Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tuesday Poem: Ahi Kā by A.J. Ponder and Eileen Mueller




Ahi Kā
(Prose and interwoven sonnet, Truth Lies in Fire and Dies in Flame)
Winning entry (first equal) in NZSA NorthWrite 2013 Collaboration Contest
By Eileen Mueller and Alicia Ponder

Howls pierced the fog of my dreams. I clutched Ahi, shaking her awake. “Are they real?” Yowling wound through my ear canals, ricocheting inside my head. “The dogs, Ahi, can you hear them?”
She woke, startled. “Hurry, Manaaki. They’re coming.”
We scrambled out of our bush-clad hideout, dashing up the hillside, sliding in the damp earth, ponga fronds whipping our faces.
Frenzied yelps closed in on us. The creatures’ vicious snarling drowned our laboured breathing.
Blue eyes pursued us, hot gas flames in the dark.
Were they real?
I yanked my meds from my pocket. Pills scattered in the dirt. I scrabbled for them. One stuck in my throat before sliding down.
#
Cry havoc and let us unloose the dogs
the dogs, let slip those hellish brutes of war
for tonight Manaaki will have to choose
to run—
#
“Hellhounds,” Ahi yelled, bounding up the mud and crumbling rock.
Menacing growls raced through the underbrush. Ahi yanked a nail from her fingertip. It flared to light, illuminating the black-hackled beast leaping towards us.
“Ahi?” In all our time together, her fingernails had never exploded into fireballs. I stared at her and swallowed another pill, tasting dirt.
The hound, with pain-stricken yelps, was devoured by flame. Wild baying echoed in the valley below. More hellhounds.
Ahi stood, fingertip bleeding. Her hand, with only four nails, reached out. Warm blood sticky in my palm, she yanked me uphill.
Had my medication stopped working?
To be sure, I gulped another down.
#
Laugh in the shade of the slavering beast
let fire light his eyes and make death tame
the boy is mad
#
 The hellhounds thundered behind us. Racing through the darkness, we tripped, smashing our knees on jutting rocks.
I gagged on the stench of the hounds’ hot breath. They snapped at our heelsand bit deep. I screamed.
Ahi ripped off another nail, flinging it over her shoulder. The beast yelped and fled, trailing flames.
Fingers spraying glistening blood in the flame-light, Ahi aimed nail after nail at the perilous beasts, until only two nails remained.
#
The boy is mad to thwart this hunter’s feast
the dirt he tastes will never bear his name
and yet he stops and turns—
#
Ahi flung her penultimate nail through snarling fangs.
The beast combusted. Singed fur and burning flesh. A pale demon loomed behind the hellhound’s flaming carcass. Worse than hellhounds. Worse than my lover-turned-stranger beside me, oozing blood from her torn fingertips. Worse than hallucinations.
I screamed.
Ahi smiled through her blood and tears. She tore the final fingernail from her hand and pressed it into mine. “Swallow this,” she whispered.
#


Truth Lies in Fire and Dies in Flame

Cry havoc and let us unloose the dogs
the dogs, let slip those hellish brutes of war
for tonight Manaaki will have to choose
to run through fire and flame or face the maw

Laugh in the shade of the slavering beast
Let fire light his eyes and make death tame
The boy is mad to thwart this hunter’s feast
The dirt he tastes will never bear his name

And yet he stops and turns, his wild fear tame
Ahi Kā, Manaaki keep the home fires burning
In blood and fire—with life he stakes his claim
Ahi Kā, let us stand where he is standing

Not hew him as a carcass fit for hounds;
But burn those who chase Manaaki out of bounds

Story and sonnet A.J. Ponder and Eileen Mueller

I hope you enjoyed this foray into literary fantasy,

cheers,  
A.J. Ponder
For more poems check out the Tuesday Hub at tuesdaypoem.blogspot.com/



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