Some covens concentrate on attempting to heal the sick, others specialize in necromancy, but the general goal is one of knowledge and power. In further pursuit of the latter, a few groups try to bring their powers to bear on political matters, singling out individuals who stand high in public office on whom to cast their spells. Then there exists those groups who devote their energies solely to invoking the witch entities as deities, worshiping them not so much for practical and magical reasons, but rather as an expression of that simpler and maybe purer life of the spirit which takes its inspiration from pre-Christian European sources. It is these “witch cultists” who have largely held the public gaze over the past fifteen years, despite the fact that the word “witch” embraces a far wider circle of people than merely the followers of Gerald Brosseau Gardner.

Paul Husson,
Mastering Witchcraft

Vacation Sex

November 18, 2015


We’ve been at it all summer, from the Canadian border
to the edge of Mexico, just barely keeping it American
but doing okay just the same, in hotels under overpasses
or rooms next to ice machines, friends’ fold-out couches,
in-laws’ guest quarters—wallpaper and bedspreads festooned
with nautical rigging, tiny life rings and coiled tow ropes—

even one night in the car, the plush backseat not plush
enough, the door handle giving me an impromptu
sacro-cranial chiropractic adjustment, the underside
of the front seat strafing the perfect arches of his feet.
And one long glorious night in a cabin tucked in the woods
where our crooning and whooping started the coyotes

singing. But the best was when we got home, our luggage
cuddled in the vestibule—really just a hallway
but because we were home it seemed like a vestibule—
and we threw off our vestments, which were really
just our clothes but they seemed like garments, like raiment,
like habits because we felt sorely religious, dropping them

one by one on the stairs: white shirts, black bra, blue jeans,
red socks, then stood naked in our own bedroom, our bed
with its drab spread, our pillows that smelled like us:
a little shampoo-y, maybe a little like myrrh, the gooseberry
candle we light sometimes when we’re in the mood for mood,
our own music and books and cap off the toothpaste and cat

on the window seat. Our window looks over a parking lot—
a dental group—and at night we can hear the cars whisper
past the 24-hour Albertson’s where the homeless couple
buys their bag of wine before they walk across the street
to sit on the dentist’s bench under a tree and swap it
and guzzle it and argue loudly until we all fall asleep.

Dorianne Laux

River Goddess

November 18, 2015

Place d’Alma, Paris

Place d’Alma, Paris

This was the Heavy Sister. Stolid. Uncompromising.
Tough as bronze. As pig iron. Ankles thick

for stamping holes in the river bed, hands huge
to pull out rocks, or batter through them. When they came

with nets to catch the Spirits of the River
the light ones fled, as frogs, as darting fish,

sinews of water, shimmering ripples; she,
ponderous, inflexible, was caught,

hauled out for all to see, dumped naked
on this trophy plinth, her power,

without the lift of water, locked
in futile struggles to move. Few passers-by

look at her now where she strains
to roll herself over, heave herself up, but catching

her subtler sisters’ odour through the smells
of petrol and warm tar, she pictures how they play,

rolling over and over, all fluid muscle, brushing
banks and boats with their bodies, accepting

oilspills and orange peel, carrier bags, the stain
of run-off from factories, rippling with laughter

in sunlight and warm breezes, shivering
with gooseflesh excitement in winter, delighting eyes

of leaners on bridges and walkers on quays, sustaining the city,
mobile, adaptable. Givers of life. Survivors.

Edmund Prestwich

(Edmund Prestwich has published poems widely in magazines, and has published two collections, Through the Window (Rockingham Press, 1997) and Their Mountain Mother (Hearing Eye Press, 2009).)