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by Jacob Rakovan


You queen of the flowering dark
come crawling from mud,
a supplication of satellites
Lily in the graveyard, flight of doves
You are the skin’s book,
The dance of farmwives in the mountain

I am black gravepit
bonepile and ash, knifeblade
black goat and cockerel
blood in the furrow,
Shadow on the hill
I am terror, and slaughter of lambs
The winter’s teeth

Build fires of old doors, unloved books
Unsent letters, linen closet of ghosts
Let her come pale out of dark
Her bones, her flowers, green tendrils twist from cold mud
Flowering bulbs, swollen and strange, a wolf’s purse

A man, standing on a mountaintop
In the right light, throws his shadow
On the clouds, colossus

Crown him, wrap him in hides
Still I know him, let them dance back to back
In the dark, still I know them
Bring your black book, devil,
Your stained turnips, your black wine

Turn the world over and burn it down,
the rotted scraps of history
In an atomic singularity, a bonfire of yesterdays

Still I know you, cold may morning sun,
Lonely shepherd, scarecrow on a stick
Crown of black winged birds, scarecrow

Here is a dish of milk in the hedgerow
Here is a twist of salt in your pocket
Here is iron and bright silver
A rhyme against the dark,
A prayer for spring

* * *

Jacob Rakovan is a 2011 New York Foundation for the Arts fellow in poetry and a resident of Rochester, NY.

What do you think is the attraction of the fantasy genre?

Every story has a strain of the fantastic. It is what makes it worth telling, or what happens to the story when we tell it. For myself, I dislike the term fantasy, as it mostly serves as a ghetto for writing that has been judged insufficiently serious. Homer, for instance, is chock full of monsters and deities, implausible escapes, magical objects, and yet somehow he manages to escape having Fabio airbrushed on his cover in a pirate shirt. The first stories we have are fantastic. The Epic of Gilgamesh, the Old Testament, etc...I think people are attracted to what is now disparaged as "genre" (western, sci-fi, fantasy, mystery) writing because it has some element of the mythic, some element of storytelling beyond reporting, some reach toward meaning. I think these stories will endure, regardless of fashion, or labels, and that the stories that people continue to tell will continue to be ones that have meaning. Magic realism, Myth, Fantasy, Science Fiction, are really all just applied labels to the simple human impulse of storytelling.