Size / / /

1.
They are burning Joan.

They are always burning Joan;
there's always a pyre ready
for a woman who believes,
who acts,
who commands—

even at rest,
you can see a flicker in their eyes
like flames,
ready to consume.

They kindle between beats of your heart.

2. 
My sword has grown heavy.
My sword has grown heavy,
and I have at some point
abandoned my shield—

better moving faster than blocking,
and I can take the hit,
I can
I always can.
I've taken hits for all of us for years;
haven't I?
Gets blurry sometimes.
I can't remember life before the sword.
Or before the fire.
I grow weary, shield-sister,
shield-brother,
and can find no rest.

3. 
They burn us.
We kindle,
we burn,
we char,
we howl—
we do not know
if we will rise phoenix-like
until it's over.
Every time, we enter blind.

4.
Some essential part of me
has burned,
has passed through flames uncounted—
self-preservation, perhaps,
or sleep,
or memory—
calcified,
crumbling in my fist.
Chalk-bone-dust 
to spiral up my arms.
This is my armor now.

5.
I howl in my sleep, sometimes.
I dream of fire.
I am a burnt offering,
a sacrifice,
reviving,
jolting back to the war—
no rest.

6.
My sword is my home.
The pyre is my home.
The war is my home,
and the war is never over.
I will end alone,
with no one to count my scars.

7. 
Or we may yet prevail.
We may prevail,
and I may walk home,
hundreds of miles home,
to hearth and farm
and people who knew me before the sword.
I may grow out my hair
and sleep beneath a tree
and tell stories;
and every story will end
"and here I am,
still singing."

Publication of this poem was made possible by a donation from Rochita Loenen-Ruiz. (Thanks, Rochita!) To find out more about our funding model, or donate to the magazine, see the Support Us page.



Shira Lipkin's short fiction has appeared in Strange Horizons, Apex Magazine, Clockwork Phoenix 4, and other wonderful places; they have won the Rhysling Award for best short poem. Their nonfiction has appeared at Salon. They co-edit Liminality, a magazine of speculative poetry, with Mat Joiner.
Current Issue
2 Jun 2020

Our editors have seen a massive increase in submissions from writers since the Covid-19 crisis, and we want to be able to read and publish that work.
We didn’t want your nail clippings or your blood. Your laughter, or tears, would do.
They say that the Voyagers will outlast us for billions of years.
as if I wouldn’t wish to get all my deaths over with at once instead of waiting in dirt
In place of fear that they will lose control, the posthumans accept that control was never in their grasp and that the natural world extends beyond their reach and that nature has a beauty that is beyond the human.
Issue 1 Jun 2020
By: Jessica P. Wick
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
Strange Horizons
Issue 25 May 2020
By: Dana Wilde
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 18 May 2020
By: Johnny Compton
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Jong-Ki Lim
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 11 May 2020
By: Gabriela Santiago
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Ashley Bao
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 4 May 2020
By: Vida Cruz
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Raimo Kangasniemi
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 20 Apr 2020
By: Tamara Jerée
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: L. D. Lewis
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: L. D. Lewis
Issue 13 Apr 2020
By: Jo Miles
Art by: Galen Dara
By: Jo Miles
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Jasmeet Dosanjh
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Jasmeet Dosanjh
Issue 6 Apr 2020
By: Elizabeth Crowe
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Shuyi Yin
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Shuyi Yin
By: Nome Emeka Patrick
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 30 Mar 2020
By: Jason P Burnham
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Tara Calaby
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Kaily Dorfman
By: Camille Louise Goering
By: Brian Beatty
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Kaily Dorfman
Podcast read by: Brian Beatty
Issue 23 Mar 2020
Load More
%d bloggers like this: