The panting is the worst, it doesn’t stop
For hours after the moon’s gone, and it
Shakes the whole prison. I know their cage wheels
Absorb some of the motion, but the clop
Clip of wolf-claw on bars and the hit hit
Hit of dog-chain rattling in their cells feels
Like we are in some hurtling train, feels
Like we are in a cheap car that won’t stop
Until we can somehow manage to hit
Something very solid. I can’t stand it.
I hate everything about them, the clop,
The drool, the panting, the marking cage wheels
When they feel threatened by noisier wheels…
Still, I try to understand how it feels
To be a werewolf in a time-jail, clop
Clopping away forever. Time won’t stop
Because werewolves are stuck inside of it,
And can’t figure out how to bite/ gnaw /hit
Their way out before the full moon will hit
Again and they are left in there, where wheels
Just spin in place, and nothing to kill. It
Sucks for them; they know they’re trapped, but it feels
Like they won’t help themselves. It’s like they stop
Thinking once they’re captured. They only clop
Their claws, howl, gnaw and gnash all day. They clop
Even louder when any moon beams hit
Them. They can’t be blamed, really, they can’t stop
What they are. Our full moon’s a fake, it wheels
Over the jail any time a guard feels
Like wheeling it. The jail guards manning it
Don’t particularly care about it
Triggering curses, don’t give a dog clop
About what full moons do or how it feels
When random amounts of these full moons hit
Werewolves who can only run on cage wheels
And spin in circles. The guards never stop
To think about it. So the wolves are hit
Constantly. They pant. And clop. Their cage wheels
Spin. And it feels awful until they stop.
— Juleigh Howard Hobson
Juleigh Howard Hobson’s otherworldly writing has appeared in The Liar’s League, New Witch, Enchanted Conversation, Devolution Z, Champagne Shivers, History is Dead (Permuted Press), Loving The Undead (From The Asylum), Lost Innocence Anthology (Niteblade), Bits of the Dead & Vicious Verse (Coscom Entertainment), Mandragora (Scarlett Imprint) and many other places.
Editor’s Note: The sestina is often a perfect form to sustain tension in a narrative poem. The werewolf in a spherical cage is a composite image courtesy of Pinterest and A. Bill Miller.
Peeling skimmers off the windshield
I toss them in the bin
Fried, they make good eating
Doc Smith says to leave ‘em alone
“For your health” but I can’t do it
I share ‘em with the dog
He prefers them raw
The Kid says
isn’t it amazing we can eat them
them being aliens and all
tho she claims WE’RE the aliens
but just cos I wasn’t born here
that don’t convert me to alien
She also says they’re spat
Babies of some bigger critters
Big as houses maybe
Somethin’ that don’t want its babies et
Like I don’t want her et
But I tell her
Sure if she tasted like they do
I’m laughing still
Remembering the face she made
Before she run off
These skimmers are ‘bout done
Hope she gets back soon
Or she won’t get none
I hollered a bit ago
She didn’t answer
— David C. Kopaska-Merkel
David C. Kopaska-Merkel has been writing SF and fantasy since rock was young. He joined the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Ass’n (SFPA) in 1986, edited Star*line in the late ‘90s, and later served as SFPA President. Many of his poems have received Rhysling nominations, and he won the Rhysling award for best long poem in 2006 for “The Tin Men,” a collaboration with Kendall Evans. He was voted SFPA Grand Master in 2017. His poetry has been published in scores of venues, including Asimov’s, Strange Horizons, and Night Cry. A recent book, Footprints in Stone, is a nonfiction collaboration with Ron Buta. He edits and publishes Dreams and Nightmares, a genre poetry zine in its 31st year of publication. Blog at http://dreamsandnightmaresmagazine.blogspot.com/ featuring a daily poem. @DavidKM on Twitter. He lives in a centuried farmhouse that has been engulfed, but not digested, by a city.
Editor’s Note: David said this poem is “a tale of culture clash and willful ignorance.”
The octopus images are from the IconArchive superimposed on a car windshield.
We are simple creatures—part lung, part bladder—
twisted into shape, with buoyant hearts.
Dog, my blue lover, calls me his little pink monkey.
In the beginning, he is frisky with static electricity,
as am I, and we are much adored, but as the week
wears on, we begin to shrivel, losing tautness,
our skin wrinkling like the surface of stale pudding.
Soon, we no longer float, but drift along the floor,
barely lifting our noses in the breeze.
Our novelty with the children diminishes. Sally,
the monstrous giant, decides to put us out of our misery,
stomping on our rubber bodies with all of her might.
That three-year-old makes it impossible to breathe.
Thus, as we were called into life, so we go to our deaths—
what begins with a huff ends with a bang.
— Robert Borski
Robert Borski did not begin to write poetry until he was well into his 50’s, but in the decade since, his work has garnered nearly two-dozen award nominations (14 Rhysling, 8 Dwarf Star). While Blood Wallah, an earlier collection of his poems, is still available from Dark Regions Press, more recent work has been appearing semi-regularly in Asimov’s, Dreams & Nightmares, and Star*Line. A self-described late-blooming child prodigy, Robert continues to live in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, where he works at a local university. Editor’s Note: Robert says this of (an earlier version) of this poem, “among non-winners in last year’s SFPA Poetry Contest, the poem got a citation for excellence by judge Michael Kriesel.” The images that are configured together are from Pixabay (dog balloon) and Paul Smith (monkey balloon).
literally. They aren’t a substitute for a sex life. I’m tired
of having only half the parts for you, the strife
of you as just before we break all laws of man and god
you shout “I’m a sea cow!” and I say “you’re ten
kinds of wow” “oh you mean bow wow” Dammit I cry
foul. There’s no meeting you halfway, so
no. Not a sexy no. A Sex Ed no. A “no” means
no. But you wanna take the poems literally
like they’re gospel. So here I am, surf sounding “I told you so”
as the foam makes for a dirty shampoo of man-o-war
stings and flotsam. My toes sinking in sand as you sand
the softer parts of me as I wonder
if I have the sand to say so long, goodbye,
save these sins for someone a little
— David Arroyo
In 1985, David Arroyo was struck by a meteor. He was minding his own business, watching Aliens for the twenty-seventh time on HBO. Since then he’s been writing verse shimmering with the power cosmic. He’s been published by Burning Word, Stirring, and Abyss & Apex. He is a graduate of the Stonecoast MFA program. Editor’s Note: Pixabay’s Cassie Gorres provided the mermaid painting.
Loneliness is a hunger that sours the gut—but when cupboards
hold only crumbs, a woman can endure the absence
of laughter bubbling, can usher small bodies away
from her hearth. What matters what we strew—
white pebbles, lentils, or bread crusts? Whose lives
are the better to starve or plumb on confections and cake?
Yesterday, I drew the paths to home in marzipan
and then ate until I ached. Why do I never feel full?
Gingerbread cookies, peanut brownies, another scoop
of ice cream—even sweets bitter the bored tongue.
These woods fill with hungry things like me, a want
that guides into the underbrush,
while I crouch in preoccupation—food or children? Another meal
for a woodcutter or the stepchildren? Birds flit. Some peck
what settles apath. Others stand as white beacons.
In our kitchen, we have an object like a cage,
iron whorled, big enough to crawl inside. I keep my books there,
close the door, pretend they’re simple recipes to guard.
Except you, no one sits to eat what I bake—slumped shoulders, the axe
beside the kitchen door. You rub the calluses on your hand,
lingering over the cracks. I bring you hot, sweet
meat pie, watch your mouthfuls, until you ask for more.
When you reach for me, I feel your bones—fingers, jaw,
knobby shelf of hips. Is there nothing to eat
out there in the forest? I murmur against your throat, At least we have this warmth. But then, that boy and girl call out demands—
for their own warmth to consume on the porch. Mother,
they say. I shudder, sense what starves inside their skin.
Their little hands, sticky fingers I am unable to bear.
But with you, I no longer ache. I’m like a vase of jewels
and stones. Pull out any rock and worry it. Place a pin at your throat.
Slide onto a finger a promise sure to soften and reshape with time.
Have you had enough yet? you ask. My answer is never,
but instead we kiss, our mouths sweet
with sugared tarts. In the morning when they’ve left
with the last of the bread, I hide your axe.
— Andrea Blythe and Laura Madeline Wiseman
Andrea Blythe and Laura Madeline Wiseman’s collaborative poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Devilfish Review, Quail Bell Magazine, Faerie Magazine, The Drowning Gull, Yellow Chair Review, Strange Horizons, Rose Red Review, and the anthologies The World Retold (The Writers’ Guild of Iowa State University, 2016), Red Sky: poetry on the global epidemic of violence against women (Sable Books, 2016), Nasty Women Poets: An Unapologetic Anthology of Subversive Verse (Lost Horse Press, 2017), and They Said: A Multi-Genre Anthology of Contemporary Collaborative Writing (Black Lawrence Press, 2018).
Editor’s Note: The artwork is from a Russian site describing an open class in fine arts on a theme of “Houses for fairy-tale heroes” (the specific image is phpoPpyAD_Otkrytoe-zanyatie-domiki-skazochnyh-geroev_3.png)
The air tastes of magic
and even leaves flee the encroaching dark
Shadows now lengthen and pulsate
seeking clouds shot with hematite
Beware not only of the old herb-women
with their bent spines and crooked teeth
but the nubile graces of the green
with their promises of untamed passions
Pay more attention to the flickers of your eye
which hide laughing dangers
The sky promises change
The wind sings of judgment
I hear its call and see airships
of fairies in their diving swoops
I wish to join their dance
I have seen the lights of the will-o’-wisps
but know better than to follow where they lead
Return to your fortresses of reason
for tonight belongs to the deep magic
when stories are told with dirt and thunder
and rocks and storms and broken branches
The shadows of caves have bled into roads
The rivers engorge with anticipation
Prepare your fires and your food
Hold your souls close lest they slip
like leaves from near-barren trees
to join the twilight fall
— Richaundra Thursday (Federal Way, WA)
Richaundra Thursday is a lifelong writer, yet still a novice to the published world of speculative and fantastical poetry. When not filling every available notebook with ink scrawls, she teaches Secondary Social Studies in Washington State where she frequently utilizes sci-fi/fantasy literature to help students make connections with their subject matter. Occasionally, she takes a break from reading and writing to cook, play video games and going outside to glance at the sun during the eleven days a year it makes an appearance.
Editor’s Note: I was tempted to use the 1882 oil painting of a will-o’-the-wisp by Arnold Böcklin, but I found the Celtic Music image of an enchanted faerie forest to be more haunting and beautiful.
The large brown beasts
The people fled.
Only I remained.
I shot a few stragglers,
just to show these creatures
that I was on their side.
To be honest,
there was a perverse beauty
to the way the beasts
stomped on panicked city folk
or grabbed some with their massive jaws,
shook them like cloth dolls.
And it was a shame
when, having witnessed
what my weapon could do,
each wanted one for its own.
So blame me if,
when they get to your town,
they don’t come
trampling and gnawing
but hold back
and pick you all off
one by one.
My advice is
don’t fear progress.
There’s always a place for victims
in its heart.
— John Grey
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in the Tau, Studio One and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Naugatuck River Review, Abyss and Apex and Midwest Quarterly.
Editor’s Note: Steve Ryfle, author and historian of Godzilla, described Destoroyah as a ridiculous mix of Predator and SpaceGodzilla comparable to Megalon and Gigan. https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Destoroyah. The image is from a movie trailer.
I don’t mind the cold so much, but he does.
I can’t get him out of bed, just to walk around.
This isn’t good for your muscles, I say.
I would give him my own ration of broth
but it would never pass his clenched lips.
We have been in the bunker for many weeks.
Provisions and oxygen are almost gone,
& above, the unending thunder of bombs.
Here was a new start for all of us from Earth.
We thought wars were over, we believed
our nations would settle here in peace.
We spoke a common language,
exchanged recipes, cosmetics,
tips for ailments like headaches
we get from breathing recycled air.
Came the day our governments intervened,
& we were not allowed to fraternize.
Birth control was a part of our contract,
but sometimes, something happens—
something that is not supposed to be.
He has withdrawn from life, from us.
Our child will die with me.
All this way we’ve come,
& nothing is settled here.
— Marge Simon
Marge Simon lives in Ocala, Florida and is married to Bruce Boston. Her stories have appeared in Daily Science Fiction, The Pedestal Magazine, Morpheus Tales and many more. She won the Strange Horizons Readers Choice Award 2010, the Bram Stoker Award ® three times for Poetry, the Rhysling Award and the Grand Master Award from the SF Poetry Association, 2015. She has work in Chiral Mad 3 and Scary Out There, You Human. Upcoming fiction: Chiral Mad 4 2017, The Beauty of Death, 2017. www.margesimon.com
Editor’s Note: Artist’s concept of astronaut working on Mars NASA wants to send humans to Mars 15 to 20 years from now. Future Mars explorers could uncover evidence that life has existed – or even might exist now – on Mars, answering one of the most basic questions humans have of the universe. A fleet of robotic spacecraft and rovers already are on and around Mars, dramatically increasing our knowledge about the Mars and paving the way for future human explorers. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_mission_to_Mars
You lean into this tree as if its roots
struck something made from wood
no longer moves, became an island
with mountains laid out in rows
and though they have no arms
they open them when someone
is left close by –under such a weight
their hands break apart the Earth
from feeling their way around it
grave after grave, blinded by moonlight
as the chunks you never saved
form this nearly empty night
with nothing but the bright green hole
this dying tree drains, keeps dry
between what you wanted and the shine.
— Simon Perchik
Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, Forge,Poetry, Osiris, The New Yorker and elsewhere. His most recent collection is The Osiris Poems published by box of chalk, 2017. For more information, including free e-books and his essay titled “Magic, Illusion and Other Realities,” please visit his website at www.simonperchik.com.
Editor’s Note: Photograph of full moon through trees by John C. Mannone (March 4, 2017), enhanced with special effects.