A Word before the Ice Wars
by Bruce Boston

From the high towers of Riga

you can already see
the white walls of death to the north.
They catch the winter light
and return it to the sky
in colors strangely bright,
as if fires burned
upon those icy slopes.
Each storm is worse,
each day our lands grow smaller.
Entire villages now lie lost
beneath the frozen mass.
Outlanders of every description
crowd the streets of the capital.
The palace walls are scarred
and the king waits alone,
wrapped in his bed of furs,
with no solace but a fiery brandy
to burn the chill from his soul.
Our neighbors to the south
have closed their borders:
no passage, no trade.
The wineskins run dry.
I hear the clank of swords
rising from the courtyard below
as men prepare for a war
not of their choosing.
Some say we should not have
left the gods of our fathers,
and to appease their ancient rage
sacrifices have been taken,
fresh blood for the old altars.
Some say a sorcerer of the North,
a malicious polar wizard,
has placed this snowy curse upon us.
Others shrug and look to fate.
Indifferent to such speculations
the great cold cliffs
continue their descent.
The northern sky is a fury
of light and icy color.
One can almost hear
their implacable growth
grinding down upon us like waves,
the breakers of a frozen sea.


About the Author:

Bruce Boston's poetry has received a record seven Rhysling Awards, a record five Asimov's Readers' Choice Awards, the Bram Stoker Award, and the Grand Master Award of the Science Fiction Poetry Association. He is the author of forty books and chapbooks, most recently the humorous collection Etiquette with Your Robot Wife (Talisman, 2005). Bruce lives in Florida with his wife, writer-artist, Marge Simon. For more information, you can visit his website.

Poem 1984 Bruce Boston. Originally published in SPWAO Showcase #4, 1984. Image courtesy of Portland State University -- McMurdo Dry Valleys LTER.