The Floor

For Sanaa’s prompt over at Real Toads. During the war between the states, bodies were stacked up like cordwood. People did the best they could with the wounded, the dying, the dead.  “Werewolves, sirens, mermaids and creatures who devour blood, for centuries these myths and tales have continued to fascinate us. ”  I don’t know if this fits the bill but it is certainly dark, bloody, and full of death.  These tales of the long past dead…

The Floor
“War means fighting, and fighting means killing.” ― General Nathan Bedford Forrest

Here in some of the old buildings
in Richmond in Shockoe Bottom,
where they stored the dead, the dying,
the steadily bleeding…
drip drip dripping on the floors,
From the gurneys, the beds, the operating tables,
from the long gone wounded.
And still the bloodstains keep re-appearing.
Covered over with bricks,
with wood, with tiles,
with cement.
Nothing can make the bloodstains disappear,
the ghosts of soldiers and their blood
are forever imprinted on the building.
they are covered and…they re-appear.
In the 1860’s the building was a hospital.
People say they can see the long dead wounded
walking the halls, the grounds outside,
hear them moaning.
People walk over the bloodstains now.
Most have stopped seeing them long ago.

Richmond Times Dispatch photo

35 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Magaly Guerrero
    Oct 26, 2019 @ 20:24:43

    The last two lines sicken me and break my heart all at once. It’s terrible how some can forget the horrors so easily. And how can we prevent repetition, if the first (and second and third…) get lost under our feet?


  2. jaerose37
    Oct 27, 2019 @ 05:47:13

    This is suitably scary and mythic


  3. Kestril Trueseeker
    Oct 27, 2019 @ 07:37:25

    Damn those last two lines are chilling! The potential for evil goes up exponentially when human beings become indifferent to suffering.


  4. Lori
    Oct 27, 2019 @ 10:07:37

    The ghosts that appear and reappear. Sometimes I think buildings can have memories as well. As if it too groans and moans with the horror it has seen so that even the floors bleed. The more accustomed someone becomes to seeing something the less it is seen. I really like the irony of that ending. Particularly as the ghosts are ghosts of war. How that horror is forgotten too quickly.


  5. Linda Lee Lyberg
    Oct 27, 2019 @ 10:13:10

    Well done Toni! I got the chills reading this.


  6. RedCat
    Oct 27, 2019 @ 11:58:16

    This gave me the chills even before the last two lines… The things we are willing to stop seeing…


  7. Björn Rudberg (brudberg)
    Oct 27, 2019 @ 12:09:31

    I think when it comes to horrors we do not really need the demons… humans are terrifying by themselves.


  8. Sherry Marr
    Oct 27, 2019 @ 12:14:52

    Oy, walking over the blodstains and seeing the ghosts of the long-gone dead is eerie. When one thinks about it, land everywhere carries a history of pain and suffering. It is good to remember that sometimes.


  9. Timoteo
    Oct 27, 2019 @ 12:24:11

    You have captured the mindlessness and the futility of war in gritty detail. The ghosts must still be roaming….if you listen for them…


    • kanzensakura
      Oct 27, 2019 @ 14:06:18

      Thank you for commenting on my poem. It is an eerie area where the slave market was, were there were war hospitals, where a huge church burned to the ground trappings several hundred people inside. It is a haunted area and I avoid it like the plague.


  10. Mary
    Oct 27, 2019 @ 13:00:49

    This really is chilling, Toni. You make the reader picture the scene…very vividly. I am sure the ghosts abound.


    • kanzensakura
      Oct 27, 2019 @ 14:04:40

      The ghosts do. Shockoe Bottom in Richmond is one of the areas I do not enjoy going to – there are several premier restaurants, bookstores, boutiques…but I cannot go there. After a few times of visiting down in that area, I cannot go and have not gone in 30+ years.


  11. purplepeninportland
    Oct 27, 2019 @ 13:11:55

    It is the Halloween of real life, much more frightening.


    • kanzensakura
      Oct 27, 2019 @ 14:02:42

      When I first moved to Richmond about 35 years ago, I was taken on a tour of some of the old buildings down in “the Bottom”. I noticed these red stains on the some of the floors in some of the buildings and I asked about them. I was told by my friend how the stains would seep through the floors once they were wiped away, or build over, or new cement laid over the floors. Needless to say I jumped and would avoid the stains on the floors whenever I encountered them. They made a profound impact on me. Most of the people walk on or over the stains as if they were a regular blotch. I could not do that.


  12. sanaarizvi
    Oct 27, 2019 @ 14:34:04

    This is incredibly vivid! I can actually picture the scene unfolding before me .. gives me the chills! Thank you so much for writing to the prompt ❤️


  13. Carrie V. H.
    Oct 27, 2019 @ 14:49:48

    Haunting and sad but beautifully written Toni.


  14. Vivian Zems
    Oct 27, 2019 @ 16:27:14

    Haunted by blood stains. A very fitting and eerie write!


    • kanzensakura
      Oct 27, 2019 @ 16:59:35

      It is so eerie to see those bloodstains and people walking on them or stepping over them.

      Sent from Mail for Windows 10



      • Truedessa
        Oct 27, 2019 @ 18:04:59

        I think I would walk over the bloodstains, it seems to be a respectful thing to do. Plus, I don’t want to carry any spirits out with me. I am amazed how long bloodstains actually remain. I’ve never been to Gettysburg, but, I have been to places in the north where battles were fought.


      • Vivian Zems
        Oct 28, 2019 @ 14:41:09

        My goodness!


  15. hhennenburg
    Oct 27, 2019 @ 19:49:25

    “Most have stopped seeing them long ago.” – what a statement! Things we should remember and things too painful or frightening to think about so often come in the same package. An eerie and thought-provoking read!


  16. Wendy Bourke
    Oct 27, 2019 @ 22:16:35

    A compelling piece of writing and an interesting read. The closing lines, I suspect, are sadly oh-so-true about the horrendous sacrifices made in the name of war.


  17. oldegg
    Oct 28, 2019 @ 01:35:28

    Sadly history repeats itself and each generation has to learn the lesson again and again that war means, death and sorrow and loneliness and an inbuilt hatred that is hard to overcome…unless you are politicians of course then a certain amount of pride will show on their faces.


  18. Rosemary Nissen-Wade
    Oct 28, 2019 @ 03:29:03

    Very sobering! And it’s very necessary that we be reminded.


  19. Regine Karpel
    Oct 28, 2019 @ 08:14:55


  20. Trackback: Bloodstains | kanzen sakura
  21. Susie Clevenger
    Oct 28, 2019 @ 18:08:13

    Oh, we should never stop seeing them…especially in these days when people are talking a new civil war.


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