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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Tuesday, 29 March 2011


Does our journey of existence end with the ending of life, or is the ending of life nothing more than a parting from all that has been, with our journey continuing alone, in other forms and along other routes?


Like a star in the moonlight,
Like a wave from the shoreline,
All alone with the future,
All the dreaming is done.

Like the birth of a morning,
Now the death of an evening,
For the dawning is over,
And the past has now gone.

Friends and dreams are but shadows
In Oblivion’s vortex,
For the show is completed,
And the cast must move on.

Not to look back in silence,
For the past cannot answer,
And a new world is waiting,
Where my heart has not shone.

All my sorrows are ended,
All my joys are departed,
All alone I must travel,
All alone I go on.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011


The following poem owes its creation to a very curious snatch of conversation that I happened by chance to overhear one day on the radio, in which the speaker was contemplating whether it might be that many of the people that we casually pass by without interaction or see only from a distance are nothing more than ghosts, mere phantoms. And so, from this remarkable muse, sprang ‘Phantasia’ (constituting, incidentally, the longest single sentence to appear in any of my writings!).


Hear the echo of a lifetime
Doomed forever more to last,
Or a murmur drifting backwards
From the theatres of the past,

Whirling softly through a vortex
Spinning deep in silent Space
Like a whirlpool in the heavens,
Or an eye within a face

Gazing outwards, yet unseeing,
Pale as Dawn’s auroral birth
From the snowy dreams of slumber
Shrouding velvet, verdant Earth,

Like an unseen clock vibrating
As its lifetime ebbs away,
While its fingers trace the seconds
Of another unborn day

Through the silhouettes cast downwards
From the shadows of the stars,
Now a host of winging phantoms
From a distant world afar,

Flitting slowly through the evening
As the planets e’er rotate,
Each a windmill in a spiral
On a shining, spangled plate

Spinning outwards e’er to nowhere
In their orbit round their lord,
While lugubrious crescendos
Chase like half-forgotten chords

In a lonely helter-skelter
Through the avenues of Time;
They – the spheres’ eternal music –
Lacking syllables or rhyme,

Drifting downwards through the starlight
Lest their meaning fades away
To a ghost upon the moorlands
Of an evanescent day

Ever seeking ‘midst the future
For a future of its own,
As the souls of Past and Present
Soar like cloudlets to the throne

Of a duplicated kingdom
On Time’s unknown, farthest side,
Where their memory still lingers,
Round its universe to glide,

While they merge with more illusions –
None is real, for none can be
In this pseudo-world of Shadow
Cast from vacant Destiny

Like a set of footprints chasing
After footprints of their own,
Or a pool’s encircling ripples
Running rings around a stone;

Yet their messengers are present
In a hundred other lands,
Groping ever through their darkness
Like a metamorphic hand,

E’en within our crowded suburbs
‘Midst their noisy, raucous hosts,
Who could guess that most are shadows,
Mindless images, just ghosts?

Thursday, 17 March 2011


'Elephant and Friends in Eden' (Joe Gauthier)

The disturbing prospect that, in spite of our (allegedly) superior brainpower, humanity may now be further from God than are any of His other creations is the basis for this poem – a celebration of the purity and unadulterated beauty of the wildlife all around us.


Blameless and fair are the infants of Nature,
Freed from Temptation and born without Care.
They are unblemished, untainted by Evil;
Mankind they heed not, for Eden is theirs –

Nature unparalleled, Beauty unending,
Radiant Kingdoms from which we are gone.
We were too weak, and Temptation destroyed us;
Fallen, we left, and were forced to pass on,

Lonely and shameful in exile unending,
Banished forever from that which was ours.
They were more wise, and sought only to follow
God and His Mercy, His Truth, and His Power.

Swallows skim brightly like throbbing pulsations
Soaring and gliding in infinite flight,
Rising forever through heavenly strata,
Shooting and streaming like spirits of Light.

Squirrels chase wildly through branches and treetops,
Russet infernos with flushes of flame,
Tails curling brightly like flickering candles,
Darting like fire in arboreal games.

Miniature harvest mice scurry through cornfields,
Tiny brown atoms of scampering joy;
Shyly inquisitive bundles of mischief,
Bustling with life like diminutive toys.

Mottled fawns lie ‘neath the woodlands’ green mantle,
Secretive denizens, peaceful and shy;
Perfectly camouflaged, dappled by Nature,
Watching her kingdom through dark wary eyes.

Mayflies flit gently like riverside sylvans,
Briefly they mate before sinking to die.
Short is their life, yet infused with rare beauty,
Born in the new when the old flutters by.

Thus they continue while mankind grows feeble,
Lovely they still are, and ever will be.
Fair and unchanging, the beautiful people,
They are His children – the wild, and the free.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011


How strange and sometimes rather unsettling yet also very precious it is that a scent can suddenly recapture and restore memories of long ago that had previously seemed beyond recall.


Yesterday, on a whim, I took out of their battered yet still sturdy leather case my old trusty but seriously scuffed and very heavy pair of Greenkat 10 x 50 binoculars,
long since replaced by a lighter, more modern pair.

But as I inhaled their characteristic scent,
a unique suffusion of leather and preservative crystals,
I was instantly transported back through time to those far-distant, happy days of my childhood.

And just for a moment it was a warm Sunday afternoon once more,
back in the Shropshire countryside with my family,
looking for birds and feeling truly alive again,
alive and happy in a way that can never be replicated in adulthood.

Yes, perhaps nostalgia is indeed best only in small doses,
for in greater ones it has too much power,
and can inflict too much pain.

Monday, 14 March 2011


Over the years, I’ve written a number of short compositions, rhyming and non-rhyming, to serve mostly as chapter openers for a variety of different publications (and sometimes even using a pseudonym), but which, I feel, deserve the opportunity to stand alone in their own right as poetry. Here is a brief, representative selection.

(pictured above)

There's something very mysterious, gothic, and totally spellbinding
about this painting,
redolent of decay and disuse,
a scarcely-remembered memory
lingering like a flickering shadow somewhere in a lost attic of the mind.


Let not the dream pervade these living hours,
Lest the winged cats of nightmare stalk once more
The haunted spires of distant memory,
Their pinions raised, alert and poised
To deny the conscious dawn.


Velveteen silhouette, silent and sinister;
Satin-furred midnight on ebony paws.
Eyes hewn from emeralds, seeking a sacrifice;
Death to deliver with ivory claws.


I shall garb myself in gossamer,
And dance amid the darkness,
Silver in the shadows of my song.


How tragic it is that such wonderful creatures have no concept,
no awareness,
of just how beautiful and magical they are.
Then again, perhaps they do -
after all, they are cats...

King cheetah (African Safari Pictures)


I penned the following composition as the opening section of the introduction for my book Dragons: A Natural History (pictured above). First published in 1995, it went on to become the bestselling book of all time on dragons, has been translated into more than a dozen languages, and is still in print today, over 15 years later.



Fire-belching damsel devourers mortally skewered upon a valiant knight’s lance, or ethereal serpentine deities wafting languorously through the skies in celestial tranquillity.

Vermiform monsters with coils of steel, or winged wonders with jewel-encrusted scales.

Bat-winged nightmares that terrorise and desecrate with volcanic gullets of flame, or polychromatic dream beasts soaring heavenward upon iridescent plumes of crystalline glory.

Personifications of malevolence or beneficence, paganism or purity, death and devastation, life and fertility, good or evil.

All of these varied, contradictory concepts are embodied and embedded within that single magical word!


Unicorn (Johfra Bosschart)

My homage to the fairest, most magical beast never to have existed...


A shaft of bright golden sunbeams broke through the leafy canopy of the forest, illuminating a clearing deep within its verdant, secluded heart - and also illuminating a wondrous creature, standing sedately like a living statue hewn from shimmering starlight.

It resembled an elegant snowy-hued horse, but its noble brow bore a single, central horn - long and finely spiralled, upon which the sunbeams joyfully danced.

Here was the forest guardian, the very spirit of nature incarnate - for this was that most rare and fabulous of animals, the unicorn.

Suddenly, however, the distant sound of a hunting horn pierced the stillness of this magical scene.

Instantly alert, the unicorn raised its head, momentarily betraying flickers of alarm, and of sadness too, within its shining eyes.

Then, as softly as the echo of a single heartbeat, it was gone, lost to human sight and knowledge within its woodland sanctuary.

Saturday, 12 March 2011


I have always harboured a somewhat Quixotic captivation for windmills, and this following poem was inspired by the very eyecatching cover of a 1970s record album (pictured above) that featured a spectacular, multicoloured image of a windmill created by time-lapse photography, in which its arms seemed to be turning not merely through the air but also through space and even through time itself.


Like an astral wheel of Heaven
Sweeping silently through Space,
Never ceasing, never easing
In its convoluted pace,

Like an outward-coiling spiral
As its spool spins ever on
Through the webs of Space forever
Till its silhouette has gone,

Past the stars all draped in wonder
As its whirling arms sweep down
Through the solitudes of darkness
In the evening’s velvet gown.

Still its shadow keeps on turning
Past the zenith of the skies,
For the windmill’s winding pivot
Is where Time most surely lies,

E’er gyrating on its axis
Like a pendulum in Space,
As through depthless pools and chasms
Its unwinding fingers trace –

Like a clock revolving slowly,
Lacking rhythm, lacking rhyme,
Just rotating through the heavens
As the centre-stone of Time.

Thursday, 10 March 2011


Fantasy horses – such as unicorns, flying horses, and star steeds – have always held a particular fascination for me. So here is one of several variations by me upon this exotic equine theme – the thunder horse, which features in the traditional legends of North America’s Sioux tribe. Interestingly, during the 19th Century the Sioux showed various scientists some huge bones said to be from thunder horses, and when these were examined they were found to be the fossilised remains of a hitherto-undescribed form of gigantic prehistoric mammal distantly related to rhinoceroses, which scientists duly christened Brontotherium – the thunder beast.


Dark lie the skies, as an ebony ocean
Rippling with cloudlets of surf-showered foam,
Lashed by the whipcords of storm-harnessed lightning,
Raking the heavens with fiery combs,

Savagely striking like flame-spitting cobras
Flicking their tongues through the vapours of Night,
Streaking through Space like a phalanx of dragons –
Melting the candlewax stars in their flight.

And as the skies part their dark, scorching curtains
Lit by the flickering shadows of fire,
Out from the flames rears a black steed of thunder,
Phoenix-wise born from a burnishing pyre –

Eyes blazing fiercely like crimson infernos,
Flashing like meteors bolting through Space,
Flames roaring loudly through dark velvet nostrils,
Framing with fire his illustrious face –

Streaming to Earth like a star cast from Heaven,
Wingtips alight with vermillion plumes,
Tail tossing high, now a flickering candle
Burning a trail through the smouldering gloom.

And as he lands on a grey, brooding mountain,
Mane ruffling far like a meadow of fire,
Thunder is borne from his deafening hoof-beats,
Echoing far like a vast booming choir.

Clashing in Space, these celestial cymbals
Loudly resound through the battle-torn skies,
Shredded and shattered by arrows of lightning
Shooting like flames from the thunder gods’ eyes –

Gazing to Earth as their mighty steed races
Far ‘cross the mountains in glorious flight,
Hooves ringing far, as the star on his forehead
Slashes the heavens with sabres of light.

Onward he surges, through hillside and valley,
Singeing the treetops with each fiery roar,
Vomiting flames like a spurting volcano
Booming with menace from skyline to shore.

Yet as he glows like a lava-lit furnace
Far through the sequin-sewn shades of the night,
Evening flits softly from purple-hued heavens,
Bidding farewell as she passes from sight,

Leaving the skies now as slumbering Morning
Shakes off her rose-petal blankets of sleep,
Soon to ascend through the clouds, soft and fleecy –
Frolicking gaily like clusters of sheep –

Bearing the sun like a glistening globule
Dripping its molten aurorae through Space,
Hanging it deftly from Heaven’s bright archway,
Lighting in splendour her shimmering face.

And as she smiles in the sun’s golden mirror,
Thunderclouds wilt, sinking downwards to die,
Blown from the heavens by Morning’s gay laughter,
Nothing remains but a soft lonely sigh.

Now, far below, like an ebony shadow,
Rising on pinions emblazoned with fire,
Swiftly their stallion soars through the heavens,
Upwards once more to his ultimate pyre,

Swiftly approaching the sun’s bright corona –
Hung like a burnishing nimbus in Space –
Nearer and nearer, till wingtip and halo
Melt into one ‘midst the heaven’s warm face.

Gone is the steed of the storm cloud and thunder –
Far past the dawn’s bright eruption of light –
Lost in the radiant sun’s incandescence
Borne through the clouds in its luminous flight.

Yet if the thunder gods e’er should roar loudly
Far through the heavens of some future night,
Then would he rise in a great conflagration,
Streaming on pinions of flame-feathered light,

Scorching through Space like a blazing colossus,
Tail curving high like a smouldering lyre,
Spraying with flames this caliginous shadow –
Borne into life by the spirit of fire.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011


In response to several requests lately, I have now compiled a complete, chronologically-arranged, single-page listing of all of my Star Steeds blog's poetry posts for easy access, with each post directly clickable, and I'll endeavour to update this list on a weekly basis.

I have placed the listing on my website, where it can be accessed by clicking the 'Poetry' tab at the bottom of each of my website's major pages, and it can also be accessed here, in this present Star Steeds blog post, by clicking here:

Have fun!

Friday, 4 March 2011


Innocence personified!


A small, bewhiskered face peers up
Whene’er I call his name,
E’er seeking to attract my gaze
To join him in a game.

A snowy ball of eager fun,
With silky floppy ears,
And deep brown eyes so full of joy
They have no cause for tears.

For like an animated stump
His tail wags fast and few,
As then he waits for my response,
Impatience showing through.

Yet still it wags, with outline blurred,
As each enormous paw
Plods clumsily across the ground
To tap the closing door.

But soon his small bewildered form
Dismisses daylight’s charm,
And seeks his box with sleepy eyes
To doze in slumber’s calm.

And thus he spends each afternoon,
A tiny ball of white,
Bathed long and deep in Summer’s warmth,
And Heaven’s golden light.
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