Save Our Souls


Wedged in the captain’s chair, our thighs pressed together, the scream of klaxons making my wife’s words impossible to hear (our lips move I love you I love you) the arm of the chair digging into my side, my hands clenched on the transmitter . . . – – – . . . SOS . . . – – – . . . her hands white-knuckled on the yoke, pulling, pulling. The crash is a tooth-jarring jolt, a sudden stop to flight, then smoke, darkness, more smoke. Two inter-solar spies climbing out of the twisted wreck, becoming like two women happy to be alive. Lucky, kissing her over and over, holding each other. Laughter. Breathable atmosphere, green mountains, white beaches, blue water. The information we stole from the enemy was still intact, encrypted under our SOS for Command to find us on this out-of-the-way paradise world, with trees like palms, heavy with something like coconuts, and a sea teaming with something like fish. My wife, restless, always building, salvaging, discussing enemy plans, until I wrap her hands in mine and tell her to look around us. For the first time in our marriage, danger is far away, life does not seem so short and desperate, and we are surrounded by peace and beauty. So we lay down our burdens of duty for a little while, eat charred flesh and lick the grease from our fingers, make love in the sand, and start to really know each other, waiting for a rescue neither of us is quite sure we want. When Command arrives to fly us back into war, my wife takes my shaking hands in hers and tells me as long as we remember to pause, and look around, we will always find this place together. And she is right.

 

— Karen Bovenmyer

 

Karen Bovenmyer earned an MFA in Creative Writing: Popular Fiction from the University of Southern Maine. She teaches and mentors students at Iowa State University and serves as the Assistant Editor of Escape Artists’ Mothership Zeta Magazine. She is the 2016 recipient of the Horror Writers Association Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Scholarship and her poems have been nominated for the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s (SFPA) Dwarf Star (short form) and Rhysling (long form) awards. Her fiction and poetry appears in more than 40 publications and her first novel, Swift for the Sun, will be available from Dreamspinner Press on March 27, 2017. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in Abyss and Apex Magazine, Off the Coast: Maine’s International Poetry Journal, The Skinny Poetry Journal, Remixt Magazine, Strange Horizons Magazine, The Were-Traveler E-Zine, ZingaraPoet.com, as well as the SFPA’s Eye to the Telescope Magazine, Dwarf Stars and Rhysling Award anthologies, Amour: Love Poems Anthology, Corpse Roads Horror Poetry Anthology (Folk Horror Revival), My Cruel Invention: A Contmporary Poetry Anthology (Meerkat Press) and the Shortest Day, Longest Night Anthology (Arachne Press). She can be found on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter through her website, http://karenbovenmyer.com/

 

 

Editor’s Notes: A spaceship (Pixabay 1839722_1280), crash landed on an alien world, creates that sense of desolation in this love prose poem.

The Sandman’s Children

The Sandman’s Children
            “[W]ho is this naughty Sandman,
            who always drives us away from Papa?”
 
            “He is a wicked man who comes to children
             when they won’t go to bed…
            He puts their eyes in a bag
            and carries them to the crescent moon
             to feed his own children…”
                        —E.T.A. Hoffmann, The Sandman

The moon is full of eyes,
coated with delicate
dust, a thin crust

of sifted snow.
Our favorite
confection—

gifts from Father
and his white canvas sack
that would rupture with a flourish,

a prize!
salty offering!

in each of our beaks.
And while we fed,
he’d retell the story of sight:

the source of illusion,
of desire, of sin
its portals once thought
to emit their own light.

We’d imagine
glowing threads,
spun sugar and fire

stretching from our stomachs,
forming webs some creature

could perceive
with its apertured organs.
A traveling conjecture: our lives,
our dreams, our joy!

But no more. Daddy vanished
in alien water, a stockpile
of soft spheres left behind

in every crater,
keeping track
of our fear.

What powers forged
such wretched objects?

Once sweet, now they’re odium
with blades in their bellies,

burning beads
that never sleep.

 — Melissa Frederick

Melissa Frederick is a writer and freelance medical editor from suburban Philadelphia. Her poetry and prose have appeared in numerous publications, including Crab Orchard Review, DIAGRAM, Strange Horizons, Mythic Delirium, Goblin Fruit, Spectral Realms, Mid-American Review, Mithila Review, Heron Tree and is forthcoming in Oxford Poetry. Her chapbook, She, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2008. Follow her on Twitter at @msficklereader.

Editor’s Notes: The associated image by Johanna Öst (http://www.johannaost.com)
used with permission, “speaks” to German story by E. T. A. Hoffmann (1776–1822). He wrote an inverse depiction in 1816 of the lovable character in a story called Der Sandmann, which showed how sinister such a character could be made. According to the protagonist’s nurse, he threw sand in the eyes of children who wouldn’t sleep, with the result of those eyes falling out and being collected by the Sandman, who then takes the eyes to his iron nest on the Moon, and uses them to feed his children. The protagonist of the story grows to associate this nightmarish creature with the genuinely sinister figure of his father’s associate Coppelius. In Romanian folklore there is a similar character, Mos Ene (Ene the Elder). (Cited from Wikipedia.)

Issue 33 Poetry

Creationism Workers

Creationism Workers

You think you had a bad day: I hit the wrong key, wiped out Three finished star systems,

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After the Night Ride

After the Night Ride

To be honest, when you gave your trollish roar last night, I wanted to place my fingers over yours on the ignition and remove the keys.

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As Mad as the Mist and the Sea

As Mad as the Mist and the Sea

“I cannot linger long” First words my selkie said to me, Fierce eyes black as obsidian

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Haiku Swarm

Haiku Swarm

Black beetles crackle Beneath my tan, sandaled feet My life marked like ink

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Desire Songs

Desire Songs

It’s the queen he needs to appease, stridulations scraping on his carapace. Death might reward his gentle overtures as he advances through her silken web.

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Sleeping through the End Days

Sleeping through the End Days

Horsemen in black boots shine against the dead streets, peering in each window, smashing in every door.

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Save Our Souls

Save Our Souls

Wedged in the captain’s chair, our thighs pressed together, the scream of klaxons making my wife’s words impossible to hear

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The Sandman’s Children

The Sandman’s Children

The moon is full of eyes, coated with delicate dust, a thin crust

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Issue 33 Stories

River Witch

River Witch

I first saw Melusina perched on a rock alongside the narrow river that runs through our local park. I assumed she was wearing a swimsuit, but her long auburn hair concealed it.

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On the Other Side

On the Other Side

A treasure box had seemed like the perfect birthday gift for a little brother who was always collecting things. At six, it had been hockey cards. At seven, the bones of whatever unfortunate animal carcass he could find around the yard or the beach.

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Dead End

Dead End

The roar of his engine and the sharp whisper of the wind cut through his open windows. Slipstream fingers reached in with the noises and tousled his hair. Beneath skeleton branches that scraped across the black ocean known to mankind as the night sky, Arthur drove.

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The Bones of Olak-Koth

The Bones of Olak-Koth

The current roared over the black clay of the plains of Shoorm, carrying with it the thick burnt scent of the volcanic wastes. Sunlight was scarce this close to the Verge, falling to the plain like a bloodfog.

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