In the Shadow of the Flame by J.S. Watts


It was an old man breathing
songs burnt bright with molten gold.
Flame licked the cracks
in his blackened voice
illuminating the dark
I travelled through
to find the god
he could not see.
His shadow flared
to light me home.

When you hear your god
he will scatter ash
in your mouth.

It was a woman soaring high
on the feathered wing tips of a gull
to heights I shall only see
through the reflection
of her sky-grey eyes.
My hopes flap flightless
across drab waiting soil
down into the age-dried dirt
below the empty air
where the light does not go.

When you see your god
she will dash
your dreams to dust.

The dark is
your mother and your father
your past, your future
journey, destination, hope.
In the dark
you come to love the flame
eating the night
with the fuel of your sacrifice
but the light
will go out.


A British poet and novelist, J.S Watts was born in London and now lives just outside of Cambridge. Her poetry, short stories, and non-fiction appear in a wide variety of publications in Britain, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the States, including Acumen, Mslexia, and New Myths, and have been broadcast on BBC and Independent Radio. She has edited assorted magazines and anthologies. 

J.S.’s poetry collections, Cats and Other Myths and Years Ago You Coloured Me, are published by Lapwing Publications, as is her multi-award nominated SF poetry pamphlet, Songs of Steelyard Sue. Her poetry pamphlet, The Submerged Sea, is published by Dempsey & Windle. Her novels, A Darker Moon – dark literary fiction, Witchlight and Old Light – paranormal are published in the US and UK by Vagabondage Press. Her new novel, Elderlight, is due out from Vagabondage Press in 2021.  See her website:

Published 10/28/21

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