I don’t feel worthy of much right now; of looking into The Lady’s amber eyes, of reading and interpreting the cards, of channeling the dark gods. I wonder what any of them would want with me, why they would bother to answer my summons or pleading. I’ve nothing to offer lords and princes, after all, and even a mother can tire of her child’s fumbling antics. And fumbling I must certainly seem, confused and desperate as I am. The writing I do produce must look to them all like marker scribblings on paper, shapes you could maybe make out as people and a house with curly smoke if you squint and turn it sideways. Hardly something worthy of putting up on the cosmic fridge. So what do I do? Do I avert my eyes, wrap up the cards, apologize profusely and crawl back into bed? At what point is trying no longer good enough?


I used to imagine us walking through cities late at night, hands clasped and hair flying in the wind. I don’t know why; I’m not a city girl. I don’t even like them, really. They’re bright and noisy and full of people, and they assault all your senses at once. But cities at night have this foreign, almost alien beauty I’ve always found alluring. Cities at midnight, or maybe four AM, they’re transformed into a living darkness dressed in bright jewels of light. They’re free of the daily cacophony of work and play, leaving every sound amplified in the silent darkness; the scuff of a shoe, the flick of a lighter, the whispers shared between two bent heads. Cities at night, they feel anonymous and magical, like anything is possible. We could have been transported anywhere – Bordertown, Riverside, London Below… even the city where two men meet their entwined fate over and over again. I guess that’s why I imagined us running through dark, slumbering cities and leaning over rooftops to gaze down at the glittering landscape below. You felt ethereal, mysterious, impossible and unbelievable, and you needed a setting to match.


What magic do I need to summon the words – any words? What ingredients do I need for the spell to draw them forth from the ether, from the depths of my soul? A circle of torn paper and candles the color of creamy vellum; a mixture of ink, rainwater, and fresh turned earth, smeared onto both wrists in a sigil for poetry? Or one on the forehead to unlock fiction’s power? I think I could write the spell, maybe, just maybe, I might have that much left in me at least… but do I even believe in magic? Enough to make it work?


the lighter is familiar; smooth silver metal scuffed from use, the size, the weight. the flip-snap of the lid flicked open and closed. snick. snick. spark in the darkness but no flame. damn thing’s empty but still carried anyway. like the feel against the palm. undemanding companion. flick flick flick, back and forth. snick snick snick, tiny spark. burn marks against wood; the ghosts of flames. isn’t fire the domain of the sun? not everything is as it seems. you don’t have to touch the flame for it to leave its mark. does the flame not deserve to live as well? to eat, to grow, to survive and thrive? we are reborn in ash and smoke. fire may come naturally to the sun, but the moon better comprehends its potential.


you gather the runaways and castaways
while I recruit the exiles and outcasts;
you search for the needy strays
while I seek out the angry ferals;

I’m the breaker of locks
the opener of cells
the liberator of chaos

it’s no wonder I never fit in
on an island full of misfits;
you were forming a family
while I’m forming an army