I Can’t Break Up with a Mermaid

You want something torrid,

a swan dive into jagged rocks and just enough

sea foam to make the blood look

pretty in the moonlight.

I do not want to look pretty in the moonlight,

to stumble back to the surf with

salt in my wounds, feeling like

a poorly cured chunk of ham.

Ship. Number. Three. You aren’t supposed to take

those poems of siren songs and shipwrecks

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

more…original.

— 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.

the path that cuts through famine


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)

Autumn Twilight

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.

Progress

The large brown beasts
drew closer.
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.

Settling on Mars


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, 2017www.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.

Issue 35 Stories

The Dreamstealer of Tremayne Quay

The Dreamstealer of Tremayne Quay

They say that in your last moments, you can feel your mind start to empty, your memories and dreams stealing away from your body to find their home in the sky.

Read more

Real Flowers Don’t Have Loose Threads

Real Flowers Don’t Have Loose Threads

Rosenblum rose from the black soil in which he slept because the incoming call would not stop. He drew his root system back into his body and stepped out of the bed onto unsteady legs.

Read more

Supersedure

Supersedure

“Personal Transport,” thought Queen. They used to be called cars. But, then again, people used to actually drive themselves.

Read more

A Woman Named Life

A Woman Named Life

I had her once. I was young and stupid, seeking a life of adventure—assuming my return with riches would make her happy.

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Along The Hudson

Along The Hudson

My pulse quickened as the wakening island of Manhattan came into sight further down the Hudson. Our pre-dawn dirigible flight from Montreal to the airship port on Governors Island, New York had been uneventful...

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Market Rat

Market Rat

Tarrel pried the key from the mummified corpse's fingers as he knelt in the cobbled alley. Keys protected things you could trade for food in the market, and he had lived off the bazaar's trash heaps for days. All he needed to do was learn what the key opened.

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The Spring Clearing

The Spring Clearing

Thawed from their icy tombs, they chased off any travelers thick enough to traverse the gorge alone.

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Issue 35 Poetry

If You Plan to Trap More Werewolves, Don’t Send Them Here

If You Plan to Trap More Werewolves, Don’t Send Them Here

The panting is the worst, it doesn’t stop For hours after the moon’s gone, and it Shakes the whole prison.

Read more

Skimming

Skimming

Peeling skimmers off the windshield I toss them in the bin Fried, they make good eating

Read more

Balloon Animals

Balloon Animals

We are simple creatures—part lung, part bladder— twisted into shape, with buoyant hearts. Dog, my blue lover, calls me his little pink monkey.

Read more

I Can’t Break Up with a Mermaid

I Can’t Break Up with a Mermaid

You want something torrid, a swan dive into jagged rocks and just enough sea foam to make the blood look pretty in the moonlight.

Read more

the path that cuts through famine

the path that cuts through famine

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.

Read more

Autumn Twilight

Autumn Twilight

The air tastes of magic and even leaves flee the encroaching dark Shadows now lengthen and pulsate seeking clouds shot with hematite

Read more

Progress

Progress

The large brown beasts drew closer. The people fled. Only I remained.

Read more

Settling on Mars

Settling on Mars

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.

Read more

*

*

You lean into this tree as if its roots struck something made from wood no longer moves, became an island

Read more