by F. J. Bergmann
In later life, I retired from poetry
to take up the study of magic. After all,
there are only so many ways to use words,
and I didn’t care for the modern vocabulary.
Summoning spirits was easy: hadn’t the Muses
(a few of them, at least) been at my beck
and call? But other spells were harder to master,
especially those requiring esoteric ingredients.
Nothing in my previous career had prepared me
for reliably identifying genuine murderers’ hands
or fat from unbaptized infants, and I’d never
had to write in runes before. Sorcery doesn’t
take kindly to rough drafts or revisions.
More than once I fled my dank cellar choking
on sulfurous fumes, covered in violet flames.
Don’t even talk to me about succubi!
I grew more and more confused—the fumes,
I expect—and then it was nothing more
than the same old enchantment, in the end.
first line from “Dammerung” by Simon Armitage
Copyright © 2018 by F. J. Bergmann