[Note: nominated for a Rhysling Award 2017. Congratulations, Ms. Dioses!]
In the great briar, the twisting brambles of twilight
Were decked with scarlet drops from thorn-pricked skin of youth.
They must locate the snow-white stag and then recite
A pledge of honor to the Witch Lord and His truth.
His mask was the eburnean skull of a stag,
With antlers reaching high toward the star-filled sky.
This form He did not show, for He’d make hunters brag;
He favored humble hunters, they allured his eye.
His eyes of smaragdine were blazing gems of will.
He was the Master of the Hunt, His will was law.
His furs were draped around Him, made from every kill.
His spear was stained with scarlet from dead flank and jaw.
The Witch Lord of the Hunt must grant a blessing for
A novice hunter to pass safely through His land.
No prey beneath His shelter, be it stag or boar,
Can fall without it, lest the hunter then be banned.
The Witch Lord takes great pleasure in just watching them
Investigate His woodlands, ever in the search
For Him in stag form, till at midnight they condemn
Themselves to sleep. He can depart then from His perch.
He smiles in thought and leaves them in their dream-filled sleep.
He wanders aimlessly throughout his woods till dawn,
For the arousing hunters would proceed in deep
Into His luscious forests, for His Hunt goes on.
[Ashley Dioses is a poet of dark fantasy and horror from southern California. She is currently working on her first book of dark traditional poetry to be out in 2016 from Hippocampus Press. Her poetry has appeared in Weird Fiction Review, Spectral Realms, Weirdbook Magazine, Xnoybis, Necronomicum, Gothic Blue Book, and elsewhere. Her poem, “Carathis”, published in Spectral Realms No. 1, appears in Ellen Datlow’s full recommended Best Horror of the Year Volume Seven list. Aside from writing, her other passions include martial arts and delving into esoteric and occult studies.]