Size / / /

For Tom Disch

The escalator, rolling ever down,

has reached an end at last and here you lie

as lonely as a sailor left to drown—

like your trapped hero, we cannot know why.

The roaches march in lockstep to commands

like convicts programmed for unwelcome war,

a war that's lost though no one understands

but you, who tried to warn us once before

what lies in wait for red-faced arrogance.

"We are all cripples"—you, alone, divine,

a smirking Momus whose knife-twirling prance

drew blood to fill our cups of dream-dark wine.

Your Resurrection surely won't take long:

your demon words borne high on wings of song.


For a blog post explaining the references in this poem, please see here.

Mike Allen lives in Roanoke, Va. with his wife Anita, a demonic cat, and a comical dog. Mike's fiction can be found in Weird Tales, his poetry in Nebula Awards Showcase 2008 and Nebula Awards Showcase 2009. Norilana Books has brought out a new poetry collection, The Journey to Kailash, and a new anthology of short stories, Clockwork Phoenix: Tales of Beauty and Strangeness, which Publishers Weekly praises for its "strong and delicious taste of weird." He's currently at work assembling the sequel, of course named Clockwork Phoenix 2. Last month he gave a presentation about "The Poetry of Science Fiction" at the Library of Congress. More of Mike's work is available in the Strange Horizons archive. You can view Mike's website at www.descentintolight.com, and he can be reached by email at mythicdelirium@gmail.com.



Mike Allen is president of the Science Fiction Poetry Association and editor of the speculative poetry journal Mythic Delirium. With Roger Dutcher, Mike is also editor of The Alchemy of Stars: Rhysling Award Winners Showcase, which for the first time collects the Rhysling Award-winning poems from 1978 to 2004 in one volume. His newest poetry collection, Disturbing Muses, is out from Prime Books, with a second collection, Strange Wisdoms of the Dead, soon to follow. Mike's poems can also be found in Nebula Awards Showcase 2005, both editions of The 2005 Rhysling Anthology, and the Strange Horizons archives.
Current Issue
26 Sep 2022

Would a Teixcalaanli aristocrat look up at the sky, think of Lsel Station, and wonder—with Auden—"what doubtful act allows/ Our freedom in this English house/ our picnics in the sun"?
I propose that The Expanse and its ilk present us with a similar sentiment, in reverse—a warning that for all the promise of futurism and technological advancement, plenty of new, and perhaps much worse futures are right before us. In the course of outrunning la vieux monde, we may find that we are awaited not simply by new worlds to win, but also many more which may yet be lost.
where oil slurped up out of the dirt, they drink the coffee
Science fiction is a genre that continues to struggle with its own colonialist history, of which many of its portrayals of extractivism are a part. Science fiction is also a genre that has a history of being socially progressive and conscious – these are both truths.
Bring my stones, my bones, back to me
If we are to accept that the extractive unconscious is latent, is everywhere, part of everything, but unseen and unspoken, and killing us in our waking lives, then science fiction constitutes its dreams.
they are quoting Darwish at the picket & i am finally breathing again
Waste is profoundly shaping and changing our society and our way of living. Our daily mundane world always treats waste as a hidden structure, together with its whole ecosystem, and places it beyond our sight, to maintain the glories of contemporary life. But unfortunately, some are advantaged by this, while others suffer.
Like this woman, I am carrying the world on my back.
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