the NHK guy comes through the electric security fence that hovers around my door—
(they have access like that)
—and tramples across the tatami of my dining room
he taps at the dynacurtain that i have my holoprojector hidden under
“get rid of that” he says and i comply with a nod seeing the social taser he has set
i can’t lose my peer-credibility value—i need to refinance this tiny 1DK of a cubbyhole next month
i draw the dynacurtain open and reveal a glimmering set of holos
magnificent and glorious with stereo-display and dual destabilizing reflective image compressors
he neither cares nor awes, his mustache straight his eyes neutral
he counts the voxels rote, impassive
and deducts the fare from my cred account
with a ding
there is no love for the holoprojector it is not a thing of beauty as i see it to be, as impressive as my deluxe selfdriver or chrome vertebrae drone
to him, it’s just another bit to count, a numerical figure attached to a ledger
— D.A. Xiaolin Spires
D.A. Xiaolin Spires is a female writer of color conducting research in Asian anthropology funded by a National Science Foundation fellowship. Some of her poems feature Japanese cultural elements understood by her having lived, and conducted research, in Japan. Her work appears in publications such as Liquid Imagination, Star*Line and Eye to the Telescope.
Editor’s Note: The 1DK image, Asian lingo for a Japanese traditional home—“Take Your Shoes Off Minka, or typical Japanese homes, are defined by tatami floor covering flooring, gliding doors, and wooden engawa outdoor patios. Another aspect that lingers also in Western-style…” (ApecEdu apecaccelerator.org) is combined with an abstract image of a robo-entity and its aircraft on its investigation of the narrator in the poem. An mp3 recording of Spires’ poem is performed by Dafydd McKimm:
Dafydd McKimm was born and grew up in the glove-shaped valleys of South Wales but now lives in the East Asian metropolis of Taipei, Taiwan. His short fiction has appeared in publications such as Deep Magic, Daily Science Fiction, Syntax & Salt, and Flash Fiction Online. You can out more about him and his work at www.dafyddmckimm.com.
I was born with a thick head of black hair: my father’s.
It survived the pulls, cuts, styling, dyes, creams, oils and gels throughout my teens.
Now it’s falling out in clumps along with my faith: the chemo is failing.
Who knew They would arrive in my lifetime? Who knew They could hold the answer to ridding us of it once and for all?
Now my hair is thinning, falling out in life’s natural cycle, as I tell my grandchild of the day They landed and changed our lives forever.
His eyes grow wide as he listens, and when the story ends, I ruffle up his thick head of black hair.
— L.P. Melling
L.P. Melling has prose poetry in ARTPOSTmagazine, The Molotov Cocktail, and L’Éphémère Review. He won the short story contest ran by the Russell Group of universities while completing a BA in English, and was a finalist for the Writers of the Future contest. When not writing, he works for a legal charity that advises and supports victims of crime.
When the last religion confesses its atrocities through the ages and shuts down shop for good,
when the fiery preachers and arrogant prophets of the last religion step down from their pulpits, cough up their crimes, cop to their hypocrisies, not be heard from again,
when the jeremiahs and end-of-the-worlders of the last religion trash their placards, throw off their robes, and dance naked through sprinklers in the park,
when the militant fanatics of the last religion surrender their arms and defuse their bombs and abandon their rhetoric to embrace life over death,
when the archaic rituals of the last religion are never performed except as reenactments in historical dramas,
we may inhabit a world where humanity and the sure light of reason illuminate the dark.
— Bruce Boston
Bruce Boston’s poems have appeared in Asimov’s SF, Analog, Weird Tales, Amazing Stories, Daily Science Fiction, Pedestal, Strange Horizons, the Nebula Awards Showcase and Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. His poetry has received the Bram Stoker Award, the Asimov’s Readers Award, and the Rhysling and Grand Master Awards of the SFPA. His 40th poetry collection, Artifacts, is available at Amazon and other online booksellers. His fiction has received a Pushcart Prize and twice been a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award (novel, short story). http://bruceboston.com/
Though new data now suggests snowstorms may rage on Mars
at night, microbursts of fluffed-up ice particles
rarely survive, subliming before they hit the ground,
draining away into equally invisible canals of Schiaparelli.
They leave behind only the unborn ghosts of snow angels never meant to be.
— Robert Borski
Robert Borski did not start writing poetry until he was in his middle 50s, but since then has had well over three hundred poems published and in such venues as Asimov’s, Strange Horizons, Dreams and Nightmares, and Star*Line, garnering along the way 14 Rhysling Award nominations. As a lifelong native of Wisconsin with its prolonged winters, he’s often fantasized about living offworld, on a planet where there is no snow. Unfortunately, as recent observations have demonstrated (see poem), it appears Mars will no longer be an option.
On midnight shadows he floats with the loons, pitching and casting his baited hook overboard, a bobber twitching as catfish nibble his mind, fiddle strung under his chin, a fishtailing grin in the ripples, he warbles maniacally. The sky drips moonshine into the pools in his eyes as he casts, spinning, flying on the spool, twisting as he loses grip and flutters away on currents, jigging in the depths while I weigh anchor. I smile as we laugh and reel down the river and he winks until only a grin remains in the stars.
— Alex Pickens
Alex Pickens has lived over 20 years in southern Appalachia, where he spends much of his time hiking, reading the Classics, and fingerpicking the blues. His work has recently been accepted by The Inkwell Journal, Maudlin House, Mad Scientist Journal (4 times), Gone Lawn, Pretty Owl Poetry, Brilliant Flash Fiction, Eastern Iowa Review, Jersey Devil Press, Crack the Spine, and Moonpark Review, while his flash fiction has been nominated for a Best Microfiction, 2018 anthology. He is a direct descendent of a Revolutionary War general nicknamed “The Wizard Owl.”
Editor’s Note: The silhouette of a man with his son in a boat fishing (pngtree) on the lake/moonlit waters (flyclip art).