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They raised an altar of abandoned tires,

set it afire,

chanted portions of the 1957

Chevy Owner's Manual

to summon a virgin.

But any likely candidates were driven off

by the smell of licorice gone bad

before they could be awed

by a vision of 1957

beginning to shine again,

rising on phoenix limbs from black smoke

assembling itself into whitewalls,

flames growing into chrome strips,

a hood ornament.

The worshippers,

still lacking a virgin,

were forced to settle for feasting eyes

on youth's flawed innocence.

By dawn, they had left,

carried off, some say,

in the sun's chariot.




Duane Ackerson's poetry has appeared in Rolling Stone, Yankee, Prairie Schooner, The Magazine of Speculative Poetry, Cloudbank, alba, Starline, Dreams & Nightmares, and several hundred other places. He has won two Rhysling awards and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. He lives in Salem, Oregon. You can find more of his work in our archives.
Current Issue
20 Jan 2020

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By: Justin C. Key
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents Justin C. Key's “One Hand in the Coffin.”
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Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
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Monday: Aniara 
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