32. The Pyromancer
But scars grow only
and shackles have keys.
I came up with “The Pyromancer” on the same day as “Turning to Stone”; my family was on a day-trip to see the Fourth of July fireworks in Alexandria Bay, New York. They were an auspicious pair, both landing (after revision) in the best possible markets for them: “Turning to Stone” in Stone Telling, and “The Pyromancer” in Goblin Fruit. (You can read it, still in Goblin Fruit, here.)
Yes, the day-trip did involve boats. There is something about groups of small lights in darkness that is immensely meaningful to me – whether they are stars, or city lights, or candles at an Easter vigil, or the bioluminescence of sea creatures, or a scene like this one.
“The Pyromancer” is a much more hopeful, joyful poem than its sibling. (I was also trying to lightly subvert certain tropes in which Magic Always Has to Have a Price.)
33. The Mermaid at Sea World
Children like woodpeckers hammer the glass
and men leer.
This one wasn’t inspired by a real-life event (one hopes). Actually, I don’t remember where it came from, although I know that the lights one sometimes sees in aquariums – refracted through the rippling surface, and then reflected in their odd patterns on the blue-white underwater walls – are another visual that has fascinated me.
“The Mermaid at Sea World” was the cover poem of its issue of Niteblade, and it was reprinted in Imaginarium 4: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing.