John C. Mannone
from the Book of Beginnings
1. Now two suns hung in the pale blue skies. Purple grass glistened in soft winds filled with songs of chirping crickets and white-winged birds. 2. Ever since she came to him, they walked in the cool of the night and slept under a cloak of stars. 3. Each dawn he held the warmth of her body, her hair sweetened the moist air with scents of yellow jonquils. He kissed her until the music faded into the mist. 4. The mist, stretched into the forest. There, the trees, dark violet, with every shape of leaf, yielded many kinds of succulent fruit. 5. They always gave thanks. But remembered they were not to eat the forbidden fruit from the tree in the middle of the forest — the one whose leaves quaked with every shade of red. Not even touch it.
1. She said, “Let us forage deeper into the forest. The fruit is bigger.” 2. Peach and plum, figs and pear filled their baskets. But the scent of honeysuckle, of ambrosia, seeped from the center of the forest. 3. There it stood like no other tree, and its fruit glittered. 4. She brushed against a branch, its shiny copper leaves shimmered in waves writhing up and down the length of the tree. A liquid-transparent image slithered on the ground before transforming. 5. “How is it that I see a handsome prince,” she said, “and you, beautiful maiden? And it speaks to us about the secrets of the universe as if we are gods.” 6. They were compelled to move towards it. But the mist in the forest stirred his memory: You will surely die! 7. He stopped and placed her hand in his. They kissed while wrapped in the warm mist, oblivious to the shrieks from the magical being, to the sound of the tree bursting into flames from the mist. 8. Ash remained for just a moment before it was swept away by a soothing breeze.
John C. Mannone has been nominated three times for the Pushcart and once for the Rhysling. His work appears in literary and speculative fiction venues, such as Vermillion Literary Project, Conclave, New Mirage Journal, The Pedestal, Star*Line, Paper Crow, Enchanted Conversation, and many others. He is the poetry editor for the literary fantasy magazine, Silver Blade, an adjunct professor of physics in east Tennessee, and serves as a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador. Visit his blog, The Art of Poetry: http://jcmannone.wordpress.com.