The Lady of Gold
by Karen Bovenmyer
at the center of the folds
of the labyrinth
rests the Lady of Gold
part glittering insect
part pocket watch
her limbs angle sharply
crossing each other
like petals cup a
you glimpse her ticking
behind lacework traceries
at the bus stop
or above the water cooler
past barriers etched
with everyday bills,
arguments and fatigue
her foil wings rest
crumpled behind her body
but your unseen heart
machinery of thought
filling her dragonfly lattice
despite the complexity
of the labyrinth
which is a crushing network
piled high on your head
a clockwork of interlocked doilies
outweighing a ton of feathers
not quite obscuring
your heart becomes a
and the Lady of Gold
and looks back
The Lost City
by Lev Mirov
In the hollow of my collarbone sits an empty city
that once I saw, awestruck, lit by a bright moon.
A tower that soared to the heavens, she was the Queen of Heaven
and I saw her streets full of light and dancing
as she was once, in the days of the kings
a vision conjured from the snow and the white fog of the days before the end of the world.
She is a tomb, now; a city of bones, and I pulled my shoulder apart
to tuck her within me, her spire the wound-mark that pricks red when my shirt is peeled off on a hot day.
I don’t care; as long as something of the city sits in the space between my luxated bones
something alive remains in my ancestral home. I dare not return; things worse than ghosts
walk among the barrow-hills of my mother’s kin, and nobody has ever walked that road alone and returned.
I saw a light shine from the empty tower once, before I took her from my dreams and made her very small–
it was pale and blue, like midnight at full moon, when everything is awash with milk on ink.
The voice called to me then– a voice like my father’s, but colder
like mine, but sharper– and I smelled a flower sweeter than jasmine across the bridge.
But you took my hand, and dug in your heels, and pulled until our fingers bled
and your will was the stronger, and when the light went out the shadow passed me by.
I let you dress the wound which is my inheritance sometimes;
unpick the stitches to reposition the city just so, white as bone among my torn fascia.
“A wound like that will kill you,” you say to me, your fingers pink with scars that never really healed.
“I didn’t pick it,” I say, but we are both lying;
a thousand things have killed me and will kill me yet again
and of all the towers in the world it is only the ones I cannot have that I keep inside my chest.
Silently you tick dead cities I have loved along my ribcage, like counting corpses.
the place you found me, where I cannot return
and the oldest library in the world, burning in the sand
the river-split astronomer’s archive, whose stairs are too crumpled to climb
the city swallowed by the sea
and the silent gates where I would have been buried with my kinfolk, if you had let me.
I hold you close and feel my heart beat in your chest;
thundering stormclouds and broody sunrises only my eyes have ever seen.
“There is nothing there but death for you,” you say,
you with your dead man’s hands and ghost-gold eyes.
So I turn my back, when the light in that tomb city glows, and do not go —
my death belongs with you, a seam across your heart
a burn mark in the late red autumn sky.
by Cislyn Smith
It doesn’t take a curse
a missed invitation
a witch or bad fairy
you just need something sharp
to let yourself out.
The trick is in the pricking
of a finger, or a thumb
with intent to move
to be different
The princess understood this
standing in front of the spinning wheel
examining the spindle
considering her options
and when her animus shifted
from soft skin to hard wood
she found new freedom
spun her wheel
clomped carefully down the tower steps
and out into the world
to spin new stories.
So when the girl stands
in the shadow of the cactus
vibrant with life
it seems an easy choice –
a moment of pain
a bit of blood
and then she is filled with water
drinking the sunny air
home to chirping little birds.
she walks slowly over sandy stones
roots trailing earth
(a passing regret, quickly forgotten:
succulents have no need of boots)
arms up to the sky
into the desert
on a new journey.
Karen Bovenmyer earned an MFA in Creative Writing: Popular Fiction from the University of Southern Maine. She teaches and mentors students at Iowa State University and serves as the Nonfiction Assistant Editor of Escape Artists’ Mothership Zeta Magazine. She is the 2016 recipient of the Horror Writer’s Association Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Scholarship. Her short stories and poems appear in more than 20 publications and her first novel will be available Spring 2017. http://karenbovenmyer.com
Lev Mirov is a queer disabled mixed race Filipino-American medievalist who lives with his wife, fellow writer India Valentin, and their two cats in rural Maryland, where he feeds the ghosts of Antietam when it rains. His poetry has been nominated for the Rhysling Award and featured in Strange Horizons, Liminality Magazine, Through the Gate, and other fine magazines and anthologies. His fiction can be found in the anthology “Myriad Lands” and is forthcoming elsewhere. To read more of his magical worlds, his medieval research, or forthcoming speculative fiction, find him at levmirov.wordpress.com or by following him on twitter @thelionmachine.
I love fantasy and science fiction writing, how it sweeps us out of reality and immerses us in a different world. This collection, however, finds the magic in our everyday lives. Karen Bovenmeyer creates magic at bus stops and water coolers. Lev Mirov conjures it in collarbones. Cislyn Smith sees it in succulents. These poems inspire and challenge us to find the fantastic in our ordinary days.
As a first time editor, it was challenging to shift through hundreds if poems, each having unique strengths. In the end, these poems fit together as if by magic itself. I’ve experienced the difference between simply selecting strong poems and curating a collection.
About the Editor:
“The Lady of Gold” © 2016 Jackson Zorn
“The Lady of Gold” © 2016 Karen Bovenmyer
“The Lost City” © 2016 Lev Mirov
“Movement” © 2016 Cislyn Smith