Poetry by Michelle

Providence Crematorium
Penticton, B.C.

A small building
with a tall slim smokestack
sits beside the lake
bike path behind it
cemetery behind that

prime real estate
given over to the business of dying

but for the sign
you’d think they were
smoking fish

when I ride past on my bike
and see the haze
above the smokestack
I cringe at the idea
that I will smell death –
inhale it with the fresh
autumn air
in which everything today
feels so alive

but death doesn’t smell

it gives no sign of its presence
except for the wisp of warm air
I ride through
for but an instant

like a hand upon my arm.
— Michelle Barker, First published online in Autumn Sky Poetry (www.autumnskypoetry.com) Issue 17

Michelle Barker's books on Goodreads
Old Growth, Clear-Cut: Poems of Haida Gwaii Old Growth, Clear-Cut: Poems of Haida Gwaii
ratings: 1 (avg rating 5.00)

The Beggar King The Beggar King
reviews: 8
ratings: 21 (avg rating 4.00)

Tesseracts 14: Strange Canadian Stories Tesseracts 14: Strange Canadian Stories
reviews: 4
ratings: 15 (avg rating 4.07)

Tesseracts Fifteen: A Case of Quite Curious Tales Tesseracts Fifteen: A Case of Quite Curious Tales
reviews: 4
ratings: 14 (avg rating 3.79)

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The Beggar King

At last Jordan Elliott has a gift. He can disappear…but at what price? The Beggar King never gives without taking. In Michelle Barker’s young adult fantasy novel, The Beggar King, Jordan will discover that everything has an underside – even magic, even him.

Read an excerpt from The Beggar King.beggar-king

On Jordan’s fifteenth birthday, Brinnians attack the city of Cir, imprisoning many Cirrans, including Jordan’s mother.  No one knows where they are being held. The time is also coming for Jordan to choose a vocation and take his robes, but so far his only talent is in stealing tomatoes. A year passes. Frustrated with the rebels’ inability to overthrow the new regime, Jordan risks everything in a symbolic act of rebellion that humiliates the enemy soldiers. They are about to arrest him; he’s doomed.

Suddenly he hears a voice say, “The world is merely wallpaper…. Hide behind it.” Just like that, he can disappear.  But disappearing is an undermagician’s skill, and the undermagic — a dark and old form of sorcery — was banished from this world long ago.  How could it have reappeared?

Jordan has received his gift from the Beggar King, a figure from the Cirran old tales akin to the bogeyman.  No one believes he exists.  But he does, and he seeks someone to help him bring back the undermagic’s full power.  If Jordan agrees to help him, the Beggar King will share that power with him so that Jordan can find the Cirran prisoners and save his mother. After that, he’ll be free of it.

But the undermagic is like a drug: dangerous, unpredictable, and hard to give up. And sorcery is a transaction – there is always a price to pay for using it.  Jordan finds out too late that his power comes in exchange for his girlfriend Ophira’s life.  If he wants to save her, he must kill the Beggar King and return the undermagic to where it was hidden – if it can be returned.

Read a review of the novel by author Geoffrey Cole, and another by Ronald Hore for the Manitoba Library Association.

The Beggar King is young adult fiction suitable for both teen and adult readers. If you are interested in learning more about the novel, please CONTACT ME.