The Witching Hour (Sandcastle 20.10)

Full moon with cloud bank


I live for the stillness of the witching hour
when sleep has cast a spell on the people
with “normal” circadian rhythms,
leaving the creators and the midnight dreamers
to explore the ragged edges
of imagination’s frontier.

By dark, the road becomes a river,
silver ribbon under the pale light
of unblinking Hunter’s Moon
cutting through the patchwork quilt
of manicured lawns and trimmed hedges,
sidewalks and picket fences until
finally breaking free of the segmented grid
of city blocks—parallel and perpendicular—
and meandering through the less-tamed
wild of the wood pockets and lake hollows and
corn fields waiting for harvest
where the deer tiptoe between rattling stalks,
careful as an autumn shadow
masking footsteps in October’s frigid breeze
before the blades shear away all cover and
leave the earth bald
barren for winter’s gale to scream
across the frozen tundra.

How quickly my mind leaves
the warm coziness of my little cottage
when the bonds are cut and it’s allowed
to wander like the sandhill cranes whooping
as they pass overhead to chase
the southern winds,
when no schedule or chore list or
social obligation tethers me to routine,
when the streets are quiet and empty
and free for roaming neurodivergent thoughts
to harness the energy of the night
as my ancestors did long ago while they kept
the fire burning through to dawn, watching
for the telltale glowing glint of predatory eyes
while the day hunters and morning foragers
slept under our diligent watch.

We thrive in the witching hour, descendants
of the night sentries, the guardians,
the restless souls who defy the persistent
nine-to-five shackles that strive to bind us
to the sun despite our penchant for the moon
and all of her glittering constellations
spelling stories in the black-velvet sky.

This is our time.

We dance with our muses in the moonlight,
assembling tales and weaving words into poems
and disappearing into the inkworlds of books
with pages tilted toward the streetlight
outside the frosted window glass.

The fire still burns through the night,
as it always has, but it’s invisible
to the naked eye—no embers, no heat—
we stoke the flame inside ourselves
instead of stirring glowing embers.

The tribe has evolved; it no longer believes
it needs the fire for warmth and safety anymore—
not with its lamps and candles, nightlights and walls
to ward off the shadows and seal the darkness outside.

No need for the night watchers, either—
once revered, now cast aside, they expect
us to conform, not them, to sleep
under moongaze and work
beneath sunrays…

But we can’t.

We’re still conditioned to
tend the nightfire.

And we keep it burning bright
in spirit rather than flame, the spark
of creativity smoldering through
the witching hour that belongs
to the old souls persisting
against the grain,
     the writers
          the artists
               the poets
     the bibliophilic adventurers
for this is who we are,
and this is who we’ve been,
ancestor and descendant,
stewards of the night.

This is our time.

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I'm an award-winning fantasy author, artist, and photographer from La Porte, Indiana. My poetry, short fiction, and memoir works have been featured in various anthologies and journals since 2005, and several of my poems are available in the Indiana Poetry Archives. The first three novels in my Chronicles of Avilésor: War of the Realms series have received awards from Literary Titan.

After some time working as a freelance writer, I was shocked by how many website articles are actually written by paid "ghost writers" but published under the byline of a different author. It was a jolt seeing my articles presented as if they were written by a high-profile CEO or an industry expert with decades of experience. I'll be honest; it felt slimy and dishonest. I had none of the credentials readers assumed the author of the article actually had. Ghost writing is a perfectly legal, astonishingly common practice, and now, AI has entered the playing field to further muddy the waters. It's hard to trust who (or what) actually wrote the content you'll read online these days.

That's not the case here at On The Cobblestone Road. I do not and never will pay a ghost writer, then slap my name on their work as if I'd written it. This website is 100% authentic. No outsourcing. No ghost writing. No AI-generated content. It's just me... as it should be.

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