Nuckelavee (The Devil of the Sea)

by Daniel   Apr 2, 2019


As sure as
the skin that clings
to my ribs and shoulders;

as sure as starvation
wrings my shrinking stomach,

I swear:

the hazy glow of the evening sun
stung and burnt
my pupils into the pits of
my eyes, as

the roadside lapwings
sung a delirious song -

the crops around me,
perished and black,
the path beneath me,
beaten and cracked
the ocean aside me,
whirled and crashed,

I was completely alone.

Less so,
as I ventured ever nearer.

So famished, and starved
was I, my belly let loose a
tremendous bellow,

but the screech and the whinny
that followed, cursed through my bones, into the
marrow itself,

and as sure as daylight,
as sure as my breath,
upon the road ahead of me
stood no creature of this


The beast’s breath, caught
in the breeze, in all it’s rank putridity
quelled the pangs of hunger
that had gripped me,

ten thousand corpses,
hot, congealed blood;
dead bloated carcasses,
unearthed fish guts,

I thought it a centaur, a dishevelled rider,
but no man’s legs straddled aside it;

on the mare,
an eye that burnt as August’s sun,
thick bulbous tissue,
and drapes of loose skin,

thick, blackened blood
pulsing through protruding
yellow veins,

between stony white
cartilage, a fractured skull
exposed its brain -

upon its back,
half a man,
his right arm, outstretched,
his left, dangling
almost touching the floor,
the beast snorting and
retching, before it let
out a roar;

a skull,
4 times that of mine,
rocked, and toppled
atop his spine.


In terror, I fled as if wind
were at my back, I felt the
creature’s hot breath
at my neck, its teeth
bared behind me
grimaced and cracked,

the thud of its gallop
nearing and nearing,

I prayed to any god
that might have been

every last nerve and
sinew, twisting and turning,
every muscle and fibre,
tiring and burning.

I slipped on the embankment,
toppling towards
a narrow, muddy river,

splintering my hip against
the rock, dazed,
I crawled towards the water,

looking over my shoulder,
at the bloodied stallion of
wizened red flesh,

he had not left,
and I had not yet
to it’s steaming wet breath,
which pocked my face with
globs of thick spit,

charcoal like teeth
gnawing at lacerated

it’s withered right hand
arrowed towards me,

(and you see
with your eyes
the wound on my chest,
that tore through my body like
it was but the skin of
the lake...)

I, with my last ounce of strength
floundered into the stream,
as if drowning were sweeter,

and lord,
how sweet it was,
as the beast let out a holler,
from the fresh water’s

and coughing, and
spluttering I heaved
myself up

to the opposite
side of the stream;

the abomination that
left this mark on my body,
cantered, and screamed.

It would not cross,
it would not cross.


I know by your face...

you are unmoved,

you’ve heard this story

Please, god, I beg you,
I am starving,

upon my knees,
I pray,

reconsider your choice
to send me back whence
I came.

Inspired by Nuckelavee, a Scottish mythological beast of sea and land, that resembled a brutish, hairless, skinless horse and rider. Nuckelavee would cause the destruction of crops with its rancid breath, and tirelessly inflict evil upon mankind. It was sea born, but fortunately was not able to tolerate fresh water.


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