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Image by Jordan Madrid


the madrigal, volume v

The Allegorist

by a. valliard

A map-maker may plot in lands they wish for, then set sail.
If there be monsters, they are their own; they are prepared
To battle them. The shoals the same, they put there.
The siren does sing to their own tune. And yet sometimes,
However great the longing, they yet find themselves at sea.

An act of will might save them…But how much is enough, Bahti?
If I would raise an island in this sea of days, bound by death,
That I might stand on, and others set their courses to,
Or steer away from in horror, must I pile sand upon sand by handful,
Toss each solitary grain from off the stern, for the wind to snatch away
Before the waters, and build lands outside of mine intent?

Reason battles on its own, strives to reach a nearby shore.
But I am quite content for this disordered vessel to drift to sea,
Now the ship has lost its bearings.
This all-distracted fealty of mine owes to my mind’s compass being
Shook, and whilst the needle spins, all hope’s on hold.
My heart’s navigation has a fifth corner, which the world has not,
To which it will, at end, most perniciously and perversely point.

Some souls must have islands, however humble.
Whatever lonely rock long-spurned for having lakes that breed fevers,
Whatever heat-blasted tropic infestation or bitter thawless state
That there encamps, they yearn for them.
Yet to reach their isle they must first cast its contours in stone.
Its image lies deep within their heart. Their eyes have learned
To see it always, but to set their foot upon it, to live there,
And abandon all thought of home, requires no mere mirage.

A voyage needs its fardels, the storm its splintered peak
Upon which to break. Each wanderer strikes their soul upon the world.
Yet I have become a hermit. And into my echoing isolation,
My fancies have raised themselves, and bred out of all proportion.
Thus folly spreads, as a mad dog does chase another’s tail,
And in biting, confers the whim.
Fermented fruit falls over the parent root, and echoes of folly,
Treble folly, and I through fear of being bitten, do bite back.

Now of what I seem to see, how do I know ’tis not breeding

In my eye, and thus by the hazard visitation of an unwilled mote,
Am chasing chimeras of earthly dust?
And this obscuring fancy, in all its monstrous disproportion,
Has it not transfixed me?

A.Valliard is a non-binary allegorist, ink scribbler, and occasional ham actor, currently illustrating "The City of Lost Intentions", a tragicomical fairy tale containing over two hundred phantasmagorical creatures based on the fears and foibles of artists. They can be found procrastinating on twitter at @AValliard or at

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