Featured Editor: Kati Waldrop

TRANSLATING THE HERMETICA

There is only so much I can fit on the pages,
between the choking margins:

too much honesty?
too many lies?

So I code the secrets of stars and spirits and the incidental human heart
in sulphur, phosphorus, and gold—a cipher for life in both senses.
(If you cannot trace innuendo, an alchemical textbook is no place for you.)
(I, too, often cannot trace innuendo.)
Nigredo is melancholy, Citronitas fear, Rubedo rage;
Albedo hovers like a white stag, ever beyond reach,
though all I seek is this: the solution of white light.

Is this, then, all magic is?
Presenting a rose,
never telling about the dead fish in its roots?

 


 

FRIENDLY LOCAL VAMPIRE

Kill me if you can.

Here’s the tool: crucifix bullet noosed
around my throat, a drop of crystal blood
beside runs thicker than my own O-,
the blood of life, cold and thin, dry in my veins
as Everest air: this is my curse.

Kill me if you can.

At four years old I howled banshee into my parents’ room
“I don’t want to die!” to a father sopping from his shower, confused
and a bit frightened by his daughter’s precocious Thanatos crisis. Ten
years later my grandfather would mark my birthday with his suicide,
death and life entwined in my chained-up veins like family.

Kill me if you can.

After that I wore memento moris like invitations, contemplating
poison and smoke, the Opheliac grace of drowning, icarine ignition
—though I was never brave enough to welcome my dawn. Anything
to set me free from this hungry flesh-of-mud, or my magnet brain
shackling me with chains of bullets: but I never found my proper stake.

Here we are. Kill me if you can.

 


 

THE SUNDERED COUNTRY

O, come away with me.
We stand on the brink of our great tragedy:

this is the sundered country.
See the waves shattering against rocks,
salt fountains glittering cold by dawn’s grey light,
over inrushing sea and hungry tides
here to swallow every fire we lit, beacon and pyre,
and gurgling unsatisfied in the guts of chasms we carved out,
chasms where bridges falter and wind howls.

This is the sundered country.
Fathoms deep now lies the field, all war-churned mud and offal:
blood, shit, and earth, torn up by boot-treads, flag poles, death grips,
Heaven’s scorn, the world shuddering apart. Heartstrings’
bitter recoil cracks the eyes of both sides, brother against
sister against mother against lover. We are all blinded:
We will all drown.

This is the sundered country.
My home was there—do you see, where the hillock swims,
now an islet salt-burnt, dried as a bed for bones?
That was my home.
There was a family,
and a lover,
and a dog, there, once.

Nothing is left in our sundered country.
This was the cost of their victory.

 


 

THE DROWNING DARK

Soaked earth, red as the wine of sacrament.
Dreaming at dawn, Zhuangzi confused himself with a butterfly—
so much wind and moon
(the moon’s a pool of mercury)
in this courtyard full of autumn, but
there’s no harm in speaking clearly so long as the miracle appears:
Persephone’s voice, darkness in the deeper dark of the arms Plutonic.
It is autumn and the falling fruit and the long journey towards oblivion.

Note: This is a cento, each line taken from a separate poem (from Natasha Trewethey’s Native Guard to various Chinese poems found in an Anchor Book of Chinese Poetry to at least one selection from the Norton Anthology of Victorian Literature).

 


 

BIO: Kati Waldrop is a senior Creative Writing major at Lenoir-Rhyne University. In addition to being an Assistant Editor for Wild Goose Poetry Review, she is the Editor for Lenoir-Rhyne’s own magazine, Cantos, and recipient of the first place poetry award for 2014-2015, as well as the Edythe Beam Mayes Award in Creative Writing for the same year and for 2016-2017. While she’s been known to pen a bit of poetry, genre fiction has always been her first love; her short story The Gnashing Gears is available now from Frith Books’ Night Shades release, and her microfiction has appeared in Spirit’s Tincture magazine. She can be found at thestudyinink.wordpress.com.

 


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