This blog's poems are from my published poetry book Star Steeds and Other Dreams: The Collected Poems (CFZ Press: Bideford, 2009) and are © Dr Karl P.N. Shuker, 2009. Except for author-credited review purposes, it is strictly forbidden to reproduce any of these poems elsewhere, either in part or in entirety, by any means, without my written permission.

How to purchase Star Steeds and Other Dreams

If you wish to buy this book, which is 230 pages long and is ISBN 978-1-905723-40-9, it is readily available online from its publisher, CFZ Press of Bideford, Devon, UK at and also from such major literary websites as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Waterstones, W H Smith, and sellers on AbeBooks to name but a few. You can also purchase a signed copy directly from me, the author - please email me at for full details.

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Monday, 28 February 2011


The following poem of mine was inspired by a beautifully-written short story (entitled ‘The Bell’) penned long ago by Hans Christian Andersen – one of my poetry’s most influential muses.


Morning rose slowly through pale, dreaming cloudlets,
Peering down softly from clear, violet skies,
Watching the countryside waking from slumber,
Sending forth sunlight from warm golden eyes.

And as the song of the warbling dawn chorus
Drifted in ripples of carolling darts,
Church bells pealed gaily their glorious chansons,
Born from the joy of their bright, silver hearts.

Yet, ‘midst the chimes of their vibrant crescendo,
Echoed the sound of a more distant bell,
Deep and majestic in strange, holy splendour,
Singing unseen through each woodland and dell.

Rich was its tone, like a solemn concerto
Borne from a World of Perfection and Truth,
Calling me onwards through dingle and forest,
Haunting the wandering soul of my youth.

Snow-white anemones listened in silence,
Bowing down low as its heavenly chimes
Rang out before me in infinite glory,
Growing more fair with the passage of Time.

And as I walked through viridian woodlands,
Lilac convolvuli trumpeted long,
While from the arbours the bell’s regal chorus
Softly resounded through hyacinth throngs.

Still I continued, past silver-lit lakesides,
And as the swans drifted softly from sight,
Leaving their shadows on deep turquoise waters,
Far up ahead shone a shimmering light.

And as I passed through the lavender mountains,
Seeking the bell that had called from afar,
Fountains danced brightly from woodland to valley,
Spraying the vales with a bright shower of stars.

Meadows lay glistening on in the distance,
Dappled with poppies in slumbering bliss,
Peacefully dreaming in rapturous beauty,
Wrapped in enchantment by Summer’s soft kiss.

And as I climbed to the grey, cloudy summit,
Sunset spread softly through brilliant skies,
Filling the world with its rosy suffusion,
Scorching with colour my wondering eyes.

And as the sun sank down softly through Heaven,
There, ‘neath the sky, lay the glittering sea,
Snaring the sun’s silhouetted reflection –
Here, if at all, would the bell surely be.

Lo! What magnificence! Lo! What resplendence!
There stood the sun like an altar of gold,
Raised o’er the sea as a shimmering halo,
Kissed by the ocean’s voluptuous folds.

Here was the wondrous Cathedral of Nature –
Pillars of willow, and Heaven its dome,
Singing of Beauty, of Love in the Highest,
Borne from the chorus of wavelet and foam.

Stars twinkled brightly like crystalline lanterns,
Lighting up softly the pathways of Night,
Casting their shadows like glittering diamonds
Down to the woodlands in crescents of light.

And, as I stood ‘neath the Archway of Heaven,
Nature and Poetry singing as one,
Still the invisible Bell rang above me,
Calling me ever more, upwards and on,

Singing of God, of His Power and His Promise,
Sending His Love in melodious chords,
Borne by the souls of the Blessèd forever –
Praise in excelsis, for theirs is the Lord!

Friday, 25 February 2011


How many of us look back at our childhood days with fond memories and not a little sadness, recalling the summers that seemed much brighter and sunnier than they are nowadays, the flowers that blossomed more profusely, and the skies that were infused with a vivid intensity of robin’s-egg blue that we can scarcely even imagine today? How many of us would willingly give up all that we have achieved in adulthood to return to the blissful happiness and security of childhood and the loving arms of our family? I would, without a moment’s hesitation.


‘Midst golden mists and shadows cast
By summer sunbeams glowing,
‘Cross straits of deep blue heavens past
The oceans gently flowing,
Glides soft enchanting sun-drenched bliss –
The warmth of Summer’s loving kiss.

For here a world of sunshine lies,
Where fragrant flowers are blooming;
While silhouettes of soft mauve skies
Through mirrored pools are looming,
Reborn from silent breaths of Spring,
As delicate as fairy wings.

And here I sit in languid haze,
Caressed by wafting breezes,
Or lie in cool, refreshing laze
As sunlight gently teases,
And dream in realms of mellow green
Of amber fields, and woods serene.

And drift through lands of summers past –
Unclouded worlds of wonder –
When childhood seemed fore’er to last,
And fears I tossed asunder
As I through Nature’s realms would choose
My outer shell to shed and lose.

And then, unheeded, passed I long
The hours in lone seclusion,
In worlds that more to me belong
Than modern-day illusions –
The work of Man’s despairing toils,
Ensnared by Greed’s unending coils.

For oft I yearn to set my gaze
Beyond the heavens’ ending,
And live again those bygone days
In which my mind is wending.
One day, perhaps, my soul will fly,
And find my world beyond the sky.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011


Kiefer Sutherland in the cult vampire-biker movie 'The Lost Boys'

Just for a change, the following composition of mine does not feature in my book Star Steeds and Other Dreams. As you may know, highly-acclaimed graphic artist Andy Paciorek and I are planning various collaborations. One of these may result in a future book on supernatural entities of the night. Consequently, I'm currently preparing some samples of text for it, retelling these entities' legends and lore in lyrical prose. So here, in an exclusive preview, is one of them. I hope you enjoy it!

                                         THE VAMPIRE

Alone with the ghosts of days long departed, stretching back in silent homage, I dream that I am gazing into a looking glass and fancy that I see there, staring back out at me, a tall grim shadow, a wraith in human form that haunts my very being, chills my innermost essence with its dread pallid countenance, mesmerising and yet also captivating me with its icy doom. I have so many questions to ask this creature of darkness and night, I scarcely know where to begin.

Why do you and your kind exist?

“We exist to remind humanity that sometimes not even death can bring release from the evil that is nurtured in life. We exist to feed upon the fear that such realisation generates, to feed and grow stronger and wait.”

But why feed upon blood too?

“Blood is life, blood symbolises all that has dried up and long since disappeared from our shrivelled, exsanguinated existence. When we imbibe it, we are temporarily regenerated, rejuvenated, and reborn. For a short span of time, we are fully alive, even if only during the veiled hours of night. We may never feel the warmth of the sun, but we are sustained by the coolness of the moon and by the fire of the stars, nourishing and restoring us, empowering our living death with deathless life.”

I stand before this mirrored being of nightmare, and imagine with trembling electric horror its long slender fangs pressing so softly, imperceptibly, against my exposed neck, seeking the throbbing jugular beneath before sliding within, to freeze forever my existence with a single scarlet-trickling kiss of eternity.


“Life is fleeting, death is immortal. Those who become one of us shall persist forever.”

But what kind of existence will it be? Nothing but an undead, half-living, surely, surrounded by death but unable to find release.

“True enough, but that is the punishment for having lived an evil life. Only a stake or the burning caress of sunlight can end our torment, and then shall we decay and crumble, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, our long-postponed mortality finally upon us. Until then, we must linger, and hunger, and wonder…”

Only a dream, and a foolish, impossible dream at that. True, now that I am awake again I could indeed stand before the looking glass. Yet I know only too well that to do so would be futile, it would serve no purpose. How could I hope to elicit answers from my own reflection? After all, being a vampire I would have no reflection...

'Kiss' - Sue Woodlace(?), 1994

I'd very much like to include this wonderful artwork in a future publication of mine, so I've been trying to trace its artist for a very long time, ever since I purchased my numbered print of it, in fact, one Sunday afternoon in 1994 at the Sunday market formerly held regularly at the Holiday Wharf in Birmingham, England. I can't quite read her signature on the picture - her surname may be Woodlace, Woodlane, Woodlore, or even something else entirely! - but if anyone reading this blog has any information regarding her identity and/or current contact details, I'd love to hear from you! 

Monday, 21 February 2011


'Tattoo' - Boris Vallejo

Someone once asked me why I have tattoos. This was my reply.


Our tattoos are the stained-glass windows of our soul,
Which illuminate and animate our drab external shell
With the dreams, fantasies, and desires
Of our transient mortal existence
Within the mundane, earthbound realm of reality.


Several sets of stats concerning a person's blog are available for inspection by him/her on Blogger, and perhaps the most interesting set is the Top 10 most-viewed posts of all time for that blog. When I checked this out recently for my ‘Star Steeds and Other Dreams’ poetry blog, I was extremely intrigued by the result - so much so, in fact, that I felt it warranted a blog post of its own!

So here are the Top Ten most-viewed ‘Star Steeds’ poems so far - be prepared for some surprises!

#1 The Balloon (posted 25 September 2010)
#2 The Christmas Donkey (20 December 2010)
#3 A Different Kind of Dragon (15 December 2010)
#4 The Angel (28 December 2010)
#5 Stonehenge (29 July 2010)
#6 Patch - A Four-Legged Friend (31 August 2010)
#7 The Monastery Garden (12 November 2010)
#8 The Tiger (6 July 2010)
#9 Dreams of Nature (11 August 2010)
#10 Robin (24 February 2010)

Sunday, 20 February 2011


'Starsteed' - Nigel Parton

As a teenager at school, I was impressed enough by a scraperboard picture of a star steed produced by a friend, Nigel Parton, to purchase it from him for the princely sum of £5, and also to write the following poem in homage to the celestial stallion that it portrays. Over 30 years later, I still own that picture, entitled 'Starsteed', which is framed and hanging in my study. It is also on the front cover of this book, and is included here above this accompanying poem of mine. Thanks, Nigel!


Into the sea’s erupting foam,
Concealed by Evening’s shades,
A star descends from Heaven’s vale
‘Ere Twilight’s beauty fades.

And from the sapphire turbulence
A starry beam is borne –
A hazy mist of twinkling light,
A strange, auroral dawn.

And soon an outline bright appears
Within this gleaming force –
A silhouette in silver, of
A shining, starlit horse,

Emerging from the bubbling depths
With sparkling, ruffling mane,
And eyes that dart like icy stars
From Evening’s dappled train.

His body glints with rippling light
As clear as starfire rays –
A flowing spirit borne through Space
To islands far away,

To race across the mauve lagoons
‘Neath Heaven’s silent gaze.
And though the moon sends clouded light,
She knows he ne’er long stays.

For soon the sky recalls this steed
Of starry, dreaming Space.
And so he leaves on sparkling hooves
Past Earth’s immortal face.

From Space into Eternity
He goes where none have flown,
A spirit wild with nature mild,
A ghost fore’er alone

Amongst a vast Infinity
That stretches ever on,
A phantom flitting long till Dawn
Arrives to see him gone.

But Evening watches o’er this steed
From far-off realms sublime,
And still the fourth dimension waits
For him – the soul of Time.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011


Clowns and jesters (Dr Karl Shuker)

The poignant image of the clown who secretly weeps beneath his painted-on smile, whose staged laughter conceals his real tears, is both powerful and prolific, having appeared in countless forms, but assuredly attaining its zenith in the Leoncavallo opera ‘Pagliacci’. It was after watching a performance of this, and hearing its most famous, sorrowful aria, ‘Vesti La Giubba’ (‘On With The Motley’), that I penned my own variation upon this tragic, universal theme.


Here, ‘midst the tinsel and stars of the circus,
Stand I, before yet another vile crowd,
Gaping and gazing in leering distortion
Long, as their laughter rings raucously loud.

But know they not of the face that lies weeping
‘Neath coats of greasepaint, of white and of red.
Know they the sadness I keep trapped within me?
Know they the clear pearly tears that I’ve shed

Through endless buckets of cold chilling water,
Thrown at my face for the crowds’ grisly glee?
Tears that run rivers down pale whitewash features,
As all the hate and the envy I see

Circles, encompassing people and kingdoms,
All glaring at me through cold eyes of stone,
Stone as the hearts of the crowd now before me.
Gone is true love, leaving me all alone,

Lost in a world knowing not the true laughter
That I produced in those days long since past.
Nothing remains in a world ever changing,
Not even laughter forever may last.

Yet still I stay, like the great Pagliaccio,
Always I’ve known that the show must go on.
Put on the greasepaint and bow to the cheering,
Though all the spirit of laughter has gone.

For tonight gave I my greatest performance,
Giving my all for the bellows and jeers.
Yet did they know my lugubrious laughter
Served but to cover my visage of tears?

Monday, 14 February 2011


'Flying Horses' (Ezra Tucker)

One of the most exquisite examples of cinematic animation that I have ever seen is contained within the ‘Pastoral’ segment of Walt Disney’s animated masterpiece ‘Fantasia’, and features a phalanx of flying horses spiralling downwards from the sky to settle gracefully upon the surface of a sparkling blue lake. This poem is my word-picture homage to that breathtakingly beautiful scene.


From the heavens’ rainbowed archways
To the clear blue lake below
Soars a flock of flying horses,
Down and down, where rivers flow
Round the willows and the fountains,
Past the sparkling waterfalls,
To the mountains and the valleys,
Where lone Echo softly calls.

Down and down they swoop in glory,
Flowing manes and silver tails,
Through the lilac clouds of Summer,
Over meadowlands and vales.
Round they circle, wheeling swiftly
In a graceful sweeping flight,
As the sky pours forth its tribute
In a shower of golden light.

Down they glide towards the water
As their wondrous wings surge round.
Then alighting on the surface,
They fold back without a sound,
As these equine swans of Summer
Drift across the azure lake,
Heads held high in noble splendour,
Pinions trailing in their wake.

Blossom swirls upon the waters
Like a host of golden charms,
While the air is filled with singing,
And the sound of murmured psalms.
Then the wingèd colts neigh loudly
As their graceful parents glide
Far across the lustrous waters
To the lake’s far-distant side.

Both as regal as the sunset,
One as snowy as a dove,
And the other, black as Midnight,
Each with eyes so full of love,
As they call in dulcet voices
To their boisterous colts behind,
Shining blue, and pink, and lemon,
Flowing manes all intertwined.

And as Morning’s sunlight shimmers
On the waters’ mirror bright,
It reflects five flying horses
Soaring slowly out of sight,
Past the golden drifts of sunbeams,
And the shadows of the morn,
To idyllic lands beyond them
In a pastel-shaded dawn.

Saturday, 12 February 2011


The spectacular, vivid spectrum of colours filling every corner of our world must surely be one of the greatest gifts that anyone can enjoy. I have always been fascinated by how this multitude of shades and hues can be expressed in words as well as by visual means, and there is surely no greater challenge than to capture and celebrate the polychromatic wonder of the rainbow within the medium of the written word. That, therefore, became my goal with this poem, to create my own vibrant multicoloured rainbow in rhyme


Upwards I glide through a brilliant archway
Spanning the chasms of Space far above,
Sewn by the radiant needle of Heaven –
Weaving its splendour from sunbeams of Love.

Upwards and on through its crystalline crescents,
Casting a multihued shadow of Light,
Lost in a world of reflecting translucence
Showering colour in shimmering flight.

Upwards forever in vivid crescendos
Streaming like fountains through lilac-lit skies,
Swiftly ascending in bright sapphire spirals –
Sparkling like diamonds in star-showered eyes.

Upwards and onwards through whirling suffusions
Blushing like crimson-tipped roses of fire,
Passing through arches of amber and turquoise
Curving through Space like celestial lyres.

Upwards I soar through this arcuate spectrum
Spraying forth shaftlets of sun-shattered rays –
Rocketing outwards in golden aurorae
Filling the heavens with glistening haze.

Upwards, e’er upwards, like amethyst arrows
Bursting asunder with petals of flame,
Riding forever the arcs of the rainbow;
Light is my spirit, and Colour my name.
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