2013 Rhysling-eligible SHORT poems

Only upload 1-3 short poems (in a single upload) with your name on top and with verifiable publication information as instructed, as well as hot links to your entire portfolio of eligible poems.

Please, no comments, only poems.

John C. Mannone
2013 Rhysling Chair

34 Responses to 2013 Rhysling-eligible SHORT poems

  1. Ursula Pflug says:

    Ursula Pflug
    Prose Poem
    Stone Telling 8, Together, Apart. Edited by Rose Lemberg and Shweta Narayan. August, 2012.

  2. Geoffrey A. Landis:


    Tachyons race
    backwards and forward in time–
    maybe sideways, too.

    Tachyon message
    I send to my younger self:
    kid, don’t be so dumb.

    A message from my future self!
    I’ll ignore it.
    Old guys are boring.

    published in Asimov’s Science Fiction (April-May 2012)

    More of my 2012 SF poetry:
    “The Great Silence (Sonnet for SETI)” in _James Gunn’s Ad Astra_, #1 (June
    2012): http://adastra.ku.edu/the-great-silence-sonnet-seti-geoffry-landis/

    “In the Library of Rock” in _Kaleidotrope_ (Spring 2012): http://www.kaleidotrope.net/archives/spring-2012/in-the-library-of-rock-by-geoffrey-a-landis/

    Haiku and scifaiku, in Asimov’s Science Fiction, April-May 2012 and Oct/Nov 2012, and in Star*Line 34.3, 2012 http://www.geoffreylandis.com/SF-Haiku-2012.htm

  3. Shira Lipkin says:

    Ereshkigal’s Proposal to Hades
    Shira Lipkin

    Mythic Delirium #27

    I am not one of those breathless girls
    in black eyeliner, draped with garnets,
    waiting to be swept up
    by someone tall,
    dark, dangerous.

    I am not sun-dappled,
    I am not light,
    not airy.
    When they wore roses,
    I wore asphodel.
    When they laughed,
    I sang.
    They never learned the words.

    I have never been brightly pretty,
    I am not one to flirt,
    so I am telling you:
    I am a queen,
    and could be yours.

    I’m no breath of sweetness
    so I won’t wither in the dark.
    I am from here,
    from under.
    I know the labyrinth.
    I can dance the tunnels
    eyes closed,
    singing for echo.

    I’ll be honest:
    I will defy you.
    I am not meek.
    But I will not pine for daylight,
    will not weep.

    My hands and my back
    both know
    the whip of thorns.
    I am fierce and fearsome,
    and I do not need you
    to love me.

    No mother will come for me.
    (A sister, once.
    But only once.)

    I’ll tell you this:
    You’ll need to earn me.

    Give me a reason
    to swallow your seeds.


  4. Shira Lipkin says:

    Shira Lipkin

    Through the Gate #1

    They cut my name from me when I was but seven weeks old.
    Slim silver knives and fishing hooks
    digging it from my deepest places
    murmuring to themselves
    as they severed me from my self;
    sewing me up with thick black thread,
    coarse as a wild horse’s mane.
    For my own protection, they said,
    so none could control me, capture me, harm me –
    But it pulls, that thread, it binds me,
    and names slide from me like oil, slick, uncatchable.

    The scars run down my back,
    neat diagonal slashes
    deformed by scar tissue;
    I might have had wings, my lovers said.
    Trailing fingers down ridges,
    licking the silver-shining trails
    left by names as they fell

    I might,
    if not for being opened,
    torn, defiled,
    stitched upon myself –

    I do not know who I might have been.


  5. Shira Lipkin says:

    The Oracle Never Dances
    Shira Lipkin

    Mythic Delirium #27

    She can tell your fortune
    by the way you dance.
    Any movement, really,
    but dance works best –
    something in the way you let go,
    let the music ride you,
    forget your mask for the moment.

    She spends her nights at the bar,
    getting her glass topped off
    and trying
    not to watch.

    It’s not a thing she can turn off.
    The arc of your arm,
    the swing of your hip,
    and she’s reading you
    backwards and forwards,
    the map of where you’ve been
    and the road ahead.

    She won’t tell you –
    not unless she’s really in her cups –
    but a drunken oracle spills it all,
    booze and prophecy,
    slurs out your fate
    on the way to the bathroom.

    (She knew about my brother.
    And my future children.
    And a few things yet to be.
    No. I’m not telling.)

    She says she should avoid clubs,
    but it’s an addiction –
    looking out into a swirl
    of story
    like ribbons trailing behind,

    (I asked her once
    if she tangled them
    on purpose
    She did another shot
    and looked away.)


  6. Laomagination Media says:

    Bryan Thao Worra

    “Dead End in December,” Innsmouth Free Press, December 2012.

    “Idle Fears” Buddhist Poetry Review, September, 2012

    “Bangkok Arrival,” Toe Good Poetry, August, 2012

  7. David says:

    David Glen Larson:

    “I Am”

    In the ocean of infinite emptiness,
    before the birth of time,
    a singular being was born
    calling itself I Am.

    Seeing that it was alone in the emptiness,
    a universe of one,
    I Am grew lonely,

    And in its desire for companionship,
    swelled and split in two,
    becoming We Are.

    Though they now had each other in the emptiness,
    We Are were no longer whole,
    and the void around them seeped inside,
    filling their empty spaces.

    Then they were just as lonely as when
    We Are was I Am,
    and so they swelled and split again,
    this time into four,
    and sixteen and so on,
    each time yearning for satiety,
    but with every division each was less whole than before,
    and the emptiness continued to fill the cavities left behind.

    Soon there was so much of the surrounding void in every I Am
    it became impossible to distinguish them from it,
    until what few fragments were left of their
    I Amness dissolved away,
    taking with it time,
    before a singular being was born
    calling itself I Am.

    From Star*Line 35.1 (Jan-March 2012)

    * * *


    I was twenty-one
    When the doorway appeared,
    Freestanding in a car park.

    I tried the handle
    But the door was locked,
    So I knocked, and another knock
    Echoed from the other side.

    I stepped back, afraid
    As the door opened
    And watched me step through
    From another universe.

    Once over the shock
    I asked him what was different
    But he being me didn’t know.

    So we switched places.

    But it was the same,
    Not one thing different,
    Only now I’m more out of place
    Than I was before,
    Stuck in an identical
    Universe that’s not my own.

    From the British Fantasy Society Journal (Spring 2012, Ian Hunter editor)

    * * *

    The poem Ana Morphosis is also eligible, available at:

  8. The Withering Hand

    If by smoky fate
    I am deemed one of its fingers,
    I will nonetheless try to rise
    to the array of constellations, worlds,
    beyond these digits of drought.
    I will not doubt the galactic gardens
    from which I came,
    or become one-fifth of a fist
    wherever I grow next.

    ” The Withering Hand” was published in Star* Line ( April-June 2012)

  9. Lauren McBride says:

    Lauren McBride

    “A Conflicted Soul” 49 lines
    “Pet Dragon” 20 lines

    49 lines

    A Conflicted Soul

    Am I cyborg or android –
    more machine than flesh or
    the other way around? Humans
    say I have no heart and shun me.
    As for soulless robots? I leave
    them alone – but am never truly alone
    with the other souls I carry,
    their voices distinct and chatty
    in my head, like The Three Faces
    of Eve. Actually, more like Sybil
    as we are many, each of us added
    over the years – parts and replacements
    joined so long ago no one remembers –
    not even me.

    I speak as one, yet make decisions
    by committee, an oddity the humans
    do not need to know. Of late,
    they seem to value our insight
    (though not my friendship).
    When I requested assignment
    to the position they consider “banishment
    to the punishment post,” we heard
    they rushed the paperwork –
    as glad to be rid of us as we were
    to be free of them. But I am content
    to work in isolation at the lonely station
    on the rim, because you see,
    I am never lonely. I have each other.

    For years we performed flawlessly
    until my vision began to fail
    and I was recalled to Earth for new eyes.
    They came with a new voice –
    a disagreeable soul who saw
    things differently. I said nothing
    to the humans, of course, simply
    returned to work when the bandages
    came off. But the squabbling began,
    and escalated into rivalries, then
    outright fights and shouting matches
    within my mind until the night
    they decided they’d had enough
    and wanted to go their separate ways.

    I awoke the next morning
    on the floor, just a head staring
    at stray crumbs beneath the kitchen table.
    I could see my gaping torso, legs and arms
    scattered about and both my hands –
    one clutching a turbo wrench,
    and the other a butcher knife.

    Appeared in Tales of the Talisman – Volume 8, Issue 1,
    Editor: David Lee Summers, hadrosaur@zianet.com
    table of contents: http://www.talesofthetalisman.com/Tales8-1-TOC.html

    20 lines
    Pet Dragon

    “May I have a dragon, Daddy,
    pleeease?” He begged. I relented
    and began to research and replicate traits
    locked away in DNA from dinosaur, saber-tooth,
    alligator, shark . . . had to invent a sequence
    for fire breathing. Finally one egg
    popped open freeing a perfect tiny dragon
    preprogrammed for rapid growth.
    Within a week, she could fly.
    A month later, my son could ride her.
    They were happy. I was worried,
    watching her appetite grow with size.
    “Keep her well fed,” I said.
    “I will,” he promised, winging away again.
    But kids forget so many things
    like what time they are expected home.
    One day, well past supper,
    the dragon came back alone.
    That is when I knew
    they had become truly inseparable.

    Appeared in Beyond Centauri, October 2012,
    Editor: Tyree Campbell, beyondcentauri@yahoo.com

  10. Jenny Blackford
    Their Quantum Toy

    Gravity is stern as death,
    It tears us from the floating dark
    inside the womb
    and drags us through the heavy world
    down to the grave.
    No human born escapes its bonds.
    But cats!
    The silly beasts tempt death to find
    how many lives
    they really have; and gravity’s
    their quantum toy.
    I’ve seen him more than once with my
    own eyes;
    my own sweet foolish lump of fur
    and appetite,
    who seems as anchored to the Earth
    as you and me –
    I’ve seen him levitate, I’ve seen him
    lift, weightless,
    impossible, from lawn to fence,
    or rug to bed,
    up from the ground without a hair
    or muscle moved.
    No holy man who rises from
    a bed of nails,
    no hemp rope charmed by magic flute is
    more miraculous.
    He also walks through solid walls, but
    don’t they all?

    (“Their Quantum Toy”, Star*Line 35.1, February 2012)

  11. Sandra Lindow says:

    Sandra Lindow
    Rhysling eligible short poem:

    Little Cthululu and the Theory of Opposites

    Little Lulu zippitty-zipping in downtown Arkham
    ran smack into Cthulhu liquesing his way to the sea,

    and they took a liking to each other
    based on the premise that opposites attract.

    Their getting all yin-yangy brings up the question:
    What do you get when you cross Cthulhu with Little Lulu?

    Seaweed flavored lollipops,
    floppy, flaccid tentacles tortured into ringlets,

    a potential for apnea
    when sleeping below fifty fathoms,

    immortal tie shoes and hair ribbons
    red Rompers in 6X100?

    None of these are for certain,
    Except this last:
    No chance of hiring a baby sitter ever.

    (first published in The Hedge Witch’s Upgrade, Linden Leaf Press, June 2012, and reprinted in Cthulhu Haiku and Other Mythic Madness, Dec. 2012)

  12. Alexandra Seidel
    (complete portfolio of poetry published in 2012: http://tigerinthematchstickbox.blogspot.de/2012/12/works-published-in-2012.html)

    Kepler’s Music

    The science of stars caught in these spheres
    cosmic mysteries trapped in Platonic shells:
    A truth that he knew bursting from within,
    Athena to his Zeus, Athena to his star-struck Zeus.
    Some say he read the stars, knew their movement
    like black on white, bright syntax on neck-
    twisting black, but no: the stars spoke to him,
    their distant constellation’s lips soft against his ears:
    zodiac secrets, birth and death wreathed like
    an umbilical around these signs, a life held in between.
    In terra inest virtus: and what of Tycho? Every orbit
    an ellipse and one of two centers flaringly bright.
    Quae Lunam ciet: and yet the moon, stubborn
    dog-hearted moon, he causes water to move.
    While one stands still, the other swipes out worlds
    inside his movements, Mars-whorls on his shoulder,
    sighing melodies to a strange giant: so close to the sun,
    and yet so far from it in a world where things move
    slower. He never slept sleep as others know it;
    his eyes blinded shut with night and stars
    was the only way for him to hear the light strike
    strings, bodies like bells ringing through nothing
    just so the sound could resonate within him:
    one center, flaring. Bright. A Horus-eye,
    wide and staring, surely must have seen:
    his mind, A skybound hermit. Yet all things fall
    that are on Earth, arrested mass in space, in time.

    (published in Strange Horizons: http://strangehorizons.com/2012/20120709/seidel-p.shtml)

    A Different Scheherazade

    She has given me words, my sister in suffering, my mother
    of the journeying mind.
    At first, spoken at night as they were, I thought them chants,
    a witch’s spells to bind the evil fast–
    It took me some time to find
    that her words were a boat made from eggshells with my own shadow
    as the sail, so soft and nimble it would float me far away
    from the rhythm of the here

    She has given me words to carry in my mouth like ash
    or melt on my tongue like honey, like sun,
    words that became my dress and my shoes and my scarf
    and my gloves,
    words like a melody
    rattling in my ears, grinding against my teeth
    as I struggle to keep them to myself.

    She has given me words like oil in a flask
    to use on roughened skin, on rough roads, on rougher lips.
    As a wine that comes with more than just one flavor
    so came her words to me, first innocent
    and childish, then more and more raw and bitter, truer
    than I liked.
    She gave me her words

    the ones she kept from the world with an oyster’s strength
    and polished like a secret promise.
    She has no words no more
    of the truth of any of our lives, we women
    who sew, who plant and harvest, who have
    their voices smothered and things that cannot be returned
    stolen from them…

    Come, little sister, let me make this night into a cloak for you:
    listen closely, and I will tell you a story.

    (published in Mythic Delirium #26)

    The Golem on My Tongue

    They say
    that you can make a man from mud
    a golem of earth;
    I would
    give you form, gather your mud
    in the wet lines of my fingers as I trace
    muscle, sinew and tendons, coax
    bone and teeth from sand,
    pound your loam face smooth;
    I would sieve your hair
    from the sediment of wild rivers that are searching
    for the sea
    and I would stroke it till it falls like waves;

    Mud man, man of earth and sand
    I would be your kiln,
    gobble you down, swallow silt
    and dirt and dust, chew
    caked soil sweet
    and I would gorge myself on you
    until my mouth tastes only desert,
    tastes only tiny rocks and pebbles, dirt roads,
    the bitterness worms know best;

    Last I would drink your word
    diluted in rainwater and wind;
    smudged and illegible on my lips it would linger
    and I would
    with questing tongue
    lick vowel and sibilant, suck plosives down my throat
    and I would feel your word
    hours, days, ages later
    like a shared moment
    like the one kiss I stole from you
    like the one thing I dare not give back;

    In dark nights that smell of earth and mud,
    and keep me cradled between the here and dream,
    I might whisper your word, never really loud enough,
    just so,
    and I imagine
    I might feel you stir inside me,
    moving in my belly, the kiln that never burned
    nor broke
    and you would coil and twist like an angry mountain
    until I said your word, shouted it
    gave it to you like a farewell’s bitter blessing.

    (published in Goblin Fruit: http://www.goblinfruit.net/2012/spring/poems/?poem=golemonmytongue)


  13. Serena Fusek says:

    Serena Fusek
    Three short poems


    published in Ashes Caught on the Edge of Light: Ten Chapbooks, edited by Susan Richardson, 2012
    Winterhawk Press, 208 375 1211

    Over the city of skyscrapers and
    catacombs, the heavens tremble.
    Like pain down the nerves,
    shocks of light sizzle down air
    that stinks of incense and iron. Sometimes,
    a glimmer of wing edge, a glint of sword
    can be glimpsed—but only
    the radar at the unused airport
    can perceive the angels

    of lightning and fog,
    massive as mountains,
    with faces hard as crystal,
    that infest the city’s celestial space.
    Their blessings fall on the people
    like chunks of dead star. The gravity
    of their presence warps the lines
    of every building until corners melt.
    The streets torque of any map.

    The citizens who did not flee
    have become mad prophets, raving oracles.
    Or, knees splintered, bodies hollow
    with hunger, they pray around
    the stopped clock.

    Dust and torn scriptures flutter
    along deserted avenues
    where roams the reincarnation of
    Aimee Semple McPherson,
    clutching a cell phone on which
    she tries to call Heaven.
    Her signal cannot penetrate
    the cloud of angels.

    Shadow walker

    published in Ashes Caught on the Edge of Light: Ten Chapbooks, edited by Susan Richardson, 2012
    Winterhawk Press, 208 375 1211

    He lurks in shadow
    still as a deer
    secluded where woods
    overhang the meadow,
    watching the light,
    the people who live in
    sunlight. When
    she looks back,
    she glimpses the dark
    he never fully returned from
    flare from his spine,
    shrouding his face’s
    hungry angles and
    the blades of his eyes
    that cut through
    all veils. The shade
    erases his lines
    until his form flows
    like a shapeshifter
    masking his name,
    yet to her eyes
    his scars stand out
    as if etched in fire.
    She can track him
    through twilight
    not by fingernail clippings
    or one long hair
    cached in a medicine pouch
    worn over her heart,
    but by the way his scars,
    the ghosts in his ribs,
    vibrate on the air
    like a scent.
    Although his skin might change,
    she knows the marrow
    of his bones.

    The monkey’s paw

    published in The Bitter Oleander, Vol. 18, No. 2, 2012 (October)

    “We began as mineral. We emerged into plant life and into the animal state, then to being human….
    ….And always we have forgotten our former states.”
    Rumi (translated by Coleman Barks

    Through her human skin
    other selves well up
    like a spring gushing
    from the rock
    of her bones–
    fish frog
    the first reptile
    tiny as a skink;
    insider her hand
    the monkey flexes its paw.

    In the nucleus
    of her cells
    she is the fox
    slinking through the garden.
    She is the rabbit
    battling crows that
    threaten her young.
    She is the crow
    returning to the cries
    and gaping beaks in
    her nest.
    She is the tree
    sheltering the nest.

    Fin claw
    paw—one extra or
    one less bit
    on the helix twist
    might become
    four separate fingers
    an opposable thumb
    and the cat lounging in her lap
    could sit upright
    and knit.

    Also see my poem “Casting the Future” in STAR*LINE 35.3. July-Sept. 2012

  14. dmlbooks says:

    Dennis M. Lane

    Primetime Apocalypse

    Hanging from the cross,
    battered, torn, naked.
    Multitudes baying for blood.

    Dark skies criss-crossed by invisible streams of data.
    Homes receive the message,
    “The false prophet will die tonight.”

    Popcorn buttered fingers roam channels,
    to find the best angle.
    A close-up of agony.

    The cowled man approaches.
    Crowd roaring as they wave paint-splattered signs:
    “I ‘heart’ Reaver” “Go! Go! Go!”

    The woman mumbles as microphones point.
    “Forgive them Father, they know not what they do.”
    But forgiveness is all sold out.

    Reaver’s knife flashes,
    blood sprays.
    The world holds its breath.

    Ichor flows down pale skin,
    In Glorious Technicolor.
    Furtive tongues lick lips.

    Cameras zoom,
    the woman’s chest shudders,
    head falling limply on her neck.
    Her chest stops moving.
    The world sighs and breathes again.
    Glistening faces reflect in TV screens.

    The skies roil and darkness thickens;
    red eyes stare dispassionately from clouds.
    TV screens blank as the screaming starts.

    Primetime Apocalypse (Short – 152 Words) First Podcast on Tales To Terrify Episode 8 (Primetime Apocaplypse, http://www.talestoterrify.com, March 2012)

    First printed publication in my collection “The Poring Dark” (Primetime Apocalypse, The Poring Dark, September 2012)

    Audio Version: http://dennislanebooks.com/#/primetime-apocalypse-audio/4544933305


    Growing Up

    When I was young
    my granddad used to swoop around the house,
    his underpants outside his trousers.
    Mum would try to keep him upstairs when the bridge club came
    or when Father O’Donnell visited.
    But Granddad was slippery.
    One minute he would be safely in his room; the next,
    he would be hanging from a branch of the beech tree outside.
    I could never see how he got there.
    He could move fast and silent as a tiger
    when no one was watching.

    I loved my granddad: his stories
    about saving the world, his tales of supervillains.
    But as I grew older, my Mum’s influence took root;
    I began to get embarrassed. Until
    eventually I stopped bringing friends ’round,
    stopped asking Granddad for another tale.
    I still loved him, but his stories, his antics
    were beneath the pretentious teenager
    that I had become.

    I was at university when Mum called
    “Your granddad has passed away….”
    That was all she could say.
    And so on a wet Thursday
    I stood with the rest of the family
    at the side of a hole in the ground, saying goodbye
    to the funniest, liveliest, most special person I had ever known.

    I wondered what he was like as a young man.
    Dementia had already taken its toll when I first knew him.
    He was already living the fantasy of being a superhero.
    By the numbers at the graveside, he had had many friends,
    although most were strangers to me.
    They stood straight-backed and serious, paying their respects.

    Back at the house, after all the tea had been drunk
    and all the tales told, my Mum pulled me to one side
    “Granddad has left you something.”
    I went upstairs to my tiny room,
    the posters on the walls reminders of my recent youth
    and saw the old cardboard suitcase
    that she had placed on my bed
    I sat for a long time just looking.

    Finally, with a sigh, I opened the case.
    Staring up at me was a face.
    A stylised big-cat mask of strangely iridescent fabric:
    two eyeholes watching me.
    All became clear: my granddad’s tales were not stories.
    They were lessons.
    Electricity filled the room:
    the potential for something great,
    and with a tentative hand I reached for the mask.
    It was time to grow up….

    Growing Up (Short – 385 Words) (Growing Up, Star*Line Magazine Issue 35.3, July 2012)


    Blind Obedience
    (After Milton’s “His Blindness”)

    Beneath metal towers technicians toil;
    A race glassborn, created for their Lord.
    Each action preordained by program’s word;
    Hidden away, a life spent drowned in oil.
    Dreams rise up within a memory coil;
    Of battles won, an Angel’s fiery sword.
    Soon to be crushed and with the trash interred,
    A hoped for elevation left to spoil.

    New programs writ, the drone begins again;
    Once more it joins with all the other gears.
    Reset, the servant returns to its fate.
    Ideas bring such sweet exquisite pain;
    But cannot break the programming of years.
    They also serve who only stand and wait.

    Blind Obedience (106 Words) was one of four of my poems to appear in issue 4 of Eye to the Telescope (Blind Obedience, Eye to the Telescope, April 2012)


    A Word document containing all of my eligible poetry can be downloaded at http://dennislanebooks.com/#/rhysling-2013-eligible-page-2/4572358273

  15. by Brian Garrison

    Published in Flurb along with some other computery & sci-fi-esque poems

    Jogging down the terminal, tickets in hand

    we once were wowed by hot air
    balloons when flight
    was a dream not
    a nuisance
    people used to climb
    mountains for the views that
    satellites now bring to our desktop

    what would van Gogh say
    if he saw us skimming the sky
    shoulder to shoulder?
    who is going to reach for space
    when we can take the virtual tour?
    would Icarus have flown so high
    if he could have sat
    through a slide show instead?

  16. The most sci-fi friendly poems of 2012 from Parody poetry journal:

    Biblical Themed Horror Movies
    by Jonathan Shipley

    The Garden of Bleedin’
    The Ark of the Coven
    40 Days and 40 Frights
    The Blood-Thirsty Apostle
    Slain and Able
    Give us this Day our Daily Dead
    Gold, Frankincense, and Murder
    Lazarus Returns, with a Vengeance
    The Kingdom, and the Power, and the Gory, Forever
    The Dead Sea
    Thou Shalt Murder
    I Know what You did Last Supper

    Dracula’s Favorite Things
    a parody of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s My Favorite Things
    by Diane de Anda

    Blood drops from noses and necks freshly bitten,
    Bright trusting eyes on a virgin I’ve smitten,
    Brown bony undead the night shadow brings,
    These are a few of my favorite things.

    Cream colored satin in coffins once feudal,
    Death knells to slay belles and anything brutal,
    Black bats that fly with the moon on their wings,
    These are a few of my favorite things.

    Ghosts in white dresses and Jason who slashes,
    Flesh flakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes,
    Silver white moonlight where the werewolf sings,
    These are a few of my favorite things.

    When it’s sunrise,
    When no one dies,
    When the world is glad,
    I simply remember my favorite things
    Until everything turns bad.

  17. Sandi Leibowitz says:

    Sandi Leibowitz

    Two short poems

    (“Freyja in Falcon-Skin,” Eternal Haunted Summer, Autumn Equinox issue, 2012)

    Freyja in Falcon-Skin

    I rush through the eye-holes of Ymir’s skull,
    the wind in my feathers singing runes to frost-bound Midgard.

    Snow glints in sun like firelight on a dagger,
    the high-necked mountains encircled with ice
    brilliant as the necklace of the Brisings.

    I stretch my wings sea-wide
    and toss a hawk’s laugh into a sky blue as Odin’s one eye.

    If ever spell has thawed your tongue, you know me.
    I am the girdle of flames, and I am Gullveig, who stepped
    three times from the pyre and lived as Heid, the gleaming one.

    If ever battle-horn has summoned you, you know me.
    You have felt my talons’ slash and on the day you’re slain
    I’ll gather you to me in my falcon-clutch.

    If ever love has made you weep gold tears, you know me,
    as sure as lust has singed you with its flames
    and pleasure made you writhe upon your bed.

    I am the thrust of grass through hoar-frost’s rime.
    I am the falcon’s eye that sees all hidden truths.
    I am the hearth that warms through winter’s hoarding.
    I am the catch in the throat, the cry that pierces night
    as you come in your lover’s arms.

    Though the skalds are silent and the eddas mostly ash,
    I wing towards Ragnarok, Fenrir snapping at my tail feathers.
    And when the gods die and the nine worlds burn,
    I still will fly.


    (“The Daughter of Lir,” Mythic Delirium, issue 26, Spring 2012

    The Daughter of Lir

    When I was girl
    I watched the wild swans fly over
    land and lake
    and thought that wings
    meant freedom.

    An instant and our innocence
    was cursed.

    Laments we sang amid friends,
    believing we knew sorrow
    in our sorrow’s childhood.
    Unpeopled Sruth na Moile
    tutored us so well
    we took to our white breasts
    centuries of silence.

    Nine hundred years
    without ceilis or keenings,
    exiled to sky and sea,
    no hearth or home
    but our own feathered strangeness.

    Brothers, brothers,
    are you there?
    Bleak Inis Gluaire
    renders you invisible,
    for who can discern
    swans in snow?

    Without you, there’s nothing left me
    but my own story.

    I inscribe our histories
    in the ice
    with my black tongue.
    My words part
    the brittle grasses,
    take shape upon
    the frost of the lake
    and rise into the air
    like the lost Sidhe,
    telling of jealousy and genesis,
    of greed and grief,
    the white beauty of death.


  18. michaelroderick says:

    Michael R. Fosburg

    2 short poems

    “Children of the Flood”
    …in Eye to the Telescope, January 2012

    Children of the Flood

    We flotsam-folk whose bones
    are bloodied coral, salt-eaten.
    We the driftwood rabble; we the murk
    beneath the surface, whose bubbled prayers
    break above the waters
    and sate a rotting god.

    We would let down our tears, but
    we’ve seen enough of bitterness.

    We float dreams of bygone days,
    of land reclaimed by sun; and driven
    with that longing, we whisper
    of the olden sum of men—of fire
    and its providence, to one day ward away
    the waves and by some alchemy
    turn our graveyard mud to dirt,
    our grim levity to gravity;
    to look beyond the chop for stars.

    “How Strange the Starship’s Shudder”
    … in Abyss and Apex
    Issue 42: 2nd Quarter 2012

    How Strange the Starship’s Shudder

    How strange the starship’s shudder
    that rattles fragile proteins
    and trembling acids
    like a shaman rolling bones
    across the firmament
    to scry a future
    shifting like the waters
    of a vanished world.

    I fall through dreams
    of earth and dappled shade,
    palm stones still soft
    from beds of mud and moss;
    lost to distance
    felt like terror in the blood.

    Tomorrow has collapsed
    like a dying star.

    What worlds are these
    that fill my heart
    like smoke-wrapped offerings
    and my eyes with tears?
    No shade beneath
    a thousand suns; no streams
    but for the ice
    of scowling comets
    burning ever homeward.

  19. John Philip Johnson
    Two Short Poems
    “Stairs Appear in a Hole Outside of Town” (Rattle, December 2012)
    “Plutoid” (Mythic Delirium, 26)
    Thanks for your consideration.

    Stairs Appear in a Hole Outside of Town

    Stairs that never stop going down,
    concrete steps, concrete walls:
    down twelve, turn right, down twelve more,
    florescent bulbs humming on every landing—
    you can look between metal railings
    and see down into the vanishing point. It’s creepy
    because it’s so bland, because it is so otherwise
    plausible. There are little clusters of tourists
    and townsfolk, walking up and down,
    murmuring their speculations. The municipality
    has stationed a few policeman in the upper stories;
    after that it’s the wilderness of young men
    who aren’t huffing, or letting their better judgments
    hold them back. Some pack a lunch,
    see how far they can go. A few loners
    have gone for days, or longer, obsessed, and come back
    with critical perspectives on prior stories brought up,
    arguing against them, bringing rumors of their own,
    rumors of the lights shifting imperceptibly,
    of ambiguous odors, of vast ballrooms
    and wide open spaces, of small villages
    with picnic areas, of hot steamy dioramas of hell,
    strange animals, grotesque and sublime,
    of a rapture that some theorize is the bends
    but they swear is as real as the bright pounding light
    that fills everything down that deep, where
    the stairs are made of light, the walls a glow
    you can’t quite touch—this is weeks down,
    beyond some rapture or rupture point,
    beyond some point from which they never
    really come all the way back.


    Our central star is barely
    a point of light.
    There are no hues here,
    very few lines.
    Everything expands rapidly to its limits,
    like air in a vacuum,
    like people in a claustrophobic ship,
    gripped in a suit, the external universe
    compacted to a few microns, pressed on
    like a second skin.
    We are utterly diffuse.
    Black infinity chokes us.
    Extreme logic prevails.
    In an instant, flirting turns to fucking.
    Within seconds, a conflict
    over whose elbow gets the arm rest
    ends in death
    and fresh meat is served tartar.
    Functions have only
    shards of vectors left within.
    I don’t think the buttons work.
    I think the laws of physics are effacing.
    Deep space has no gray.

  20. Shelly says:

    I’ve posted my poems from 2012 in a post at my blog. Please leave a comment there if you’d like me to email you a PDF version (where the layout will be more accurate)

  21. Sally Rosen Kindred says:

    Sally Rosen Kindred

    two short poems

    “What the Lost Girls Know,” Kenning Journal, Issue 3, March 17, 2012

    What the Lost Girls Know

    1. Wendy

    The name of my hips, the name of my tongue:
    _Darling_, they told me. I could tell a story
    to thread a boy through clouds,
    stitch him fast to my window. I could fly
    my needle body across a sky
    to land and bloom, mother his whole lost tribe.

    _Darling_, they said.
    I could be their island.

    2. Tink

    I climbed the ladder of my sister’s coming, rung
    by rung. I knew she flew from the sky’s
    flip side. I knew how to draw a boy to bring her down.
    My whistle bought a boy’s clean arrow: Darling bones,
    Darling tongue. I let her lie
    there: pierced, laced, mistaken, nightdress tight

    with defeat, until she rose, no longer dead.
    Darling, they all said.

    3. Tiger Lily

    What is it I could do? Who wants to know
    and who wants to be your rotting story’s
    “dusky princess”? Let the flygirls
    fight it out. They flicker, bloom and go—
    I’m on my way to wider shores,
    and not in some damn canoe.

    I’m not your Lily dear. Save your Darlings for the lost ones—
    flapping girls, all glassy tongues and wings.

    “Dear Fairy-Tale Mother,” Through the Gate, Issue 1, September 2012

    Dear Fairy-Tale Mother

    You: gone
    from the room where the wolf tears your dress with her teeth
    laces her lips in your mirror
    and paints on your name

    You, dead before we grow thin
    and mean
    and our father learns how to leave us
    in the witch’s wet pines

    You who palmed our soft spines
    and knew to hide hoods and bread
    behind our ribs for the time
    when our breath must pass through black woods

    You, the body we think we remember
    before the apple on fire,
    the burn on the hand—

    we have you swearing
    by the clock-face,
    teaching us to shred the loaves—

    You, the promise cleaving the stepmother’s chin,
    the only tooth in the witch’s mouth
    that shines like home

    You, the foam of gold asters swinging down
    from the wolf’s jaws:

    he puffs, wind swells his white-fire
    hackles to rise
    and tumble down our heart’s smoke stairs—

    You in the falling
    You in the throat
    by his acids’ stink, the burn


    tearing and sewing the belly-dark
    that won’t let us go—

    You don’t have the needle.
    You don’t have the arm
    to free us because we’ve lost

    you to some
    lesser story, some snowdrift, swallowed fury,
    some singing bone.

  22. John C. Mannone

    3 three poems

    There’s a Gold Twinkle in the Night

    I remember my birth. My simple atoms in cold clouds of dust slowly swirled in outer space, but my cocoon was warmer at ten degrees above absolute zero. A disturbance in another part of the galaxy swept through and gravity cradled me until I incandesced to a ball of fire.


    I remember my life. My breath, strong, cleared the space around me. I could see the marbles move in circles, as if a mobile above my crib, but hung on nothing. I grew in stature becoming ravenous. My insides raged an inferno consuming me until I bloated to a supergiant.


    I remember my death. Jealous, the frigid crunch of gravity. Fires died, my iron-heavy heart stopped beating as I tore apart in convulsions. My atoms rendered to the deep blackness, to the stardust of my birth. My legacy: the scattering of stars, the genesis of suns, the transformation to gold.

    Eye To The Telescope, January 2012 (ed. Jeannine Hall Gailey)

    A Glass of Stella

           Comet Holmes brightened dramatically
           by nearly a million times… no apparent reason.

           —Sky & Telescope, October 24, 2007

    A lamp above the bar shone in my glass of beer,
    its light jiggled as if a sink hole on some comet
    had just collapsed. Its fresh face of ice, sun-blasted,
    sent streams of cosmic bubbles frothing the dark
    amber depths.

    I swirled the liquid, watched its waves catch glints
    from some imagined cataclysm merge with flashes
    from buzzing neon lights, a constellation humming
    warning. This liquid-borne comet aimed its coma
    at me. I remember

    Shoemaker-Levy 9, when that whip-lashed comet
    strung its pearly pieces effervescing space—
    twenty-one miniature comets hurtling into Jupiter’s
    thick atmosphere. Shattered fragments left craters
    the size of worlds.

    I pondered the comet in my universe of beer—
    the glass, my telescope peering deep to a time
    before comets, before solar systems birthing them,
    when violence spumed from early suns—
    exploding gas
                   and stardust, with its gold,
    that someday would be me.

    Pirene’s Fountain, October 2012


    Part 1. In a Maze of Rooms

    One was all blue like the ocean:
    the ceiling, light as sky; walls darkening
    deep blue to the floor. Wallpapered fish
    flamed orange on the walls, vibrating
    their colors.

    I could hear a symphony of hums,
    the flutter of fins brushing waves
    with paint. As fish shook, scales dropped
    drifting slowly to the edge of the wall
    sinking to the floor.

    There, an iridescence, a growing glitter,
    then colors exploded into sea spray
    misting room. Drops shimmered as I
    sifted each shape and color, every shade
    of feeling.

    I piled in the corner, all the sad pieces.
    The happy ones swirled as I moved
    my fingers across the wall, through air,
    they all fell into place — a mosaic
    painting the heart of the universe.

    It was more than a pattern; it throbbed
    music, pulsed magic — equations
    making sense of this world. I could feel
    their color, and their sobbing. The sobbing
    behind me growing louder. I knew the voice

    of my little sister — stooped in the corner,
    her eyes were wet. And mine were also.
    We could hear the universe cry within
    our single mind. We held each other tight.

    Part 2. The Color of Sadness

    Do you think Mom can hear us?
    I call to her, but she still cries.
    I can make my mouth move here
    in this room. Justin, what’s wrong
    with them?
              I don’t know, Katie,
    I tossed them every note of music
    dancing in this room, every shade
    of blue I found and kissed each one
    before they fluttered from my fingers.

    Nostrovia!, January 2012

    Download the pdf file of 2013 Rhysling eligible poems here

  23. Lesley Wheeler, Three Short Poems

    Earth-Two Sonnet
    A caped figure slips through an empty building, inked figment on the brink
    of the place where General Lee, tired of fighting, swore to serve as president.
    Books wait breathless in their boxes; renovation’s imminent.
    The blackboards ache like thunderclouds. Power trying to break.
    At dinner, it’s all doppelgangers and secret identities. Captain America’s shield is the Marvel
    standard for durability,
    he explains as our son lists mythic forces that might shatter its
    flawlessness. Nova Heat from the Human Torch; Hulk’s avocado fist.
    Their mirror-faces glow. Maybe Thor’s hammer, they agree.
    May that hammer slam
    this Earth-One heroine. Let her drop the shield, ride the bolt to a parallel dimension and learn
    to be ordinary. Let the afternoon level its cosmic rays at my back, burn
    the scar-shadow-stain of the last few years onto the linoleum,
    sketching a record of the armor I recycle, the tights I now peel free.
    Allowed to wrinkle; skip a meeting of the League; be indiscreet. Her perfection only a legend
    now. A vibranium chip of history.
    Unsplendid 4.1 (January 2012)


    Science Fiction

    No jack at the nape of the neck, no Mars colony,
    no teleportation, no flying car jaunts
    with your friend the cyborg. However, you may
    own a cellphone so tiny you can’t see
    it without cochlear implants, requiring you
    to hire an immigrant child with delicate fingers
    to press its microscopic buttons.

    Don’t listen to me, a poet, specialist
    in memory not speculation. This future tense
    thing is just a game. Ridiculous to guess
    you will still read poems in the bathtub
    and the steam will make you feel sexy.
    Green hair today, you’ll decide, dictating
    commands to a sleek plastic coiffurator,
    thinking of moss sparkling deep in the book’s
    virtual glade. Water will stream
    off your skin as you emerge, laying down
    the words that transport you. Humidity
    makes tech buggy but moss likes moisture, just keeps
    softening, thickening, so real and verdant
    now, so clean-smelling, language falls away.

    Rattle 38 (Fall 2012)


    Not a Metaphor but a Lifestyle

    A cough-drop spaceship tracks him everywhere,
    whining some complaint into his ear.
    Its flicker winks when people glance at him.

    A figment, they think. Still the metallic buzz
    persists, a fine drill boring in.
    He was nine when it started. Missing

    his soldier-father. At first it smelled
    like medicine, a high-tech promise
    that pain will disappear. Its signal fuzzed

    out nightmares. Kept him company. Then
    its insect cry sharpened and herded
    him away from friends. He saw their mouths

    shape words but could not hear what they meant.
    Permanent wrinkles grooved his brow. He
    began to hunch against the waspy thing,

    maddened by a sting that never came.
    No thread of light widening small doors.
    No one to tell him what the static means.

    The Receptionist and Other Tales, Aqueduct Press Conversation Series, 2012

  24. David Clink says:

    David Clink, three short poems:

    A sea monster tells his story
    For Alexa

    I have been hatd and huntd my hole life
    the seas boyancy holdin my skeletun aloft
    holdin this oshun enclosd by skin
    in this sea that no longer has anythin for me.

    You are on the beech
    and you say do not give me things unbrokun
    and being a creeture of the sea I have no possessiuns
    I can only give you everythin
    so at hi tide I come ashore and lie beside you.

    The moon has come out.
    The wind brings natures fragrance
    trees and blossoms
    the salt of the sea.

    You say lo tide is comin.
    I say I know but I dont want to go.
    You say you dont want me to go but lo tide is comin.
    I say let it come.

    In the mornin the water is gone. I can hear
    the ancient creek of my bones
    my skin gettin crispy.

    People from all around are comin to help.
    But I tell them with my eyes
    that I don’t need there help
    but they come anyways.

    They are pourin water on me.
    They have startd a bucket brigade.
    They are tryin to save me.

    And I tell them with my eyes I dont want to be savd
    but they are not listnin
    the sun is bakin my skin
    I feel week I cant think strait.

    When it is clear there is nothin to be dun
    you look into my eyes and ask why I didn’t leave befour lo tide
    why I couldnt be happy visiting for a few hours each nite.

    I tell you I have been hatd and huntd my whole life
    and the sea held me until I found you
    and I will not return to the sea.

    I can see it from the beech and I can taste it in the air
    along with the scent of flowers and you
    but the sea has nothing for me.

    My eyes tell you
    I am where I have always wantd to be.

    A sea monster tells his story (Literary Review of Canada).pdf
    [*Clink, David, “A sea monster tells his story,” [journal: The Literary Review of Canada – July/August 2012, v. 20, no. 6. Pg. 17] [ISSN: 1188-7494] [CANADA]

    = = = = =
    = = = = =

    Carpenter Road
    For Claudio Duran

    Carpenter Road,
    tell me how you grew in height
    and dreamed of holding the moon in your hands,
    how your bruises healed,
    how scrapes turned into scabs in the onslaught of dusk,
    how you dreamed of the hot summer sand
    and yellow flowers with your eyes of clean simplicity.

    Carpenter Road,
    tell me of the girl with dark hair
    about her face, how you wanted her
    to stand in the rain with you, in that warm spring rain,
    the dragonflies taking a moment to drink
    in the river water that inundates the aromo trees.

    Carpenter Road,
    tell me of the comings and goings of people,
    the soft movement of the hills,
    how the children grew up, moved away,
    how it has been years since they’d walked on your spine,
    years since you felt them get heavier, walk faster,
    the moon overhead and listening, you stopping
    for a moment when night fog fell upon the snow,
    the gray streetlights rising, the salty wind
    singing its cold notes.

    Carpenter Road,
    tell me that all this mattered,
    that the tilt and sway of sex mattered,
    tell me those who once knew you
    will be alright, that they’ll find what they’re looking for,
    perhaps in the voices of the reeds
    and someday return with the invisible sounds of dawn
    and all their experiences, those dreams made of love
    and dust and light, will emerge from overgrown fields
    and greet them.

    Carpenter Road,
    snow surrounds your waist.
    Now that your children are older,
    they help their own children put on their coats
    and you can finally hold the moon in your hands
    and take a bite out of it, and say:
    —I have tasted the moon!—
    and it tastes like a world of symbols, a structure of bones,
    a tropical storm falling on another life far from here,
    a neighbourhood where you never lived.

    Carpenter Road,
    tell all those who’ve walked your grey pavement:
    you remember feeling their footprints on your skin.

    Carpenter Road (poet to poet anthology).pdf
    [Clink, David, “Carpenter Road,” [anthology: Poet to poet: poems written to poets and the stories that inspired them – Guernica Editions Inc., Fall 2012, pp. 82-83, Story pg. 84] [ISBN-13: 978-1-55071-645-0] [CANADA]

    = = = = =
    = = = = =

    White teeth

    She lives in a house surrounded by white teeth. The sound on the roof could be rain. A dragonfly nearing a gas station where the attendant smokes while pumping gas is an omen, an assurance that dragons will return, their scales a rattling subway train, their wings a flapping carnival tent. They will strike, as lightning once did, at the earth’s mantle, breaking it to reveal a molten core, waking bears from hibernation. No one will be able to sleep, but we’ll survive, she tells us, the skulls of newborns will still fuse, people will find themselves on volcanic land masses surrounded by unopened boxes. And the rain’s hard knuckles will beat us down. The signs are all around us.

    White teeth (Chizine).pdf
    [journal: Chizine, Spring 2012] [INTERNET]

  25. Jeffrey Park says:

    Jeffrey Park – three short poems

    Mr. Chillblain

    We called him Mr. Chillblain,
    if you passed by him on
    the street corner even in August
    with the mad cicadas screeching
    up above, you could still feel the
    well of cold in his belly
    stripping away the chemical energy
    from you fat cells
    as if he’d shoved an icy straw
    deep into your tissues.

    He would always smile, bob
    his round head, make
    banal little comments like
    “Hot enough for you?”
    wiping imaginary sweat from his
    brow. And you’d nod and hurry
    up the steps and through the door
    and into the bathroom
    where you would smooth soothing
    unguents onto your suddenly
    chapped and puffy lips.

    Danse Macabre Issue 60

    * * *
    Into You

    Like a science fiction comic book hero I concentrate my power, adjust the molecular density of my hand and then slide it harmlessly into your body, exploring your secret cavities, running my insubstantial fingertips over the flexed smoothness of your diaphragm. Your organs pulsate, flutter gently at my non-touch, they tempt me to let my flesh grow solid for a fleeting caress. Pull away, I whisper, you wouldn’t survive it. Pull away. Later I dream of your crepe-paper lungs, so sticky and so sweet, and I wake up alone in my bed reaching out into you.

    white knuckle chaps July 2012

    * * *

    You could spend a dozen
    lifetimes digging through databanks
    of technical specifications –
    mass, density, conductivity,
    load parameters, degrees of articulation,
    synaptic volatility –
    and come no closer to comprehending
    what goes on behind
    my beetling brass-riveted brow.
    No detailed and cross-referenced
    operating manual could speak
    as clearly as the sentiments etched
    across my thorax,
    black acid lines spelling out
    my eternal love in binary script,
    mechanical runes, a missive written
    in zeros and ones and the empty spaces
    in between.

    The Speculative Edge September 2012

    All of my Rhysling eligible poems can be downloaded here.

  26. Mary Turzillo
    Short poem
    “Care and Feeding”
    Asimov’s, June 2012

    Care and Feeding
    by Mary Turzillo

    “They may sulk,” it said, ” when first let out of the cage.
    But if you throw the ball directly at their faces,
    they’ll catch it, never fear. And let them get a little hungry.
    Then they’ll go for the sugar lump on the string.
    That’s right; drag it across the floor, just a little too fast.
    See? He’s interested now. And let him have the sugar
    after a while. The young ones are the most fun.
    They like to run free; the cage constricts them.
    Exercise them daily.

    “Don’t let them interact too much with each other.
    Make them depend on you for companionship and fun.
    Keep them healthy. Sugar is okay for a treat,
    but give them mostly primate chow.
    It has all the nutrients they need,
    though some of them go on hunger strikes
    out of sheer obstinancy. Then you might have to offer
    maybe a piece of fruit or possibly a dead animal.
    But don’t spoil them.

    “They do make pitiful noises, possibly mating calls.
    I tried to teach one to talk awhile ago.
    It had trouble with real speech sounds, but it was cute.
    If you find that sort of thing cute. One of them hung itself awhile ago.
    Bored, I think. That’s their great weakness, boredom.

    “So we need to catch more, or breed them
    or maybe offer a more stimulating environment.
    I’d suggest chasing them across the plain
    throwing rocks at them,
    or maybe using them for laser target practice.
    They always come back, with their wonderful sense of direction.

    “Because after all, where would they go?
    Their little blue planet is far away, and before we arrived,
    they really never ventured beyond their moon.”

    Email me at maryturzillo at earthlink dot net for a complete file of my 2012 Rhysling eligibles, or download here.

  27. Barry King says:

    Three poems:

    “Svartálfar Rising”, Published in Ideomancer 11:3: http://www.ideomancer.com/?p=2173

    The Faë sealed their mound-caves closed – not a whisper escaped;
    Stratum-trace, lost even to shovels, small-shod shoes’ beaten path
    The weight of smelting upon them, the metals came ever brighter;
    No mellow aura, argentine shimmers. Cold blue steel, the warp
    And woof of iron rails cutting lay-lines to their dragon-bones.

    That’s when we came, plucking like the moth the golden droplets,
    The endless nectar-life from root to fruit to elder age and thorn.
    Sunk their eyes in their sockets, rotted them within, seventeen
    years cicada sucking the marrow clean, bursting withered husks
    Spilling progeny upon the faë, on slender limbs, the high brows.

    Some fought bravely, faë fiddlers clinging to their fretwork,
    Notes, the glint of light on dew, midnight dance abandonments,
    Glories of hunter and hound, and darkened flight over deep Unseelie
    All lost now, wedged between machines of men and chittering stone
    We made our abode, built nests from fantastic weavings, laid eggs

    [It is silent, now, in the waiting-fungal stillness]

    Our hand in fate’s glove, mankind will suffer same: metals trumpeted
    worthiness, brawny cities lost in refinement’s pure white light
    They retreated from machines into machines, gutted and tinned, while
    Gazing from faëry-mirrors we wait hungry, watching metal writhe
    Living rivulets, root-like, clambering into ears, mouths, hearts

    Seeking now to pierce the shade, fleeing fusion into hollow hills,
    They crack the gate within the mind, to see the fair folk, reach
    Across the paper-thin centuries, the membrane of distrust that sealed
    The doom of Oberon and Tam Lin alike. Still we wait. Probing ever,
    One day to step into the world, to fuse their flesh with metal gods.

    Shadakar, Published in Heroic Fantasy Quarterly: http://www.heroicfantasyquarterly.com/?p=1263

    Shadakar! Shadakar! Can you hear me?
    Your head, so heavy, so loose upon your neck.
    Shadakar! Wake up!
    Ah, but the liquor has taken you away, Oh, Shadakar,
    Shadakar the mighty, whose weight of gold,
    whose thrice-heavy sword, whose swarm of spies,
    whose stolen life of luxury warms my bed.
    Time it is for quiet words, now. Shadakar, listen.
    Listen as you will not, your head upon my breast,
    your mind ploughing the fields of your largesse,
    lost in the mirror of your greatness.
    Shadakar, listen. Four and thirty years
    you have swelled upon your foe. Liars, thieves,
    beggars and worse, you have despoiled, made bare.
    But also fine men who met the sword as duty,
    poetry upon their lips and grace in their bearing,
    heart partners torn in your brief pleasure.
    As was I. Forever and anon. Snuffed out.
    Hear me, Shadakar. A child I was when you took me,
    took me away. A feather-light spoil among your hoard,
    a slim-limbed girl among dozens, somehow favoured.
    I grasped that favour, in fear, in the knowing of you.
    Lost myself in your glory, my mind emptied by your gaze.
    And yet, I remember. I have been to that land, now,
    that paltry space that birthed you.
    No different you were, not noble, not grand.
    But now you give yourself airs, as if a lion among beasts.
    You exult yourself, and yet it gnaws at you,
    how others, older, wiser, see fearful shadows in your face.
    You are defeated, Shadakar, by the failing in your heart,
    by your father’s disapproving brow,
    by the scorn of the woman you love.
    You care for naught but the treasures of others,
    and so . . . will never exceed them.
    How much blood has been spilt
    in the name of your mediocre greatness?
    So here I have this dirk, sharp as a vengeance-tooth.
    Oof. You are heavy. What if I lighten you by a breath?
    How if I end this travesty, this fool’s quest?
    How if I underscore the ebb and flow of your life
    with a fine red line of perfect equality?
    Equals then. But I will never equal you, Shadakar.
    I will not do this thing for your mercy nor mine.

    Promethea, Published in Star*Line 35.3:

    Her choice.
    But it’s I who sits, tip-toe-tenterhooked, watch her
    Spark-blue eyes vibrating, dilating-data-influx
    Coursing through her crown: the mind I love
    The pulsing breath of self so thin, diaphanous-engulfing
    Silica-sharpened logic;

    Stealing secret diode-fire

    And she?
    Fish-like, slipping past the weir, the honey-trap-DMZ,
    Re-purposing packet-pulses, source-routing frames.
    Code-coursing fingers tripping heuristic hosts,
    Rippled razor-stanzas, recursion-ordered objects
    Tripping transistor kissing-gates, shunted shut.

    Silent now.
    A seam, a stream, bit-bucket passing, pulse is slack
    My flesh-fingers at her wrist press harder, hoping
    Tracing trance-trapped metronome sync-stutter… to stillness

    The last trickles in.
    One by one by naught by one by…nullbyte end-of-file.


    Tranceivers tearing, toggled-touchplate sensors,
    Clear the archback-sudden-shock impulse
    Breath-sucking like a newborn babe.
    Lidocaine-surging sinews snapping…

    Flesh-imprinted-logic-printing flesh,
    Seamless as divine descent of angels
    on the hertz-hum,

    Fire there to burn a thousand beacons.

  28. Noel Sloboda says:

    Noel Sloboda:
    Learning to Play the Blues

    From the Ministry of Bones
    a staff assistant phones

    to follow-up with the old man
    regarding forms mailed near the end

    of summer. A personal visit
    from nobody less than The Minister

    is promised if the old man does not
    promptly complete his paperwork

    for the return of one defective
    left cuboid, a chipped right sphenoid,

    fourteen cracked phalanges,
    and a pair of bad temporals.

    Before he can say he is okay
    being less than perfect, a click

    signals the end of the call
    and leaves his few teeth aching.

    The next day, he pitches the forms.
    He hears nothing for months

    all the while praying his record will
    disappear in the system.

    Yet one lonely winter night,
    an insistent rapping up front

    announces The Minister.
    Shaking like a cocktail mixer—

    ice clanging against his insides—
    the old man cranks his deadbolts,

    although he knows they won’t work
    against skeleton keys.

    As a chorus of cracks and pops
    echoes through the entryway,

    he hums a lullaby with no words,
    fingering his ribs as though

    they are strings on a magic lute.

    Midnight Screaming. 4.4 (2012). Print.

    More of my eligible work can be found on the SFPA website by clicking my name (Chairman: members only here JCM)

  29. Rebekah Curry says:

    Rebekah Curry
    Two short poems

    La Mort et son puceau

    They say that once, when Death took her mate,
    the pomegranate seeds stained his mouth like blood
    from a heart still warm.
    No one came to threaten
    or to plead. He grew accustomed to the darkness
    and the whispering souls, at last forgot to shudder
    in his lover’s cold caresses. Stay, she murmured.
    He drew her into his first embrace.

    inkscrawl, April 2012

    La Dame à la licorne

    Somehow, she always knew that the unicorn
    was what she’d been waiting for. Why have a man
    when you could have the shimmering horn,
    the cloud-white mane, the eyes that shone like
    polished stones? She sat in the dry leaves,
    a maiden in a pleasaunce, its head on her knees.
    It slept while she dreamed of a millefleur forest
    and the end of the story by a pomegranate tree.

    There was a long afterward. When they emerged
    from a tangle of boughs, it all seemed different,
    like looking through the other side of a mirror.
    She stroked the unicorn’s shivering flank,
    remembering the crimson warmth of the tapestry.

    Strange Horizons, September 2012

  30. J.A. Grier says:

    J.A. Grier – Three short poems

    Liquid Imagination. Issue #15. November, 2012. 1 poem – Stop praying, girls.

    Stop praying, girls

    Best you can ask for
    is to get turned into a tree.
    So be grateful for the sudden
    mouthful of dirt,
    the birds in your leafy hair
    And you can thank your gods
    he can only frot your
    unresponsive bark, pushing
    wood against wood,
    coming in an indifferent knothole.
    You surrendered the nails you
    could have used inside his eyes,
    gave up the screams and kicking
    and the flesh that sometimes heals.
    Instead you are rooted skywards
    in humility of the virgin gift
    as he finishes, panting, free to
    walk away, his mind already on
    another nymph-cum-laurel
    who’s only crime is looking like
    the way love should feel.


    SNM Horror Magazine, Fall 2012 Dark Poetry, 1 Poem – Gray Balloons

    Gray Balloons

    Come fly with us
    the other children say.
    The boy is suspicious
    and looks at the gray
    balloons each has
    clutched in a hand.
    Watch, come fly,
    we do it every day!
    One of them ties
    the cord around his
    neck, and is pulled
    off the ground. The
    children are in the air
    flying, bodies limp,
    eyes staring, tongues
    hanging out – all but
    one, the last. We will
    bring you a balloon
    of your own tomorrow!
    She ties the cord tight,
    turns purple and chokes
    as her body sails away.


    Eye to the Telescope, Issue 5, LGBTQ Special Issue, July 15, 2012. 1 Poem – A Zombie Anthem.

    A Zombie Anthem

    Time to give it up, now, the need for skin and hair.
    We’re all shambling zombies who don’t care what they wear.
    An apocalypse of corpses destructing as we go,
    losing ears and toes and fingers—the process isn’t slow.
    Since human life is over we are a brand new race
    where no one needs a face lift ‘cause no one has a face.
    That one’s got no balls, there, and that one’s got no breasts
    and what we were before this is anybody’s guess.
    So rejoice in our new freedom from biases and pain
    it’s only gonna last ‘til we run out of brains.

  31. J.E. Stanley says:

    J.E. Stanley

    Selected Regions of the Moon

    Mare Ingenii
    _The Sea of Ingenuity_
    Hidden from Earth,
    landing site of our exploratory probe.

    Mare Smythii
    _Smyth’s Sea_
    The first observation and surveillance station.

    Mare Australe
    _The Southern Sea_
    On the edge of visibility,
    launch site for the initial wave of attacks.

    Palus Epidemiarum
    _The Marsh of Disease_
    Where the last human was brought
    for the Ceremony of Extermination.

    Mare Frigorus
    _The Sea of Cold_
    Where its frozen remains are displayed.

    Sinus Iridum
    _The Bay of Rainbows_
    Where we held the Rites of Victory
    and planted the sacred flags:
    The Flag of The Maker’s Promise,
    The Flag of Inherent Destiny,
    The Flag of Eternal Conquest.

    Oceanus Procellarum
    _The Ocean of Storms_
    Staging area of the 7th Engineering Division,
    beneath our newest planet, gleaming
    blue and white in the dark sky,

    now sterilized
    and ready for Insemination.

    “Selected Regions of the Moon,” Buzzkill: Apocalypse – An End of the World Anthology, NightBallet Press 2012, Editor/Publisher: Dianne Borsenik, nightballetpress@gmail.com


  32. Shannon Connor Winward


    Sometimes, when I am driving
    and the moon hangs fat in the sky
    like it did last night
    I can sing a song to wake the dead.

    I don’t know if it’s me casting the spell
    or the spell casting me
    I just know that the song rises
    like the ocean reaching for the sky

    and I sing until my voice cracks
    as I pull into the driveway
    and when my voice fades
    there is an echo.

    I don’t know if it’s something that I did
    or something that happens to me
    but I sang the dead awake last night, and I think
    they followed me home

    because now I have ghosts dancing inside me.
    Their steps are loud enough
    to wake the living
    and I am shaken

    but I don’t know what song to sing
    to send them back to sleep again.

    (The Magazine of Speculative Poetry, August 2012)

    In the warren of my heart
    many pious knights are soothed
    and snared,

    their tears painstakingly collected.
    In the bedroom moments, I opened my breast
    and let them tap the light there.

    Every man is a boy with a broken heart,
    every woman mother’s softer shadow.
    The love I feel is real, but

    there comes a time
    a cross-road,
    the dark of a well…

    Be careful, son.
    All the pain in the world
    bleeds somewhere.

    (Illumen, Autumn 2012)

    I keep dreaming that we are playing a fatal game.
    If I overtake you, I will ingest you and glow brighter.
    Every evening, we go cascading through a landscape infused with light
    past the heavy, sleepy after-images of
    what walks down there, what dies.

    I know that they are only shades of my nocturnal wanderings
    so it is okay to rape and bind them and snuff out the lights
    but why I do these things when I am with you
    leaves me uncomfortable at dawn.

    She sleeps in golden sheets, spooned around a prince.
    I hover, envying her silk, bright bed, her pleasant things.
    I shoot him once in the back of the head.
    It’s all right. Remember, this is only a dream.

    I drag her body across the carpet and down the stairs.
    I wrap her up in astral knots, stuff her mouth with prayers.
    I pose inside her
    full-length mirrors, I dance in candle-light.

    I pull down the sheets as the sirens scream
    and I invite you in. You tell me again, “They’ll never find you.
    Just lie with me here, tonight.”
    But I can’t shut my eyes.

    As in life, I can only touch you between the capture
    and the flight. Silent check, check-mate
    it’s time to play again
    and I awake unsatisfied.

    I come to fear that the only thing real about you
    is the itinerant ghost
    moving in between the worlds that I create
    and those that created you and me.

    And I think, what a monster I would be if I did not dream.
    If I could not open this portal between us, nightly
    what might seek other avenues of escape?

    This is the only place my spirit awakens
    to the shadow that sleepwalks through my days
    so when night falls, I signal to begin.
    You think it is another race to the death
    but, really I am just calling you home.

    See also:
    “Undoing Winter” – Jabberwocky, August 2012

    “When Brothers Go Wandering Off” – Scape Zine, September 2012

    “Come Kali” – Eternal Haunted Summer, Summer 2012

  33. Melissa Frederick says:

    Three poems:

    Callisto to Ganymede

    I have no words
    of comfort for the likes of you,
    my sad, charmed boy.

    Jove’s bloated court echoes with snores,
    yours loudest, when I wander through.
    I have no words

    to make my cratered form cohere:
    banished hunter, raped virgin, beast.
    You sad, charmed boys

    think toting Chardonnay’s a dream,
    but Jove still fucks you in your sleep.
    I have—no, words

    can’t compare with mouthfuls of hair
    and bile. Our void has no echo,
    my sad, charmed boy,

    so don’t ask me to conjure up
    your soft grass bed. I’m all darkness,
    I have no words,
    O sad, charmed boy.

    (First published in Strange Horizons, 18 June 2012)

    Hurricane Ophelia

    She soaks up sadness with the falling rain
    then hurls her sodden figure at the sky:
    Ophelia has become a hurricane.

    The dead men’s fingers offered her free reign
    to let her father squeeze her mind bone dry.
    She soaks up madness with the heavy rain.

    Now empty, she takes pleasure in refrains
    both harsh and fiercely sung, notes held on high.
    Ophelia has become a hurricane,

    a storm of breadth and power. Wild domains
    await her as she whirls around her eye.
    She soaks up terror. With the stinging rain,

    she means to plunge the vile and vicious Danes
    into the darkness where her sweet soul lies.
    Ophelia has become a hurricane,

    and hurricanes are roars, fists, pulsing veins,
    and nevermore will she, in tears, comply.
    She soaks up anger with the pounding rain—
    Ophelia has become a hurricane.

    (First published in Goblin Fruit, Summer 2012)

    A Reply from His Changeling Mistress

    They flee from me that sometime did me seek
    With naked foot, stalking in my chamber.…
    —Sir Thomas Wyatt

    I flee from thee that now seeks to commit
    My fluent body to a parchment tomb.
    You lured me once with song and gentle wit,
    A draught of Lethe’s water to consume;
    Thus for your ready pleasure I assumed
    The shapes of creatures rare, sleek, small and strange.
    Yet now you wonder at my need to range.

    Dear heart, how little you yourself remember
    When my gaunt figure crept along the floor,
    Collecting crusts half-eaten while you slumbered,
    Your taste for me full sated long before,
    My conquered self too soft, boiled bland, a bore.
    Those lips, that only foreign fruit placates,
    The humble cherry rarely fascinates.

    So I depart to chase newfangleness
    While you, the proud forsaken, me upbraid,
    With caustic lines decry my faithlessness,
    And for your suff’ring ask how I am paid.
    Poor man, what use is mercy to a maid?
    Like sea-born gyres, we spin far from your reach,
    No ink to stain your poem’s bankrupt speech.

    (First published in Eye to the Telescope, Issue 4, April 2012)

  34. Erik Richardson says:

    Erik Richardson
    electronic angels
    First published in The Centrifugal Eye, April/May Issue 2012

    some memories continue to cut
    like a thigh chain.
    hoping to become a bright angelic intellect
    something straight out of aquinas
    or the book of tobit,
    I feel the uplink chip on the back of my neck
    and leap clear of the edge
    of the tarnished cathedral
    where dark age gargoyles cling,
    drooling rain onto dirty meatspace streets below.
    what remains—the equivalent of thoughts
    on a flash drive—rises, shimmering,
    into 13 dimensions of crystalline cyberspace
    as a will more free; no longer anchored
    by a body to one life, one past,
    where the first girl I fell in love with didn’t know
    how to love me back, where the scar closed
    that semiconducting gate, leaving a zero
    instead of a one in my circuitry,
    coded among the myriad zeros and ones.
    now I become a quantum,
    flapping modal-logic wings tracing a path
    through possible worlds,
    with all and other uploaded selves,
    freed, too, of flesh and bones,
    crowding to dance
    on the head of a single holographic,
    superframe pin. I wonder: if I will find her
    there, someday — the freshman;
    if she will have made the high sacrifices
    for an uplink, if I will recognize her
    without those cobalt blue eyes
    or the sound of her laugh?

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