"Death on the Pale Horse" by Gustave Dore‘The Toss’ by Phil S. Rogers The Society December 6, 2020 Beauty, Culture, Poetry 4 Comments . One night a lean and wizened soul scuffed down the old mill road, while moonlight cast upon the knoll a mounted figure showed. The Horseman sat perfectly still, face shrouded in the mist. His hooded form withstood the chill, a scythe gripped in his fist. The old man stopped beside the road, the Horseman slowly spoke; “Old soul you bear a heavy load; Now horror I must stoke?” “Not in the least, in years bygone my days have seen much strife, though I may never see the dawn if you should stem my life.” “It’s strange you are alone,” said he, “your friends I’ve met before. Disease and Famine sought for me amid life’s godless war.” The Horseman did not make a move, but gave a hollow smile. “I think,” said he, “that this may prove to be your final mile.” The man’s eyes twinkled in the dark as he replied, “a duel?” The Horseman’s only staid remark: “You take me for a fool?” “Certainly not,” the man replied, “respect I have for you, but hardly ever have I cried— I know I’ll get what’s due.” “What is your game,” the Horseman asked, “you give me not a clue nor any reason deftly masked why I should challenge you?” “Make sport of it before I die at least a fair coin toss. The stake for me is very high; you can afford the loss.” “A toss it is,” the Horseman laughed “I’ll give you one more year, and though I think I must be daft I have no cause to fear.” The old man tossed a coin aloft, the Horseman growled a “Tails.” The old man smiled, his breathing soft; the Horseman knew he failed. The spinning coin fell to the ground, And there a head did show. The old man sighed and turned around, he guessed he’d better go. “You have one year,” the Horseman cried, “I shan’t be tricked again.” “More than one year,” the old man lied, “I would not want to win.” And thus a lean and wizened soul walked down the old mill road. . . Phil S. Rogers is a sixth generation Vermonter, age 72, now retired, and living in Texas. He served in the United States Air Force and had a career in real estate and banking. He previously published Everlasting Glory, a historical work that tells the story of each of the men from Vermont that was awarded the Congressional Medal Of Honor during the Civil War. NOTE: The Society considers this page, where your poetry resides, to be your residence as well, where you may invite family, friends, and others to visit. Feel free to treat this page as your home and remove anyone here who disrespects you. Simply send an email to email@example.com. Put “Remove Comment” in the subject line and list which comments you would like removed. The Society does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or comments and reserves the right to remove any comments to maintain the decorum of this website and the integrity of the Society. Please see our Comments Policy here. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 4 Responses Rohini Sunderam December 6, 2020 Loved it! All the elements of a ballad and so well told. Reply Yael December 6, 2020 Nice story and well rhymed. Thank you! Reply Margaret Coats December 6, 2020 Good dialogue makes a good tale, yet leaves intriguing unanswered questions about the lean and wizened soul. Not answering them leaves the reader important things to ponder. An excellent way to delight and instruct! Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant December 7, 2020 Phil, you swept me up in the magic of your poetic story – the sort of stuff read with bonfire smoke rising under a gibbous moon and a mug of mulled wine in mittened hands. Thank you! Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.