34. Finding Shadow
Back then we built a smaller dome than sky,
and like shamefaced crayon-smudged children
we colored ’til it shone.
This is one of the first two poems I ever wrote for publication. I wrote them both with Stone Telling’s Queer issue in mind, having very little idea what I was doing but a lot of gumption. I’m still very fond of the sensory descriptions in this one. It’s a poem about two men using some light bondage to help deal with the sensory overload induced by their SFnal setting.
Stone Telling didn’t want it (though they said nice things about both poems), but Eye to the Telescope’s LGBT issue did, so “Finding Shadow” shimmied on over there, and then to Monsters In My Mind.
I just realized that this poem has the same number as Rule 34, which is very funny to me.
48. A Toast to the Hero Upon Her Defeat of the Wyrm of L’Incertain
Hail! Her corded arms, her shining mail,
the panther swiftness of her flashing hand!
“A Toast to the Hero” is “Finding Shadow”‘s companion poem, although they ended up in different places in the collection. Where “Finding Shadow” tells an intimate story of a few moments, “A Toast to the Hero” is an attempt to be as brash and loopy and celebratory and queer-in-several-different-ways-at-once as possible. It’s also the story of a hero who beat a dragon, thanks to some help from her three polyamorous partners of varying genders.
The declamatory, “hail!” structure was in part inspired by Alex Dally MacFarlane’s “Sung Around Alsar-Scented Fires,” which is probably a much better poem than this one.
“A Toast to the Hero” had a winding road to publication, and eventually found a home in Liquid Imagination.
Fun fact: its original working title was even longer.