Guest Editor's Message



Melic Thirteen is about our shadow; that dim half philosophers have dissected to scant avail. The thing Ben Jonson briefly captured when he wrote, "Follow a shadow; it still flies you; Seem to fly it, it will pursue." This theme was not by design; we do not hold contributors to themes these days. Rather, the axis formed as the inevitable line of darkness divides kitchen tiles when the sun is heavy and sinking beyond the too-still trees, and patchwork fields blur as faces blur and the most familiar of these faces becomes a stranger with a bad mask. Scott Murphy knows about that line; so does Diane Willadson. Mark Melton will lead you to the murmuring trees, reveal their hidden faces.

Melic Thirteen examines the struggle between good and evil; the ancient spectacle. The struggle which surrounds us even now and grips us in its teeth. Again, not by design, rather the issue gained its essence as an ink stain, or something more sinister, spilled upon that tiled kitchen floor to form an imperfect pattern from chaos. If goodness embodies charity, compassion, and wisdom, then Dave Ruslander and Bob Slaymaker have sketched these qualities with deftness and grace. Ward Kelley's essay on inspiration shines with the joy of possibilities not fully imagined. If at the root, evil is a dumb beast, faith allied with ignorance, fear and dread, Steve Harris has named it in his perfunctory, yet incisive manner. Mr. Harris will transport you among the rocks of a cruel shore where these things breed in red waters while pagan effigies go tumbled, burning. James Flick gestures and we behold the Killing Fields through the lens of academia while Ian Brook forms a search party to comb his own alien fields under a cold moon.

Melic Thirteen and its shadowy theme is embodied in the vision of our featured poet, Jeffrey Bahr. The shadow self, the polarization of human elements, is defined in his inimitable fashion. Mr. Bahr is a stylist. At turns benign and macabre, his narrators are magicians met on old winding roads at the junction of light and dark. Sometimes charming, sometimes bitter, always engaging and a touch dangerous. I promise you will enjoy his wry humor, his unnerving prestidigitation.

I would like to thank CE Chaffin and Kathleen Carbone for their unflagging support as I pieced Melic Thirteen together. A special thanks to Suzanne Frischkorn and her able assistance -- she possesses a remarkable eye for poetry. I would have suffered without her efforts.

Finally, thanks to all the contributors; it was a rare treat to peruse such fabulous writing. Best wishes to you, our readers. May you enjoy this issue as much as I have.

Laird Barron