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Issue 30 • October 2018
edited by Ashley Dioses

Table of Contents

Editor’s Introduction • WitchesAshley Dioses

Seven Witches • Alexandra Seidel
The Crimson Witch • K. A. Opperman
Commemoration of the Divine Passion • William Cook
Our Ladies of Sorrow • Thomas DeQuincey, remixed (in tribute to Dario Argento’s “Three Mothers” Trilogy) by Joseph Maddrey
Dream Sonnet for Ashiel • Dan Clore
Jack and the Hex Witch • Adam Bolivar
Masque • F. J. Bergmann
The Ladies of Lancashire • Clay F. Johnson
Circe • Lucy Ann Fiorini
The Devil’s Mistress • Zoey Xolton
Two Meetings • Ann K. Schwader
To Make Our World Bleed • S. L. Edwards
Beware the Dance of the Witches for with It They Serve Apollyon • Adam Wassil
Aisha’s Revenge • D. L. Myers
Wild Aseneth • Jessica Amanda Salmonson

Seven Witches

We were seven wicked witches when we rode out to the east,
seven wild witches facing the breath of the oncoming sun.

The first of us was beautiful. Her golden hair went flowing
down her neck, down her shoulders, and further down her back.
Even as her sister witch, I saw the promise in her curves
to be held, her skin seemed to say. She
left us first.
I am tired, she said. Riding has lost its charm,
and the sunlight feels like nettles in my eyes. I want to stop,
maybe find a decent apartment, cut my hair, let it go back
to its real color, grow mandrake on the windowsill, the works.
I had thought her fiercer than that, but
witches do surprise. My housewarming gift was a spice rack,
fully stocked.

We were six wicked witches when we rode to the east,
six wild witches facing the breath of the oncoming sun.

The second of our group was our bookish spellcaster hero.
She wore her glasses proudly, and the rest of us were never sure
if her eyesight was really that bad. Our second witch
could talk to any book, and the book would talk back, and
tell her of its stories, stories of being made; printed, bound, read.
I was so jealous. I can only read them. I know nothing of a book’s heart,
but our second witch can feel their pulse beneath the page.
Her wild curls said don’t mess with me. I never did. I only kissed her,
I have to stop, she said one day, looking over her shoulder
from the back of her roan horse. The books want a home;
I’ll make them one, right here where the river is still wild
and the mountains still hungry for the sky. The books will come
and they will tell me everything, she said, and she was smiling.
I knew the books would come and that I’d miss her.

We were five wicked witches when we rode to the east,
five wily witches facing the breath of the oncoming sun.

The third of us was old, no, not old but ancient. She had skin
old as winter, old as hurt, old as blood gifted from mother to daughter.
We respected her for her knowledge, and for her endurance: she
could sit in her saddle longer than any of us.
You go on ahead without me, she said one morning, just after coffee.
I have to go back into the world. These young witches that are
sprouting up everywhere like unruly reeds? They ain’t got a clue.
do not know an herb from a toad, a kiss of true love from a bag full of coals.
Someone’s gotta whip some sense into them, and I reckon,
I got the best arm for whipping.
She did. We never doubted that.

We were four wicked witches when we rode to the east,
four wily, wild witches facing the breath of the oncoming sun.

The fourth and fifth of us were twin-born, and one, incidentally,
was a man; we never said anything so as not to embarrass him, but
his spellwork was always sharp, much like his sister’s. They were funny,
they were wild, they would finish each other’s sentences and most of their spells
were things that needed two to cast them, like a violin’s sharp melody
that needs the softness of her piano to make the song.
We have to see the world, they said (as one,) just when we were crossing a highway,
and we have to see it together, but apart. We can’t go on until we know
that we can walk alone, finish any spell alone. You know how it is,
self discovery and growth; and maybe planting a tree of golden apples somewhere.
One took the highway to the south, the other to the north. Their single spell echoed
until it split in two, a stereo spell vanishing into adventure.
We would miss him finishing her sentences, and miss her finishing his.

We were two wicked witches when we rode to the east,
two wily witches facing the breath of the oncoming sun.

The sixth of us was a shapechanger, which was rare for a witch.
She had a sense of humor, especially about her shapechanger lineage
(it’s a bit of a no-no for a witch to
hunt down a shapechanger man, but when there’s love … there are things
even magic can’t fix.)
Her shapechanging was of the witchy variety which means
she could change into anything, and her changing wasn’t moon-bound.
She was a jackal when she told me (in that strange, huffing jackal voice)
I gotta stop running. She was running, because she liked it better than riding,
but sometimes, she’d be a heron and fly; I had a feeling that wasn’t what she meant.
I gotta stop, and I gotta see what it feels like standing still. Maybe go human
for a bit, a longer bit, see how I feel about two legs and thumbs. It’ll be different
but I gotta try before I start wishing that I had.
I understood. I saw her as a human. She looked beautiful. I might have loved her
if it weren’t for my librarian.

I am one wicked witch, and I am riding east.
I am one wily witch facing the breath of the oncoming sun.

I don’t know if I can make it or if I want to. What do you get
when you catch the sun kissing the horizon, one extra witch life,
was that it? Or did we set out to do this on a drunk bet?
Or … was it fate?
In any case, I am here, and I am still in my saddle.
The ride is never easy, and there are things I see
that I want to stop for, but I keep going. Wherever I go
I drizzle a little magic behind me so the others can find me
if they are done with what needs doing, if they have found
what needs finding, if they have unbound what never needed binding.
I’ll be here, on this mine very own path
to meet the oncoming sun, and stare him down and make him know
that I am the last witch out of seven, that I am eager and untiring,
that even he, the oncoming sun, can never stop me from riding.

—Alexandra Seidel

The Crimson Witch

for A. D.

Her mouth was like a crimson bloom,
With blood-red nectar, dark and rich.
I knew that I had met my doom
The night I kissed the crimson witch.
Amid the crimson-candled gloom,
No more than an enchanted lich,
I serve her from beyond the tomb,
For I have kissed the crimson witch.

—K. A. Opperman

Commemoration of the Divine Passion

You eclipse me with your power
And for you
I have stained the moon with black love …
Death from a spell cools my ardor
For a while, until I search for you again.

The damp distance between you and I
Is bleached then blackened with shadows
Flocks of ravens, cawing for my blood
As I recite your name with invocations
Practiced through the years
We meet again, your cloak surrounds me
I succumb to every fear …

I foresee myself upon the pyre
Bound hands swollen, blooded
My body hangs upon the rod
Numb with pregnant expectation
As the crowds swirls and roils with bile
You set fire to the straw at my feet
Now reddened with burning life
The darkest depths of blackest dreams

In these blistered hours of insomnia
Thoughts are like lead, heavy as my wand
I believe they are other things & less than they are
As if fewer of them would create
A deathly stillness like sleep …
O if only to witness you
Emerging from the ether, once again
But instead, Penumbric spirits
Stumble towards relentless dawn

My sleep is cursed with my desire
My purpose sees me pace the floor
The cushions beckon in the mirror
White & pure, a virgin prayer
Like the silk interior of a coffin fit for a prince
Our bed reflected in that fantasy land
Where the dead live and the living are undead

Why spill blood in the dust of a sacred tomb?
As I lay down again with a prayer for darkness
Outside, in the circle
A snowflake melts on her virgin brow
As she stares, lifeless, up at the silver moon
The athamé deep in her breast
The dwindling flame of the sacrament
Anoints her passage as she follows the smoke
Somewhere & now together again
We drink every breath of poisoned air
She asleep, I awake …
Awaiting your return

My belief in resurrection wanes …
I stroll through cemeteries
Looking for your name, for your presence
Yet not wanting to find it
As if this would make you mortal
The damp brown earth everywhere
Reminds me that every hour we breathe
Is our last and only eternity
Can be found beyond this realm

I hope my suffering stands for something
Victims don’t want blind skies
Pain & mortal degradation
Are truer religions than faith itself
So welcome me as one of them
A lost sheep searching for my dark shepherd
Welcome me into your house.

The last star will dissolve painlessly
Earth will quiver under your instruction
That last night will last ‘til morning
And then your knock on the window
Like a dead branch in the cold, wet, wind
Will signal the end
In the cold dawn of a slaughterhouse
Prophecy will make amends

Awakened from a long dark dream,
I thought I saw you somewhere in there
The awesome force of sleep’s return
Shut me down like wild song
Like black amphibious wine
A hollow ghost—
Peering senselessly through the cold
Window of every lost night

This early morning on motionless ground
Bound to the stake, I gaze skyward
I drink greedily the cold mountain air
And watch the crows fly
Across cragged peaks into dark clouds
As the cold warms from beneath
The smoke curls and chokes
Then bursts into flame
My mortal pain is nothing
Compared to my love for you
The jeers and shouts that punctuate the morn
The rough hands that beat and bound my form
Mere inconsequence to the Widening Wolf
Now bounding through the burning dawn.

O Black Death, my mortal life complete
Take me in your arms and shepherd me
To that sacred universe so sweet
Where sylphs and faeries run amok
And the real devils reign above.

—William Cook

Our Ladies of Sorrow

… the eye of the calmest observer is troubled; the brain is haunted as if by some jealousy of ghostly beings moving among us….

Three Sisters they are
Of one myst erious household
And their paths are wide apart.
They wheeled in mazes
They telegraphed
They conspired together
And on the mirrors of darkness my eye traced the plots.

The eldest of the three is named
Mater Lachrymarum—Our Lady of Tears.
She it is that night and day raves and moans,
Calling for vanished faces.
Love, grief, religion, are haunters of solitary places …
How much solitude, so much power.

She stood in Rama,
When a voice was heard of lamentation—
Rachel weeping for her children,
And refusing to be comforted.
She it was that stood in Bethlehem
On the night when Herod’s sword swept its nurseries of Innocents—
A wind that had swept the fields of mortality for a hundred centuries—
And the little feet were stiffened forever.

From Ganges to the Nile,
From Nile to Mississippi,
Our Lady of Tears
Glides a ghostly intruder
Into the chambers of
Sleepless men,
Sleepless women,
Sleepless children,
Leaving behind her a darkness not less profound.

The second sister is called
Mater Suspiriorum—Our Lady of Sighs.

Our Lady of Sighs never clamors, never defies,
Dreams not of rebellious aspirations.
She weeps not.
She groans not.
Hers is the meekness that belongs to the hopeless,
Broken minds
In ruined cities
And when the sun has gone down to his rest.

All that are betrayed,
And all that are rejected,
Outcasts by traditionary law,
And children of hereditary disgrace
Every woman sitting in darkness,
Without love to shelter her head,
Or hope to illumine her solitude…

Witchcraft has seized upon you!
You acquiesce!
Sweet becomes the grave,
Luxurious the separation …
A refinement of rapture …
The heavenly dawn of reunion …
Forces the infinite into the chambers of a human brain,
And throws dark reflections from eternities below all life
Upon the mirrors of the sleeping mind.

All these walk with Our Lady of Sighs.

The third sister—
Hush! Whisper, whilst we talk of her—
She is the defier of God.
She is the mother of lunacies.
She is the suggestress of suicides.

Our Lady of Tears moves with uncertain steps,
Fast or slow,
But still with tragic grace.
Our Lady of Sighs creeps timidly and stealthily.
But this youngest sister moves with incalculable motions,
Bounding with a tiger’s leaps.
Deep lie the roots of her power
In whom the heart trembles
And the brain rocks under conspiracies of
Tempest from without
And tempest from within.

Alchemy there is none
Of passion or disease
That can scorch away
These immortal impresses.

And her name is
Mater Tenebrarum—Our Lady of Darkness.

—Thomas DeQuincey, remixed (in tribute to Dario Argento’s “Three Mothers” Trilogy) by Joseph Maddrey

Dream Sonnet for Ashiel

Invoking spirits as she fingers her knife,
From a sapling the witch carves the boneless back,
The limbs and joints of the man that she’ll call “Jack,”
And scribes the runes she hopes will bring him to life.

With its head a goatish, Baphometic gourd;
At its crotch a yellowish, cucurbite cod,
The cackling witch completes her pumpkin-god,
And kneels in wonder before her new-made Lord:

“By the flaming force of Salamander Drake;
By sporting Sylph, in the atmosphere unseen;
By the weird and wavy power of Undine;
By deep-delving Gnome that makes the mountains quake!”

But shall her tallow-brained lover come and go
As fire burn, air blow, earth abide, and water flow?

—Dan Clore

Jack and the Hex Witch

There was a witch upon a hill,
            Whose heart was cold and black;
She danced with devils there until
            Upon her door was Jack.

Politely did he doff his hat
            With goose’s feather stuck;
He stepped as stealthy as a cat,
            And feline was his luck.

She asked him to come in for tea,
            For comely was his face,
And nevermore she thought to see
            A man of English race.

A gentleman was our friend Jack,
            And drank he of her tea,
And also did he eat a snack,
            For ravenous was he.

Then afterwards the fire grew low,
            Which Jack obliged to stoke,
Until the flames began to grow,
            While billowed up the smoke.

The witch was saucy, she was sly,
            And motioned towards her bed;
She wondered if Jack was as spry
            As in the tales she’d read.

She lay and read her demon book,
            Which Jack had aimed to steal;
He knew he must by hook or crook,
            By time’s relentless wheel.

The witch was wily in her craft,
            And read a lover’s spell;
She threw aside her clothes and laughed,
            Like all the fiends in Hell.

Jack drew his cloak around himself,
            With ancient power charmed,
And grinning like a moon-mad elf,
            He saw her spell disarmed.

Before she had a chance to act,
            Jack used his magicked shoes
To swoop and snatch the artefact
            Alluring to misuse.

And lastly did Jack draw his sword
            To shear the witch’s head,
But mercy could he then afford,
            And did not strike her dead.

The witch into a hare a-turned,
            And hopped into the thorn,
Still bitter that she had been spurned,
            Which earned good Jack her scorn.

—Adam Bolivar


Of course we want a costume both diabolical
and inventive. We investigate trunks in attics,
basements, wine cellars and sub-basements,
making every effort to locate and isolate
ideal garb for these seasonal masquerades.
We curse the spiderwebs, the cracked mirrors,
pools of suspiciously viscid liquid lingering
in the subterranean tunnels, but finally emerge
victorious, bearing armfuls of ancient brocade,
the pelts of long-extinct and unidentifiable beasts,
still-bright, ornate helms and chamfrons, still-
stained weapons. We wonder why we failed
to receive an invitation—but Lady A___ knows
no masked ball is complete without our presence.
From the first “Hello, my darling! However
did you gain entrance this time?” to our final
departure, mincing daintily past recumbent
partygoers or corpses (she always assures us,
through trembling lips, that there is nothing
to forgive), we are inevitable—a quality shared
with Death and Taxes. The sigil of our House
is a sable cormorant, shown engulfing a fish,
argent. At any rate, it is our custom to attend
whatever galas take place on Hallows Eve.
Nor are the other noble houses unaware that
we might attend such an occasion; they either
resign themselves to the ensuing chaos, irrigate
their palpitations with absinthe and nepenthe
well in advance, or simply tell lies: a sea voyage
for their health, the servants all succumbed
to malignant curd, the manse overrun by were-
buffalo. And then we arrive, in a phaeton drawn
by coal-black onagers, at Lady A’s porte cochère,
announced by a quivering footman, sweeping
into the foyer in a frothing of finery as cries
of “Elegant! Magnificent!” ripple, sussurating,
through the glittering yet obsequious crowd.
Chandeliers of fiery crystal sparkle overhead;
chalices of chalcedony, filled with coreopsis
and chrysanthemums, are positioned against
the ballroom walls between tall French doors
and judiciously placed on the parquet dance-
floor to encourage the sashaying, vermicular
line-dances that have become the rage. Noting
the direction of our leering and possessive gaze,
our transmogrified rivals fall into a swivet,
noticing that we are visibly (damn these tight
breeches, anyway) enamored of Lady A’s
youngest daughter, Chicorie, and, staggering
under the weight of our manifest displeasure,
her cicisbeos withdraw to the card-room,
there to risk family fortunes or determine
successions in cutthroat games of hunt-the-
squirrel. A squirt of breath-freshener, and we
advance (our scented exhalation at a distinct
disadvantage once it encounters the cloud
of durian perfume that surrounds the chit
in question). Who needs to learn her place:
she meets our would-be-mesmerizing stare
without confusion (nothing could irritate
us more—other than the rebellious rabble
endeavoring to instigate our downfall—
unless it might be the veiled but rising scorn
in those dark, dark eyes fixed upon our own).
She draws a wand from out her boned stays,
casually conjures a being invisible and lethal
(who’d have thought she had that in her!),
orders it to dismember us and scatter pieces
of my body across the planes of the netherhells.
A successful insurrection, it would seem—
but when her demon returns … I know what
she pledged to achieve this triumph. As I was
plural erstwhile, so henceforth shall she be.

—F. J. Bergmann

The Ladies of Lancashire

Rooted atop a grassless hill exists
A leafless, barkless cemetery tree,
Its branches twist like curling witch-fingers
Painting long, creeping shadows, alive
With a flickering spectral-glow of black-
Opal’d witches’ dust—floating mists of ghost-light—
Capturing cold and lifeless flames within
The deepening darkness of impending midnight

As the shadows deepen, the tree-roots awaken,
            Enchanting the hill with illusions of movement

The barkless yew—the witching tree—is flesh-like,
Charred as if cancered by the midnight-orbs—
Witch-burned by a sickly luminescence
Of moon-silver, pale with glowing decay,
Like phantom’s breath or frosted witch-crystal
That catches the moonlight on starless nights:
To the locals called the witching-tree lights,
In old ghost-lore called the Ladies of Lancashire

Hanged from the twisted branches of the witching tree
            The Ladies dance with will-o’-the-wisp witchery

Every thirty-four years, when the Ladies
Absorb the midnight moon’s coldest silver
And give birth to the longest, darkest night,
Lancashire’s sleepy-eyed churchmen, the sons
Of her founding priests—known in whispered witch-
Lore as the cemetery tree witch-killers—
Awaken from their warm, peaceful slumbers
Only when the shadows flicker with ghost-candles

Under an enchantment of silver-orbed witch-light
            The churchmen wake to wander witching-tree midnight

Stumbling upon the softened hill, grave-disturbed,
The shadow-slithering tree roots,—grave-serpents
Freckled with moon-wort of livid silver
And the black decay of witches’ butter,
Crawl and coil around the living churchmen,
Creep into their still-breathing mouths, stifling
All cries, and worm through jellies of living eyes,
Blinding the churchmen’s light, burying them alive

Metamorphosed by slithering grave-roots
The churchmen’s living flesh peels to reveal tree bark,
Their hair withers and turns to oaken leaves—
Deathless—immune to decay’s skeleton—
They remain immured and ever-rooted—witch-touched—
As the Ladies of Lancashire’s pagan Green-Men.

—Clay F. Johnson


She rides the moon with silver eyes
And on a bed of dreams she flies
In white against the broken sky
Her soul alive, she will not die.

She loves the bitter taste of pain
And counts her wealth by those now slain
For love she sought but cannot gain
Her victory is harsh and vain.

She weaves her web and casts her spell,
Yet of her secrets, none can tell.
Created out of black midnight
She owns what gave her wings and flight.

From fire-born to blackest lie,
She knows the spells that make men die,
And on a bed of dreams, she flies
She rides the moon with silver eyes.

—Lucy Ann Fiorini

The Devil’s Mistress

With hands youthful beyond her years,
Into the cauldron she offers her fears.
A child unborn, not living, yet dead.
Three words longed for, but never said.
She stirs her cauldron, clock-wise first,
This precious brew to slake her thirst
For knowledge, for life, for beauty and time.
When will the dark bells of Hell chime?
Calling her home, to her king,
To the Halls of Eternal Darkness where she might sing.
Of murders and madness, spells and curses,
Songs of wickedness to mar holy verses.
She whispers her vow, her solemn pledge,
And from the cauldron she does dredge,
A mortal skull, filled to the brim
With broken dreams and sins most grim.
Down her throat the turgid potion goes,
How many more dark moons has she left?
Only the devil knows.

—Zoey Xolton

Two Meetings

You seized us meeting in the wood,
& swore we met the Devil there,
A dozen witches & their lord.
You saw the Devil everywhere,

As godly men are wont to do
When God & law are linked as one.
Surrounded, bound, & locked away,
We understood our lives were done

For being old & destitute,
Or maidens marred by their own minds
Too often spoken. Sacred tests
Performed as they had been designed,

Condemning all. From your high seat,
Predestination tolled our fate
As holy writ: undone from birth,
We twelve should not be made to wait,

But join our master in his place
Upon the morrow. Neighbors stared
As if at strangers. Not the wise
Who met to gather herbs, prepared

Such simples & such charms as might
Turn back the darkness from their lives …
No longer. Bleating piously,
They drove their daughters & their wives

Away from us who at first light
Shall feast the crows on Gallows Hill,
While you at leisure rise to greet
The Devil in your mirror still.

—Ann K. Schwader

To Make Our World Bleed

The witch wears darkness between the stars,
Shimmering gore of ethereal scars,
The glistening tears of one thousand eyes,
Singing a chorus of last-dying cries.

The blade in her hands is jagged and stone,
A ripper of flesh, a breaker of bone.
With a chime-laugh she thrusts her blade up
And lets the blood drip into her cup.

The gold-life is scented lilac and sweet,
The rippling color when night-and-day meet.
She takes the potion to her lips and into her being,
Giving no mind to the broken, dying god’s screaming.

The mirror shows her ageless, beautiful and full,
The preserved product of an oft-broken rule.
A miracle, unholy, blasphemous and wrong
With a soft-kind smile, for an unkind song.

—S. L. Edwards

Beware the Dance of the Witches for with It They Serve Apollyon

The wicked dance along the rifted vale—
    The follies there few, but deep, headsman hewn—
    Seeking from devils their sinister boons.
Their lightning-whiteness strikes the pitchy swales

That stretch macabre across the blackened dale
    With a leopard languor, the solitude
    Their shield from prying eyes mundane and crude
As they incant and whirl for dark avail.

And as their bodies luminesce in moon,
    They hurl their starkness from among the limbs
        To plummet as a sacrifice malign;
        The wind bears on their hot exultant cries
    Like a noxious plume to sully the kin
That twist in fear asleep, now plagued, now doomed.

—Adam Wassil

Aisha’s Revenge

The sky was black and filled with glowing sparks
The day that Aisha met the judge’s flames.
A mob of Townsfolk jeered and called her names,
“Abhorrent trot!” and “Devil!” their remarks.

The Willow twins implied infernal claws
Were twined with hers amongst the forest green,
But they could not describe what they had seen
Except to speak of “shapes” and “gnashing jaws”.

Then from the pyre her voice rang out this curse,
“That all of you shall burn for what you’ve done,
And all this wicked place forever shun
For through my words shall all your fates reverse!”

And as the crowd looked on in disbelief,
She burst into a swarming cloud of ash
That caught amongst the judge’s fancy sash
All whilst the ravens croaked in choking grief.

A year gone by again the sky was black
With boiling clouds that swallowed all the light,
And Townsfolk stared and trembled at the sight
Of day so fiercely crushed and driven back.

And then from out those seething clouds, great jets
Of silver fire engulfed those watching eyes
In roaring sheets of flame that drowned their cries
And granted them the fate that hate begets.

—D. L. Myers

Wild Aseneth

The keening of wild Aseneth,
her song is terror. This hag of death
Brings news of misery and fear,
A gruesome end for someone dear.

Blame not the voice of Aseneth
She does not steal the final breath
Hers is an omen, not a cause
Drawn from Nature’s darkest laws.

—Jessica Amanda Salmonson