Friday, March 21, 2014


Art is enchantment and artists have the right of spells.
~Jeanette Winterson

Rebirth by Daniele Paccaloni

After the Changeling Incantation
by John Philip Johnson

To become a goose
had seemed important, earlier,
when he made the change.
A gray goose for some reason, fat,
with the ability to lift above
the archers' arrows,
fly past the leafless autumn trees,
and cross the bowl of the mountain valley,
beyond those far peaks.
There was a mission—
to get something,
or to return with someone—
some reason to be a goose
other than just gooseness,
other than filling your wings with sky—

Hands drop the wand;
feathers cannot pick it up.
We forget when we change
we become something else.
Things mean differently.
He circled the great alpine woods,
forgetting. There, below,
knotted in the trees,
were the plottings of men,
creatures like little gods,
with their endless violence upon things.
They make such noise. They wail and bleed.
It is no place for a goose.
It is no place for one who can find
north and south within his body
and know which one to choose.


Posted with permission of the poet. (Thank you, John!) He says, "There is a forthcoming graphic version of this poem, which I expect to be available online this summer, part of a larger graphic poetry collection available later this year or in 2015." After the Changeling Incantation was first featured in Strange Horizons speculative fiction magazine.

The Drift Record has the Poetry Friday round-up today.

One more quote about spells:
I'm wondering if there's a spell to make lightning flash in the background whenever I make an ominous resolution.
~Eliezer Yudkowsky


Julie said...

Ooh - that is a beautiful poem! Hope I get to see the "graphic poem" version (and what a cool idea that is, a poem delivered that it.)

Diane Mayr said...

I love this poem! I'm going to save it in my file of poems to read again.

Truthfully, I don't think it needs illustration. I can picture it completely.

Linda B said...

Oh my, Tabatha, this is beautiful. I'll save it, too, & look forward to the accompanying graphic! "filling your wings with sky" and "things mean differently" - am in awe of the thoughtfulness! Thank you, like always! said...


Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

What a wonderful poem! "...filling your wings with sky" <-- that's what I need to work on.

Tara said...

I'm reading this and thinking of our world, Tabatha - such a haunting poem.

jama said...

Magical and fantastical!

Ruth said...

How wonderful!

GatheringBooks said...

Oh Tabatha, this is positively haunting. The transformation, the reinvention of one's self, and the subtle discovery of
"some reason to be a goose
other than just gooseness,"

-- it also reminded me a little bit of Game of Thrones and their wargs. I agree though about artists having the right of spells. :)

laurasalas said...

Stunning--love "other than filling your wings with sky— "

Mary Lee said...

I just about couldn't get past the photo and its evocative title...and then came the poem.

Author Amok said...

Beautiful poem! I read "The Underneath" recently and this piece made me think of Grandma Moccasin -- the shape-shifting water snake -- and her daughter.

Doraine said...

Wow, this is just beautiful. Thank you for sharing it.

Catherine said...

This has left me speechless, Tabatha. The last lines are so powerful. Thank you for sharing this incredible poem.