*

 

At the end this sand coming by
covers you with soft flowers
that long ago dried as footsteps

still treading inside some shallow grave
smothered as afterward and dust
–you loved her the way the Earth

keeps warm and between two suns
place to place what’s left
you walk without looking down

though your arms are closing
have grown together a single fingertip
touching these shells and pebbles.

 

— Simon Perchik

 

Simon Perchik also has poetry appearing in Partisan Review, The Nation, The New Yorker and elsewhere.

 

Editor’s note: This imagistic and surreal poem might have many interpretations. One of them is suggested here with an image of a mysterious cross encrusted with marine sediment and organisms that was washed up on a Ft. Lauderdale beach (https://www.travelandleisure.com/syndication/fort-lauderdale-beach-cross-washed-up ) bordered by roses from clip art—life contrasting death.

the NHK guy

 

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.

 

 

They brought us the cure for H-loss

 

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 ARTPOST magazine, 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.

 

Editor’s Note: A lady contemplates the effects of radiation exposure (https://www.self.com/story/chemotherapy-side-effects-to-know/an); an atomic bomb image (from Printrest) is superimposed outside the window in the near distance.

When the Last Religion


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/

 

Editor’s Note: The irreverent cartoon by M80 captures the spirit of the poem http://www.rantlets.com/rant/stupid-people-and-hypocrites/

Martian Snow


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 HorizonsDreams 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.

 

Editor’s Note:  The image of a snow crystal and snow angel represents the poem. Snow crystals have actually been discovered on Mars, but of course, the snow angel is imagined. https://www.iflscience.com/space/we-just-discovered-snow-on-mars/all/

The Reel

 

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).