"Kingsport," by Richard Tierney
Richard Tierney is the greatest practioner of 'weird' poetry. Essentially 'weird' poetry is work set in the universe created by H.P. Lovecraft and expanded by his countless disciples. A Lovecraft story or poem usually cannot be placed within specific designations like fantasy or horror or science fiction. It sprawls across all three categories and sends tendrils into other designations.
Tierney's work avoids many of the excesses in language and florid imagery that can appear in many 'weird' poetry. He retains the density of language that propels into the reader's senses.
The poem,"Kingsport", is about a community in the Lovecraft universe that is up the coast from Innsmouth and a hour's drive from Arkham.
North of archaic Kingsport, lone and bleak
A lofty crag juts up to pierce the skies,
And no man dares to climb that skyward peak
About whose summit wheel, with eerie cries,
Strange sea-birds. Townsfolk do not care to speak
Of that high crag, nor of the Thing that flies
Out of dark clouds on windy, starless nights
To the strange house perched on its misty heights.
Below, in Kingsport’s sprawl of tangled ways,
Winds Water Street, a narrow seaside lane
On whose old stones the tourist seldom strays
To hear the tapping of a knotted cane
And glimpse that Terrible Old Man, whose gaze
Seems yet to brood upon the Spanish Main.
But some dark glint within his grim old eye
Makes the rare tourist fain to hurry by.
In Kingsport ’tis the Yule that men most fear,
When snow lies deep upon the churchyard’s crest
While the archaic stars malignly leer
On graves that know dim stirrings of unrest.
For townsfolk know that ’tis the time of year
When dark-robed pilgrims shuffle to the Fest,
Drawn from afar by elder witcheries
To steeples black beneath the Hyades.
Kingsport!—strange gateway to still stranger realms,
Whose harbors open to unearthly seas
Where opal waves are cloven by the helms
Of jeweled ships whose sails bell to a breeze
Scented with spice. . . . The vision overwhelms
My senses, and my shackled fancy frees.
Thence would I fly to dreamlands bright with bliss,
Or float with Nodens to his dark abyss.
Published in Savage Menace and Other Poems of Horror, by Richard L. Tierney, edited by Charles Lovecraft (Sydney: P’rea Press, 2010; email: DannyL58hotmail [dot] com), 42.
Copyright Richard L. Tierney.