I Am Shallaya

(I must have done something “wrong” when I posted this poem yesterday as my comment section disappeared.  Therefore and all the rest, I’m re-posting it without the links to  “the Cafe Philos poetry prompt” to see if the comment section shows up again.)

               I Am Shallaya

[remembrances of a      ~burning woman~ ]
                as told by Sha’Tara

Spring steel: that was the Word.
I arched my back to feel it.
‘Yes,’ I whispered to the damp stone walls
Encompassing me, imprisoning me,
Spring steel:
That’s what I must be, it’s what I am.

Let them come for me now, I am ready.

They came then, as I knew they would.
They came, two by two at first,
To lie dead and bleeding on the stone.
It wasn’t what they had expected
As they leered at my naked body.

I stood waiting for the denouement:
There was a commotion in the hall
The clank of halberds and swords,
The yell of commands, curses, questions,

Confused calls echoed in the dungeons:
I discovered something else, a new power
The Spirit had left with me: dark sight.
With my mind I extinguished their torches.

They were sightless in the hallway;
Smelled the blood of their fallen comrades
Never thinking I could have done such.
I smelled their fear then, that of retribution
From their superstitions, the dreaded unknown.

I spoke for the first time since captured:
Five days it was I had been stripped, mocked,
And thrown in the dungeon for future sport.
Five days and I found my voice again,
But not the one I’d used to plead with!

‘You will all die,’ I said, growling
As the power beast rose in my throat,
As the spring steel twanged in my back
As I came out slowly, tearing out the steel door
As if made but of straw wattles.

I could see them, they not me!
Pathetic, I thought, as I touched one:
He peed himself, dropped his weapon,
Begged for mercy, as each one did,
Gurgled, as I ripped his throat out,
A fitting end for such cowards.

I found a young one about my size:
Took his clothes, tunic, armour,
Walked out openly, thought a guard
Until challenged at the main gate.

I recognized some of the gate watch:
They had leered and laughed as I was paraded
Naked for their benefit.

‘I am Shallaya the witch,’ I said
Matter of fact and simply intoned
With a normal woman’s voice.

Their eyes grew big, they made their move
And I mine: five men became five bodies.

I turned and cursed their battlements then,
And watched as they collapsed.
I cursed their gate and walked on through.
I cursed their drawbridge. It collapsed
Like a rotten log into the stagnant moat
And what a stench arose from that!

I walked away not even looking back
As the people fled screaming
As mice from a burning barn.

“You did that well” said the Grimmer
As he floated beside me, grinning stupidly.

‘I passed my test, then?’ I asked of him.

“I’m not supposed to tell, but of course
Yes, you passed your test. You are Power.
You are Witch. They await you
To give you your power staff.”

‘Thank you, Grimmer, for the gift.’
And I pointed back to the dying castle.
He laughed and disappeared.

With such power, how did we lose?
How did we not see the Patriarchy coming?
Though nobody now, I remain Witch.
I am Shallaya, and I still ask the Question

And it will never, ever, be over.
That I have sworn upon my staff
The day they burned it, and my body.

16 thoughts on “I Am Shallaya

      1. jim-

        My likes have been disappearing the past few days. This comment brought to you by WP Glitchies. Thanks for watching.


    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Thanks Frank, at least WP still allows me/us to comment on comments. I’ve looked at older posts and all the “Comment” have disappeared. When I chatted with WP happiness people they suggested I use a different browser – I have always used Firefox and don’t intend to switch either. Time to beat my head against the proverbial brick wall.


  1. Phil Huston

    So when your angry warrior princess phase passes, what next? Castaneda shape shifting? Cosmic debris convenience stores? Dystopian Exxon refineries full of Gargon 149? Whatever, I’ll read it. And I know everybody is kissing your ass but don’t get high until you run it through an editor. Trust me. Because you aren’t everybody else and you owe it to yourself and us to kick your stuff past all the sloppy glossy lookalikes.


      1. Sha'Tara Post author

        Are you thinking of the club used for attack or defense and/or as a walking stick? That’s a shillelagh – Scottish terminology. Probably the originator of the golf club! The story is told that bored soldiers invented a game of using their club to smack frozen horse turds into rabbit holes…

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Thanks for the timely warning. Feelings can be titillated by accolades, certainly, and I am not discounting any of them but there are two forces that rule my life, however much I need straightening out on both: humility and compassion. It’s a cringing admission yet I know already that those who have known me most of my adult life do see the changes wrought in me by these forces; this life purpose. I will not get all “excited” about a novel I write, or other successful efforts I involve myself in because after investing some 40 years in a process of change I know by now where I can no longer be “bought”. The problem remains those hidden places that can still be accessed by pride and greed which have a way of revealing themselves when least expected. For some of us life is indeed an internal battleground, exemplified by this particular character, Shallaya. Why did she lose her power? I can surmise that she misused it, or took it for granted. Certainly her treatment of her enemies leaves much to be desired; they were not the acts of a compassionate Witch.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hyperion

    Very strong visuals created in this poem. I like it when the lioness roars. But, even the lioness has her enemies and when she is weary and they are strong, the lioness charges into her last day. Shallaya knows this well.


    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Thanks for another sharp comment, Daniel. I’ve had more visions and grown some greater awareness since I wrote “I Am Shallaya” and I now realize that a future denouement when the Patriarchy is utterly defeated, the outcome will be quite unlike what Shallaya, even to this day, still believes it must be. Since made aware of the universal (not cosmic) war between the Patriarchy or anti-life force and Life, I have been coasting on the broader wave-lengths of cosmic history and learned, not just a terrible patience, but to revise many of my previously-held beliefs and treasured “it has to be so” conclusions. The final defeat will not be that of the Patriarchy, but of the one force that made the Patriarchy possible: death. “.. And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.” (John Donne – sonnet 10)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hyperion

        It is true, even the perception of power over life and death subdues most from even trying and there is always the example to be made to keep the lesson fresh in the minds of the oppressed.


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