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Issue 31 • January 2019
edited by Heather Moser

Table of Contents

Editor’s Introduction • CrossroadsHeather Moser

World-Lines • Deborah L. Davitt
The cairn at the crossways • Jane Dougherty
From The Sonnets to Eurydice (after Rilke) • Lorraine Schein
Concealment • Ashley Elise Davis
Seal the Veil • Ashley Dioses
Kannon • Gerri Leen
Seed • Linsey Duncan
Crossing Over • David C. Kopaska-Merkel
The Crossing • Jason Brasier
The Two Witches • K. A. Opperman
Nine to Camulodunum • Oliver Smith
The Fetch • Kurt Newton
Child’s Play • Juleigh Howard-Hobson
Ever After • Juleigh Howard-Hobson
How to See a DabRenee Ya
Subtle Djinn • Kimberly Wade


When you come to a crossroads
it’s not just a matter
of a decision point
calving off quantum realities
like icebergs from a floe—
turn left, get in an accident, die
turn right, meet your future spouse, live;
it’s not as simple as
eight billion realities
flickering, there/not there
as deadalive as Schrodinger’s cat,
spreading out through a trillion
versions of the cosmos
like an infinitely interlaced
peacock’s tail, though most of us
are certainly vain enough to think
that our decisions are the only ones
that matter—
while we’re moving in space,
it’s not linear; we’re also moving in time,
with a constant motion that we can’t
perceive, a helix that begins with our
births and ends with our deaths,
and throughout our time,
we’re a constant line,
always-ever present,
spiraling around ourselves;
so that when we come
to a crossroads
and make our decision—
all eight billion of us,
making decisions
a hundred times a day or more,
splitting reality into that
peacock fan, that shattered spectrum
of invisible light—
we send out that light into
realities not only parallel,
but all around us,
that follow along every
curve and sine
of our unseen trail in time,
and I wonder sometimes,
if what we do now,
echoes in the past,
or resonates
in all of our eternities.

—Deborah L. Davitt

The cairn at the crossways

Feet patter at the crossways, quick and light
As quicksilver and moonbeams in the night,
While I hurry past the cairn of cold, dry stone,
And its cold, dry shadow dancing all alone.

Feet patter at the crossways, no one’s there,
But the gaunt stone cairn that marks the sad place where
A woman’s laid who died in grief and shame,
Shunned for her crime, all have forgot her name.

Feet patter at the crossways, is that a shade,
A childish wraith of palest ground mist made?
Her laughter rings, a bell of silver bright,
And by her side a girl so young, so slight.

Feet patter dance steps round about the cairn,
A ghostly mother and her newborn bairn,
An owl calls softly, in her wings to fold
And carry them to where they’ll not grow old.

No more feet patter, fleeing ugly cries,
Her only crime, she listened to his lies,
With her stillborn bairn on soft owl wings she flies,
And only death beneath the cold cairn lies.

—Jane Dougherty

From The Sonnets to Eurydice (after Rilke)

I dreamt a strong wind drove me out of this gray place,
past the cold river’s stiff currents of dried blood.
The gusts whipped about my ears, singing,
and billowed my grave-clothes.

The God of Air formed within that blast—
he was a bright whirling, whirling.
I passed the black-robed old woman at the crossroads—
cackling, wolfing down the scraps of carrion left her,
a dark moon inked between her eyes.

I passed the three girls learning how to knit,
their needles clicking, needles made of stars.
And then the glowing hurricane flung me back,
down onto my hands on this dirt road, and a voice asked:

Do the gods of the crossroads only watch our fates?
Or just our deaths, which also are their dreams?

—Lorraine Schein


She wears the world like a mask
Idiosyncrasies of false origin.
On the inside
She knows the truth.

She speaks like falling rain
Teaching us to number our hours
Even as she
Fails to number her own.

She’s a villain and a victim
Captive to the minds of the restless
Only alone
When she wants to be.

She is shadow and sunlight
The glow beyond the dark
Like closing your eyes in daylight
Red and black at the same time.

She will find the road,
Or it will find her,
No matter how fast
She tries to run.

Give her an anchor
To settle her indecision.
She’ll make glass out of fire
And call it inspiration.

Too many directions
To too many places.
She will plant her feet somewhere
And grow into home. 

—Ashley Elise Davis

Seal the Veil

My garden, where I reap and sow,
My rabbit, toad, and owl,
My vampire bats and darkling crow,
All come as my wolves howl.

They aid me all in my witchcraft
And dance beneath starlight.
They bring ingredients for draughts
Of potions made by night.

My witchling sisters come this day
On rides of brooms or goats.
They each bring gifts of wheat and whey,
Of blood, of ale, of oats.

Around the fire we toss such herbs
As mugwort, sage, and bay
So we can summon and disturb 
The spirits led astray.

Our necromancy proves still true;
To them, we offer gifts.
We close our circle, bid adieu,
And seal the veil of rifts.

—Ashley Dioses


Lake Biwa sits
A perfect silver pearl
The center, where roads cross
Villages nestle, tracks of the faithful
Sprinkling first snow
The Kannon are calling
Mother of the world, lady of the mountains
I visit each statue in turn
But my feet leave no trace in the snow
Nor do I feel the cold
By the time I knew of this place
I could not travel
Now that I am finally here
I breathe no more
I am resisting rebirth
Let me have this peace
Simplicity, a life spent in
A gentler service
But that is not my calling
Always sent to the frontiers
Always found where there is anger
And power and danger
Where the future is made
Not where the past breathes easily
In the sound of murmured prayers
Please, just for a time
I would like to sit here in the center
Of this country I’ve never visited
By the shores of a lake I’ll never swim in
And rest
In this quiet
In this peace
In this simple, lovely non-life
I am hiding
But she finds me
How could she not with so many versions
Of herself to call out?
Why do you not prepare?
You are needed

I work with energy
I’ve never understood it, just do it
I and the cat I buried two
Months before I died
The cat who stayed beside me life after life
So many of his/hers in one of mine
Over and over, all those incarnations
I will find him/her again
As soon as I stop running
As soon as I’m reborn
Kannon takes pity on me
Laying her hand on my cheek
Showing me what this land looks like
In spring, when pink blossoms drift
In fall, when the maples glow red and orange
In summer, the most velvet green
Nirvana is not going anywhere
And it is not your destiny to rest

She is saying it to be kind
She would hear my tears if I could cry
Would pick me up if I could fall
I close my eyes and nod
As she lets me, for just a moment
Murmur a sutra I have never learned
In a language I have never spoken
A gong sounds
I am ready
To begin again

—Gerri Leen


I will cut off my right hand.
I will cut off my left hand.
Perhaps it would be
To cut off both.
How else can one be sure of avoiding offense?
Lop off anything that might ever.
Might ever possibly.

Every path requires sacrifice.
Every sacrifice burns a path.
Blood’s the catalyst.
But to catalyze the blood,
You must make a decision.
And at decisions I do not excel.

If I gave up everything,
Would I then excel.
This last desperate hope.
That when you need to change.
That when you absolutely must change.
When the sun depends upon it.
When the ground beneath your feet
Depends upon it.
When insects and rivers, campfires
and mountains, dragons and the hope
of dragons
Depend upon it.
When everything depended upon me,
could I sacrifice everything
and choose enough.

I fear I could not.
I fear I cannot.
I fear I will wait in the crossroads,
seminal, liminal,
I will wait forever, and nothing,
good or bad,
will grow from me.

—Linsey Duncan

Crossing Over

Vines mantle graves
behind fences of rust,
bindweed flowers their only decoration;
their only visitors rustle in the leaves.

The Baron broods,
not liking to think he has anything
in common with cockroaches,
but neither, it seems,
can survive without humanity.

He rises from the darkness
where two fading paths cross,
the only footprints those of tortoise,
hare, fox, deer;
he can’t frighten them,
they don’t even see him.

With each passing moon
he grows paler,
more translucent, less real,
hanging on by his bony white fingers,
waiting for some critter
to develop culture,
to see a spirit in every bush,
to learn to fear the night,
but he doesn’t have a million years
to wait for evolution to recreate superstition,
to replace the late primate.

Samedi will be a ghost
of his ghostly self,
then, nothing at all,
and the new Lord of the Crossroads
will not know his name.

—David C. Kopaska-Merkel

The Crossing

The river black as night,
Fog dancing across the glass,
Above, souls are in flight,
Heading toward the great mass.

The reaper’s boat glides,
From beyond the dark vale,
Welcoming me for the ride,
Leaving smoke in our trail.

We sit in absolute silence,
On this gondola of bones,
As he navigates with black trident,
Underwater echoes lost spirit moans.

The shore grows more distant,
Silent lightning in dark skies,
All alone and content,
Can’t remember how I died. 

Then light parts the sky ahead,
I cannot look away,
Wonderment I am dead,
A beauty I wish would stay.

Yet my gaze is broken,
We’re caught in a spin,
The reaper now above floatin’,
Looking down on this has been.

Over the edge,
The dark void spins,
The maelstrom the ledge,
Below hell slowly brightens.

The closer I get,
The faster I go,
A one-stop bet,
Becoming one with Hades below.

—Jason Brasier

The Two Witches

There once were two witches and sisters they were,
The one gowned in Orange, the other in Black.
As fire and nightfall that glisters they were,
Primeval opponents that rose to attack.

The Black with a wave of her wand brought the night—
The Orange lit flames on the hilltop and hearth;
In jack-o’-th’-lantern she kindled the light,
And will-o’-wisps haunted the swamps of the earth.

The nightfall had failed to extinguish the flames—
But nor could their flickering fend off the dark.
So soon the two witches grew weary of games,
And met ’neath the crescent, the harvester’s mark.

’Twas on Halloween that they came to a truce:
The Orange would govern the summer’s glad realm;
The Black, when the crops would no longer produce,
Would rule over winter when frosts overwhelm.

But both of their banners would hang on that day,
Each color informing October’s décor:
Swirled candies and lanterns of papier-mâché;
Black cats and bright pumpkins to deck every door.…

And that is the tale of two witches of old,
Two sisters who fought for the rule of the year,
And how black and orange—the story is told—
Became the two colors of Halloween cheer.

—K. A. Opperman

Nine to Camulodunum

... dimly through the clouded lens of time
through lost men’s eyes we look again

drawn through history
             like golden thread a-stitching
our living memory
             to the memory of the dead.
Beneath the earth and clay,
             Nero’s legions lie
lost in the wood where ravens call
and the road meets the old green lane.

             The Romans came
and built these towns of brick and walls of stone
and a great forum square they made:
where the Britons came to trade
before the great
             out of Rome.

Over limestone pavement the legions marched
out beyond the colonia’s bounds;

beneath their feet the road
             grew ever strange and steep:
deep in the land, so filled
             with fog and filled with rain.
They found, beside the lane,
             a goddess crowned
with golden horns and flaming sword
upon a mound where ravens called.

             She wove a cloth
of vengeance: ten thousand burning hearts
in the temple of might-have-been.
A raven called beneath the tree
as she strung them on
a loom
             of blazing stars.

Still they lie unseen at the crossroads,
unseen they march no more nor rove

south to crumbled Rome:
             faded empire, ruined home;
nor north in the Greyman’s forests
             upon the blood red paths;
nor east on the road to Jerusalem
             so sad and full of grief;
nor west where grey Sidhe wait,
enchanted, by the hearth.

             They cannot pass
the gibbet tree as the ravens never sleep.
They wait, though the fire’s flames
sink low, for they marched here
two thousand years ago
and never
             came relief.

In the Roman province of Britannia, during Boudicca’s rebellion of 61 AD, a detachment of the Ninth Legion (Hispania) marched from Lincoln (Lindum Colonia) to relieve the city of Colchester (Camalodunum); none returned.

—Oliver Smith

The Fetch

She appears as wisp and vapor,
wearing a gown of diaphanous thread.
She is you and yet not you,
at least, she is not you yet.

She follows your every movement,
to the market; when you brush your teeth.
She is a shadow with your likeness,
a reflection no one can see.

You should be frightened of her presence,
but you feel a kinship in her gaze.
She doesn’t speak, but if she did,
you know what she would say.

She would say I am here for you,
you and your tired, heavy soul.
Come to me when you are ready
and together we’ll be whole.

One day you stop ignoring her
and confront her where she stands.
You detect a smile that might be your own
as she quietly takes your hand.

—Kurt Newton

Child’s Play

Her daughter snaps the plastic tracks in place;
connecting a gentle curve to a turn
here, another there, imagination
creates secret worlds where otherwise space
exists, mundane and empty. Children learn
through practice how the representation
of a thing is just as good as the thing
itself when performance is involved. And
so poppets stand in while toy tracks are cross
roads. It’s always midnight while pretending
it is. Her little play bargain made, stands,
and what she bargained for is granted. Loss
isn’t noticed yet. Her mother sees droll
child’s play, can’t feel the selling of her soul.

—Juleigh Howard-Hobson

Ever After

You can’t break this bargain, I’m afraid. That’s
Not up to negotiation. The deal
Was made, the papers signed, the blood and wax
Affixed and duly noted. No repeal
You knew that rule before you made the oath,
It wasn’t as if you just slipped and fell
Into pacting your immortal soul. Both
You and I know you looked for me. No spell
Was worked, no compulsion, you had the choice,
You struck the agreement, summoned me
At the crossroads, not the other way. Voice
All the displeasure you like, you are free
To run, to hide, or … whatever. My time
Comes as it always does. Then you are mine.

—Juleigh Howard-Hobson

How to See a Dab

Author’s note: Dab (pronounced dah) means "spirit guide" in Hmong.

It starts with whispers
A dream of a late loved one
The chill breeze wafting over your skin
     A sudden electricity across the hairs on your neck

They ask you to come
To an orchard
Or a clearing
Maybe an abandoned apartment building
    Up on the second story where it’s condemned

You’ll walk up the flight of stairs
Slowly at first but the wind pushes you forward
And a quickness will jump at your legs
A cold hand tickling the heels of your feet

Or the clearing is out of the way from the rest of the town
And at night the lights are swallowed by the darkness
A stillness you weren’t expecting
As the sound of footsteps near you

You’ve heard of the orchard
Of were the car was lit aglow
From the flames that reached for the heavens
Hell’s own fires trapped a beaten and tortured girl’s soul

What were you hoping to find when you came here?

Ah, my dear child
It wasn’t the dab—your spirit guide—calling you.
You knew it all along

But maybe the gifts you bear,
Of being able to translate these breathless whispers,
Are the only conversations that make any sense at all

The only voices that
Tell you
Encourage you
Believe in you
Plead you for help

Aren’t we all lost after all? 

—Renee Ya

Subtle Djinn

Call me a fluid creature
dynamic to your desires.
With an off-hand handling,
I pull a sweet from the candy dish,
“Let’s discuss only what you wish.”
Speaking in sugared suggestion,
selling my own sleek sayings,
I’ll murmur that men are all
bodgers, boggarts, hobgoblins
who twist, tinker, pretend,
vanish …
never seen again.
Women are
banshees, sirens, succubi,
spirits of lust
who sing, seduce,
sip your soul, swallow you whole,
devour you in the dust.
Let’s not bother with the boredom of truth.
What tedious tasks to tender
tenderness …
Human mistakes mundane, amiss—
“Let’s discuss, instead, only what you wish.”
I decline to dampen the discourse.
Recline in plush purple velvet—suck
on a sweet from the candy dish.
“Yes then, let’s discuss only what you wish.”
So, I’ll proceed. I’ll stress a syllable with
sensation smooth and soothing.
Along the underside of the wrist, I’ll whisper.
Tantalize with touch.
Caress this curve ... carelessly, of course.
With an off-hand handling this hand
is holding mine.
For something more sumptuous,
I’ll ignore the candy dish.
“Yes, my dear, only what you wish.”

—Kimberly Wade