03 May 2011

The Anti-Alchemist

If I could change, like you,
Any element ,
With a flash of powdered flame,
Into the dense, yellow roundness
Of heavy gold coins,
I would find better use for my wizardry.

If I were a transmogrifier of metal
I wouldn’t bother
To transform strings of tinny wire
Into silver-braided neck strands.
Or brass bands
Into rings of priceless platinum.
I would turn swords into spoons.

If I could conjure concoctions
To control men’s souls
Or reign down on my enemies
An apocalypse of pestilence,
I’d point my sorcerer’s finger at you.

I’d change your potions
To something caustic.
I’d watch it
Corrode through your cauldron
Dousing the blue flames beneath.
I would mix an elixir
To reveal your false magic.

Your stolen wizard’s robe would
Fall away. Your purse of gold
Would soften into yellow mud.
And ooze from torn seams.

I’d change you spellbook to lead.
It’s cover too heavy to open.
Your magic would be trapped inside
By the weight of its own deceit.
No one would help you
Open your book of lies.

If I were like you
I wouldn’t be like you at all.

Ummm... First I think this poem came from the fact that I think alchemy is a cool word, and a kind of cool profession. Alchemy gave us the discovery of phosphorus-some pee was involved too. Anyway, I'm also reading a book to my students now by the acclaimed children's author, Avi (though he's not really one of my favorites). The book has an evil alchemist who can make false gold that turns to dust after time. Enough talk!


  1. Loved every anti-step about alchemy. I think it is a brilliant idea. I liked the swords to spoons one the most. :)

  2. At first I thought you were going in the "beat swords into ploughshares" direction with this, but then you took it to another place entirely. Very cool idea. The last lines are a lovely paradox.

  3. oh nice...love those last two lines...and this seems a magician that well deserves his return eh?

  4. Very clever from title to final word. "I would turn swords into spoons" Love that line most out of many really good ones.

  5. Thanks everyone. It just seems that spoons are usually much more useful than swords. Not that you don't need to wield a blade every now and again...

  6. Wish there were more of anti-alchemists of your brand. "Swords to spoons" What an apt and desirable transfiguration. Love the way you coin words together..as in "widowed emotions" in another poem.

  7. Happy Mother’s Day to Moms in your family,
    Make a contribution to US today,
    You Rock!
    Love your poetry.

    the Perfect Poet Award for you, Thanks for the support!

  8. Thank you, Nadira.

    And I intend to have something for the rally.