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Farewell Dead Men

Farewell Dead Men 
by Holly Lyn Walrath

After Edward Hirsch

I am crossing to the other side of the grave, having laid back the light in my bones like a letter unfolded. Its envelope is made of thick, musty parchment scrabbled with poetry. When I tip it out over the kitchen table, black sand pours out. On this side of eternity, the castle is dotted with gargoyles instead of angels. Bodies are harder, sex is better. Hearts are shiny stones worn on strands of gold. Demons play backgammon on the fields of Elysium and instead of the moon, a great fiery hole hangs in the night sky where no stars shine. Come and save me, if you like. Follow the thread. Hold my hand and don’t look over your shoulder to make sure I’m real. No, we both know you’d never be able to resist the temptation. I’ll just send you these letters instead.

* * *

Holly Lyn Walrath’s poetry and short fiction has appeared in Strange Horizons, Fireside Fiction, Luna Station Quarterly, Liminality, and elsewhere. Her chapbook of words and images, Glimmerglass Girl, will be published by Finishing Line Press in 2018. She holds a B.A. in English from The University of Texas and a Master’s in Creative Writing from the University of Denver. She is a freelance editor and host of The Weird Circular, an e-newsletter for writers containing submission calls and writing prompts. You can find her canoeing the bayou in Seabrook, Texas, on Twitter @HollyLynWalrath, or at

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

While science fiction is based in science, mystery is based in the pursuit of a question, and horror is based in evoking an emotion of fear, I believe that fantasy is the only genre which is purely pulled from the author’s deepest dreams and imaginings. The ability to dream up fantastical beasts and worlds seems to me to be a peculiarity of the human condition—one that even the most mundane of minds can learn to cultivate. Where did the idea for a dragon first come from or the hero myth? They are deeply ingrained paths that we continue to walk, following our ancestors through the mists of imagination.