FTM's Poetry Contest Winners
FTM is pleased to present the winners
of our Poetry Fundraising Contest below. Enjoy!
GRAND PRIZE WINNER
AND VERY LITTLE STONE
by Margaret Fisher Squires
They built the palace together. They used dreams and glass and very little stone. She did not notice the lack, distracted as she was by the motes of glamour that sparked the air around her prince. Perhaps she is not to be blamed. Perhaps he is not to be blamed either. The Fair Folk cannot help what they are. The Elf Lord quite enjoyed the playful labor. The woman’s flights of fancy matched his own as few other mortals’ had. Her dreams served for timbering and floors, fine-grained and richly hued like mahogany or teak. The pair were dazzled by their reflections in the ballroom’s mirrors. “We’ll give a ball!” he declared. She answered him, “Yes!” and he conjured fragile chairs of gilded wood, rich brocade draperies, candles of fragrant beeswax. The dainty cakes were real, with currants in them. He stole them by magic from the bakery in the nearest town. It did not seem to matter that the palace had no kitchen. Candle flames lit the ballroom and burned again in gilded mirrors, in guests’ jewels, and in his mortal lover’s eyes. Dancing with her was a joy at first. The time came when her every kiss, her every hand-brush felt like the peck of a small, hungry bird. Her eyes, bright with hope drained him. Besides, the party seemed to last almost a whole night or almost a whole year. (Despite long interludes with mortals, he still tended to confuse the two.) He knew, or believed in his fine ivory bones, that if he stayed a whole night or a whole year in one place, time would enspell him, stiffen his flesh until he was trapped in panicked immobility, an Elf Lord shaped entirely of something like mahogany or teak. Her chatter carved a numb hollow in his chest, He felt approaching dawn. He left her while the dance swirled all around them, slipping away through one of the tall glass doors into the darkness. He left her dancing with his reflection. Outside, he paused, and glanced back through the glass at the bright-eyed comely woman circling alone in her graceful dance. He heard a distant fiddle swinging into melody over the hill. He felt the music fill his chest with fire. His heels barely touched the earth as he crossed the hill but he remembered the woman for almost as many years or hours as it took for the palace’s timbers to collapse into dust.
Margaret Fisher Squire’s poems have appeared in brass bell: a haiku journal, The Ryder Magazine, and the Five Women Poets’ chapbook, Birds of a Feather. Some can be heard in the archives of WFIU’s program “The Poets Weave” https://indianapublicmedia.org/poetsweave/ .
Image: Amanda Bergloff
TO SURVIVE A FAIRY TALE
by Deborah Sage
Wear a cloak fashioned of a thousand furs
Or a mask of illusion edged with
Owl feathers and innocence. Always
Erase your traces.
Cast no shadow in moonlight. Sleepwalk
Barefoot, across frosted fields, clad
In gossamer and thistle-down.
Tell no one your true name.
Ask for no red roses. Choose camelias instead.
Never unlock forbidden doors even
If given the keys.
Chain your heart with iron or
A lover’s infidelity.
Three bands of either are enough.
Conceal your radiance. Cast a glamour
To avoid the gaze of your mother, or
In extreme cases, your father.
Obscure your scent with Dragon’s Blood
And Moroccan mint, best obtained from
A disreputable source.
Wear a gown of ashes, or choose
One of ruby silk to blend with spilled drops of cabernet
Carry a carving knife for pumpkins,
And wolves. Do not lose your slipper.
Sleep in a canopied bed carved
From the point of a spindle carved by
A fairy’s curse. Braid your hair with
Briars or threads of time.
Wear a brooch of silver and shoes of iron.
Trade your wishes for golden coins.
Trade your voice to the sea
For your heart’s desire and a crystal choker,
Always expect the worst.
Do not dance in Faerie forests, but if you must,
Leave a trail of vanishing diamonds,
Or starlight. Waltz all night
But do not tango.
Take care you are not followed.
Do not answer those who would call your name,
Willing you to let down your guard alongside
Your hair. Flee before the clock strikes
Midnight. Remember the power of passivity;
Stay in the tower.
Break the queen’s mirror. Risk the
Seven year’s bad luck.
Do not comb your raven locks with
A poisoned comb. Leave the tangles.
Never eat apples from a chest
Nor a house of cakes and sweets.
Despite your cravings,
Do not steal from
A witch’s garden. Starve instead.
When pursued, seek shelter in deep forests.
Hide between the roots of a rowan tree, In a thatched cottage,
Or beneath a leaf.
Be on good terms with dwarves and witches.
Always dress for flight,
Speak in a foreign tongue but remember
Always to whisper,
Tint your skin blue; wear sapphires.
Reveal your thoughts only on
The promise of anonymity. Be certain
Your confidence will not be kept.
Stay on the path, drink no wine
Nor eat food proffered with a price
Greater than gratitude.
Do not engage in careless thievery.
Avoid spinning either
Straw into gold or
Men into princes.
Deborah W. Sage is a native of Kentucky, USA. She has most recently been published in Enchanted Conversation: A Fairy Tale Magazine, Eternal Haunted Summer, Literary LEO, Fairy Tale Magazine, From the Farther Trees, the 2022 Dwarf Stars Anthology and Amethyst Press All Shall Be Well anthology for Julian of Norwich.
Image: Arthur Rackham
TRIPLE GODDESS PRAYER
by Cecilia Betsill
Come child, and drink
from the Cauldron of Cerridwen.
And when you rise
Take the storm winds with you.
Come child and drink.
Suck on the breast of the Siren
and let the manna drown you.
Sinking, staining water pink.
Come child, and lay your head on the lap
of the Great Morrigan.
Raven wings wide and
Counting the dead.
(Gaze across that battlefield,
littered and crisscrossed
with corpses of bastards
ready to pay)
Come child, and jump
on the back of the Valkyries.
And when you soar sing the
Rune song of Mother & Crone.
Come child and stand at the
Crossroads of Hecate.
Peer into the fates and the future and
Tell your coven what you see.
Ah, you maiden, you girl child,
let your rage flow.
Rage for the ones before you
who burned and who hung.
Be reborn in the castrated foam
of your father.
Oysters and mollusks widen their maws
to spill pearls at your feet.
You goddess, you storyteller -
Child, you are eternal.
You are me, and her, and she,
Mother, Maiden, Crone,
our Fury makes us one.
Cecilia Betsill is an NYC-based Swede writing LGBTQ+ fantasy and witchy poetry. She is currently working on publishing her debut novel entitled Siren's Song. You can find Cecilia helping run a literary open mic in Brooklyn and occasionally illustrating the accompanying monthly zine.
Image: Alphonse Osbert
All three poems are included
in our September issue,
...packed with original fairy tale
stories, poems, art, articles,
and an interview with author, Alice Hoffman!
FEATURING WORKS BY
Ella Arrow - Amanda Bergloff - Cecilia Betsill - Tish Black
Sarah Cannavo - Jayne Cohen - Sara Cleto - A.J. Cunder
Sofia Ezdina - Alyson Faye - Hannah Grace Greer
Kelly Jarvis - Rosanne E. Lortz - Leila Murton Poole
Deborah Sage - Marcia Sherman - Margaret Fisher Squires
Laren Stover - Brittany Warman
You can find
TALES FROM THE
NIGHT QUEEN'S REALM
single issue HERE
check out other past issues HERE