Stalking a Wizard

Gawky,
yes.
Ungainly…never.
Unkempt? A little perhaps,
as a weathered oaken desk is unkempt,
its cubbies bursting with scribbled sheaves:
a lean old magik with the city's dust on his heels,
and the ink of conjures beyond number beneath his
nails.

White hair, sharp as lightning,
face, a storm-battered coastline,
shoulders higher than alps,
spine, a gnarled, unbowed, cherrywood staff:
at the city of Saint Francis
in the street of the Turk,
he passes close as night.

You follow.
Certainly you follow
the Master of Unknown,
Weird Teller of Tales, to his home,
watch him fade into the black edifice.

That can't be it, you think,
not so small a building, not so narrow a street,
not after so many adventures.
High seas,
dark hearts,
wandering millennia,
have brought him here, near the last:
a solitary room in the Tenderloin.

You check the names on the mailboxes,
run your finger over the raised letters
to be sure: F. Leiber, it read, it did.
But the spell is cast, never to be undone.

Even in a northern forest, thirty-odd years later,
after a little oatmeal and a boiled egg,
his spell lingers
and you write this poem.









Michael Canfield has published horror, mystery, suspense, fantasy, science fiction, and just-plain-odd stories in StrangeHorizons, futurismic.com, EscapePod, Realms of Fantasy, Flytrap, and other journals. His story "Super-Villains" was reprinted in the prestigious Fantasy: The Best of the Year series, edited by Rich Horton. His novels Red Jacket: A Novel with a Superhero, Voyage to the Cloud Planet, Temple City Strange, and other works are available as e-books from the major online booksellers. Born in Las Vegas, he lives in Seattle."Stalking a Wizard" is his first published poem.


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