Size / / /

I that am I alone,

cruelest and most clever;

light-hearted, heartless.

I that am flame

without true form, a thousand things in one,

and every one of them a lie:

A fly when I stole the Brisingamen

A seal when I fought Hjeimdall for it

A red-headed man with my lips sewn shut

A red-headed bridesmaid for a thunderous bride

who sows slaughter between the sheaves

Fenris' father

Sleipnir's mother

A leaping fish caught in the net of tears

An old woman who will not weep, ever,

not even for the light of the world.

This is what you let in

as a guest, and more, Odin One-eye—

this is what you mixed your blood with,

who you let marry into your All-family

and live proudly childless

while he bred monsters elsewhere.

Do you not feel foolish?

Even now, pinned beneath mountains,

writhing in my poisoned bonds,

I cannot be contained.

My song goes on and on,

spawning many lines of liars—

Kveldulfr, Skalla-grimr, Egil in his turn:

hamrammrs, poets and killers,

who bend to fit the world around them

only in order to trick it

into breaking to fit them.

Thor Odinsson, mighty one,

when we lay together in the Jotun's mitt;

poor sad Hodi, when I handed you the arrow

of mistletoe, kiss-attractor, to send

your brother's bright face down

into my daughter's clutches—

You felt my sparks dance

across your blind knuckles,

and laughed—admit it!

All of you, in pain or otherwise—

I could always make you laugh.

Look to me, therefore, on that day,

that dreadful time of reckoning,

when my ship made from dead men's nails docks

at the very foot of the rainbow.

I promise you, cousins:

when all my brothers take up stones against you,

when one son takes the sun in his jaws

and the other coils 'round the world's root,

squeezing, 'til your rotten tree cracks—

There will be much laughter then.

Former film critic and teacher turned award-winning horror writer Gemma Files is best known for her Hexslinger Series, now collected in omnibus form (ChiZine Publications). She has also published two collections of short fiction and two chapbooks of poetry. Her next book is We Will All Go Down Together: A Novel in Stories About the Five-Family Coven (also from CZP). Her website is here.
Current Issue
22 Apr 2024

We’d been on holiday at the Shoon Sea only three days when the incident occurred. Dr. Gar had been staying there a few months for medical research and had urged me and my friend Shooshooey to visit.
For a long time now you’ve put on the shirt of the walls,/just as others might put on a shroud.
Tu enfiles longuement la chemise des murs,/ tout comme d’autres le font avec la chemise de la mort.
The little monster was not born like a human child, yelling with cold and terror as he left his mother’s womb. He had come to life little by little, on the high, three-legged bench. When his eyes had opened, they met the eyes of the broad-shouldered sculptor, watching them tenderly.
Le petit monstre n’était pas né comme un enfant des hommes, criant de froid et de terreur au sortir du ventre maternel. Il avait pris vie peu à peu, sur la haute selle à trois pieds, et quand ses yeux s’étaient ouverts, ils avaient rencontré ceux du sculpteur aux larges épaules, qui le regardaient tendrement.
We're delighted to welcome Nat Paterson to the blog, to tell us more about his translation of Léopold Chauveau's story 'The Little Monster'/ 'Le Petit Monstre', which appears in our April 2024 issue.
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Issue 12 Feb 2024
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