Excerpt for Cold Stone Secrecy: Twelve Poems by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Cold Stone Secrecy: Twelve Poems

By Benjamin Appleby-Dean

Copyright (c) 2018 Benjamin Appleby-Dean

Also by Benjamin Appleby-Dean, and available on Kindle:


Amy and her friends are bombarded with anonymous messages, but don't notice the members of their group being picked off one-by-one as an ancient evil surfaces in their hometown. A terrifying contemporary ghost story about smartphones and social isolation.

The Stickman's Legacy

Mary never knew her father, the fabled Stickman, but his death draws her into a world of warring magicians and subterranean kingdoms, and she now has to understand her legacy before it's too late. A dark fairy-tale about the stories we tell ourselves.


Moving Forward


With Open Arms



What Keeps Us Apart


Idle Thoughts

What Comes After

Sippian Shee (A Rhyme for Children)



Moving Forward

Let me never be content

To make my bed where comfort lies

By gentle winds and open skies

Or all the colours of the sun

Let me never be content

To leave my life undone

Time goes faster when it's spent

On slowing steps to look behind

To let the spool of years unwind

And dream of all my yesterdays

Who can say if I'm not meant

To settle in my ways?

But I cannot be content

To live a life so filled with ease

I cannot shrink from injuries

Or hide behind some masterplan

For each wound I can't prevent

I'll take on ten I can

I'm not planning to repent

I'd rather burn than compromise

A part of me will always rise

Up from the ashes that remain

Life lived to it's full extent

Comes with the price of pain


I heard you one day, singing

Singing deep and solemn things

Like weathered stones beside a tree

Or grey clouds falling on a hill

Your voice was soft; yet ringing

And ringing I hear it still

I followed you then, clutching

At a sound that always rings

But clung so tight I set it free

Your body's here, the soul's away

It's never you I'm touching

Just the shadow of that day

So as I wander, stumbling

Like a bird that's lost its wings

And find silence in front of me

I make my refuge in the past

But that moment is crumbling

The longer I make it last

As Time's whirlpool is turning

We may find something that sings

A light that shines transcendently

But when we try to keep that prize

The brightest light stops burning

And the clearest echo dies

With Open Arms

You came dressed up for a wedding

Pretending you'd nowhere to go

Hard-won humanity shedding

Like snakeskin like standards like snow

You came into my dominions

Guided by your own design

But this house has formed opinions

And the main one is 'you're mine'

We hide behind paper faces

But I see the truth in your eyes

Hinting at ancient disgraces

That need more than words to disguise

You may think yourself frustrated

By my cold stone secrecy

I'll reward each moment waited

Swallow you in depths of me

Too late you realise the danger

The hooks that I've placed in your heart

You may have come as a stranger

But nothing can tear us apart

You can't scare me with your rages

I know the feelings you hide

Soon you'll learn to love my cages

Happiness grows where hope died


Each morning is set in familiar ways

Threadbare in comfort and well-worn with grace

Moments recorded played back over days

First light's farewell to the evening's embrace

The dance we did before left scratches in the floor

Carved patterns of our lives

The bitterness you said was kept inside instead

And so we hug like knives

Broken by habits we never unwind

Tighter and tighter we're coiling like springs

Smiles can't be trusted and words are unkind

Hiding our faults with the smallest of things

This dance has cut so deep there's no room left to weep

Against the ragged stone

We scrape we touch we kiss the lips of the abyss

We drown in days unknown

Last night I found you as if you were new

Sleep hanging heavy and night falling fast

Both spitting fury but neither withdrew

Blood running over we gave in at last

The dance we're doing now must carry on somehow

We've hardly started yet

Each step we take in pain are moments we remain

Before we can forget

Each morning is set in familiar ways

Guarded by rituals we cannot ignore

Counting the seconds instead of the days

Living the lie that we once had before


The shabby folk no longer lie

Where once they slept in shame

But now from archless steeples cry

A cause without a name

The streets are blind, a wooden shroud

Is nailed across each face

But something lingers, swelling loud

With scorn and hoarse disgrace

The mournful, angry, and the grim

The waking and the cold

Are sounding out a desperate hymn

A wail of dust and mould

A bloated top, the middle squeezed

Both topple as they feared

The stable has become diseased

The horse? Long disappeared

What Keeps Us Apart

(from Swift and Spiderlike)

Two dreamers share a single pair of eyes

Each taking turns to wear the other's skin

If one falls sick the other surely dies

Our lovers cannot see through our disguise

They never know which soul may lie within

Two dreamers share a single pair of eyes

We're stitched by common thread and mutual ties

If one should starve the other will grow thin

If one falls sick the other surely dies

You drag me down when I so long to rise

I can't escape this bond you hold me in

Two dreamers share a single pair of eyes

There's no way out nor any compromise

Across two worlds we're each the other's twin

If one falls sick the other surely dies

Some day to come we'll hatch like butterflies

But years remain before we can begin

Two dreamers share a single pair of eyes

If one falls sick the other surely dies


They lied - she wasn't sleeping when I found her

But tearing up her sheets to bind her hands

Still bleeding as she fought the thorns around her

Determined to resist the spell's demands

They lied - it was no prince who came to wake me

But some madwoman in a tattered gown

Who tore away the briars that tried to break me

And rode into my room wearing a crown

They lied about the way the curse was broken

No unconsenting kiss as beauty slept

Our love arose long after she'd awoken

Leaving the witch's prophecy unkept

Idle Thoughts

I sometimes yearn to lose myself in green

Run headlong from the path into the wild

To cast away my dignity and pride

And hide beneath the arches of the trees

But every day becomes what might have been

And I must learn to swallow my unease

I sometimes dream I'm in a different skin

My body and my heart now reconciled

But all these dreams are easily denied

By how I've tried to keep myself awake

I'd rather keep my true face locked within

And live behind a mask for safety's sake

I sometimes wish that I could start again

Reshape myself into a fearless child

Who never saw their passions cast aside

Or cried when they were powerless to act

But wishing conjures worlds I can't sustain

When I should learn to keep this world intact

What Comes After

(from Swift and Spiderlike)

If we dream we dream of dying

When we die we sleep forever

Bodies keep the soul from flying

Spirits hold the flesh together

So we live in worlds suspended

Passing through the veil like weather

Till at last we can't be mended

Phantoms with no path to follow

Drifting till their days are ended -

So I saw you and knew sorrow

Knew there was no point in lying

When you'd never see tomorrow

Sippian Shee (A Rhyme for Children)

(From The Stickman's Legacy)

Lickety, Splickety, Sippian Shee

He's under the bed or he's up in the tree

And if you try running he'll look out and see

He'll catch you and keep you, that Sippian Shee

Huffity, Puffity, Sippian Shee

His toes number five but his fingers just three

His nails are so sharp they'll strip skin from a flea

So don't think he'll spare you, that Sippian Shee

Hoppity, Floppity, Sippian Shee

With every step forward he cackles with glee

And when he's found you he'll come looking for me

There's no place to hide from the Sippian Shee


We always knew this world of ours was far too good to last

But never dreamed such cruelty would be brought in by the tide

We'd rather turn like lighthouses to shine upon the past

And wrap up in nostalgia while we lock the world outside

But it's no use to fill your head

With what has gone before

Come raise your voice with me instead

And sing the song of war

We tried sweet words but sweet words died when hatred took the field

We softened all our slogans to stop people getting scared

We wasted countless arguments on minds that never yield

And now the world has broken and we're none of us prepared

But sparks we strike inside machines

Can grow to something more

So use your keyboards and your screens

To sing the song of war

We've sailed the shores of yesterday and nothing can compare

But those same dreams confine us from the struggle now at hand

We're floundering in shallows, building castles in the air

While storms on the horizon swell to scatter us like sand

But are we willing to be strong

Or are we made of straw?

We've sung the song of peace too long

Now sing the song of war


(from Swift and Spiderlike)

And as your dream is dying you must surely comprehend

You wished without first thinking what remains when wishes end

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