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The Forest

A semi-epic experimental poem I wrote at university around four years ago.

By Annie KapurPublished 5 years ago 14 min read


It was almost Halloween and the cold air chilled a near-midnight close to the empty space by the town. I always wondered about what was there, but Halloween was no time for that. My grandfather would come to the centre of the village every year on the same day to tell the children ghost stories.

'Now little ones, this one is called Reuben’s Forest.' They all gathered around a campfire to listen to him.

The wind was getting colder and began to stagger, as if it was trying to run from my grandfather's anecdote. 'No silly fairy stories, grandfather!' I chuckled and suggested.

'This is no story.'

Canto 1–'Look like the innocent flower...'

His mother and father died from a disease

that staggered around the village. The mayor was to fault

for the destruction of plants for they were the remedies;

and, in turn, many died. His parents' spirits did haunt

his attempts to remain perfectly sane.

Again and again, he hid deep in his brain

and concealed the vain pulse of his veins.

He would come to destroy their passions with his pain.

His eyes like the ocean, caused a harmless devotion

to watery elements like rivers and streams.

But, in the silence of the woods in the dead of the night

he's wanted to play back their intense, stifled screams.

His hair like the bark of the most healthy trees

and hiding it under hat to protect it from harm-

much like those trees he protected as people ate them,

he killed and with their ashes, created this macabre

detail of the woods. Under it lies the secrets. Like he was

once good–now the serpent that lurks inside the deepest

wounds. He poisons what he touches like a grenade exploding in

An unsound land. His face is charmed, his mind a mess

of a thousand revenges. His arms like the clever branches

that hid the punishment of their crimes. The condemnation of

the idea conceived left nothing too far behind. And these hands would

come to do far worse the he knew. Capture, kill, burn–


His hands like the twigs, long and intricate. Growing with

enlightenment. Solar famine makes them shrivel and die

with the great wind–they will snap.

It is inevitable that he will embrace them in fire.

Legs like the roots of trees he has. Firmly planted

in the ground. The mind of the legs is stealthily adapted

and wasting away, he brings back the runaway child inside.

Proud of nothing; he hid in isolation, captivated imagination. 'Enchanted

forest, why do you hide he?' Cried the townspeople.

The runaway Byronic hero of his own dream entices the grass as he

is God's gift to the green of land. The bark of the rough tree stands alone

until he returns to call it home. Wherever it may be;

attention is paid to detail. Filling in the blanks. Taking away

the unnecessary people from his god-forsaken land. His Divine Comedy

of ash and dust. His Paradise Lost, his Sunday cost. The hunter-gather becomes

hunted and gathered in composted piles and heaps of soil. This remedy

beguiling! Sensory. Smiling. His smile like sharp teeth; canines ablaze.

His looks harmless, until his smile does amaze the eyes of the beholder. Younger

and older. Confound and bedazzled by such charm and morality in looks.

But mad fancy dwells deeper than surface and such tricks are for conjurers.

Canto 2–‘Beguile the Time…’

His hands speak for themselves. Unintentionally, unpredictably;

converse this conversion to travesty. Nature makes a fool of his Time;

owning and bonding his movement. His God doesn't scare him

but the haunting endures. And if imagination could kill? His crime

to shame. Would be the baffled eyes and ears that remained

long after he was gone. Not dead. Just gone. The stars above don't speak

of that Time. They erase it from History. They erase it from sensory– everything.

They lost that time–the Dark Ages of the village. Looking bleak

it was imagined he left. Just gone. Not dead. Just gone. His own mouth

would never tell the tale. Some say he comes back to look so harmless; but be

the demon that entails every fairytale. The wolf that devoured the rose. The monster

coming so close. Defeated. Or not? Maybe God does not want us to see–

so he ran from the History books. Time devoured him as the Earth devoured us.

The ash. The dust. Composted from bottom to top. His secrets taken with him.

He stops. Stares at you. 'Do you pick from Reuben's forest?' The townspeople cried.

But could do nothing for this–hero? Does a hero break you limb from limb

for destroying a forest he tried hard to preserve? Let us turn the tale and

beguile the time! For the remedy was not allowed because of witchcraft laws against

the cure. The botanists–could do no more. Banned and banished, left to reward

the dead. Compost and ashes. Bury them to create new life again.

He paid attention to gaps, like this one we see. The one where our dear

woods used to be. The Time has changed itself and masked with green it has grown to

make-believe nothing was there. He was indefinitely gone. Whether burned alive

or vanished. We may never know the full truth.

Canto 3–‘False face must hide…’

Named the beast. He had inquisitiveness in words. Attention to detail

he hoards gold from his internal schemes. Poetic like a flowing

river. His eyes give off this detail. Precarious, he waits in the distance;

the hunter-gather is complete. Ash and dust. Like bestowing

a crown of defeat. Of thorns and leaves. The bush hiding, ambush

and loathing of the complete. The broken monster lies harmless in looks

and believable as he seems. Spoken words are falsely conceived;

conceited! His smile, eyes and mouth make them believe the crook.

'Is it too soon to summon Him?' The priest speaks up towards the cloudy air

and red sunsets are filled with the 'bloody business' of all composted

in that vegetable patch of harmlessness. May it be forever forgotten; for we eat ash

and dust. Forgotten like a lie. Secrets destroyed lives. Think positive

and believe him! 'Tragic ends have honourable burials!' If burials could be

called that ash and dust. Burn, tragedy, burn; the woods ablaze like the teeth of a wolf

encased in the inflamed tomb of wretchedness. Wicked intentions heighten the feeling

and cut from its bonds like the hellish hound released engulfed

in sanity. 'What do they call it?' The bloody business of gaps in this village.

The great visage of travesty! One by one, undignified bodies of ash and dust. All

of them composted; roast like coffee beans under the heated sun. Gaze upon thy

brow and make them one with God! 'You creature!' One dared. 'What do they call

you?' The darkest day begun. From one he took the child inside the depths

of Hell, roaring like Dante's lascaite ogni speranza voi ch'entrate. Abandon all hope,

ye who shall enter here. Adders and snakes, let this Faustian breathe awhile! 'Take thy

name from off this woods!' They call and torment him. So he took them in a fell swoop.

Like a vulture. Have you not the senses to see this travesty of man? Who shall

be God in this maze of grass woven by ash and dust? Who shall be those we love and those

we distrust? Can we begin by telling those of oracles to expect the Nero in our Time to oppress

the chains that cage him? Dement the minds that hold to oppose


Canto 4–'The Wood began to move.’

They, in the town, predicted that one day the wood shall set ablaze and whoever be inside

should die an awful death. He was terrible in the sense that with one corpse he gutted it

before burning. God only knows what he has done since with the organs. Some do prate

that he buried them with the bodies, or kept them in jars. But whatever stock and store

could you have sympathy for him? Does Sympathy give out the same vibe to those

who damned themselves? Or does she, too, hide from his wicked impulse derived from a

near cure not yet reached? Out of grasp for superstition did not think it so, believe it to be

too much of the Devil? 'Have no fear. Grasp your coat and follow me here.'

He spoke like the angelic words escaped his thin, ice-bit lips. Cold and red like the

winter rose. His farce is exclusive to those who dare enter the woods. Whenever they cut the

thorn–they stare death in the face. The mask is removed. The farce is over.

Who could replace the winter wind of the trees, now an open space, sadly formed?

His nature like the anti-hero of his own story. Blank pages fill his free will and cut

like knives. Endangered; they run for cover and he proves, by sleight of hand. That he can

move; unpredictable. The wolf of a fairytale. Something like amazement washes over

him as he gathers the hunter. The ash and dust is solemn and blood drained has that

unclean colours about it. These buckets of blood; washed over and never clean. Vats

and tubs that gather life. The hunter-gather relationship sits, never still, in a depth of that

sunset. Red and uncanny. Not dead. Just gone. The ash and dust of the rest lies composted

to set trees on the great path of life. Lest we forget


Canto 5–‘Something Wicked this way comes.’

All the townspeople defeated; with their spears and

indecent sins made from the heads and limbs of

those falsely accused and repeating the same thing. Like vows.

They call upon the wolf. ‘Stop!

you madman of terror! You look as innocent as cherubim

does, but act as human Lucifer!’ They stood peering deep into

the darkness of the woods. It was midnight falling and the Moon; ashamed

to show her face; took the life from the trees. It was too soon.

With those vats of gasoline; clear as sin could possibly be.

They sat and awaited him to move inside the woods; they have a

course. ‘Bleed like the heinous monster you are!’ Fire ablaze,

like his teeth did once. The burning of the woods would astound a

man. Could you call this ‘Man’? Is it not wise to believe that

these hearts of Man could of course be damned for killing thy neighbour?

Respect him! For he is the one with the cure! People die left, right and centre;

you shall not press against him. But, it was too late to forge

a new idea. This belief was as good as God to them. In the woods

they were kings. Here, they were Man to God. Secondary. They must feel

superior. In the sense of making one feel inferior to them. Have you the humanity

to see that once was ash and dust is not lost to the Devil’s dreams?

The bark from the trees flash-fried in the cursed woods. Plants withered and

separated themselves from the ground. Petals falling. Leaves singed.

Stems burned. Who are the bad now? Sympathy shows her face and leaves

the heart broken with pieces lost in fabricated lies of religion. ‘Bring

here the water!’ The townspeople cry as the fire carried the woods.

Engulfed. Enraged. Encompassed. Endless. Fire; everywhere. Up in the strange

orange of sunset. Thought-provoking; of who to name the hero and who to

villain. Perspective will come and go with the change of age

and ageing.

Canto 6–‘Out brief candle!’

The light was soon out and the fire died away with the

thought that maybe; he was still out there. ‘The monster

is dead!’ Cried each and every one. ‘The monster is dead.’

But, wherever we believed Heaven was–was it far?

Here? Everything seemed to fall into place.

Whatever we believed about war–about fight.

The star, wherever this path to Heaven is, did not

think two wrongs make a right.

His rights. Taken and cursed into a remedy-driven,

poverty-stricken, fore-granted and forsaken. Demented

and derived from his drive to imply that inside was much better

that the faces of the outer world. Fragmented;

he did press. The very nature of Compassion

that transgressed from pain to pain in this glorious

compost of graves. Ash and dust follows the dirt of

Man. The filth of the land. Even the worse of us

did not believe in the system of wrong-

wrong-right. Hunter-gather became hunted-gathered

and finally hunter-hunted. Failed. Burned. Death of

the Naturalist. Death of the Naturalist. Nature is-


Canto 7–’Tis safer to be that which we destroy…’

Clearing up the last of the land; trees and all,

landfill of land. Provoking reaction from naturalist.

But the naturalist is dead along with the songs of his story.

Erased and blotted from the books of History. Impressionists

live longer than he. The art of their predecessors attain

too much blasphemy. But together, they are a movement. One

man cannot change this ground between the skies and cellar.

Grown up, growing up in this growing world is so much to stun

some to think that of witchcraft. Burned–without stake.

Stake and risk are never the same thing. Think about these things.

One man; alone. Alone with ash and dust can create this macabre

sense of nature. When we die we become ash. Ash is composted in

the ground. Buried. Made for those trees to grow. They shall

grow to grandness whilst we feed on these to keep ourselves alive.

When we should stop? They devour us limb from limb. Ash and dust.

We are nothing more. We can no longer survive.

This cycle he believed. Retreating in the idea that maybe, one day,

they would believe this too. But no. The ideology conceived

made religion the hierarchic archaic dictator. The magician of

fear. Dictating and hypnotizing the area around wherever it was received.

Ground still shaken. They cleaned for days and months.

No trace of the Naturalist. No trace of the ash and dust.

Buried underfoot. We knew the bones we trod on be those

of people set ablaze for damage done. ‘He must

not have known what you were planning. So,

how could he get away?’ You ask. Well, there was a

sudden fear in the trees the day we went down to the

woods. They seemed silent for the first day in a while.

They were not accustomed this way. They would seem

to move. Wind rushed through the green, beige,

brown, red leaves to make them trip and fall across the air.

Only for them to reach the deathly ground. Savage

man makes death of it all. It is all dead to him.

What is Man? Is he a cultural-based-no. Is he Socialist?

Is he Religion? Is he Nature? What did God truly intend? Is this

not just an ironic death or disappearance of the main miss

of a hit swung at the jealous nature of Man not being

as agile as he used to? He was agile once. Remember: he’s not dead.

Just gone. Gone away from the fire. The woods ablaze and the

Naturalist disappeared amongst the orange gaze of the world on a


Canto 8–‘There is nothing serious in Mortality.’

But they were not baffled by the disappearance.

All was going back to the way it was.

Some say he was seen beneath the surface of the church.

A criminal incognito as a priest because

those that did get their revenge. Before the parish

must perish for their sin. They believed it this way. In that

cold December month. The ice falling straight to kill–

In the shadows they believe they saw him-In fact,

falling from the hills. They believe they saw a man.

A man climbing to the mountains. The snow beneath his feet;

the captivating sound of dragging his feet. The rain drowning him;

cleansing him. The repeat

of shock. The mortal man drained of his ego. Prevented

from commercial cure. His ocean blue eyes frozen over like ice.

His hat protecting the wood-tinted hair as he would protect

the trees. Erected for the Naturalist. Here to entice

the nightmare. To repeat the song. Fire ablaze,

they did not require another problem.

He was gone. That’s all they knew.

But, something wicked-still-this way comes.

After he was passed–not dead. Just gone.

They looked to the clouds in agony; the rain seemed

to heal itself. The clouds were no longer grey–

But, their sin was not washed away.

Every cloud ceased their water. The sin

remained there. Never cleansed. Ravished and

contained. The perishing person made to suffer

damnation. For each died an agonising death on land.

Ash and dust, what they had become.

Burned for sin; anyways, not by he. Composted into

dirt for the filth they were. Murderers. That was

all it was to the priests of afar. He was not to be made a-

Due to the laws of the Catholic Church, under the acts within ‘Index Librorum Prohibitorum’ (Pope Paul IV) , the rest of this story is unable to be read and has therefore been censored appropriately for your safety.

Every day since, I look across these cloudless skies

and think with my spacial heart and eyes:

‘Who would be doom’d to gaze upon

a sky without a cloud or sun?’

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About the Creator

Annie Kapur

195K+ Reads on Vocal.

English Lecturer

🎓Literature & Writing (B.A)

🎓Film & Writing (M.A)

🎓Secondary English Education (PgDipEd) (QTS)

📍Birmingham, UK

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