Uncategorized18 Jul 2021 06:15 pm
Ulysses and Calypso, By Arnold B̦cklin Р1. The Yorck Project (2002) 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei (DVD-ROM), distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH. ISBN: 3936122202.2. Kunstmuseum Basel, online collection, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=147930

Lorraine Schein

No man is an island—
but magical women are.
Enchantresses get lonely on their islands
with only fish, gulls, and their servants for company,
and no embraces, save for the wild caresses of the sea
or what they can conjure up to pass the empty days
until some shipwrecked sailor comes their way.

On Ogygia, sea nymph Calypso  
fell in love with Odysseus,
cast a singing spell on him while weaving       
to ensure he’d never leave.
Odysseus stayed for seven years. Music is sorcery.
Though Calypso promised him immortality,
she finally had to let him return to sea
at the order of Zeus, and set him free.
Calypso was the first feminist Greek goddess:
she then complained to Zeus
that goddesses were not allowed  
to sleep with mortals, as gods could.
But it did no good.
Sorceress Circe of Aeaea  
bewitched his men with song too, then wine
that turned them all to swine.
Hermes gave Odysseus an herb called moly.
Now immune to her spell, he set them free.
Circe was in love with him also.
But it was never mutual with either enchantress—
though both were madly in love with Odysseus
getting home was his one obsession.
Magical women get lonely on their islands.              
In bed, no lover whispers at their side
There’s only the murmurs of the wind and tide.
And when a sailor does arrive,
the gods tell them to set him free.
He is more important, and must continue his quest.
So obey they must,  
for they are not the gods of Olympus,  
or even demigods like Odysseus--
Just enchantresses, isolated on their islands,
where the men wash up like driftwood thrown ashore
or like seagulls soaring over, then seen no more.

Uncategorized13 Jun 2021 01:43 pm
Märchenerzählerin by J. Adam, 1882

Sandi Leibowitz

Surely, child, I can provide
that simple thing you ask for—
to cross the eyes of some poor girl
I’ve never met.
But such a gift comes dear—
mean-spirited witchery exacts
a price on the practitioner,
and I must pass along the cost.
Nay, don’t cross my palm with coins
—fill my ear with story.
How she’s wronged you?
That’s not what I need,
mere pennies of your fee.
Remember your granny’s hearthside tales,
not the ones you’ve heard a thousand times,
but those you heard just once.
Tell the one she murmured
when they thought you were asleep.
You’d slipped into your auntie’s lap,
your breathing stilled.
A dark tale came,
so filled with blood and wonder
your toes and fingers ached
and your heart banged loud, so loud
you thought they’d guessed you hearkened.
A tale so strange you knew
it must be true.
Tell me that one.
Tell me the tales that come for you
sometimes at night
—you think them dreams—
where you travel to cities
you don’t understand,
but cry missing them.
And the ones that claw you
from the insides out,
that force you to rise, shaking,
It was a dream, a dream,
nothing more.
Tell me those.
Uncategorized02 May 2021 03:58 pm
heraldic symbol for Weilbach in Austria

Deborah L. Davitt

When you go to South America
and drop a lot of money
for an authentic
spiritual cleanse
and try to ignore the locals
laughing at the tourists
who’re here for an
ayahuasca high colonic
to the brainstem;
when you’ve swallowed
herbal purgatives and laxatives
(herbal and organic
are always better,
don’t you know?),
and have crouched, quaking,
on a toilet,
vomiting into a bucket,
while your intestines clarify
at both ends;
when you’ve done all these things,
in search of a sacred,
transcendent moment
of oneness with the universe,
it’s probably not a wonder,
that everyone’s spirit-animal
turns out to be impressive;
everyone’s always guided
by something fierce—
tigers and lions and bears,
oh my—
because when you’ve dropped
several thousand dollars
for the privilege of
feeling like you have the flu
for six hours,
no one wants to know
that their spirit-animal is a snail,
that the guiding energy in their lives
is that of a hermit crab,
and it’s hard to dress up
a jellyfish as the ultimate predator
that it is, when
most people think of them
as a synonym for spineless.
So, mysteriously, there’s a world
full of people out there,
with fierce and prideful totems
stalking through the universe
at their sides,
when statistically speaking,
at least ninety percent of eight billion people,
should actually be deer,
or llamas,
or the occasional inoffensive squirrel.
Uncategorized20 Dec 2020 12:58 pm
(includes instructions!)
Jenny Blackford 

That blue-silver
origami thing with wings
inside the graceful ribbonned
globe of Christmas glass
was doubtless meant to be a swan
-- or maybe it's a more peculiar bird.
In mediaeval times
monks taught that hungry mother pelicans
would pierce their feathed breasts
to feed their young on their heart-blood,
urging their often half-starved human flock
to more self-sacrifice.
I’d really rather
that the silver-paper bird was anything
but a starving pelican
feeding herself to her brood.
Luckily, the more I look into the globe
the more the origami thing with wings
looks bony, ancient, wild.
Could it be the fabled
Christmas Pterosaur?
Uncategorized22 Nov 2020 06:28 pm
A cave woman and baby painting. Photo via Wookey Hole

Robert Borski

Both me,
with my 278 Neanderthal variants,
and the Monarch butterfly

with its hidden payload
of vespine genes
being finer examples of this,

the latter being a "gift"
from parasitic wasps,
but repurposed through time

to confer immunity
from the predations of a virus
deadly to the survival

of both insects.
But as for my own blended
heritage, I'm still waiting

to see what advantages
the commingling has
bestowed --

the ability perhaps to subtract
from the world's noise
the approach of a saber-toothed cat,

or how best to prepare mammoth milk
so it's digestible.
In the meantime, however,

sans revelation, I continue to daub
paint in animal shape
on the prefab walls of my cave.

Uncategorized11 May 2020 11:42 am
Cover detail, Daredevil Comics #5 (Nov. 1941), art by Charles Biro. (Lev Gleason Pubs., defunct co.)

F. J. Bergmann

We fall into time as a dead leaf into a river.

—Don Paterson

Chrono-Man invented time travel
by accident, trying to fit too much
into one day. He stretched time so far
that when he let go it flung him
like a stupendous slingshot
across the millennia. Now he can access
any temporal continuum
just by judicious over-commitment.
Chrono-Man wears LED knitwear
that ripples where it shouldn’t.
Balding, jowly and anxious,
he has a small potbelly and a heart condition.
He is the champion of last-minute saves,
last-ditch efforts, and lost causes.
His heraldic totem is a rubber band
twisted into a figure-eight couchant—
the symbol of infinity. His motto is
I can make time for that.

Quicksand is Chrono-Man’s arch-enemy.
As fast as Chrono-Man can stretch time
like a Spandex Speedo, Quicksand
can spend it: urge it on faster and faster;
use it up. Quicksand wears a red suit
with a spinning hourglass lapel pin and has
red—scarlet—hair and eyes, to match his suit.
He is a lively date. He can make time
speed up, but not slow down. He likes to drive
the ambitious, and those who volunteer
for more than their share, to destruction.
Quicksand is the god of second thoughts
and abandoned efforts and stressing out.
His catchphrase: It is later than you think.

Speed time up as it stretches, and the elastic
of that substance will snap, as Quicksand
and Chrono-Man chase each other
up and down the time-stream. You yourself
may experience this chronological effluvium
as having some resemblance to an actual river:
sometimes the current is slow and stately,
each shore so far away that it fades
to a dark fog of treeline on the horizon;
sometimes a rapid current tumbles you
down titanic falls. You are only a marker
by which that current can be measured
when those rivals meet at the end of time
and total up their scores.

Uncategorized22 Mar 2020 03:44 pm

Sorry we were down for so long. There were some technical issues that required updates, and it took me a little while to get it all working. Next week we’ll be back publishing regularly.

Some good news — a number of poems we published were nominated for Rhysling awards, the main speculative poetry awards. Congratulations to the poets!

• “Stormbound” by Marsheila Rockwell

• “Envoy” by F. J. Bergmann 

• “Bright Record” by John W. Sexton 

• “The Snow Globe” by Marge Simon 

• “The Journey” by Deborah L. Davitt 

• “The Certainty of Seeing” by Michelle Muenzler 

• “Blood Moon” by Sara Backer 

• “Witch” by Mary Soon Lee 

• “children of the trees” by Deborah L. Davitt 

Uncategorized17 Feb 2020 10:50 am
Dulle Griet by Pieter Breugel the Elder

Lorraine Schein

On my way to the next Millennium
I passed Christ blessing a witches' coven,
circle-dancing in Jerusalem’s Old City.

The hordes of the dead had risen up,
shielding their multi-clustered eyes
from further genetic warfare.

I saw the Dark Goddess, Kali
and Green Tara, the Compassionate One,
locked in battle, many-handed,
each hand wielding a sword
that fought the others senselessly.

My eyes stung from the dirty red wind
blowing nuclear waste
through our glow-tainted cities,
burning with designer plagues.

I heard the muted prophecies of Prozac,
the new Cassandra rescorned.

Uncategorized13 Jan 2020 08:01 am
Mosaic at Belgrade Zoo

John Grey

Yes, he’s a butterfly.
drank the nectar,
thinking he’d
evolve into a giant wasp
once the chemicals kicked in.
He’d sting the naysayers,
the ones who doubted him,
the fools who kicked him
out of the government laboratory,
who labeled his experiments
as “science fantasy”,
who even laughed
when he approached the subject
of inter-species hybridization.
But he’s grown fluttering fairy wings,
not buzz-saw pinions.
He’s flamboyant, pretty almost,
far from threatening
And there’s no sting to his fury,
just a desire to suckle on rosebuds.
He seeks revenge
but his enemies merely
point and say, “How pretty.”
His experiment failed
but his color scheme triumphed.
Uncategorized11 Nov 2019 07:25 am
Remigius van Haanen (1812-1894) – Faggot Gatherers in Winter Landscape

David C. Kopaska-Merkel

It comes from the forest
and winds about your limbs,
a scent you shouldn’t recognize,
but you turn, like a windsock;
the campfire at your back,
you stumble toward the shadows
waiting beneath the trees.

Hands clutch,
drag you back,
set you down by the fire,
voices, urgent voices, beset you,
senseless as the calls of birds.
Eventually, you sleep.

You dream of running, of leaping,
of soaring above tall brown boles,
green mantles ashiver.
Stars beckon from the inky reaches,
their ringing voices call you home.

Morning breaks
over the tiny camp,
your cold and empty tent;
friends follow your tracks
miles through the snow,
farther and farther apart they come,
till at last they vanish
under an endless sky.


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