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Perhaps what I miss most,
meu amor, is the way your eyes would glimmer
in the guiding light of my Winchester. These marbles forced
into your skull are a poor excuse for the deathly precision
of your iris at the edge of a barrel. Your beauty a bullet
not even lamplight could catch, though I would spend
the rest of this eternal sleep galloping after it,
if only to catch a glimpse of the darkness
in your pupils.

But what is there to catch?
For even in death I have never left your side.
You sound as if you were some macaco
courting flames as they dance a xaxado
but you of all people should know
the cost of singed palm
and empty fist.

I know of but one cost and that is you, bela.
To be by your side in this place is little more than a cruel joke
when once I had given you a sertão as your wedding ring
and a caatinga as your bridal price. What love
is there to be bought here with our lips empty
and our necks sewn like a purse?

Had not this tongue been taken
I would sing you the songs of our memory.
Let you listen to the sweet tones of glory
as they serenade the ghosts of our adversaries
like a shrill Lugar’s whistle.

Tell me, what glory is there in a headless man?
Whose body rots while all above the neck persists
only for the amusement of those passing by? Do you not see
how they mock us with outstretched arm and bucktoothed smile?
How they call us criminal? There is no remembrance
of our deeds. Only the bloated excess
of our deformed features.

It is true that these bodies
are ephemeral, but is there not power in a man
who resists long after his final breath has slowed?
Our names echo through the ridges of a Serra do Araripe down
through all the saints’ isles. What is loyalty worth in life
if you cannot capture their hearts in death?

Hearts are only worth as much
as the coronel’s nickel or as much credit as lead can buy.
Is that not what my father learned when his credit came due?
Is that not how we found ourselves cangaceiros, a band of debtors
who refused to pay by the rules they enslaved us with?
Yet, even now we seem to pay with each daily
repetition of this grotesque performance.

And what greater reverence for a cangaceiro is there?
To crucify yourself at the hands of Judas
so that the legend of your defiance can ring true.
If you cannot rest peacefully with that
do you even know what it is
you died for?



Woody Dismukes is a Brazilian-American poet and author living in Jackson Heights, Queens. He is a 2018 Clarion West graduate and has taught at University Settlement’s Creative Center. His work is featured in Huizache, Lightspeed, Apex, and elsewhere. You can find him on Twitter @WoodyDismukes or on his website woodydismukes.com.
Current Issue
27 Jul 2020

Stefan škrtl další sirkou a zapálil jednu ze svíček, které s sebou přinesl, pak další a další, dokud je neobklopoval celý kruh. Hanna nakrčila nos. Svíčky vydávaly zvláštní zápach, ale ne nepříjemný. Připomínal čerstvě posečenou trávu. I jejich tmavě olivová barva byla nezvyklá.
半透明の大江さんが洗面所から出てきて、いつもと同じようにテーブルに向かう。見えない食パンにバターを塗り、見えない新聞を片手に頰張る。まるでパントマイムだ。私はフローリングの床に座り込み、一連の動作を眺めた。
By: Amel Moussa
Translated by: Hager Ben Driss
Many things in my kitchen resemble me; I relate to them; we entertain one another. Water, fire, and electricity vegetables, water rich fruits, and dry fruits
أشياء ٌكثيرةٌ في مطبخي تُشبهني أتماهى مع هذه الأشياء ونُؤنسُ بعضنا.
He ignored her remark, ignited another match and lit a small candle. Then another one. He continued until a circle of candles surrounded them on the stage. Hanna scrunched her nose. The candles exuded a strange smell, but not an unpleasant one. It resembled freshly mown grass. The color was unusual too, a deep olive-green.
By: Eisuke Aikawa
Translated by: Toshiya Kamei
The translucent Ōe-san steps out of the bathroom and sits at the table as usual. He spreads butter on an invisible slice of bread, takes a bite, and chews it, holding the morning paper in his other hand. Just like a mime. I sit on the floor and observe his movements.
Issue 20 Jul 2020
By: Ranylt Richildis
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: JD Fox
By: JD Fox
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: JD Fox
17 Jul 2020
Strange Horizons is now accepting fiction submissions for our Mexico Special issue, which will be published at the end of November 2020!
17 Jul 2020
Strange Horizons lanza su convocatoria en busca textos narrativos para su Especial de México, que se publicará a finales de noviembre de 2020!
Issue 13 Jul 2020
By: Alex Jennings
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Kimberly Kaufman
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 6 Jul 2020
By: Stephen O'Donnell
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
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Issue 30 Jun 2020
By: Carlie St. George
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Issue 22 Jun 2020
By: Neha Maqsood
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
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Issue 15 Jun 2020
By: Remy Reed Pincumbe
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Preston Grassmann
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Issue 8 Jun 2020
By: Kathleen Jennings
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Keaton Bennett
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Issue 2 Jun 2020
By: Sheree Renée Thomas
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