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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Prosperity (05/11/06)

TITLE: The Shadow
By Purity Snowe


Stained walls flickered sickly,
Neon ghosts, pallid, fleeting.
Faint projections from the brothel
Through the broken window gleaming,
Off the needles and the bottles
Littering the squalid shanty
Where I sold my body cheaply

The shadow of a stranger
Pressed its way in through the doorway.
Standing, staring in the refuse
At the mattress in the corner,
At the filthy sheets and covers,
At the girl by the window
Sitting, waiting for companions

I stood and faced the shadow
Of the stranger in my bedroom.
He who crept in stealthy, sneaking,
Like a dormant seed that sprouted,
Standing, staring in the refuse
Past the mattress and the bed sheets
At the harvest by the window.

A shudder rippled through me,
Sordid murmurs catching, wheezing.
“Put your money on the table.”
And I moved to pull the covers,
Making ready for my business
In the night a feverish temptress,
Seeking nothing but a living.

Refractions from the brothel
Red and vicious, slashing, seething,
Filled the room with lust and wanton.
Demon voices laughing, hissing.
“Drop your money on the table.
Let us stain you with her body,
Lock your soul in mortal pleasures.”

From the shadow just a whisper
Sad and poignant, rending, weeping
As he reached out toward me softly
And I saw his hands were bleeding.
Wrists and feet were torn and crimson.
Drops of blood upon the rubbish.
And he said, “I’ve bought you fully.”

In my mind a faded yearning
Both ephemeral and yellowed
Of a steeple and a message
Of a girl bent at an altar
And a father’s hands enfolded
While a mother’s tears flowed freely
For the hopeful prayer that blossomed.

Then the voices from the brothel
Demon accents spat deriding,
“You’re not worthy, you’re not worthy.”
And I turned in shame, in hiding
Toward the fetter in the corner
With the filthy sheets and covers.
Toward that dark, corporeal prison.

There was movement in the chamber
And I feared that he was leaving.
But I felt him move in closer,
Felt his breath of life upon me.
It was on me, o’re me, in me,
Swirling fresh and new and mighty.
And I cried out “Oh, please save me.”

Shrieked the voices in the neon,
Red and beating from the brothel,
Screamed and howled in foul derision
As they glistened off the needles
And the remnants of my bondage.
But they failed to squelch the newness
In my heart, a gentle beating.

Then the shadow grew and strengthened,
Neon smashed with righteous thunder,
And his bloody hand, the window,
As the sky burst forth with rainfall.
Holy bathed and newly baptized,
Forsake all temporal riches
Prosper ceaseless, everlasting
Sheltered close, redeemed, forgiven.

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This article has been read 1172 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Maxx .05/18/06
The title caught my eye here (for reasons I'll explain another time!) But all I can say here is WOW. This is really a dramatic story, not so much a poem. But it is clearly a poem as well. I find the structure fascinating. And the content is great! "I saw his hands were bleeding" Just wow. Very good writing. Congrats to this author for something truly unique.
Sherry Wendling05/19/06
Deeply moving, beautifully crafted. You catch the inner eye and draw the reader into the character like a master painter. I loved this!
Helen Paynter05/21/06
Brilliant. Loved the word usage, loved the images, loved the atmosphere, loved the message... can I stop now?
Joe Moreland05/21/06
What a picture you paint. I've rarely seen poetry that so vividly gives me a picture of physical dimensions...a room...window...lights from the outside...etc. I have to say this was an uncomfortable read for me in the beginning. Not for the wording, but primarily the content. I almost didn't keep reading. After I pressed on, though, I was drawn towards this character, found myself pulling for her, and, by the end, rejoicing for her. You sucked me in and lifted me up with your magic. I can't say anymore than that...except that between last week and this week, I'm starting to become a poetry fan. :>)
Steve Clark05/22/06
Oh, my gosh!!!! You swooned and swayed my heart through the rhythmn and the powerful, driving pace of the words. Truly a remarkable piece of writing. So quickly I was pulled into your realm of sin and salvation. The images knocked me off ballance and kept me reeling through the end with deep compassion, empathy and tears. WOW WOW WOW.
Jan Ackerson 05/22/06
Wonderful, wonderful writing.
Kenn Allan05/22/06
Ohmigosh! When you asked me to read this, I thought it was an OLD entry. I loved it then and still do.
Pat Guy 05/22/06
Talent saturates each word and fills the readers soul. What more can a writer do? Brilliant.
Amy Michelle Wiley 05/22/06
Wow. This is nearly perfect. It brought tears to my eyes.
Dr. Sharon Schuetz05/23/06
Beautiful, breathtaking picture.
Marilyn Schnepp 05/23/06
The story line is obvious even through the well educated vocabulary that this writer has used to describe this scene so eloquently. Simply stated - although above average intellectually speaking, the common peon like myself, for instance, can still grasp the message.
Anita Neuman05/23/06
Wow, Purity! This is absolutely amazing! I love your use of sharp, abrasive words to paint a vivid picture. BRILLIANT!
Beth Muehlhausen05/23/06
Well, "wow" has already been said...and otherwise, WOW!! The depth and passion here are so riveting and yet accessible - you know? Truly a brilliant work. :-)
Maxx .05/23/06
Just me back again! I've read this about 10 times now ... love it! I put this on the boards but thought would mention here WHY the title jumped out at me this week. Because my entry in Masters is called Shadow Dancer! What are the odds we'd both choose nearly the same title in prosperity? As they say ... great minds! ;-) Well done, Purity!
Linda Watson Owen05/23/06
Absolutely wonderful in every way, Purity!! The Poe-like rhythm beats like a mythic drum throughout the piece and is hypnotic in drawing the reader in and through the piece. Your word choice is exquisite! Love the imagery and contrasts!!
Rita Garcia05/25/06
Powerful, beautiful, brilliant!
Joanne Malley05/25/06
Simply amazing. Congrats!
Helen Paynter05/25/06
Very well deserved win. COngratulations!
Trina Courtenay05/25/06
Look at you go! A couple of weeks ago I noticed you left a comment along the lines of 'I wish I could write poetry as good'...no wishing needed, you are already there. Awesome job & congrats on your win.

Debbie OConnor05/25/06
Welcome to Masters, Purity. This is staggeringly good. (How's that for adverb abuse? :-))You are AMAZING.
Rachel Rudd 05/25/06
Congratulations, Purity! This poem is awesome. The level of your poetry is so far ADVANCED that you definitely are a MASTER.

Sally Hanan05/25/06
Well done on an awesome entry! Can I put this on my blog with your byline?
Edy T Johnson 05/25/06
Reading this "dark" story, with its rhythm touched a forgotten memory. Yes! The perfect format for your poem, patterned, it seems, after the meter of Master Edgar Allen Poe's "Quoth the Raven, 'Nevermore.'" What genius! It's as if you found the perfect frame for your painting. Congratulations on rising to the heights! God bless you with all His best.
Garnet Miller 05/25/06
Way to go Purity! I felt like I was right there in the room with her. The imagery was so dramatic. This is a well-deserved editor's choice award.
Sherry Wendling05/25/06
Aha! I told you "master painter" and truly it is so! The only thing I can't believe is that you started yourself as a 'Beginner' in the first place. You are a humble illustration of Luke 14:10-11, and an inspiration to me. All's now right with the world. Congratulations!
Venice Kichura05/31/06
You're definitely a Master, Purity! God has blessed & anoined you as a poet. You're also blessed with a humble spirt. Congratulations on another deserved win!