The fall is an in-between time in my part of the world; there’s sun during the day and frost at night, leaves on the trees as well as on the ground, and the whole season seems like an answer to a king’s riddle for something that is and isn’t at the same time. Traditionally, too, autumn is supposed to be a time of thinning barriers between worlds that can be as complementary to each other as they are opposite; perhaps the denizens of the Otherworld walk among us wearing jeans and woolly sweaters while we dress up as ghouls and witches and harass people in their homes until they placate us with candy.

© Amal El-Mohtar

It was then that I saw the face in the dense foliage, a bleached moon in a dusk of tangled ivy. […] She was watching me. I had seen her several times in the forest. Something of curiosity — no, of awe — distinguished her from the gray, anonymous tribe. Perhaps it was she who had left the crosses around my estate, like charms to affright the devil. She had never threatened me. […] Like a wraith of mist before the onslaught of sun-light, she had wasted into the trees…

© Thomas Burnett Swann, from ‘The Manor of Roses’

I woke to the strident twittering of sparrows. Their little shapes flickered against the window panes, and for once I regretted the glass. I would have liked them to flood the room with their unmelodious chirpings and share in my four-walled, raftered safety. Minikin beings, they reveled in the sun, noisily, valiantly, yet prey to eagle and hawk from the wilderness of sky, and the more they piped defiance, the more they invited death.

© Thomas Burnett Swann, from ‘The Manor of Roses’

In this surreal, upside-down vision of the world, it almost seems as if it is the Israelis who are occupied by the Palestinians, and not the other way around. In this skewed universe, the inmates of an open-air prison are besieging a nuclear-armed power with one of the most sophisticated militaries in the world.

Rashid Khalidi, Columbia University’s Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies (via fotojournalismus)

I broke down while going through these photographs of the rape of Gaza. Thank you fotojournalismus for gathering these heart-rending photos from such diverse sources and posting them promptly.

No burden can equal the ache of emptiness.

Thomas Burnett Swann, from ‘The Manor of Roses’

"At first it looked like a tree. No, a corpse exhumed from a grave with roots entwining its limbs. It wheezed; lurched; moved, swaying, toward them. It was bleached to the color of a beechnut trunk — at least, those parts of the skin (or was it bark?) which showed through the greenish forest of hair (or rootlets?). Red eyes burned in black hollows (tiny fire-dragons peering from caves, thought John). The mouth seemed a single hairlip until it split into a grin which revealed triangular teeth like those of a shark: to crush, tear, shred." Thomas Burnett Swann, from 'The Manor of Roses'Above: Folio 90v of the Naples Dioscurides with illustrations of the Mandrake, Naples Dioscurides is an early 7th-century Greek herbal. Below: 'Three Women Plucking Mandrakes', Robert Bateman, 1870
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"At first it looked like a tree. No, a corpse exhumed from a grave with roots entwining its limbs. It wheezed; lurched; moved, swaying, toward them. It was bleached to the color of a beechnut trunk — at least, those parts of the skin (or was it bark?) which showed through the greenish forest of hair (or rootlets?). Red eyes burned in black hollows (tiny fire-dragons peering from caves, thought John). The mouth seemed a single hairlip until it split into a grin which revealed triangular teeth like those of a shark: to crush, tear, shred." Thomas Burnett Swann, from 'The Manor of Roses'Above: Folio 90v of the Naples Dioscurides with illustrations of the Mandrake, Naples Dioscurides is an early 7th-century Greek herbal. Below: 'Three Women Plucking Mandrakes', Robert Bateman, 1870
Zoom Info

"At first it looked like a tree. No, a corpse exhumed from a grave with roots entwining its limbs. It wheezed; lurched; moved, swaying, toward them. It was bleached to the color of a beechnut trunk — at least, those parts of the skin (or was it bark?) which showed through the greenish forest of hair (or rootlets?). Red eyes burned in black hollows (tiny fire-dragons peering from caves, thought John). The mouth seemed a single hairlip until it split into a grin which revealed triangular teeth like those of a shark: to crush, tear, shred." Thomas Burnett Swann, from 'The Manor of Roses'

Above: Folio 90v of the Naples Dioscurides with illustrations of the Mandrake, Naples Dioscurides is an early 7th-century Greek herbal.

Below
: 'Three Women Plucking Mandrakes', Robert Bateman, 1870

Remember: It’s not a dystopia until the killer robots start targeting white people.

Writer Saladin Ahmed on twitter.

A sacredness clung to the place, a sense of time, like that of a Druid stone which lichen had aged to a muted, mottled orange and which thrust at the stars as if to commune with them in cosmic loneliness.

© Thomas Burnett Swann, from ‘The Manor of Roses’

Alone in the woods, John forgot his shame; he was frightened. Just turned twelve, he knew of desperate thieves, sentenced to die by the rope, who had taken refuge among the sycamores which remembered the Romans, and the oaks which had drunk the blood of Druid sacrifices. As for animals, there were wolves and bears and long-tusked boars, and amphibaenas too, the twin-headed serpents and griffins with scaly wings. Worst of all, there were the Mandrake People who, grown like roots, clambered out of the ground to join their kin in acts of cannibalism.

© Thomas Burnett Swann, from ‘The Manor of Roses’

This is just to say
I have thought about it.

The rituals of paper and bronze pass
and metal and silk dwindle in the lap of years.

The only gift is in the elements:

A pinwheel of hydrangea in October.
Periwinkle shells scattered on stones.

Seahorse fossils in high mountain grass.
The attempt at words,

a presence of paradox —

And the knowledge,
that nothing is enough.

© Laurie Kuntz, ‘Anniversary’ originally published in The Pedestal Magazine.

… his mother’s ghost, his sum of remembering …

Thomas Burnett Swann, from his short story, ‘The Manor of Roses’.