Thursday, 24 October 2019

I woke with a start

I woke with a start.
Was that a bump?
It was pitch dark.
Who is that there?
Had to check up.
Put my robe on.
Quiet down the stair.
Open the back door.
Hair stands on end.
Am grabbed from behind.
What is going on?
Whisked off my feet.
Can't even call out.
Put into a boat.
And Charon he says:
"Coin in my hand."
Then opens my mouth.
I panic and squirm.
A tooth he extracts.
My gold capped one.
He examines it well.
And loosens his grip.
I'm over the side.
In the River Styx.
The river of death.
Swim to the shore.
Run back home fast.
In through the door.
Climb up the stairs.
Get into my bed.
Am asleep in a sec.
Dead to the world!
Wake soaked in sweat.
That wasn't a dream.
I have cheated death.
Just for a bit!

(Image by Cecil Keating found on cover of Penguin Classics book  "Satirical Sketches" by Lucian. 1961)

This poem written almost exactly ten years ago to the day was one of the first poems I ever posted. The coin in the mouth (or my gold tooth) was the tradition to pay the mythical ferryman for the journey across the River Styx to Hades in ancient Greek tradition.


  1. What a great poem to revisit - i love the pace and the flow I'm glad you cheated the ferryman

  2. This is deliciously dark and spooky, Robin! I like the idea of cheating death even if it's just for a little while. Thank you so much for writing to the prompt ❤️

  3. Never pay the ferryman, Robin! I love the way you’ve brought this myth to life in your spooky tale. I have a gold cap, too, and hope Charon doesn’t come for mine any time soon.

  4. So the secret of cheating death is to make sure to never have the dread ferryman's noted! Charmingly dark, Robin.

  5. The dream that wasn't a dream but perhaps is a warning... always keep a coin in your pocket.

  6. Yeah you cheated death...never pain for dark travel :)

  7. I think that cheating death can only happens a few times... he will always find us all in the end.

  8. You’re the first one to have escaped Charon and lived to tell the tale!

  9. For a second there, I thought the speaker had just fought a particularly creepy tooth fairy!

  10. Glad you cheated death! Keep your eyes out though in the future!