Posts Tagged ‘Poetry’


He picks me out of the throng
in Brownian motion on the sidewalk,
puts an arm around my shoulder
like we’re friends; he looks rich,
so I decide to go along with it.

7 Daruwala_ThirstyHe walks carelessly through the crowd
as if certain that his strong limbs
could part it easily if he wanted to.
Though he’s bald, I keep imagining
a mane about his head.

I’ve picked a pub with cheap drinks,
but for the past half-hour
all he’s had is masala-dripping chicken
and five glasses of plain water.
He holds up a sixth to me as if

it were wine, and as he turns
the glass to catch the light, I see
the deep red tinge of the water.
“You see it don’t you?” he asks
with a knowing feline grin.

“Dragon’s blood – no joke, no drug,
no alcohol, this is the real thing…
This breeds bravery, this fuels the fight.”
I can see his body tightening up,
growing stronger with each sip.

“Perhaps this is not for you,”
he tells me and directs my gaze
toward the bar where a blue-haired woman
sits sucking ice-cubes that I
notice are a deep cobalt blue.

Her face brightens by the minute
and I can’t help staring at her
and waiting for the sudden
ripple of joy that I know
I’ll feel when she laughs.

The man with me, slaked at last,
leaves, and I leave with him.
In the following days, I meet
others like him – the seekers
of water that is more than water.

I begin to see like them, and soon
I too share visions with the silent man
who sips lilac-hued water
from a steel tumbler
in a small udipi joint.

And one day I feel the dangerous
tendrils of all possible futures
through the slime-green water
dripping from a leaky pipe on a slum wall
three buildings away from my apartment.

I begin to think that I understand
it all, that I have tasted
all the waters in this deep-veined city.
But the man in gray shows me
just how shallow I am.

We sit in a small restaurant, sipping tea,
our water glasses untouched.
I call him a man, but truly
I cannot place his age or sex.
I stare only at his face

because his clothes are unbearable to look at—
its edges ending in blinding white
or receding into perilously deep black.
We talk of trivialities, and just before
he pays and leaves, he says to me,

“Look at the water – what color
do you see? None. It’s completely clear.”
But you can feel the thrum, the shift
in light? You know this is no ordinary
glass of water. So what is it then?
It’s something too dangerous
for all the addicts you know.
But what about for you?”

He leaves, but I stay
and stare and stare at the glass.

Three quarters of an hour goes by
and my throat is parched
from the tea which has sweated
every drop of moisture out of me.

I sit fingering the wet outside
of the glass, its rim inches
from my cracked dry lips
that long to touch liquid,
but dare not take a sip.

— Rohinton Daruwala


Rohinton Daruwala lives and works in Pune, India. He writes code for a living, and speculative fiction and poetry in his spare time. His work has previously appeared in Strange Horizons, Liminality and Through the Gate. He tweets as @wordbandar and blogs at



Editor’s Notes: The fractal image (by Qualia Computing)—the scale-free fractal “beauty blue”—is combined with “Shiva” (by Psycofairy Ortiz for Desktop Nexus). This blue lady in the center of the image is an abstract interpretation of the poem.7 Daruwala_Thirsty

et in Arcadia ego

Listen…you can hear the ancient breath

of nine billion souls exhaled upon the wind…

these hums of constellations tell their tale.9 Schantz_Arcadia

See the emperor, the water bearer and the warrior,

spiraling the spoked wheel of the cosmos again.

It is a sorrow-song; nothing but lost mythologies—

cartographies plotted in the faint pulse of electrons.

A marble finger points through drifted sand.

Empty turrets stare into winking stars.

Far away somewhere there’s the echo: an old tune

being sung in someone’s bright and golden hall:

Weep not for the darkness

but only for that darkness

of a planet which will

never know another song.


— Celeste Helene Schantz

Celeste Helene Schantz has work which appears in Eye to the Telescope, One Throne Magazine, Mud Season Review and others. She was a finalist in the Cultural Center of Cape Cod’s Poetry Competition, judged by Naomi Shihab Nye, and was one of four finalists worldwide in a competition co-sponsored by Poetry International, Rotterdam and The Poetry Project, Ireland. She has twice been chosen as a participant by the author Marge Piercy for a juried poetry workshop in Wellfleet, Cape Cod. She lives in Upstate New York with her son Evan and is currently working on her first book of poetry.


Editors Notes: The Latin title translates I too lived in Arcadia, which in the context of the poem, is a warning.

The Ghost of the Cepheus Flare (similar to the Astronomy Picture of the Day, Oct 31, 2011: “Spooky shapes seem to haunt this starry expanse, drifting through the night in the royal constellation Cepheus. Of course, the shapes are cosmic dust clouds faintly visible in dimly reflected starlight. Far from your own neighborhood on planet Earth, they lurk at the edge of the Cepheus Flare molecular cloud complex some 1,200 light-years away. Over 2 light-years across the ghostly nebula and relatively isolated Bok globule, also known as vdB 141 or Sh2-136, is near the center of the field. The core of the dark cloud on the right is collapsing and is likely a binary star system in the early stages of formation. Even so, if the spooky shapes could talk, they might well wish you a happy Halloween.”)

But a similar image is used here, a perfect celestial image to complement this poem. Its eerie effect with the greenish rendition (National Optical Astronomy Observatory)—Ghost Nebula, vdB 141: “This image was obtained with the wide-field view of the Mosaic Camera on the Mayall 4-meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory. vdB 141 is a reflection nebula located in the constellation Cepheus. Sometimes referred to as the ghost nebula, its awkward name is its catalog number in Sidney van den Bergh’s catalog of reflection nebulae, published in 1966. Several stars are embedded in the nebula. Their light gives it a ghoulish brown color. North is down and East is to the right. Imaged August 28, 2009.” (Credit: T.A. Rector/University of Alaska Anchorage, H. Schweiker/WIYN and NOAO/AURA/NSF)

Love in the Time of Apocalypse

We could see the end coming from where we stood
when they first pointed it out, a tiny glowing particle10 Long_Apocalypse
in the night sky, its tail a loose dangling of mangled light.
We watched experts on the TV speculate
on how to change its trajectory or blast it with strong
electromagnetic pulses. We wanted desperately to know
when and how and what it would feel like
when  the end came.

Soon, scientists walked out of interviews, one by one.
Then the newscasters left to go home, their cameras
filming empty chairs. Finally, it came down to just you
and me, our lives so split, we merely nodded in passing
but in the ambiance of impending death’s pink glow,
we remembered the taste of rapture, traded our weapons
of mass destruction for the lure of flesh, the need
for touch.

We could leave no mark here except on each other.
We could save nothing to outlast cosmic dust.
Wormwood bowed at last to the first order
to be fruitful, the primeval need to multiply, usurped.
We sent our ecstasy into the universe unhinging
our catastrophe. And now, we are gone
while the speck grows to a red shimmering flower
opening its petals.

— Ann Thornfield-Long


Ann Thornfield-Long lives in East Tennessee. Her work appears in venues such as The Tennessee Magazine, Tennessee Women of Vision and Courage (Crawford and Smiley 2013) and The Tennessee Sampler (Peter Jenkins and Friends 1985). She’s an established journalist, editor and publisher for regional newspapers. She has also worked as a nurse and first responder and dispatcher for The Norris Volunteer Fire Department. She has taught creative writing classes, and is the sister of Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter, Dan Luzadder, with whom she maintains great sibling rivalry.


Editor’s Notes:  It’s not that often that my own work inspires another’s. But here is the case where it did. Ann wrote this poem after reading my poetry collection, Apocalypse (Alban Lake Publishing, July 2015). The image is from Hubble: “In a dress rehearsal for the rendezvous between NASA’s Deep Impact spacecraft and comet 9P/Tempel 1, the Hubble Space Telescope captured dramatic images of a new jet of dust streaming from the icy comet.

The images are a reminder that Tempel 1’s icy nucleus, roughly the size of central Paris, is dynamic and volatile. Astronomers hope the eruption of dust seen in these observations is a preview of the fireworks that may come 4 July, when a probe from the Deep Impact spacecraft will slam into the comet, possibly blasting off material and giving rise to a similar dust plume.” (Credit: NASA, ESA, P. Feldman (Johns Hopkins University), and H. Weaver (Applied Physics Lab))

Artistically, this Hubble image has a foreshadowing effect, with the inset image being the consequence (Deep Impact hit the big screen in 1998, giving seekers of disaster cinema what New York Times reviewer Janet Maslin called a ‘costly comet thriller.’ (Paramount))

Introduction to Silver Blade Poetry Issue 30

by John C. Mannone

johnm1Welcome to Issue 30 of Silver Blade. One thing you will notice is the wide variety of voices and styles of presentation, let alone speculative texture. At the last minute, we lost a couple poems that provided better bridges for the rest of the collection, but you will not be disappointed with this unusual collage of poetry. The complementary artwork was found using the Advance Google Image search. Images might have been enhanced and/or combined with simple applications (PowerPoint, iPhoto, Word).

We open with Margaret Wack’s dark post apocalyptic poem, “Conflagration,” and quickly move into Mary Soon Lee’s poem rendered as a 2-minute play, “First Lesson.” Ash Krafton’s poem may have physics and astronomy flavors, but the physical is transcended to the metaphysical in “Temporally Illuminate.” This segues nicely into John W. Sexton’s well-crafted “Seeming Space.” And this is followed by yet more astronomy-based scifi work of John Philip Johnson, “Lesser Lunar Geese.” Wendy S. Delmater’s “fan fiction” fantasy poem, “Fëanor,” is based on J. R. R. Tolkien’s character. Finally, in the spirit of a speculative poem in translation, Ef Deal translates this poem into French.

John C. Mannone

After the Circus Leaves

A scarecrow jumps down from his poleSara-Backer_After-the-circus-Leaves
to gather, in his clumsy straw-filled sleeves,
the litter—ticket stubs, cigarette butts, sequins,
paper cotton candy cones, flex straws, coins,
ripped mustard packets, tiny plastic shards—
cleaning his field.

A clown’s discarded red ball nose—
his prize find—he puts on his burlap face
and walks with a bit of samba in his step
back to his post, where he gazes skyward
and pretends to juggle
three circling crows.

— Sara Backer


Sara Backer has published speculative poems (or has them forthcoming) in Asimov’s, A cappella Zoo, Crannóg (Ireland), Dreams & Nightmares, Gargoyle, Hermes (UK), Illumen, New Welsh Reader (UK), Shooter Literary Magazine (UK), and Strange Horizons. She won the 2015 Turtle Island Poetry Prize for her chapbook, Bicycle Lotus, and currently is seeking a publisher for her full-length collection of surreal poetry. She lives in the woodpecker-filled woods of New Hampshire and is an adjunct writing teacher at UMass Lowell.

Royal Visitation

Her Majesty is startled
awake in the night
by the handsBruce-Boston_royal-visitation
of a dead lover

exploring her body,
touching her
in ways she had
never known,

the very one
she had assassinated
for his flagrant
and gross infidelities,

the only one
she had ever loved,
as much as she
could love anyone,

his skilled hands
in the night
take possession
of her own.


— Bruce Boston



Bruce Boston is the author of more than fifty books and chapbooks. His writing has received the Bram Stoker Award, the Asimov’s Readers Award, a Pushcart Prize and the Rhysling and Grandmaster Awards of the SFPA. His latest collection, Resonance Dark and Light, is available from most online booksellers.

The Exorcist

We were ushered out of the room.
Only the stranger stayed behind
and Beth, of course,
still writhing uncontrollably on the bed.

Strange how the Christmas stars and streamers
still adorned the walls.
And the tree glistened.
It was the Savior’s birthday
but not within earshot of Beth’s tortured cries.

My mother sat us at the kitchen tableJohn-Grey_The-Exorcist
to sip milk and listen to her
cigarette-stained voice cackle some
random Biblical passages.
Beth’s screams grew even louder.

A month before, Beth had said
she’d seen a cross-eyed crow in the woods.
And met a peddler in the lane
selling odd trinkets—half-animal, half-man.
And during a particularly virulent storm,
a gruesome face had flashed in her window.

Ever since then,
she’d been coughing up bile,
swearing like dad’s old drinking buddies,
and eating nothing but cockroaches and flies.
Whatever she was suffering from,
it sure wasn’t the measles.

We asked questions
but mother said it was none of our business.
Just a stage our big sister was going through.
She handed a crucifix to each of us
with the instruction to clutch it to our breasts.

An hour after we left Beth’s room,
we heard a giant whoosh.
then a burst of laughter
followed by a booming cry
and a sound like a rocket taking off.
The stranger stumbled out of the room,
collapsed on the floor before mom could reach him.
“It’s done,” he whispered.

Beth remembers none of this
and I still don’t know
how mom explained away
the dead guy in our parlor.

In a way, knowing what I know now,
I feel kind of proud
that the devil chose my sister
out of everyone in our little town
for a full-blown possession.
She was never that pretty or that smart
and she couldn’t cook or sew.
My mother used to say she had a good heart.
And an even better exorcist, thank God.


— John Grey



John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, Perceptions and the anthology, No Achilles with work upcoming in Big Muddy Review, Gargoyle, Coal City Review and Nebo.

During the Depression

men in ragged shirts,
soiled trousers,
ratty hair tucked under caps,John-Grey_During-the-Depression
in the middle of winter
sit around a fire
near an abandoned quarry,

others ride the rails,
slipping in and out of boxcars
one step ahead of the cops,
travelling rough
from one jobless place to another,
eating out of trash-cans,
lining up at soup kitchens.

In the castle on the hill,
coffins stay closed
well beyond sunset,

in the old abandoned mill,
the doctor shutters
his laboratory,
unable to get body parts,

in the waters of the black lagoon,
the creature is speared for food,

in a graveyard near Pittsburgh,
zombies starve
for lack of human flesh—
either their visual prey
is worn down to the bone
or they can’t tell a homeless man
from their own kind,

hungry for his next meal,
the wolf-man slinks down the hill
toward a cottage—
too late,
the wolf’s already
at the door.


— John Grey

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, Perceptions and the anthology, No Achilles with work upcoming in Big Muddy Review, Gargoyle, Coal City Review and Nebo.

The Humaniverse

               an occult relation between man and the vegetable
               —Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature (1836)

peering out from
his garden lot
John-Reinhart_humaniverseinto the public road,
sheepish, nervous
about what happens
between man
and vegetable
as if we were only
here to eat–

man appears a little
lost among the weeds
obscuring more civilized
fauna, and, kneeling
in the mud,
redeems a little patch
of hearty turnips,
thistle and dandelion
crying for more sun
amid the collage
of variegated green,
purple, white, and yellow,
a little care warms
a thousand years

of glaciers, inspiring
angels and dung beetles
shaking hands
with noon-light sun,
blossoming infinities

that offer a new
praising the wealth
of a delectable


— John Reinhart



An arsonist by trade,  John Reinhart lives on a farmlette in Colorado with his wife and children. His poetry has recently been published in Scifaikuest, Star*Line, and FishFood Magazine. More of his work is available at

Powder Keg


Walrath_Powder-Keg_Slave-shipTo be born a slave but to have known
the taste of freedom is bitter, a tang of existence
like the grit of blood in a clear river,
like steel in your hands—gun-metal freedom,
that can be given or taken away.

Deprived of freedom, the body still keens,
breathes in the wind, picks up its scent,
longs for sweet pain, and marches
with the infantry of death.

I knew long ago the betrayal of fate.
Turning its face from me, it left me for dead
face down in a river, with just my own hands
to pull me out.

Bands of cold steel press into my skin—
my skin, merely a gunshot in a dark coda,
fingerprintless. This shell, a powder keg
alive within—charcoal and fire,

Walrath_Powder-Keg_sharecroppersI lost myself for a long time, for years
amongst the high towers of white
cotton and castles. Living,
I refused to remember.

I pressed away memories in the fields,
turned my face from the call of ravens
waiting on fence posts and church steeples
and on the handles of plows.

I shut out the soul, collecting memories like lashes of the whip.

The little woman and the children she bore,
who slept beside me in the row house,
were they merely flesh and blood?
Made from parts of me I cannot keep?

I know they are dead, but I wish I could have kept
a lock of hair, a cotton scrap, not the hazy memory
of their smell, the sweet tangle of their feet on the cot,
their smiles at sunrise.

What had they to smile about?

Specters haunt the earth. Shadows broken
away from the sun. Rangers without bodies
to return to. But I know this much,
they are free while I am chained
to the never-ending pain of life’s riven fane.

Where is the promise of my years?
In sleep memory rages, claws
my eyes, sears my nostrils,
hisses in my ears.


— Holly Walrath




Holly Walrath attended the University of Texas for her B.A. in English and the University of Denver for her M.L.A in Creative Writing. She is a freelance editor and the Associate Director of Writespace, a literary center in Houston, Texas. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Abyss & Apex, Pulp Literature, and Grievous Angels, among others.