poem10 Jun 2019 08:02 am
Amazing Stories Cover from 1927

Robert Borski

Sorry, Mr. Bradbury, there are no lemonade
stands or white picket fences here; nor 
will you find sterile encampments or fields
of shitatoes, Messieurs Musk and Damon.
Rather, this is the other red planet, the one
that exists on the underside of the Arean dream —
reality TV Mars.

Here there are neither pristine lakes, 
nor carefully-manicured ski runs at Olympus Mons, 
but used condoms in the canals of Schiaparelli,
and the broken warriors that smile back 
to you from skid row in downtown Helium
(at least the ones who made it back
from the Battle for Grover’s Mill) have
the meth-head dentition of that other Burroughs.
(Bill, not E.R.)

Meanwhile, even as trailer trash princesses
proclaim their right to choose (“You can’t 
have an omelette without breaking eggs”),
the royal family of John and Deja Carter-Thoris
attempts to suppress photos of their piss-drunk 
son passed out in a smashed rocket-sled, 
and are still clinging to the diversionary tactic 
innundating the airwaves about how planetary 
hero and pride of the Space Corps, 
Commander Marvin Martian, is about to fake-
land on Phobos with his robot dog. 

poem03 Jun 2019 08:00 am
Royal Herbert Hospital, Woolwich- Basement Ward by Edward Ardizzone

by Michelle Muenzler

“You shouldn’t have come,” she says,
pressing her fingers weakly against the ventilator,
plastic tray across her lap,
plastic food, plastic cup;
her tea is long cold.

I shrug;
“I needed to know.”

I have no tea here, no cup;
nothing but words
and an empty smile
stretched far too long across my face.

Outside the room, nurses
scurry past,
oblivious to their newest visitor.

“Well,” she says, “now you see. Now you know.”

And because she says it, it must be true,
and I know that it should be enough,
and yet…

And yet still I say, “I’ll come again,”
and push back my chair as if it matters,
as if that little detail will fit everything
into a box I can understand,
into an object I can hold.

She sighs.
Shoves feebly at her tray.
“You should stop,” she says,
“stop while you still can.”

And I wonder a moment if by coming here
I’ve changed her, or rather if
I’ve changed me,
or if everything’s just the same and there’s no meaning to the me’s or her’s
or any those of us between.

“Tomorrow,” I say to her, and before she can tell me no,
blink hard and set the world agog,
thrust myself back into the when which I belong.

And now
my now, to be specific,
  not hers, nor anybody else’s–
stare at the blank wall of my apartment cubicle,
nearby kettle whistling, same as when I left but half a breath ago…

and to myself I say,
“Tomorrow; yes, tomorrow,”
and breathing deep, blinking hard,
plot my path to yet another day.

poem27 May 2019 07:24 am
Sadko by Ilya Repkin, 1876

David C Kopaska-Merkel

You thought you were drowning,
That was why you panicked,
Thrashed about, would not listen.
After that, you wouldn't wash your hands,
Wouldn't take a shower,
Only used the microwave to cook,
And paper plates to eat from.

You said you found fish flopping
On the floor of your bedroom;
No one believed that,
Except me.
Because I love you,
I brought the sea to you in dreams,
But I wouldn't have let you drown.

I wanted to fill you up, it's true,
But then you could have stayed with me
In my watery domain
Of corals and anemones
All waiting to greet you;
Octopi and cuttlefish
Would be your servants,
Hammerheads your guards,
In a glorious life that would never end.

I know it's scary,
But I would never let you drown.
I will try again tonight.
Do this for me:
When you feel the water rising,
Just breathe deeply;
It'll be alright.
poem06 May 2019 08:00 am
Landscape at Dallol volcano, Afar Region, Ethiopia. By A.Savin (Wikimedia Commons · WikiPhotoSpace) – Own work, FAL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=68051688

by Josh Pearce

The sky turns rusty
And I ask why does it do that
And he says, “oxygen”
Which yes he is right
Which why the blade of the moon is always sharp

Summer snow on the skin of the rocket
And I ask why is that
And he says, “oxygen”
Which yes he is right
Which why a cloud will soon carry him away from me

My lungs are fire every time beneath him
And I gasp why it hurts
And he says, “oxygen”
Which yes he is right
Which why I will always need him like air

I say if he loves the thrill of it so much
And I ask then why’d he even land here
And he says, “oxygen”
Which No he’s wrong
Which why the fire in my eyes,
                                          fog in my head,
                                            sharp blade in hand

His lips become late-harvest plums
And I ask what they taste like
And he doesn’t say
Which is he all right?
Which why he doesn’t say anything, ever after.

poem29 Apr 2019 08:00 pm
Schwabach – City church. Rear side of the high altar: Flowers.

by David C. Kopaska-Merkel

Where the colony had been,
the jungle had since returned,
complex organic molecules in the soil
indicated the former presence of plastic,
nothing else remained.

Nothing else,
save a few feral cats,
hungry and elusive,
hunting small creatures
whose biochemistry
provided little nourishment.

It was days before we saw
their sulfurous eyes,
watching us move like humans do,
their prominent ribs,
we enticed them
with terrestrial food,
shot one with an anesthetic dart,
never saw the others again.

What destroyed the colony?
the purple mold,
exposed metal furred with it,
the Lieutenant’s cough,
all treatment ineffective,
whatever took the two exobiologists,
their empty sample bags
fluttering down very near the ship,
large high flyers
almost invisible in the mist.

Today the lock wouldn’t close;
behind the access panel,
mold-raddled circuit boards,
I’ve caught the Lieutenant’s cough,
only static on the radio,
we entered codes for the last resort,
waited for the end,
but there was no clean atom blast.

In the bomb room,
purple growths reach for us,
blossoms greedily open.

poem22 Apr 2019 08:00 pm
Detail from the Annunciation

by Robert Borski

Among the far stacks, whispers stir the air,
but this time, it’s not the books conducting
their regularly-scheduled audio checks,
but a rant that seems to come up out of nowhere
(or possibly not: earlier, an infected book has 
been purged of interpolated blue material,
so the kibitz may be viral in nature) —
a babel of voices complaining about bitcoin
fines, compression ratios, the inherent danger
of bathtub reads, and as always seems
to be the case whenever a talkfest breaks out, 
the ever controversial taxonomic racism 
of Dewey (“Please, sir or madam, I do
not belong in the Science Fiction section, 
I am Literature.
“) — until at last, trundling 
up the aisle, the emboldened robot librarian, 
putting a silver-gray finger to lips, reminds 
them of where they are, and then, overriding 
their programming, enjoins them all to “Shush.”

poem15 Apr 2019 08:00 am
Nicolas-Louis-François Gosse Description English: Passage on the river Styx,1819 

Marcie Lynn Tentchoff

I used to make the trip for free,
gave guidance to the young,
the weak, the frightened travelers
who had really no precise idea
where they should go,
or what came next.

It was my calling, my attempt
to lend a touch of reassurance
to the transformative journey
that might mark the end of pain,
and open entry to
a land of otherness.

They loved me then. Their poets spoke
my name so kindly, painted me as handsome,
even godly in my looks, till somewhere
someone thought to send
a thank you gift —
one copper coin.

Then came more coins, my pay some said,
while others spoke of sustenance,
provisions for the newly dead.
What need had I for metal bits?
What need had they
for food or goods?

But their perception of me changed,
a skeleton, a money-grubbing,
clawing fiend, who’d eat their souls
should those who loved them
not afford, or just forget
to leave my fee.

And now I steer my darkened craft,
my oars smeared with the blood and gore
that they imagine I now crave
while falling copper obols fill
the bleached bone sockets of my eyes
like tears.

poem08 Apr 2019 08:00 am
Euridice recedes into the Underworld , Enrico Scuri

John W. Sexton

She remembered the first time
her mother had told her that the soul
could leave its fossil in the air.
She had been a child of seven
when her mother had taken her
to the door in the lake.
The door was set three miles
beyond the island of reeds,
just above the deepest part.
There her mother had made flat shoes
of woven reeds for both of them;
and they had trod out
across the lapping surface
of the blackening water. On arrival
her mother had tapped seven times,
seven slapping taps
against the lapping wavelets
with a laurel stick;
and the door had opened, a slash
of opening. As they stood at its threshold,
careful at her mother’s caution
not to step beyond it,
a dark column of shadow
rose out of the door.
This is the murky light
of the downworld, said her mother.
Look through it and you’ll glimpse
the fossils of souls.
But now her mother was long dead
And she had come out to this spot again.
She had tapped seven times
Against the lapping water
And the door had opened.
When the column of dim light
rose out of the lake
she had stepped through the threshold
of the door.
And that is how your grandmother left,
in search of her own dead mother.
Because she had crossed the door alive,
and because we have never seen her soul
fossilized in the air, we expect her to return.
They say there is a spiral of stairs
that leaves the ground at the touch
of moonlight. We have never seen
these stairs, but we wait for them
to unscrew through the yielding earth,
and for your grandmother and her mother
to step amongst us again.
On that day you’ll see your great-grandmother
in her filaments of light
and will realise for yourself
how the dead can summon the living
through the door in the lake.

poem01 Apr 2019 06:21 am
Medusa by Jacek Malczewski

by Deborah Davitt

She found him on the shore, ship-wrecked, sea-wracked—
his eyes had lost their light, travail-blinded.
Fever shook him like a wind-tossed aspen,
her cool, dry fingers, his only respite.
Yet he never knew her face or her name—
refused to tell him whom he owed her due.
Every love’s a journey into darkness,
and his was all uncertainty—he begged
to touch her hand, her face, to know her truth.
She relented, letting his fingers trace
the forms of her lips, her cheeks, and her eyes,
But his hands jerked back when he found her hair
coiling cool, lithesome, and alive around
his hand. She recoiled as if struck, but he leaned
forward, offering himself to his fears.
Every love’s a journey into darkness,
and she felt as much fear as he, as they
lay together in her cave, as she’d not
dared with any other, staring into
his blind eyes as her serpentine locks twined
around him, supple, sleek, and scaled. And she
who’d known only death, celebrated life.
Every love’s a journey into darkness,
but some kindle their own light on the way.

poem18 Mar 2019 07:50 am
Anonymous – Camille FlammarionL’Atmosphère: Météorologie Populaire (Paris, 1888), pp. 163

David C. Kopaska-Merkel

We slept for centuries in metal tubes,
10,000 dreams of waking in the ship,
To find a planet we could make our home,
A ring of rocks that could have been a world,
Or outpost of an empire old as time,
Whose warriors were armed with weapons strange,
Or empty human colonies and dust
Of countless years since people last walked there.

At last we wake in orbit round a sun,
We find a world the blue of salty seas,
Its moons are small, no cities anywhere,
Bright green its hills, its valleys, and its plains,
But many of us stand in troubled thought,
And wonder when we’ll think we wake again.


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