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dVerse — Haibun Monday 93 — Ashes of the Dead

In time of war and unholy pogrom, the young boy’s loving parents left him in the care of the old woman who lived on the outskirts of town and raised chickens and a few meager vegetables. Until she died, sitting up, with her feet in a basin of water. He waited and waited for her to come and wake him that morning as was her routine. When day turned to evening, he came to find her staring upright corpse and knocked over the still-burning oil lamp in his surprise discovery. The place burst into flames. He escaped with what he wore and took to the dirt road.

He wandered into a village. He was called devil’s spawn and beaten, spit on, rolled into a flour sack, and taken to the local wise woman-healer. She inspected his body, nodded her head, and said in a syrupy gravelly voice, “He is definitely a vampire. I will buy him from you.” He followed her back to her hut.

He traveled with her as she made her rounds of the sick, carrying the basket that would hold the payments of bread, root vegetables, and other things. One day they went to a village where the bodies of the sick were covered with spots. The healer looked at the village leaders and shook her head. A bonfire was built and a tall stack of corpses flamed to ash. The boy got gravely ill from it. She fed him special herbal concoctions that smelled of earth and pungent leaves. Then she dug a deep hole, which she placed him in, upright, then filled the hole until just his head was above ground.

He woke from his fever to find a murder of crows surrounding him. The biggest crow was facing him, looking into his eyes. A sound was made by the crow and they all came closer. The boy, fearful, yelled to shoo them away. It worked. They stayed near in the sky, circling, until the leader made a sound. They swooped down and all began to tear at the boy’s head with their beaks. Their noises and the boy’s screams brought the old healer out and she drove them away. She undug the boy and saw the fever was gone.

Orphaned in grey skies
filled with ash of the dead, Halloween
is everyday.

As Frank has given us license with our haibuns today to write fiction, I grabbed the chance with gusto.

I just finished watching a movie called, “The Painted Bird,” an adaptation of a novel of the same name, written by Jerzy Kosinski. The tale is set in Eastern Europe during World War II. My haibun is based on parts of the movie. It is a highly acclaimed international film that one of my blogmates (thanks Benn!) blogged about. It is available on hulu for free and can be rented through amazon and other online streaming services.

image link here.

Frank J. Tassone is today’s host of dVerse.  Frank says:
Write a haibun that alludes to Halloween.  Channel your inner paranormal, and write your blend of prose poetry and haiku, with allusion to Halloween. If inspiration arises, you may even write a fictional prose to get in the mood!

56 thoughts on “dVerse — Haibun Monday 93 — Ashes of the Dead

  1. Wow, this gave me the heebie jeebies. The gothic setting and vampires are very apt for Halloween. As always, your work is extremely well-written and highly enjoyable. I would love to see a continuation of this piece of fiction. It’s intriguing and quite haunting!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for introducing me to a new movie, Lisa, I love foreign films, and it was a good idea to base your haibun on parts of it. It gave me the shivers. How frightening for a child to find an old woman dead with her feet in a basin of water – and what a narrow escape from the fire – sadly into a hole. The image is so creepy. I love the line ‘orphaned in grey skies’.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have not yet seen that film; must look it up. Sounds like a Gothic tale, but WWII is a grand story line. But if you want pure horror, check out THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have heard of that one but haven’t seen it. So many atrocities committed by those who have been given permission many times by the silence of others. Glenn it is cinema at its best despite the horrific subject matter. I agree with Benn, it may be one of the best movies I’ve ever seen, as much for what it says as for what it doesn’t have to say.


    1. Yes it is haunting and I’m sure it is a composite of atrocities really committed during WWII. I will have to recover from this movie for a bit and then plan on taking a look at the striped pajamas one.


  4. The boy would have gone through quite a trauma, maybe even after being physically healed…. excellent writing 👍 a special mention for “Orphaned in grey skies
    filled with ash of the dead, Halloween 
    is everyday….”

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this gripping but disturbing tale! I want to see the movie now. Your haiku at the end was just perfect. For some people, Halloween really is everyday.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Kate. I did a little research. Kosinski, the author of the book, said it was an autobiography, but later that was found to be untrue. It is, however, similar to what happened to Roman Polanski in his childhood. The music is from the movie’s soundtrack, or at least that song is, not sure if it is by that performer.

      Liked by 1 person

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