Not My Time


This was a recent writing prompt. Thought I’d share …

“Mommy, what’s the matter?
Is there something wrong with me?
Mommy, are you crying?
Are those tears that I now see?
Mommy, please don’t worry
This is not what you might think.
Mommy, this is peaceful
Let the notion gently sink
Mommy, see my shadow?
That’s the fading of your breath
Mommy, He’s here for you
Now go run along with Death … ”

James Matthew Byers resides in Wellington, Alabama with his wife, kids, a dog named after an elf, and two tortoises. He has been published in poetry journals and through Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, AL, where he received his Master’s in 2010. His epic poem, Beowulf: The Midgard Epic, is out soon from Stitched Smile Publications, LLC. He also has a short story featured in their upcoming release, Unleashed: Monsters Vs. Zombies.

Find James Matthew Byers at:
Twitter: @Mattbyers40


Forbes West: An Interview

Sometimes you meet someone who has a different viewpoint than most folks. The viewpoint can sometimes be bad and sometimes be good. It can also be refreshing. One of those viewpoints I find refreshing belongs to Forbes West, a writer, producer and a podcaster. 

When I sat down to do this interview with Forbes, I honestly didn’t know what to expect, but I quickly learned this is someone I like, someone who shares similar viewpoints as I do about writing. Y’all sit back and have a coffee, soda or brew and let me introduce you to Forbes West.

AJB: Okay, for starters, let’s talk about you. Who is Forbes West, the person?

FW: I’m nobody. I’m a tramp, a bum, a hobo. I’m a boxcar and a jug of wine, and a straight razor if you get too close to me. Or a person who is fond of using Charles Manson quotes to respond to texts.

AJB: Fan of Charles Manson?

FW: Am I a fan of Manson? Nope, but he’s the King Emperor of bat shit crazy things to say. Too bad his musical career never took off because he decided to kill a celebrity or otherwise he’d be the most quotable man on the planet.

AJB: He still could be one of the most quotable men on the planet. He definitely has some unique views.

FW: Unique is a good term. Covers a lot of ground.

I’m just a guy who lives and works in California, who’s been lucky to still be married and I get to live part time here in the USA and Japan. My wife is Japanese, we own a home in Shizouka prefecture, and I write novels and produce films.

AJB: You said you live part time in Japan and USA. I’m sure there are a LOT of differences between the two countries. What, from your experience, are the biggest differences between the two?

FW: Biggest differences is freedom vs community. That’s not to say one is better than the other. They aren’t. There’s pros and cons to both. But in California, which my wife loves, she can do whatever she wishes to be. She can strive for the stars. She can be creative and fun and hang out with people with massively different backgrounds with little to no judgment. You can be whoever you can be. In Japan, there’s a sense of being in a real community, where people ask you how your day has been, where bicycles can be left on the sidewalk without a chain, where your neighbors look out for you and people who know you can’t speak the language take a moment to speak yours. Safety, stability, cleanliness, and order. You can walk down any street and know people are looking out for you and actually care.

AJB: Wow, that sounds the way things used to be here where I live when I was a kid. That is, honestly, the way the world should be. Look out for one another.

Just out of curiosity, which do you prefer?

FW: I honestly don’t prefer either one. I love California and Japan. I think California has the ability to do so many random things. And again, everyone has different backgrounds, different views, and seem to be living in peace. I love the multiculturalism there and seeing people from radically different backgrounds.

AJB: I love that mindset, Forbes.

FW: My wife prefers it as well. Japan has many wonderful things, to be honest. Food, culture, and the most kind people I have ever met. But, its one thing to visit and go around Japan. To live there, it can be very oppressive at times. The companies control everything, and its not unheard of to know people working 80 hours a week, with only 40 hours paid, and to have the most verbally and emotionally abusive bosses overhead. The social pressure is enormous.

AJB: Wow. That’s crazy.

FW: So in a lot of ways, it is like the 1960s of the USA. Sure, there are real communities (which is a terrible thing we’ve lost) but the everyday B.S. can be overwhelming. It’s like California and Japan are opposite ends of the spectrum.

AJB: How did you come to be able to travel back and forth between the two countries?

FW: Well, we’ve been lucky and fortunate that my wife works as a Professor for a college, so she doesn’t have the year long schedule, and my schedule is also flexible. We own a home in Japan so there’s no additional costs besides airplane tickets. So in the winter and in the summer we travel back.

AJB: Man, I think that would be a blast,  and something to look forward to during the year.

Let’s switch gears for a second and talk business.

FW: Sure thing.

AJB: You are a producer of films and a writer and a podcaster. Which of those came first and which one do you find to be the most difficult?

FW: Films. Podcasting is just pure fun but films are incredibly difficult. Even producing and putting together a short film was the most difficult thing I have ever done. It’s a true battle—and on many fronts—accounting, getting people together, finding locations, money, story, etc. etc.

AJB: I would think the films would be the most difficult as well. You said Podcasting is just pure fun. What makes it fun? Is this something that you can say, ‘hey I’m going to do this and we’re going to have a blast?

FW: Pretty much. I’ve met some great people (Jon Frater, Michael Bunker, Rob McClellan, Nick Cole, Christopher Boore, and Todd Barselow) and just getting together with them and shooting the shit has been epic. Authors, editors and publishers getting together, especially with the intellect involved, and everyone has a great sense of humor—its’ been a blast. Interviewing with them, talking about issues, etc, all been great.
Oh and Jason Anspach. He’s a jerk but he knows it, he’s mentioned last on purpose. He knows why.

AJB: Sounds like doing a podcast allows you to be free and easy going and pretty much talk about whatever it is you want to discuss.

FW: Exactly. And thank God we live in a day and age where you can do this and just launch it all in a day

AJB: I’ve always wanted to do a podcast, and from what you have said, I think that desire may amp up a little.

Of the three, producing, podcasts, and writing, which came first?

FW: Writing. Just writing. I taught myself over the years while I was getting my Masters degree in political science. I started trying to write bad screenplays, awful novels, and started to turn it around. Writing to me, has always been like preparing for a marathon. There’s a ton of creative people out there, but you have to learn how to really just keep the energy up to finish what you started.

AJB: That is a very good point. Writing is very much like a marathon, and so many people give up because they get stuck instead of trying to see a way to fix where they became stuck.

You said you taught yourself over the years. Can you explain what you mean by that?

FW: Well, I read a lot of how to write a screenplay books, I read old screenplays (like the original Robocop and others, there’s a few sites out there that have copies and pdfs for you), and I just sort of tried every night to write up something.

I love stories, I love telling stories, and I just wanted to make something up that I would see on tv or on the big screen

After a while, I drifted into writing novels. Due to the freedom of the format—screenplays are somewhat limited in certain senses.

AJB: In what ways are screenplays different than novel writing?

FW: Screenplays have to focus on the visual image- you can’t just “show the thoughts” of a character, it has to play out in realtime in a way an audience can understand. You can’t have true introspection with a character with a screenplay, you don’t have that sense of jumping into someone’s skin. That’s the biggest difference for me

AJB: I can see that. I can definitely see that.

Your first novel is Nighthawks at the Mission?

FW: First one, yes. It was self-published, published with one publisher, and just recently re-published a few days ago with three new short stories.

AJB: So you originally self published Nighthawks at the Mission and then it was picked up by a publisher and re-published?

FW: That’s correct

Originally self published in 2013

AJB: Great. Congratulations on getting picked up.

Since you originally self-published Nighthawks at the Mission, can you tell me what the difference is between self publishing a book and having a publisher publish a book?

FW: Marketing. Really, just the ability to market the product. A person can easily have a great idea, get it well edited, have a kick ass cover. But the ability to market the book itself without real support from those who just know how to market, that’s the rub. Amazon has an amazing system to get your stuff out there, but Amazon doesn’t publicize a single thing. So if you don’t have a full time person working with you to really get your stuff out there, it’s not gonna happen. You could be that person, but the set of skills needed to do so is usually not found with the person who can write. It can happen, but its extremely rare.

AJB: Man, isn’t that the truth?

Okay, I want to shift gears  again. Outside of writing, producing and podcasting do you take yourself more seriously or less seriously than when you are creating?

FW: More seriously. Writing is my life, but it’s a lot of fantasy happening. I feel like when I’m writing or doing what I do, I think its pure fun in the end. The exasperation I get or the stress is the stress of trying to win a ball game or beat a video game. It’s not the same as dealing with office politics b.s. The stress is a much better stress to deal with.

AJB: Agreed. I guess that would make doing the podcasts even more fun—there’s no pressure in it.

You have to be creative to be in these fields. How do you view creativity and the act of creating a movie, a book or a podcast?

FW: I think creativity is something where you basically go with your subconscious. Whatever pops into your head. Whatever odd idea you may have. Whatever just bubbles up. I think most of the time people are actively limiting their creativity—that people worry too much about being embarrassed, or they want to do what is currently popular, and they want to find something that should be “profitable” instead of just letting their imagination run wild. You have to really try to make yourself go into a dream like state to make true creativity happen. You have to shed your ego a bit.

AJB: Well, dang! That is exactly how I feel about creativity.

So, with that in mind, with letting yourself get to that creative place, do you tend to follow the rules or just say ‘screw it’ and do your own thing?

FW: I don’t try to follow the rules. I think that, especially as a writer trying to break out, doing so will just make my work fall to the wayside. We live in a post-modern age; everything under the sun has been done and been read and/or viewed. You have to really try and stretch to do something different. And I think I did that with Nighthawks at the Mission.

AJB: Tell me about Nighthawks at the Mission.

forbes-west-cover-artFW: Nighthawks is my answer to the young adult field. It’s set in a world just like our own, but with one wrinkle—there’s a portal to another planet that opens twice a year in the South Pacific, and that planet has a resource that allows anyone to have paranormal/magical abilities. A young woman, sick of her life in SoCal, decided to become one of the many settlers there after her boyfriend screwed her over. She’s not a hero, she’s not the best person, but she does her best when dealing with the stresses of life on another world and living this post-modern colonial life with an alien species and a growing terrorist threat.  My character, Sarah Orange, reacts to these things realistically and many times badly. The book strips the bark off the usual YA tropes and turns them on their head, and we see a real person in a very fantastical setting prove herself

AJB: That sounds like a great storyline.

FW: Thank you!

AJB: With you stripping the bark off the usual YA tropes, do you feel you accomplished something unique with the book?

FW: I believe so. YA books always have the same protagonist. The story may be different, but the protagonist always is the same. Always trying to be the hero, always tough, always generous, always right, etc. etc. Mine isn’t. She’s a fuckup. She’s greedy. She’s angry. She’s selfish. She numbs her pain with drugs and alcohol. She’s foolish. She accidentally does the right thing. She’s very human. That’s the big difference between her and the others from TwilightHarry PotterThe Hunger Games, etc.  It seems like a real person.


That is the trick, isn’t it? When the rubber meets the road, the whole thought is to have a believable character and a believable storyline. If you can capture that you have a great chance of capturing the audiences’ attention.

Okay, Forbes, I’ve kept you for a while, and I greatly appreciate your time, but I do have one or two more questions. The first of these is based on something I hear from a lot of authors. Many of them tell me their spouses or significant others do not really care what they do or they don’t support them in their desires to write, tell stories and get published. How does your wife feel about all of your creative endeavors?

FW: She loves it. She’s been the biggest cheerleader. She was the one who got me into it. We were dating at the time and I told her that I sort of liked writing, but really I wanted to do politics (hence my degree). She told me flat out that she wanted to hear more about what I write and that I had a voice and from that point on was always getting me books on writing, and sort of pushing me towards writing. She just flat out said “Writing’s a helluva lot cooler than politics.” I ignored her for a while about that, but in the end, I think she was damn right.

JB: I like your wife. She is definitely right! My wife is the same way, always pushing me to keep doing the one thing I love to do: tell stories.

Okay, where can we find Nighthawk at the Mission?


JB: Well, that was easy.

Normally, folks will ask, what advice do you have for others out there. I want to go in the opposite direction. What would you tell other authors, film makers, or really any artists, NOT to do?

FW: Not to do the same thing everyone else is doing and not to do the most popular thing. Don’t just rehash old material. Take a moment and think it out. Have you seen this idea more than 5 times in different formats? Are you just doing this because the same stuff is out there in the world? Then don’t bother. Your crew, your actors, your readers, and yourself will be bored. And you’re gonna work really hard on something that doesn’t mean a damn thing in the end.

JB: Preach it, Forbes.

Before we go our separate ways for now, is there anything else you would like to add in that we have not discussed?

FW: I don’t think so at the moment.

AJB: Thank you, Forbes. You are one cool dude.

FW: Thanks man! Thanks for having me.

You can check out Forbes at his website here: HERE

Dwarves of Yore


Today, I welcome you to Nidavellir …

Hammers in the mountain echo the song
Dwarves of yore pass on tradition’s duty
Baritone and bass conform in the throng
Echoes down the hall, the sound of beauty
Ancient days long gone appear in the mind
Battles fought and won and fought again there
Swords and axes, hammers and shields all bind
Bloodshed splatters hills and rocks and beard hair
Ale poured into mugs sloshes as they lift
Cheers erupt as war ends and peace ensues
Laughter in the open air is a gift
Children all chase the gauntlet that renews
Dwarves of yore within the mountain’s frays
Singing songs of glorious olden day

James Matthew Byers resides in Wellington, Alabama with his wife, kids, a dog named after an elf, and two tortoises. He has been published in poetry journals and through Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, AL, where he received his Master’s in 2010. His epic poem, Beowulf: The Midgard Epic, is coming soon from Stitched Smile Publications, LLC. He also has a short story featured in their upcoming release, Unleashed: Monsters Vs. Zombies.

Find James Matthew Byers at:
Twitter: @Mattbyers40


Black Friday Deals


“Look at this deal for Black Friday, honey!” Ralph pointed out to his wife, Sandy, “And this one. Do we need a new lawnmower?”

She glanced over as she was putting the last clean dish away. The Thanksgiving feast was over and she sighed as her kitchen was finally clean again. “You really want to fight all those people on Black Friday? Again?”

“This one’s having the purple balloon deal again!” Excitement was in his voice.

“Not that again,” she groaned, “I almost broke my ankle last year to get you that Blu-Ray player.”

“But you got it and I love you for it.” He put as much appreciation in his voice as he could, then kissed her, “But you have to admit 50% off was a hell of a deal and you use that thing as much as I do.”

Last year they had a plan; Ralph’s plan. While he stood near the purple balloon that was in the TV section, his wife stood by the one in the Blu-Ray player section. The Purple Balloon deals gained popularity two years ago. You didn’t know which items were being slashed to half price until the balloon popped and little cards fell out. They had the item picture, description, and part numbers on them. There would be at least three different choices and last year Ralph and Sandy were lucky to grab the TV and Blu-Ray.

“But what do you think we need now?” she asked, looking around the room. The 64” TV Ralph fought for last year covered half the room.

“I’m thinking surround sound system.”

She groaned. He was such a commercial stereotypical man sometimes. Every time she saw a dumb commercial where the husband lost his mind in an electronics store, she immediately pictured Ralph. She looked around the room again, trying to imagine where he would mount it all. They didn’t have any children and other than Black Friday, they didn’t really splurge on themselves.

“What time do we have to be there?” she asked as she gave in.

“I love you!” he kissed her again.

Vector illustration of purple balloonAfter the news, they saw another Black Friday commercial and Ralph started pointing when he saw the purple balloons.

“I’ve got my eye on two different systems. I hope at least one of them is in this deal. Otherwise I’ll have to wing it.”

Sandy rolled her eyes and only lifted an eyebrow half in interest. They both looked up at the booming commercial voice:

We’re doing things just a bit different this year. Last year the items on the 50% off sales were put up on social media on the east coast within minutes, therefore ruining the random chances for those in the other time zones. We want everyone to have the same opportunity as everyone else. This year the balloons will all burst simultaneously, regardless of different time zones. Ensuring everyone has a fair chance at getting the best deals. The ads that were put out do reflect your current time zone.

“I can kind of see their point,” Ralph remarked, “It’s cheating when you already know which one is going to be on sale. I bet all the 50% off ones were already in people’s carts before the balloons popped last year.”

“Doesn’t matter to us anyway,” Sandy laughed, “since we’re on the east coast.”
Three hours before the balloons were scheduled to pop, Ralph and Sandy were already at the store. Ralph was pleased to see the majority of the crowds were clustered around the TV and Blu-Ray balloons, just like last year. Seems there wasn’t as much interest in surround sound systems despite the bright balloon floating ten feet above their heads. There were a few people milling around but it was more casual; everyone was relaxed. Ralph smiled as he counted them. This would be a piece of cake. He had positioned himself and Sandy apart so they had access to the entire selection. He longingly eyed a 75” 3D TV that was mounted right below another purple balloon and was considering a plan change until he saw Sandy shake her head at him. He laughed and nodded. Just the surround sound system this year.


Luckily the TV’s were playing so there was something to watch. Many were just on their phones, texting or checking into social media. Ralph looked back and forth at the only two TV’s he could see from where he was standing. One channel had a popular animated movie on, the bright colors boasting the great effects of that model. The other had the news on. Ralph couldn’t hear anything and they didn’t have on the closed captions so he could only guess what they were talking about. Behind the news reporter was the Homeland Security logo so he assumed they had heightened security for traveling again. It happened every year. That’s why he and Sandy rarely flew. Most of their relatives were within driving distance anyway.


As it got closer to the time, Ralph was disheartened to see more and more customers packing in around he and Sandy. It might be more of a fight this time. He looked at his watch and saw there was only 15 minutes left. He made his way to Sandy, only eight feet away but with a dozen men and woman between them.

“New plan,” he whispered to her.

She looked at him questioningly.

“Everyone has to take to the time to look at the cards that drop, then figure out where they are. I’ve already pretty much memorized where everything is. So you grab a card and tell me the manufacture and model and I’ll grab it. Two hands free.” He waggled them in front of her for emphasis.

“Works for me,” she whispered back, happy that she wouldn’t have to elbow anyone out of the way to get an item this time. Inwardly she sighed as she was resigned to the fact that she would still be in the thick of it. She had to be close enough to Ralph to give him the information.


The crowd chanted aloud with the digital countdown.

“- 5 4 3 2 1!”  The balloons burst in a rain of cards and powder.

Powder? There wasn’t powder last year. There was sparkly confetti with the cards.

Almost immediately everyone began coughing as they inhaled the clouds that floated around them. Screams began and cut off quickly as everyone struggled to breathe. Men and women knocked each other trying to get away only to fall to the hard floor. Ralph saw Sandy drop, blood seeping from the corner of her mouth and nostrils. He reached for her but fell to his knees, coughing, his blood hitting the floor beneath him. With a shaking hand he picked up a card and read it in shock. His vision blurred as he lost consciousness; barely registering the two words on it.

Surprise America

Open to Submissions, 2017

​Stitched Smile Publications is open to submissions for 2017! 
We are looking for all facets dark fiction and poetry to add to our collection: horror, crime, noir, graphic novels, dark fantasy, dark sci-fi and more!  
Please see “submissions” link on our website
Think you have what it takes to get Stitched? Let us know!

Becoming: A Zombie Sonnet


A little before Thanksgiving meal …

Venomous poison runs all through my veins
Coursing and pulsing in my heart beat’s path
Bitten and then hunger takes hold the reigns
Even a dummy could sum up this math
Fever within as my flesh starts to stink
Sweat pouring down burns and trickles off me
Thoughts sparse and rare and I can’t seem to think
Eyes open wide but now I cannot see
Thirst so relentless my throat cries for aid
Stomach ablaze as I purge my last meal
Look at my hands and the color displayed
Pale, ashen, rotting in each limb’s appeal
Gone now are all of my woes, aches, and pains
Shamble and ramble and call out for … BRAINS!

James Matthew Byers resides in Wellington, Alabama with his wife, kids, a dog named after an elf, and two tortoises. He has been published in poetry journals and through Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, AL, where he received his Master’s in 2010. His epic poem, Beowulf: The Midgard Epic, is coming soon from Stitched Smile Publications, LLC. He also has a short story featured in their upcoming release, Unleashed: Monsters Vs. Zombies.

Find James Matthew Byers at:
Twitter: @Mattbyers40


Flash Non-Fiction Saturday: Hopeless in AA by Mike Duke


I was barely out of the police academy and still on field training when I saw my first suicide, a quite memorable one at that. Kind of thing one never really puts out of their mind. Patrolman Fancher and I were given the call to go secure the scene until a detective arrived since all suicides are investigated as possible homicides until proven otherwise.

When we arrived the family were outside of the apartment complex, crying, snotting and hugging all at once, unleashing their emotional agony with a reckless abandon that I actually admired though I felt completely incapable of offering any consolation. The son also displayed significant anger and could not stay still but instead pulled free from one family member just to stomp around a little before someone else grabbed him and hugged him again. He was a grown man and not small in the least.

He had been the unlucky relative to find his father in the master bedroom, hanging from a closet door of all things. Not knowing whether he was dead yet or not the son grabbed a knife and lifted his father’s corpse up with one arm while cutting the makeshift noose with the other. A quick check made it clear that it was too late. That’s when he called 911 in tears and full of rage at what his father had done.

Officer Fancher, my field training officer, told me to secure the room and not let anyone in while she spoke with the family. When I got upstairs the guy was stiff but he appeared to be just chillin’, his body leaned back on the wall, left elbow resting on a short dresser and both feet wedged under the foot of the bed, legs locked out straight. A large ottoman was pushed off to the side. According to the son it had been positioned firmly between the bed and the closet door, supporting his father’s body just minutes ago. Now, rigor mortis was the only thing keeping the man’s body upright.

At a glance, it looked like the guy knotted a couple of neck ties together, secured one to the door knob on the inside of the closet door, slung it over the top, cinched it around his neck, then jumped up, throwing his legs out. Gravity did the rest. I imagined it was a quick break, instant and painless. I couldn’t imagine someone just laying across the ottoman slowly choking to death. But based on his face I wasn’t too sure.

The tie had cut deep enough into his neck that it was obscured, and his eyes were wide open and slightly bulging. But what really made me question the quick death theory was his tongue. It had swollen so large that it filled his open mouth, pressing just beyond the lips. Not a pretty sight. I wasn’t sure but I thought that might not have happened unless he strangled to death instead of a nice clean neck break.

I looked away, not wanting to see his face any longer than I had to. I scanned the room, scavenging around for any parting notes or indicators of why he had done it.

A man could have choked on the irony.

Lying on his bed were the following items: an AA booklet, an empty 40 oz. Schlitz Malt Liquor Bull, a Bible and a small Polaroid picture book that contained his “private moments” with one woman, maybe more. I couldn’t tell for sure. Faces weren’t really the highlighted areas.

Hell of a set of memorabilia to be reminiscing over just before you leave this world. My brain wandered as I looked around, wondering what personal demons beyond alcoholism had ridden him into hopelessness. My thoughts were derailed by a most unusual sound.


It came from behind me, where the body was. I spun around and looked. Nothing. I brushed it off and kept looking around.

About a minute later, it came again.


This time a little louder but still from the same direction. I spun around. Again, nothing unusual in sight. I started looking around in other areas to see if I could locate the source of the noise. I was looking under the bed when it came once more.


I wasn’t one to believe in “ghosts” at that time, though I was an X-Files junkie, but it was starting to wig me out a little. I turned and decided to fix my eyes on the corpse and see what, if anything, might happen.

It took about a minute or more of staring at those vacant eyes and the bulging tongue, but the sound finally came again.


Right in time with the father’s head sliding across the wall on a downward arc, albeit just an inch.

I let out an uneasy chuckle. I had experienced a palpable tension before, now I just felt plain foolish. Rigor mortis was starting to relax and with it so was his posture. He was ever so slowly, on his way down. Imperceptible increments, unless one was watching.

He kept creaking his way across the wall the rest of the time I was there, and even though I knew what it was it was still a bit disturbing, standing in a room with a dead man slowly falling down.

I was glad when the Detective got there.


–This short is pulled from Mike Duke’s personal experiences as a small town cop.

Mike Duke, Author, Stitched Smile Publications


I’m 44, married 25 years, and have a son and daughter who are both grown and out of the house (pretty much). My German Shepherd, Ziva, is my baby now.

I was a cop for 12 years (and even spent a few years on the SWAT team) before getting into the training industry. The last 10 years I’ve been teaching military, law enforcement, bodyguards and private citizens High Speed, Tactical and Off Road Driving and Hand to Hand Combatives. I also did a few bodyguard gigs.

I have been writing since high school off and on but started to tackle it with conviction in 2009. I’ve self-published two short novellas – Ashley’s Tale and Ashley’s Tale: Making Jake and one short story – The Awakening. Stitched Smile Publications will be publishing my novel Low before the end of 2016, plus I have a story in their Monsters vs Zombies anthology.


Flash Fiction: Æschere’s Head


Beowulf: The Midgard Horrors holds out a little longer. Today I’m offering a sonnet depicting the brutal death of Æschere, King Hrothgar’s closest friend. He is said to have spoken of the unseen; the mysteries hidden about their world of Midgard. This is why I believe Grendel’s mother chose him specifically. My theory sums up the notion she was a witch. A magic user can sense another, and Æschere was not only a companion to the man ordering her son’s death. He was a threat to her and her whereabouts. He had abilities; powers we never got to see explored. Perhaps he could have handlers her in a battle of wit and mystic arts. Cleverly, she took him out swiftly, never giving him a chance to cast his own spell. Beheading him alleviated any chance he could open his mouth and utilize his powers. Leaving his head at her door, so to speak, came as the ultimate slap in the face to Hrothgar for making her son’s arm a trophy. Though her plan failed, it made for some fun composition. Enjoy! Beowulf: The Midgard Epic arrives soon! Adventure awaits …
Æschere’s Head
(A Sonnet for Grendel’s Mother)

Sifting through the murky depths below her
Grendel’s mother came to wreak her vengeance.
Gentle stealth she used, and they did not stir-
Seeking someone certain in attendance.
Lo, Æschere, speaker of their myth’s lore
Fell, beheaded by her need to destroy.
Death upon the sleepers in the hall wore
Blood about their bodies, hers to employ.
Grendel’s arm became her next ambition.
Ripping it from its perch, she took the head
Taken from Æschere’s new condition …
Plowing through the door, a death for the dead.
Beowulf sought her shores and found it there
Stationed as her own trophy; as a dare …

James Matthew Byers resides in Wellington, Alabama with his wife, kids, a dog named after an elf, and two tortoises. He has been published in poetry journals and through Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, AL, where he received his Master’s in 2010. His epic poem, Beowulf: The Midgard Epic, is coming soon from Stitched Smile Publications, LLC. He also has a short story featured in their upcoming release, Unleashed: Monsters Vs. Zombies.

Find James Matthew Byers at:
Twitter: @Mattbyers40


Grendel: A Haiku


Here’s a fun and simple way to celebrate Beowulf: The Midgard Epic’s upcoming release. This micropoem written haiku style is called “Grendel.” Enjoy! And remember, adventure awaits!


Claws like razor blades
Shred flesh and rip men apart
Grendel dines tonight

James Matthew Byers resides in Wellington, Alabama with his wife, kids, a dog named after an elf, and two tortoises. He has been published in poetry journals and through Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, AL, where he received his Master’s in 2010. His epic poem, Beowulf: The Midgard Epic, is coming soon from Stitched Smile Publications, LLC. He also has a short story featured in their upcoming release, Unleashed: Monsters Vs. Zombies.

Find James Matthew Byers at:
Twitter: @Mattbyers40


The Transformation


Beowulf: The Midgard Horrors will return next week. Here’s a little sonnet fun werewolf style! Enjoy!

The Transformation

Sinews extend and crack to be remade
Reformed beneath the fullness of the moon
And heaven’s tide above the world displayed
Ignites the growing hunger’s vicious boon
Incisors gnash and gnaw as they extend
Excruciating pain within the maw
The clawing fingers make a curvy bend
Replacing hands within a larger paw
A howl persuades the deer beyond to flee
The transformation reeks of bloody flesh
Benevolence has gone and she is free
No longer bound within a human mesh
The werewolf stands in beams of squeamish light
Emasculating every man in sight

James Matthew Byers resides in Wellington, Alabama with his wife, kids, a dog named after an elf, and two tortoises. He has been published in poetry journals and through Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, AL, where he received his Master’s in 2010. His epic poem, Beowulf: The Midgard Epic, is coming soon from Stitched Smile Publications, LLC. He also has a short story featured in their upcoming release, Unleashed: Monsters Vs. Zombies.

Find James Matthew Byers at:
Twitter: @Mattbyers40