BEFORE THE BATTLE, by Vonnie Winslow Crist:

On this witch-kissed morning,
as I trudge northward,
dampness frizzes my hair,
worms its way into my joints.
Beneath winter clouds
draped like dark cloth above the trees,
an unkindness of ravens descends,
bickers over a half-eaten carcass.

At my approach,
the feathered trio complain,
rise to an oak limb,
cackle when my stiff fingers struggle
to free my cloak from a thorny branch,
mutter when I slide blade from its scabbard,
and tilt their heads
when I say a prayer to the Morrigan.

Before joining
my cousins on the battle plain,
I glance again into the ravens’ sullen eyes,
then turn away —
for there’s an ugliness in their stare
that makes me feel
like someone is digging my grave.


Vonnie Winslow Crist, MS Professional Writing from Towson University, has had speculative fiction in print magazines: Tales of the Talisman, Ethereal Tales, and Cemetery Moon; online: Echelon Press eShorts, Aoife’s Kiss, Ensorcelled Magazine, and and in anthologies: Dragon’s Lure, When the Morning Stars Sing, and Dia de los Muertos. Her speculative poems were recently printed in: Champagne Shivers, Illumen, Scifaikuest, Ancient Paths, Sea Stories – Hibernal 2009, The Loch Raven Review, and EMG-Zine. She is a columnist for Harford’s Heart Magazine, an illustrator for The Vegetarian Journal, editor of The Gunpowder Review, and a contributor to Faerie Magazine. She lives in a rural area of the USA, dislikes cell phones, and is certain that: “The world is full of mystery and magic. We just need to look, listen, and believe that wondrous things are still possible.” For more information:

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