Mike Allen: Hungry Constellations

One dark evening in spring two young women wandered a garden by moonlight, salted the underside of a hemlock leaf and used it to catch an imp. He spoke to them in fiddles and they spoke to him in thyme, and by and by they reached an understanding: the women wanted a garden of their own. But where the imp's garden was one calculated to spin the senses to delirium, the women wanted to raise an orchard of many fruits, had tastes quite peculiar to themselves. The imp, ever enterprising, spoke to them of where they might find the seeds and rootstock for such an endeavour; the women, in thanks, said that he would be welcome any time.

"Any time," in the language of goblins, when spoken with good accent and a ribbon between the teeth, means "seven years."

Mike Allen has been with Goblin Fruit since before its beginning, when he advised Jessica Wick and me on the business of running a poetry magazine. His "Sisyphus Walks" opened our inaugural issue back in April 2006, and once we'd found our editorial feet we even swapped 'zines for an issue; we took over Mythic Delirium 22, while he took over the Winter 2010 issue of Goblin Fruit. Mike's history with us is certainly long and storied.

From the moment we decided on the format of our Features it was a foregone conclusion that Mike's poetry would be so showcased. We knew it would be for an autumn issue, traditionally our darkest season; we knew it would be a feature to sink its claws into our readers and stare at them for a long while before taking a bite. We did not realise that we would be privy to a sequence of poems that would form the coruscating core of his next collection, nor that it would be a subtler, more arcane manifestation of his maleficent skill than we'd ever seen before.

Mike's verse is versatile, able to swing from humour to horror, from form to free verse, with acrobatic ease. He is a man of many hats, as comfortable on stage as off, in horns as out; he has translated paintings into poetry and made clockwork of phoenixes, and now he has starved the stars.

We are honoured and delighted to share these Hungry Constellations with you.


Hungry Constellations

Prologue: Possibilities

The Fox Smiled, Famished
The Serpent is Tempted
The Spider Sends Gifts
The Crow Migrates from the Outer Dark

Interlude: Truth

The Hunter Takes Aim
The Prince Tightens His Embrace
The Dragon Shields Her Young

Epilogue: Lies

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