Size / / /

Feel how the walls freeze and can't breathe.

Absurd as children flapping arms, the alien spaceboats

cycle through the airlock. Confront the things. Speak

of safety, of this fragile sheath,

practicalities of gravity, and, afloat,

feel how the walls freeze and can't breathe.

Reply to their red and golden physique

of sly heat, their flickering tendrilled bloat.

Cycle through the airlock. Confront the things. Speak

of trade, the consequences of failure. Seethe.

Try sign language, semaphore, a series of notes.

Feel how the walls freeze and can't breathe.

Your breath, unnecessarily loud in your helmet, halts

in your throat.

Feel how the walls freeze and can't breathe.

Cycle through the airlock. Confront the things. Speak.




Joanne Merriam is the publisher at Upper Rubber Boot Books. She is a new American living in Nashville, having immigrated from Nova Scotia. She most recently edited Broad Knowledge: 35 Women Up To No Good, and her own poetry has appeared in dozens of places including Asimov's, The Fiddlehead, Grain, and previously in Strange Horizons.
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21 Sep 2022

There is little more inspirational than a writer who devotes her talents to the work of others.
I was twelve when my mother was born. Twelve or thereabouts. If I’d been older, I could have said things like I never wanted to be a daughter; I don’t have a filial bone in my body. Relatives could have tilted their heads at me, insisting I’d change my mind. But I was twelve so I said nothing. I had no relatives.
a few miles from the fallout zone. / You double-check the index card
Unripe morning / cut open too soon
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