By Tim Pratt                                                                                                                                          Rhysling Award Nominee “Short Poem”

I settle for the first
oracle I can find (there’s
no sense being picky in
a situation like mine),
a spirit bound by
old bubblegum and lost coins
in the vicinity of a local

Crouching in the tawny sand
beneath a scuffed red slide at dawn
I sift the grains between
my fingers until a structure
spontaneously forms: less sand
castle than sand temple, sand
ziggurat, sand tower
of silence. A shape

moves within, a flutter of
shadow in the miniature oval windows,
dweller from some deep desert structure,
denizen of an emptier quarter,
transported to this park at the corner
of two long and aimless streets.

A voice of rippling oasis
water whispers the word “Offerings,” and
I empty the contents of a plastic bag on
the ground: a blue pacifier shaped
like a butterfly, the last drops of mother’s
milk retrieved from a bottle in the back
of the freezer, a lock of curled hair


as desert sun, bound by
thread and fraying into strands.

“Ask,” the voice whispers,
and I say — I speak — I sigh –
“Should I try

The ziggurat collapses into a mound,
covering my offerings, and my fallen
hopes fall further still. But then a green
shoot squirms up from the sand and bows
under the sudden blossom
of a yellow flower.

The laughter of absent children flutters
through the empty park. And for the first
time in months, the lion’s jaws
around my heart
ease their grasp.

Tim Pratt’s poems have appeared in Strange Horizons, The Magazine of Speculative Poetry, Asimov’s, and other nice places, and he won a Rhysling Award for best long poem. Some of his poetry is collected in If There Were Wolves. For more, visit



  1. Tim Pratt » Blog Archive » Lionize - [...] an unrelated note, my poem “Lion Heart” is up at Apex magazine, in the first issue under the editorship…
  2. Apex Magazine garners 5 Rhysling Nominations! « Apex Magazine - [...] Tim, “Lion Heart,” Apex Magazine, Iss. 30, Nov. 1, [...]
  3. Apex Publications News–February 26th – March 8th | Official Blog of Apex Publications - [...] Tim, “Lion Heart,” Apex Magazine, Iss. 30, Nov. 1, [...]

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