Size / / /

Content warning:



The slow putter of motorbikes coughing
Exhaust mingling with prayer-smoke
Rubbing red-rimmed eyes
Am I awake? With the taste of last night’s sleep
Or still half-dreaming, of
The rattling of red plastic cups
The crumbling of ghost-dollars
Into ashes, blackened and paling?

Crimson candles burn
Flame-tips taper to the wind
The morning air is cooling.

We climb into cars
Headlights gutting the dark
Onto main street to join the procession
No honks but steady inches forward.

The temple coils with smoke.
A parade, a veneration
I fumble for my basket:
Yellow, with chicken and pork,
Orange, apples, flour-cakes,
And a shiver. We walk
Into the crowd
Sounds of devotion fill my ears
Eyes stinging (from smoke? or grief?)
I bow my head
Joss in hand, to plunge in ash
Muttering words to a half-hearted prayer.

And again the car
Our bodies packed like matchsticks,
Sharing air gone stale.

Now clamber
Onto paths, mud-slick
Smeared with the tracks of past climbers
Trampling wild-grass and crunching leaves
A breath, heaved out
And a glance skywards
At grey clouds; rumbling rain
As we lay down offerings;
Slash tea and wine across crimson cups.

I do not believe in ghosts
Only wind and a crackling fire
(And a voice telling me I am not alone)

Ghost-dollars spill from the embers
Of a burning box, fenced in joss
I see faces closed in prayer
I put my hands together and mouth the words
I do not believe, but then
I do not know what draws us here.

Is this piety, candle piety?
Or a lamentation:
That we have not yet found rest
That we have not gone to our slumber
That the world is here and they are gone
And left us bereft, to live our autumn lives.



Marcus Chan daydreams, writes, and is probably too fond of a good turn of phrase. Even odds are that he’ll wander through his twenties with a book in one hand and a pencil in the other, happily scribbling away.
Current Issue
9 May 2022

The star flickered. Then, just for an instant, the flicker lasted a bit too long. Had the star disappeared, or had his tears obscured his view?
Bathroom lights dancing to the beat of the ground
I notice the lizard is again green as my daughter counts the glass stones
Podcast: 9 May Poetry 
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Ciro Faienza presents the poetry of the 9 May issue.
Issue 2 May 2022
By: Eric Wang
By: Sara S. Messenger
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Sara S. Messenger
Issue 18 Apr 2022
By: Blaize Kelly Strothers
By: Ken Haponek
Podcast read by: Blaize Kelly Strothers
Podcast read by: Ken Haponek
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 11 Apr 2022
Issue 4 Apr 2022
Issue 28 Mar 2022
Issue 21 Mar 2022
By: Devin Miller
Art by: Alex Pernau
Podcast read by: Courtney Floyd
Issue 14 Mar 2022
Strange Horizons
Issue 7 Mar 2022
Strange Horizons
28 Feb 2022
We would like stories that are joyous, horrific, hopeful, despondent, powerful and subtle. Write something that will take our breath away, make us yell and cry. Write unapologetically in your local patois and basilects in space; make references to local events and memes to your heart’s content. Write something that makes you laugh and cry. Indulge in all the hallmarks of your heritage that you find yourself yearning for in speculative literature, but know that we will not judge you based on your authenticity as a Southeast Asian. 
Issue 28 Feb 2022
Strange Horizons
Load More
%d bloggers like this: