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
Stone Telling 8, Together, Apart. Edited by Rose Lemberg and Shweta Narayan. August, 2012.
Geoffrey A. Landis:
backwards and forward in time–
maybe sideways, too.
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
“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
Ereshkigal’s Proposal to Hades
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,
I am not sun-dappled,
I am not light,
When they wore roses,
I wore asphodel.
When they laughed,
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,
I know the labyrinth.
I can dance the tunnels
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
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.
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
if not for being opened,
stitched upon myself –
I do not know who I might have been.
The Oracle Never Dances
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
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
like ribbons trailing behind,
(I asked her once
if she tangled them
She did another shot
and looked away.)
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
David Glen Larson:
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:
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)
TWO SHORT POEMS
“A Conflicted Soul” 49 lines
“Pet Dragon” 20 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, email@example.com
table of contents: http://www.talesofthetalisman.com/Tales8-1-TOC.html
“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, firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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
my own sweet foolish lump of fur
who seems as anchored to the Earth
as you and me –
I’ve seen him levitate, I’ve seen him
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
He also walks through solid walls, but
don’t they all?
(“Their Quantum Toy”, Star*Line 35.1, February 2012)
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)
(complete portfolio of poetry published in 2012: http://tigerinthematchstickbox.blogspot.de/2012/12/works-published-in-2012.html)
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
that you can make a man from mud
a golem of earth;
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,
and I imagine
I might feel you stir inside me,
moving in my belly, the kiln that never burned
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)
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.
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
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
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–
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
She is the tree
sheltering the nest.
paw—one extra or
one less bit
on the helix twist
four separate fingers
an opposable thumb
and the cat lounging in her lap
could sit upright
Also see my poem “Casting the Future” in STAR*LINE 35.3. July-Sept. 2012
Dennis M. Lane
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,
The world holds its breath.
Ichor flows down pale skin,
In Glorious Technicolor.
Furtive tongues lick lips.
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
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)
(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
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
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?
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.
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
An instant and our innocence
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
Sally Rosen Kindred
two short poems
“What the Lost Girls Know,” Kenning Journal, Issue 3, March 17, 2012
What the Lost Girls Know
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.
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
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 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.
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
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—
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
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
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
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
Lesley Wheeler, Three Short Poems
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)
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
David Clink, three short poems:
A sea monster tells his story
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]
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For Claudio Duran
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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]
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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]
Jeffrey Park – three short poems
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
* * *
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
The Speculative Edge September 2012
All of my Rhysling eligible poems can be downloaded here.
“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.
“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:
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
Stealing secret diode-fire
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.
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…
Seamless as divine descent of angels
on the hertz-hum,
Fire there to burn a thousand beacons.
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)
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
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
who’s only crime is looking like
the way love should feel.
SNM Horror Magazine, Fall 2012 Dark Poetry, 1 Poem – 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.
Selected Regions of the Moon
_The Sea of Ingenuity_
Hidden from Earth,
landing site of our exploratory probe.
The first observation and surveillance station.
_The Southern Sea_
On the edge of visibility,
launch site for the initial wave of attacks.
_The Marsh of Disease_
Where the last human was brought
for the Ceremony of Extermination.
_The Sea of Cold_
Where its frozen remains are displayed.
_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.
_The Ocean of Storms_
Staging area of the 7th Engineering Division,
beneath our newest planet, gleaming
blue and white in the dark sky,
and ready for Insemination.
“Selected Regions of the Moon,” Buzzkill: Apocalypse – An End of the World Anthology, NightBallet Press 2012, Editor/Publisher: Dianne Borsenik, email@example.com
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
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
the dark of a well…
Be careful, son.
All the pain in the world
(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.
“Undoing Winter” – Jabberwocky, August 2012
“When Brothers Go Wandering Off” – Scape Zine, September 2012
“Come Kali” – Eternal Haunted Summer, Summer 2012
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)
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)
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?