Dec 03

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Two Poems by Alicia Cole

Counting Stones

My husband, for my hand,
paid my father in stones.

One stone for sorrow, the
flagstone of joy: a boulder,
the many years of want.

One stone for supper, the
bread of his hands.

One stone for struggle, the
mildew and mushroom of
dank-damp flower beds.

One stone for winter.

One stone for spring.

One stone for silver, a
hard, bright ring.

One stone for the passing.


For our quarried home,
the hammer’s blow:

I, a diamond doll, polished
to perfection; our children,
gleaming like mica.

For the boy: one stone for
the strength of scalds.

For the girl: one stone for
the finer halls.

For my mouth: one stone for
my husband’s hold.

For my heart: one stone for
my lord’s abode.

For my love?

Hands like pick axes, hands
like chisels, hands on the
arc of my body:

well formed, well fashioned,
well paid.

The Magician Makes a Phoenix

At the onset, I burned like rich,
fatty oil. The core of my heart
inviolate, black diamond, my
skin weary as dry leaves. His

cloak dark and cowled to cover
his eyes, he mouthed songs
ruptured with loss: how pure
to burn on the pyre,

become salt, leave nothing
save white, hot bones. When
the flames licked at my fingers
like honest friends, who

was the more surprised?
My ugliness burned white-hot.
My new beauty, flame born,
seared like a brand. Terrible

howls tore his throat; I wept
embers. While he stumbled,
my hands, knotted flames,
hissed. Now he wanders,

scarred yet kinder. My
own hands lap at the ocean,
nap and wait. Of my death,
my next devouring:

even the water steams silent.


Alicia Cole, a writer and educator, lives in Lawrenceville, GA, with a photographer, their cat, and two schools of fish. Her poetry is forthcoming in Asimov’s, Strange Horizons, The Martian Wave, and Futurdaze: An Anthology of YA Science Fiction. Her musings on writing and life can be found at three-magpies.livejournal.com.

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  1. Electric Velocipede 25 » Electric Velocipede

    […] Krafton (poem) 12/3 → “The Woods of Wistman’s Grove” by Tyson Young (short story) → “Counting Stones” and “The Magician Makes a Phoenix” by Alicia Cole (poems) 12/6 → “The Master Shoemaker” by Katya Oliva-Llego (short story) → “Peephole” and […]

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