by J. C. Runolfson

They pay in coin of autumn leaves and summer fruits,
bones dug up from marshy earth in the spring thaw.
They pay, sometimes you know what for
sometimes you must wait until they come again
to collect lover, child, heart's blood,
dreams of black feathers, sharp beaks.
The soul's candle blown out
by the rush of wings
you pay for the juice staining your lips and fingers,
the flash of gold and scarlet in your palm,
the evidence of vengeance
or loss.
You pay
they pay
in kind.

J. C. Runolfson's work has appeared in numerous places, including previously in Goblin Fruit. That is her real accent. She is currently co-editing the forthcoming Issue 4 of Stone Telling with fellow poet, Shweta Narayan. She can sometimes be spotted babbling about her dogs, the Four Puppies of the Apocalypse, knitting all the things, and boggling at Florida's wildlife as only a Southern Californian can on her blog.

In a cage-match between William Shakespeare and Sappho, she believes they'd forget that they were fighting and concentrate on seducing each other. Thus, the winners would be anyone in earshot.

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