Real Life

This story is paired with Chapter IX of Bulfinch’s Mythology. For best experience, download the LithoReader for your iPhone or iPad and get NonBinary Review for free. 

is a being

in luminous pelt

An elemental pelt
and severe

About her bristling
hangs the misdeed that made her


She sat betimes in a
blasted grotto

reading the stacks of anthracite
like florilegia

punctuating the counsel of Pliny with a shrug


What history can Perseus bring us

having seen her from the remove of a mirror

A being like M traded form for
form in a flash

at once adder
cloud of scarlet gas

face of a flower floating up from the grass


She held a menagerie in mighty thrall

and moved about them daily

She ran a palm over every grey recess

What do minerals compass


The fishes tell
that when she was cut open

a winged horse emerged

That there rose unaccountable
a titan with gold skin

and one full-length broadsword


Had she been left to cogitate

a while longer

with that much comeliness
and menace

I cannot guess
at the ramparts she’d have crafted

gazing out at the surging sea

NBR4SpecesmallJoseph Spece is founding editor and publisher at Fathom BooksSHARKPACK Poetry Review, and SPR Annual; he also acts as non-fiction editor at Noble / Gas Qtrly, where he maintains a speculative column on animal being. Past honors in letters include a Ruth Lilly Fellowship and the Corrente Prize in Poetry from Columbia University. His first book of poems, Roads (Cherry Grove), appeared in 2013.