“Home from the Wizard Wars” in Silver Blade, Issue 54.
I’m deeply grateful to John C. Mannone for his graceful editing. He vastly improved the poem and helped my voice shine. He’s the type of editor writers dream of working with.
The first draft of this poem went out to my friend Will on July 7, 2021. (I trust him not to blackmail me with that version.)
I got early critiques from the Online Writing Workshop. Books on writing poetry from the library helped me change some line breaks and improve the rhythm. Creative partners Anya, Kim, and Rachel helped me with additional revisions.
The warrior came home from the war, reeking/of spent sorcery,/to a sullen, shrunken cabin.
Here’s an early ending:
Caught in cobwebs of memory,/lax fingers release the laden sword./The warrior drifts ashore unburdened.
Her weathered cheeks seamed with crystal tears,/the warrior turns for home.
If you compare these early drafts with the final published poem, I think you’ll agree its one-year-plus evolution was worth the wait.