Poetry Month

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Dragon

In celebration of National Poetry Month, we are pleased to present “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Dragon”  by Mari Ness.

Tor.com is celebrating National Poetry Month by featuring science fiction and fantasy poetry from a variety of SFF authors. You’ll find classic works, hidden gems, and new commissions over at the Poetry Month index.


Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Dragon

Among twenty knight-blasted mountains
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the dragon.
I was of three minds
Like a tale
In which there are three dragons.
The dragon whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the calamity.
A knight and a lady
Are one.
A knight and a lady and a dragon
Are one.
I do not know which to prefer
The beauty of clashing troubadours
Or the beauty of weeping minstrels
The dragon singing
Or just after.
Icicles filled the long window
With sorcerous glass.
The shadow of the dragon
Crossed it, to and fro.
The mood
Fetched by the shadow
A much decipherable cause.
O thin knights of wastelands,
Why do you imagine icy drakes?
Do you not see how the dragon
Walks around the feet,
Of the jesters about you?
I know noble ascents,
And obscure, inescapable conquests;
But I know, too,
That the dragon is involved
In what I know.
When the dragon flew out of sight
It burned the edge
Of one of many circles.
At the sight of dragons
Flying in a red light,
Even the dolls of puppets
Would cry out sharply.
He rode over the wastelands
In a crystal coach.
Once, a fear pierced him
In that he mistook
The shadow of his swords
For dragons.
The city is moving.
The dragon must be flying.
It was evening all afternoon.
It was ashing,
and it was going to ash.
The dragon sat
On the quiet mountain.


Mari Ness is an author and poet who lives in Central Florida.


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