Demon Fire, by Mary Soon Lee

First published in Tales of the Talisman.

Outside: the harbor,
the town wall, both extant.

Inside: No trace of wood.
No leather. No cloth.
No birds, no insects.
The wells dried out.
The mud burnt brick hard.
A few stone buildings.
Ash. Charred bones.
Two kings (alive),
their guards
at a short distance.

“Too few bones,” said Donal,
the Red King: red-haired,
red-handed in war.
“We think most people
were taken prisoner,
or killed elsewhere.”

“Several escaped,” said Xau,
“and fled to us eight days ago.”

“At moon dark,” said Donal.
“And last month, the same thing–
a town obliterated at moon dark.”

He led Xau to the town center.
The stone fountain bowl
had cracked in two.
On the flagstones in front:
a black circle,
wide as a man’s height,
wavy lines radiating from it.

“Demon sign,” said Xau.

“Yes.” Donal spat on the sign.
“Help us. Name your terms.”
“We’ll help. No terms,” said Xau.

“But how? What can we do?”

“I don’t know,” said Donal.
“I knew how to fight you.
I have no idea how to fight this.”

They stood, silent,
by the dry fountain
at the center of what
had once been a town.

Mary Soon Lee was born and raised in London, but now lives in Pittsburgh. She has won the Elgin Award and the Rhysling Award for her poetry. Of late, she has been working on The Sign of the Dragon, an epic fantasy presented in poetry. A dozen poems from the epic may be read at

Posted on December 21, 2016, in Issue 19: Speculative Poetry and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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