Size / / /

Content warning:


If you want to meet superheroes

there are plenty of places to go

bars and clubs and that one diner down on fifth

and news stations of course

always those

so that’s where she goes

she’ll be the secretary

or the office assistant

she’ll be the person stocking the vending machine

or the harried waitress rolling her eyes

at their tired jokes

they’ve seen her dozens of times

but never recognize her

people like her don’t get seen

not in the company of the Silver Scream and the Red Phantom

SureShot and Justice

they have the swagger

and she blends into the background

they are young and fit

everything a superhero

(or villain)

is supposed to be

and she

isn’t

everyone knows

that supers are young

that’s just how the science works

and only these specific kinds of bodies

can handle the strain

that’s what They said

that’s how it is

she’s round

and she’s short

she’s got a little limp

and her hair isn’t perfect

and she’s so far past puberty

she’s looking at the other side

and with just a quick touch

she borrows

his knowledge of the island lair

her ability to fly

his skill with locks

and the raid on the compound

if it’s publicized at all

will be attributed to

Some New Super On The Scene

probably some teenaged fool

who dares to dare greatly

not understanding the Real Risks™

of angering unstable supers

and will get himself killed

pretty tights folded across the memorial casket

everyone knows how that story goes

so does she, actually

she’s more careful than any of the capes

and she does more damage than any mask

dismantling the weapons array pointed at the city

clearing the computers of all the citizen information

freeing the minions from their mindcontrol helmets

it’s systematic

thorough

and effective

because she’s not fucking around

this isn’t a game

she’s not doing this for the pics

she won’t instagram her pecs

to prove it happened or to prove her worth

she’s got absolutely nothing to prove

and everything on the line

nobody will remember she’s there

(she took that one from Fader

when he did that interview

at the radio station)

the supers make a show

of saying that those who can

must

they speak of responsibility

and then fight in the streets

foster public rivalries

with megalomaniacs and mad scientists

for them serving and protecting

is mostly about protecting their brands

the damage is always goldilocks style

just enough tragedy to urge action

to make it an absolute necessity

for them to save the day

so yes

she’s taking down the overt threats

one fortress at a time

taking away their ability

to do harm

and when that’s done

she'll be at your gym

changing the towels

and maybe the next time

this background hero

borrows

from one of you fancy types

she won’t be so inclined

to give back what she took



Cislyn Smith likes playing pretend, playing games, and playing with words. She calls Madison, Wisconsin home. She has been known to crochet tentacles, write stories and poems at odd hours, and gallivant.  Her work has appeared in Star*Line, Diabolical Plots, and Flash Fiction Online.

Current Issue
18 Jan 2021

Splinters, old and new. How else can the skin remember the tree? If it hurts, that is the point.
Soft Shoulder speaking softly / quick-stop-tongued lanky cur dog / lisping languid in jeans
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Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Zach Ozma
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Ciro Faienza presents Zach Ozma's “Soft Shoulder (Excerpt)” with a reading by the poet.
The way I see it, this story is full of symbolic touchstones, visual elements with layers of meaning that are not always obvious, or even accessible, to the reader.
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Issue 11 Jan 2021
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Issue 21 Dec 2020
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7 Dec 2020
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7 Dec 2020
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Issue 7 Dec 2020
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Issue 16 Nov 2020
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