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This poem is part of our 2016 fund drive bonus issue! Read more about Strange Horizons' funding model, or donate, here.


Content warning:


It's all tricks, sex, and promises,
that's the marrow of it and no help
for it: we have been swindling
and seducing since we had words
for it, stealing each other blind
and then slipping into each other's
sheets at night. We cannot help

ourselves. There is nothing we like
more than getting the better
of someone, other than getting under
or over them. There is magic,
sometimes, cunning, usually, beasts
and men are often indistinguishable
but nobody pays much mind.

Sometimes people die,
sometimes they marry. Usually
there is some victory, pyrrhic
or otherwise, somebody always
gets their just desserts. Sometimes
there are jokes, or else morals.
Blood is satisfying, as are tears,

among other liquids. Try to escape
this story. It is impossible. It draws you in
with false promises and swallows you whole
and squirming until you are nothing more
than a stock character. You assume the name,
the props, the tribulations. This has all

been told before. It fits you like a glove.




Margaret Wack is a writer, poet, and classicist whose work has been published in Strange Horizons, Liminality, Twisted Moon, and others.  More can be found at margaretwack.com.
Current Issue
22 Apr 2024

We’d been on holiday at the Shoon Sea only three days when the incident occurred. Dr. Gar had been staying there a few months for medical research and had urged me and my friend Shooshooey to visit.
...
For a long time now you’ve put on the shirt of the walls,/just as others might put on a shroud.
Tu enfiles longuement la chemise des murs,/ tout comme d’autres le font avec la chemise de la mort.
The little monster was not born like a human child, yelling with cold and terror as he left his mother’s womb. He had come to life little by little, on the high, three-legged bench. When his eyes had opened, they met the eyes of the broad-shouldered sculptor, watching them tenderly.
Le petit monstre n’était pas né comme un enfant des hommes, criant de froid et de terreur au sortir du ventre maternel. Il avait pris vie peu à peu, sur la haute selle à trois pieds, et quand ses yeux s’étaient ouverts, ils avaient rencontré ceux du sculpteur aux larges épaules, qui le regardaient tendrement.
We're delighted to welcome Nat Paterson to the blog, to tell us more about his translation of Léopold Chauveau's story 'The Little Monster'/ 'Le Petit Monstre', which appears in our April 2024 issue.
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