From Out of the Vault (A Poem Inspired by the Cover of Piers Anthony’s A Spell for Chameleon)

This one is a weird one, so feel free to judge and criticize my artistic efforts.

When I was 14, my English teacher set us the assignment of picking a picture or illustration and writing a poem about it. Fresh-faced 14-year-old me had just picked up Piers Anthony’s A Spell for Chameleon (1997; Xanth book 1), and – without reading the book – I came up with the idea that the cover looked like a young boy coming up with a tall-tale excuse to a stern headmaster. (Just goes to show that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.)

In any case, below is my original poem. Despite its purple prose, it made me reflect on the nature of Fantasy fiction covers; on whether the cover portrays the most important scene or part of the book (rarely), or whether the cover matches the narrative at all! Are there any covers out there that made you pause and start imagining the books content? And were you disappointed or not with the way the narrative actually went? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

The promised poem:

A Child’s Dream

The principle crouched,

His face a mask of flurry,

As the boy stood there confidently,

Explaining his tardiness.

“So you see, sir,

I was right outside that door,

When my mind went allure.

The beauty of the plants and the golden light,

Was quite enchanting indeed, not to mention bright.

So I strayed of the path

To follow the sounds of a singing bird.

But what beheld my eyes,

Was fascinating, indeed.

Never such a sight was seen.

There stood groups of unicorns, a herd!

Now, I have heard before,

That if you capture one,

Then it would obey with all loyalty.

It would save the trouble, you see,

For me to walk everyday to school,

And I won’t be late anymore.

And so I crept up towards a strong looking one,

But in my haste, I forgot their pace.

And on a minor detail, that their ears do not fail.

When I realized that, God, my face turned pale.

The unicorns charged at me, with all speed

When I was swept up in mighty claws,

I soared into the air… in the clutches of a dragon!

But my fear slipped away,

When it dawned on me,

That it was your distant cousin

He was rather polite, using words such as ‘may’

He left me off, yonder…in the bushes.

When I saw before me,

A small centaur…a baby.

It was crying out loud,

Eyes filled with tears,

‘It must be lost,’ I said,

So I-”

‘Enough! Enough!’ The principle roared,

‘I could wisely guess what happened next.

It happened all too many times before.’

‘Now get to class!’

He said sternly,

Wiggling his ears with frustration,

‘And I’ll let it pass!’

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