Jöt’s Wife

Author’s note: My take on the #vss365 Twitter prompt “yoke” was a little too short to convey what was in my head, so here’s a fleshed out version in verse (shut up, I like rhyme). I’ve spent a lot of time just walking in the snow, battling armies of trolls and ice wraiths hiding in the woods.


There’s no soft snow where Thomas lives,
just the sort that sticks.
It does not fly like powder does
it stops him when he kicks

He pulls, just like the other boys,
the ones beneath the yoke
And listens to the ice troll tongue
(they call themselves troldvolk)

If little Mike stopped shivering
Tom could hear old Jöt,
who jabbers on in frosty breath;
His troldwyfe listens not.

She hums instead, a troldwyfe’s tune
beside him on their sled
while human children pull them on
with sunken eyes half dead

Jöt yanks the reins to make them stop
and more to make them go
Thomas knows the ice troll words
for pup and move and snow

As far as he can tell there is
no troldvolk word for love.
Nor word for human, friend, or hug
or any happy stuff

Atop the tiny hill between
the human town and theirs
Jöt commands the team to stop
he rubs his beard and stares

Then tugs the reins and off they go
careening down the hill,
The other boys all scream and run
They trample one — it’s Bill.

You pull too hard! his troldwyfe scolds.
Jöt puts down the reins.
It’s CRUEL! she says, and Thomas knows
just what that troll word means.

CRUEL? Jöt says, incredulous
Mike’s shivering now stops
CRUEL is what I took them from —
What nature gave these pups.

Cruel is hungry, cruel is cold
Cruel’s their father’s voice
Who bellows, bring my whiskey, Tom,
and slaps him on the face

Chastened thus, the troldwyfe turns,
resumes her humming song.
Jöt slaps the reins once more and now
the children move along.

Then Thomas stumbles, just like Bill
His ankle thrums in pain.
And limping up the second hill
He listens once again.

Let’s go back to troldvolk town
the troldwyfe now suggests
I’ll make a stew to feed the pups
and let them have their rest

Without warm food, they have no strength
to pull our heavy sleigh.
I’ll feed them and I promise you
they’ll pull another day

He has no clue what ice trolls eat
Still, Thomas does not care
If he had a bowl of troldvolk stew
he’d eat it then and there

I rather like Jöt’s wife, he thinks
reminds me of my mum
the way she says those gentle things
the lovely song she hums

We have no meat, the ice troll says
with which to make your stew.
Have no fear, my husband dear 
— The limping one will do.

Neptune’s Ball

Awake, who sleep in water’s grave,
And hear leviathan call
Drowned men and maids from every sea
Come dance at Neptune’s ball.

Who cares if you be young or old
what age have salt and brine?
The earth shall hold your yesterdays
The wind take your designs

Leave your sunken rusted ships
your sky planes where they fell
Come, murder’d girls and mariners
And dance at Neptune’s ball.

Did you die ‘neath ice or storm?
Or drown by act of war?
Do mothers wait at home for you?
Speak their names no more.

For now the merfolk come in ranks
with kelp to trim his hall
to greet you haunted sailing men
Who dance at Neptune’s Ball

Bring what pearls and evening gowns
The sea has not consumed
But leave behind your earthly cares
Your waiting brides and grooms

Hasten, ‘ere the chamber shuts
And kraaken cracks the bell!
And cursed be they who did not come
To dance at Neptune’s ball.

Disclaimer: I don’t write poetry because I think it’s stupid™ (read: hard), but this one came to me in response to a twitter #vss365 prompt, and there seemed to be some themes I wanted to explore a little further. Again, for the record, I think poetry is stupid™. And I know rhymed couplets are passé, but whatever.

Uninvited Guest

I’m not a musician but I woke up this morning with the chorus for this song in my head. The verses just kind of came after. I don’t know if it counts as a very short story but I thought I’d put it down, with a rough attempt at chords. I think the tune it came to me with was Burl Ives’ A Little Bitty Tear. I’ve added some suggested chords on the chorus and verse.

[C]There’s an uninvited guest at our [G7] wedding
She’s prettier than I could ever [C]be
She’s standing right up there, at the [F] altar
[C]Where I always [G7]pictured you and[C] me.

[C]I wonder why nobody[G7]noticed
How come no one asked her to [C] go
When she started walking down the [F] aisle
[C]Towards the only [G7] love I’ll ever [C] know.


You swore that we were meant for one another
You said that we’d get married at the beach
And mumbled something else about the timing
Somehow it was always out of reach


I put on Momma’s dress Sunday morning
But as soon as I walked in, I could see
of all the fancy people in the chapel
The only uninvited one was me.

There’s an uninvited guest at your wedding
A girl you thought you’d left in the past
Who finally found her way back to you
So we can be together, at last

I told the priest to stop talking
I tried to call out your name
But an angel tapped me on the shoulder
and dragged me back to heaven once again.

There’s an uninvited guest at your wedding
The girl who still loves you so
Who sometimes forgets that she died
And still hasn’t learned to let you go.

Related image
(Source: Dark Shadows, Tim Burton)