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Tonight while watching the fire on the mountain
Hafiz tapped my shoulder
And asked in silken English,
"Do you have wine?"
There was none to be found
Amid the pale orange glow before us,
So I offered him a soda.
"That will do," he told me.

The mountain rose in a poem of light
Splitting earth from sky
In a long aurora across the peak's spine,
Surrounded by a hundred glowing points
Paying reverence,
And we sipped quietly.
Each of us read our own meaning into the fire's verse
While pillars of smoke shooed away the stars.

"The moon and wine are most important," Hafiz said
(In Persian -- I nodded as if understanding)
He stirred my soda into space with his finger
And the ice cubes into stars.
"It is no business of mine what you do with your Earth --
Or the magic of flutes,
Or the songs of birds,
Or the salt of your oceans,
Or the ships you will build powered by the sun's furnace --
I am not so wise to instruct you.
But tend to the fire on your mountain
Before the world falls asleep.
You people today -- who could fly so high
The center of the galaxy would be your belt,
Who would be as God --
But it is no business of mine."
He drank another drink.

The ice cubes melted and I shook centuries out of my head
To see Earth upturned, the sky burning,
This last mountain washed in a cool wind
While I reached through the smoke
And caught the stars -- for once --
Looking back at us in wonder.
Hafiz invited me to join him for a sip of wine.


Copyright © 2004 Danny Adams

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Danny Adams was bewitched into writing early on by the works of Philip José Farmer, and the spell has never faded. He is a college librarian deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, where he lives on campus with his wife and inspiration, Laurie, and their two wicked cats. To contact him, email

Bio to come.
Current Issue
29 May 2023

We are touched and encouraged to see an overwhelming response from writers from the Sino diaspora as well as BIPOC creators in various parts of the world. And such diverse and daring takes of wuxia and xianxia, from contemporary to the far reaches of space!
By: L Chan
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Many eons ago, when the first dawn broke over the newborn mortal world, the children of the Heavenly Realm assembled at the Golden Sky Palace.
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Many trans and marginalised people in our world can do the exact same things that everyone else has done to overcome challenges and find happiness, only for others to come in and do what they want as Ren Woxing did, and probably, when asked why, they would simply say Xiang Wentian: to ask the heavens. And perhaps we the readers, who are told this story from Linghu Chong’s point of view, should do more to question the actions of people before blindly following along to cause harm.
Before the Occupation, righteousness might have meant taking overt stands against the distant invaders of their ancestral homelands through donating money, labour, or expertise to Chinese wartime efforts. Yet during the Occupation, such behaviour would get one killed or suspected of treason; one might find it better to remain discreet and fade into the background, or leave for safer shores. Could one uphold justice and righteousness quietly, subtly, and effectively within such a world of harshness and deprivation?
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