstream fiction and poetry with a rural setting and addressing rural themes, you may also want to check out Rural Fiction Magazine

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