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Clay & Incense

a poem

By Mackenzie DavisPublished 19 days ago Updated 19 days ago 2 min read
Top Story - February 2024
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Bequest of Martha L. Loomis

Hey, necromancer.

I found your grave.


It was simple:

I traced the stencil of your life

from postcards memorized.


You wrote me once

from this shore. Told

of sea birds black

as hellebore.


The wind chimes speak of your return.

They rattle.

Freezing, perhaps by the magic

you pull from the mist.

Cheering you on, luring

your crawl from the rot.



I know what spells are.


My mind

sops up beauty unlimited.

Clay beneath the beach.

Watch me sculpt sandcastles

to fall in the rain, crumble

in the sun.

Yet they harden longer

than you think.

Nothing lasts…yet

beauty knows no limit.


You wrote of museums, once.

Imposing, gilded places

that sang with voices of the past.

I found yours yesterday.

They say long ago,

a man was murdered;


who dug up bits

of you.

(Well, your history.)

It scared me

to hear that particular


(and museums

ought to echo

just to remind you

of your smallness.)

But this echo


was borne out of empty.

It scared me to hear it.

I wonder if you’d raise its voice

from the dead?


You curation was

puff exhibits

smoke figures

jawless skulls.


and one long



Nothing lasts forever,

you know.


Necromancer, I see

your truth.


The siren called me

away today. Lonesome notes

and gasps the rhythm,

tearing me apart.

I knew then, your fate:

You saw yourself in her eyes,

challenged. She stole you

under. Yet

here you are, pulsing

below the earth. Incensed.

When you rise,

I wonder who’ll set you ablaze

first. Unholy form, be damned!

Many to witness the smolder—

this cleansing

from your power.


Spells are just wishes

from beyond the veil,

shiny things

ravens trade souls for.

I’ll pluck from your mound

all this hellebore,


this, your final postcard.





A/N: This was written for Poppy's February Prompts. See below.

Free Verse

About the Creator

Mackenzie Davis

“When you are describing a shape, or sound, or tint, don’t state the matter plainly, but put it in a hint. And learn to look at all things with a sort of mental squint.” Lewis Carroll

Find me elsewhere.

Copyright Mackenzie Davis.

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

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    Writing reflected the title & theme

  2. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

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    Zero grammar & spelling mistakes

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Comments (39)

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  • John Cox11 days ago

    Wonderful, mystical poetry! 'Told of seabirds black as hellebore' fairly glides off my tongue. Congratulations on top story! This poem hints at hidden depths and forgotten powers. I read it twice to see if I could tease out its magic but save for the siren voice that once pulled the necromancer under and called to you as well, I failed. Probably better that way. There is a reason that I love Emily Dickenson's poetry and it has absolutely nothing to do with it understanding any of it. Sometimes I need to let go of the urge to make connections and simply luxuriate in the magic and let it sooth me with its own alien tongue.

  • Heather Hubler12 days ago

    Goodness this was fantastic!! Wow, Mackenzie. I loved the bits about the necromancer. It gave this such a heavy feel. Truly wonderful work :)

  • This was amazing

  • Kendall Defoe 13 days ago

    Damn, damn, damn... First place? You bet... Excellent work!

  • This was beyond words for me. Such an incredibly written piece.

  • Babs Iverson13 days ago

    Magnificent!!! Congratulations on this week's Leaderboard win!!!♥️♥️💕

  • ROCK 13 days ago

    Eerily enticing; you're one hell of a poet!

  • Rachel M.J13 days ago

    Wow. This was an absolute journey. Enchanting, mysterious, and for some reason terrifying.

  • Poppy 14 days ago

    Congrats on the top story!!!

  • Naveed 15 days ago

    Exceptional effort! Keep up the remarkable work—congratulations!

  • Naveed 15 days ago

    Splendid work! Keep the momentum—congrats!

  • Wonderful lines! This poem is expertly written. Congratulations on a well-deserved Top Story, Mackenzie.

  • Joe Patterson15 days ago

    Congrats on top story.

  • Memudat Tiamiyu 15 days ago


  • Ace Melee15 days ago

    Like the stanzas' length, this poem gave me a thrill. Congratulations on Top Story.

  • Back to say congratulations on your Top Story! 🎉💖🎊🎉💖🎊

  • Margaret Brennan16 days ago

    congratulations on TS. This is eerily awesome.

  • Rene Volpi 16 days ago

    I enjoyed this tremendously. Just wanted to let you know. x

  • Brenton F16 days ago

    Reading this felt like holding something very delicate and fragile. Hellebore and the museum reference! Congrats on the TS MD! 😊

  • Dana Crandell16 days ago

    Incredible, Mackenzie! "(and museums ought to echo just to remind you of your smallness.)" will run through my mind eery time I step into one from now on. Brilliant, brilliant work! Congratulations!

  • Cathy holmes16 days ago

    This is amazing. So deep, and so many incredible lines. These stood out "Spells are just wishes from beyond the veil, shiny things ravens trade souls for." Well done and congrats on the TS.

  • Alexander McEvoy16 days ago

    Woot Woot! There's one of my favourite people getting her well-deserved Top Story! Congratulations, Mackenzie!

  • Paul Stewart16 days ago

    Boom. Yay, there it is. congrats on Top Story, pally!

  • Tommy Ballard17 days ago

    Oh wow, this is absolutely phenomenal!

  • Poppy 17 days ago

    YOU KEEP OUTDOING YOURSELF! I literally gasped at how amazing and that opening bit was! I need to go reread this because damn that whole thing was indescribably incredible! "I traced the stencil of your life from postcards memorized." That's so perfect! How do you come up with stuff like that?? "Cheering you on, luring your crawl from the rot." Ahhh it's so raw and powerful. Every single "Necromancer," part between the stanzas is just phenomenal and so impactful! "They say long ago, a man was murdered; archaeologist who dug up bits of you. (Well, your history.)" Once again, how do you think up utter masterpieces like this?!! "The siren called me away today. Lonesome notes and gasps the rhythm, tearing me apart." So powerful!! "Spells are just wishes from beyond the veil," Omg I love that so much!! And that ending! Perfectly ends such a brilliant poem. I feel like you've entered a new era of poetry with this and Forgiveness Without Closure. They have the same kind of vibe to them and I adore them both!! I love all your poems but I'm hoping for more that fit with these two!!

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