Download the full ballad, for free, as a PDF here: The Ballad Of Stokes Croft
Her dress, as with her hair: a haze,
of white, of purple, of turquoise,
blending each into the other
upon her form, so poised.
Beneath those lilac-springing ducts:
small markings both of blue and red
that precurse or follow on from
a red/blue symbol etched or drawn
hair-to-brow on her forehead.
The white about her black pupils
lay there, so brief, amongst dark clouds.
“So what is it we’re gathered for?”
the bear inquired as it made
space for her to sit beside him.
“I know I’m kinda late…
but now I’m here! Yeah, what’s this for?”
The golden man sat forward, then,
and placed his hat back on his pate.
“I thought we should sit ‘round, relate
our stories, friend to friend.
We each know something of this place.
Let’s share it, this night, face to face.”
“But” (bear said) “we’re from the same place.
How different can they really be?”
The girl looked at/into the flames.
“It’s not just what we see…”
Approvingly, the man nodded.
“Even you and I, who sit but
across the road from each other
and the same patch seem to cover,
have seen things separate.”
The black birds only nodded then.
The girl began to speak again.
“From our walls and their foundations –
the brick behind, the ground below –
we’ve gained knowledge beyond our time;
the trees, too,’ve made it so.”
Across its hairless-brow, pond’rance
played out on the bear’s face awhile.
The girl, detached from flame, smiled on;
the man prepped rhythm-only song;
the bear’s brows reconciled.
And there and then, starlight-assailed,
began the first of sev’ral tales…