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Spell 17

Spell 17
By Tristan Beiter

Here begin promises and explanations, going in and out of the speech, having desire, having the door to the garden at the back of the house.

I am the crown and the scepter. What does this mean? The red ship and the platform and the summer. The Walker passed over the grave and tamped it.

I shall be purified. Otherwise said: the body shall enter into my body and the good things of this world shall accrete to my flesh.

“When I was in my land, I came into my city” What is it? “It is the horizon of my father Atum.”

Have you been away? Have you written to the one you left behind? Otherwise said: the juggler, the dance. Do we join in; can he keep us safe and sure?


The man builds a wall around himself, forgetting the way out. Otherwise said: trees from the flesh, the man with yellow eyes and fish scales.

The lamp knows what it wants and insists upon achievement.

I have come to the blue hills and given myself to the one who lives there. What does this mean? The lady upside down with the lion next to her? Otherwise said: nothing shall make me use the power I have been given as it should never be used.

It is the road to the future, or else to the oasis. What is it? The great City of Cats and Ravens.

The King of Cups. Otherwise said: the waters pour fourth from his hands until there is no more land but only sea.


The world has never welcomed him. What does it mean? That Jonah did not know the whale for nothing is known from the inside.

A giant mouse can eat the lead out of stained glass windows; if the church is made of glass, the mouse can devour the church walls into shatterings of color.

“I have seen this sun-god who was born yesterday from the Celestial Cow; if he be well then will I be well, and vice versa. What does it mean? It means these waters of the sky,”

The great war over eggplant. What is it? An absurdist manifesto. Otherwise said: the couch covered in lilies and the inability to sit for fear of ruining the plastic.

All flesh is grass, thus all families are really gardens. What does this mean? When you mow the lawn are you Herod slaughtering the innocents?


The Lady of the Lake. Otherwise said: the one who knew where swords would fall over all things in all things.

The day that was given to me was not enough. Otherwise said: the snow covering the skin of the dead lion, causing it to solidify like bad leather.

The earth will allow me its fruits. What does it mean? Rabbit-skin shapes and a bit of gold on the eyelid.

The entrance to the ring of stones; the day you will be asked to return to the house in the City on the Plain. What is it? A pillar, a cedar, a palmful of salt.

I am the one who went forth. Otherwise said: the book written on the line of the bark.


The great dish opened its mouth and welcomed me into the world. Otherwise said: everything can be reduced to either an egg sitting on a plate or a grapefruit.

I arrived at the Gate of the Seven. What is it? Is it the palace of the Lord and the entrance into heavens guarded by the sisters of Re?

A hollow pearl is the same as the room of a spacious house. Otherwise said: the door is made of alabaster.

At the peak, you will meet the widow and she will dispense wisdom from the teeth you have lost.

Give the real bird to the great old fish and to the turquoise. Otherwise said: The fish knows to eat or it shall be driven from the pond.

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Tristan Beiter is a speculative poet and fiction nerd originally from Central Pennsylvania. His poems have previously appeared in such venues as Abyss & Apex, Eternal Haunted Summer, GlitterShip, Liminality, Bird’s Thumb, and Twisted Moon. When not reading or writing, he can be found crafting absurdities with his boyfriend, experimenting with needlecraft, and shouting about literary theory. Find him on Twitter at @TristanBeiter.

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

I find the attraction of fantasy is that it allows for transformation and association. The magic and possibility of fantasy let me imagine a new world where the connections I’m working through in my writing are not incidental, but rather are built into the nature of the world. Free to populate the poem with spirits and spells, the underlying logic (or illogic) of my thoughts emerges in colors and detail I can’t see when I write realistically.

Correspondences between fantasy and my life are more complicated than metaphor or allegory, so I can always maintain the little bit of distance I need by not only thinking of whatever needs working-out in a poem as a fantastical other but by genuinely writing about that second thing, a transformation which I find grants more perspective than I can maintain when I need to match real-life accuracy or even science-fictional rigor.