Size / / /

(written in a time of paranoia and war)

Sometimes at pagan shrines, they vowed

offerings to idols, swore oaths

that the killer of souls might come to their aid

and save the people.


We asked for a tyrant. One

arrived, with tales

of spears and distant victories.

We swore allegiance to the tale-

teller, murdered the previous

in his bed, stoning the corpse with stones

dredged from wallsteads. We asked

to have killed every enemy under the sun,

some still in their youth. We asked

the tyrant to deliver fear, doubt, and adultery

to the sword, to bring low jealousy,

winter, suspicion, and summer alike;

we asked him to raze all

that could ever hurt us. He did,

the slaughter making an abattoir

of our schools, shops, and bedrooms.

We asked for extinction, then

never to be asked again about our

decision. The tyrant never questioned.

Tobias Seamon's first novel The Magician's Study was recently published by Turtle Point Press. Other work has appeared or is forthcoming in such places as Mississippi Review, Pebble Lake Review, Santa Clara Review, and Strange Horizons. He lives with his wife in upstate New York. You can see more of Tobias's work in our archives, or send him email at
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