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George M Jackson

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Dirty Black Winter
by Nickolaus Pacione

The book that Nickolaus Pacione arranged of his work from his storied career since he was 20 years of age. Some of the works are fiction, some are nonfiction. 33 stories ..  
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Jasmine and the Silver Moon
by George M Jackson
Thursday, April 14, 2005
Rated "PG" by the Author.
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Well...I wanted to experiment, try something different, and came up with this bloated...thing. Had to really consider posting this, but figured may as well. I guess. And this editor is a pain.

She came here often, far from

The gates of her father’s castle

Where he lay dying by candlelight

In a room of watchful shadows, robed

Figures whose only purpose now was

To wait for the inevitable, the rattle of

Death to cease its music as he breathed

His last, a final edict as reminder to any

With ears to listen that even a pauper

Must someday scribe their final page.


She only ventured here at night, by way

Of a secret passage, found quite by accident

When she tried to remove a certain book

From a large shelf at the back of her private

Chambers, an act of boredom nothing more

As the steward had ordered that she not be

Allowed to roam the castle halls once darkness

Fell, an order her father would never have given

Were he still able to give them, and this troubled

Her much, for she knew the stewards heart.


Knew he lusted the throne, resented that it would

Be lost to him when Jasmine reached her eighteenth

Season, less than a year from now, could feel his eyes

Upon her even as she wept at her father’s side, and cold

Was that gaze, all the more so by the words he

Spoke as it regarded her, smooth like silk, edges

Laced by false condolences meant to dull her senses

As a cobra that sways to and fro before its would-be

Prey, to mesmerize before lashing out, fangs dripping

Venom in that final act of deadly betrayal.


Jasmine, so named by the king in tribute to her

Mother, who bled to death in labor even as the

Infant cried for the first time, at the height of

A warm summer day in which that fragrance

Seemed to fill the room from the open balcony

Doors, carried by a gentle breeze, a scent that

Seemed an act of Providence, her father once

Said while in his cups, because it washed away

That terrible odor of drying blood, Jasmine, who

Now feared her life was on borrowed time.


So when she pulled on the book and the shelf

Moved aside to reveal a narrow passage, Jasmine

Felt no hesitation but took up a lantern that sat

Nearby, unmindful of the dank smell that was

Drifting out, felt no fear of what might lay

Hidden in this darkened hall of ancient stone

Where distant echoes filled her ears with the

Sound of dripping water, knowing only that

She needed to be free of this place, where

A darkness much greater awaited her.


How far that passage went, Jasmine could

Not say, for time lost all meaning there, and

Even now it mystified her that she seldom

Remembered moving through it, just glimpses

Like fleeting images when she blinked her eyes

In a dimly lit room; arched ceiling built so low

That she often had to stoop as the tunnel curved,

Dipped and turned along its course toward her secret

Place, her shadow seeming to form a will of its own

As it slid along those ancient walls, seeming to dance.


There was no hidden door at the other end, it stood open

And this was easy enough to remember, not just because

Of the relief she felt, as the passage made a final turn, before

Ending at a series of twenty-four steps, that led upward from the

Very earth under which it ran, but also because that narrow door

Faced the nighttime sky, built at an angle in a grassy hillside not

So very far from the Speaking Tree, so that when Jasmine reached

Those steps, she could gaze at countless stars tossed like diamonds

On the blackest felt, feel the sudden rush of a sweet summer breeze

That caressed her face as a lover and eased her wounded heart.


The steps were uneven, forged of ancient stone, but Jasmine had

Climbed them many times and her footing was sure as she lowered

The lantern flame, smiling because tonight the moon shone full, a

Silver disc of borrowed light to cast its glow on a cobbled path that

Wound its way through a thick stand of willow trees, dew-soaked

Grass brushing the hem of the nightgown she wore, washing her

Feet of the grime that caked the floor of that hidden passage, and

Even here with the castle lost from view, she could still detect the

Faint smell of lilac in the warm spring air, a comfort that nonetheless

Was tinged with a faint regret, for Jasmine had never known a mother.


It was the Speaking Tree that compelled her now, brought her to

This forgotten place night after night to play the game, twisted

And old-perhaps ageless-was this tree, covered in a thick red moss

That looked like half dried blood, it stood alone at the center of the

Willow grove but resembled no tree that Jasmine had ever seen, with

Its branches that seemed to move even when no wind blew, claw-like

And black as pitch above its moss covered trunk, as if hewn from

Marble by a clever wizard of great power, then given life by magiks

That would perhaps be forbidden now, because a darkness lingered

Here, a darkness somehow familiar whenever the Tree spoke her name.


But aye, she was drawn just the same by the wonder of it all; silver

Moon in a sea of stars holding vigil above, the satisfaction of her

Nightly escapes while her father slowly struggled to die, the steward

Stooped at the foot of his bed as a vulture might, this strange and

Wonderful grove a place only she could find and the Speaking Tree

That seemed to draw her to its gnarled roots, despite her unease at

The words it spoke…words that echoed from within where only she

Could hear them…and her growing certainty that it had somehow

Bewitched her, that it was no longer a matter of choice for her to

Come here, the unease she felt somehow buried ‘neath indifference.


The game was simple enough to play; the Tree spoke a verse and

Jasmine had to complete it with a rhyme…the number of verses

She had to complete seemed random and if she won the game, a

Precious stone appeared at her feet for Jasmine to carry back…if

She lost…if she lost…Jasmine could never remember clearly, only

That a terrible howling of some great beast would cry out from

Somewhere deeper in the grove…each loss bringing it a little closer

So that if she were not careful, it would soon come into view but oh

She had been beguiled by the somehow familiar voice of that Tree

And when it asked, this night, if she were ready, Jasmine nodded.


Child, my child, from where do you roam?

The moon is my shelter, the stars are my home.

Child, my child, to where shall you go?

I follow the wind, ‘neath that pale moon glow…


And something was wrong, horribly wrong now, a sound

Behind her as something crept through the dew-soaked

Grass, a smell like rotted meat left decaying in a stagnant

Pool overpowering her senses, making her want to gag, and

Far off, in the direction of the castle, a great bell started to toll, a

Bell that was only used to signify the death of a king, and the

Enchantment was lifted when she heard that wretched knell, saw

The steward standing in place of the Tree…a Tree that had never

Been, leering at her from beneath his hooded robe, so far away

From any help, any help at all, and Jasmine screamed her last.


Because the wolf was hungry. And its teeth were sharp.




“Jasmine and the Silver Moon”


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Reviewed by Karla Dorman, The StormSpinner 4/23/2005

Mesmerizing are your words, packed with power and emotion; that ending was SAD!

(((HUGS))) and love, Karla. :)
Reviewed by Joseph* OneLight*® 4/19/2005
Wow ... powerfully engaging! Wish you'd written a happier ending though. :)

Reviewed by Regis Auffray 4/16/2005
A most engaging tale, George; captivating. Thank you. Love and peace to you. Regis
Reviewed by jude forese 4/15/2005
imaginative excellence! this poem/tale is embued with growling proficience ... a "thing" to be proud of ;)
Reviewed by Kate Burnside 4/15/2005
I can see why you had to get this down on "paper", George! Not the sort of thing you can keep bottled for tooo long! It would make such a good story and I would love to be able to see it expanded to make full investigations into the minds and motives of the major protagonists. There is so much going on here, and I think this would be a, be able to dissect and interpret. Now you've unpacked this, are you going to work on it further? The lack of resolution is great in terms of taking our minds on further... but I feel this is just the tip of some iceberg that you need to explore within yourself further and that this is just the stopper out of the bottle... don't mind me ( - you don't do you??!!)... I am probably totally wrong and I am just thinkin aloud here. But there is so much "meat" to this that I think this is just a beginning... leaves me wanting more, anyway, so that MUST be a good thing! WTG, TY Kate xx
Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado 4/15/2005
you tell a good story, george! very well done; bravo!

(((HUGS))) and much love, your tx. friend, karen lynn. :D
Reviewed by Tinka Boukes 4/14/2005
Very , very godd George!!

Enjoyd this very much!!

Love Tinka
Reviewed by Dawn Richerson 4/14/2005
I love it! Try it again now and then :)
Reviewed by m j hollingshead 4/14/2005
well done
Reviewed by E T Waldron 4/14/2005
Wow! What a treat George!
Totally unexpected finale!;-)
Fantastic write!

Reviewed by Dave Harm 4/14/2005
Expanding your horizons and venturing into uncharted waters... always good for the soul...
Reviewed by George Carroll 4/14/2005
Powerful ending to a fascinating story that keeps you wondering until the end. A real nice piece of writing.
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