Size / / /

Seek the pusher in the bands

of shadow cordoning the trees.

Silver glitters in his cratered eyes,

pockets pregnant

with moondust in dimebags.

He dangles one,

flicks it so the residue settles,

holy manna from an astronaut's boot.

Once was, for the thrill he sells,

you signed away a soul.

Now it's cheap as a little blood

left dripping on the holly, a grope

swiftly ended beneath hawthorn spines,

or the bark peeled from a memory

that matters to no one but you:

see it come to life and wriggle

in his stunted hands.

His rat teeth flash, reflections

of the glow from your bag.

Draw your hood tight, and don't let his fingers

press against yours too long.

Soon barricaded in the closet

of your room, alone

with the famished dark; pull the spoon

from your mouth, let something sour

drip into your dreams and burn

a page to set the mixture boiling.

Savor this dollop of alchemy,

this dribble of ectoplasm, your voyage

beyond the coral shelf

of the bloodstream. The boosters

have survived the launch,

no need for a new needle.

But the expedition always ends too soon.

Mike Allen is president of the Science Fiction Poetry Association and editor of the speculative poetry journal Mythic Delirium. With Roger Dutcher, Mike is also editor of The Alchemy of Stars: Rhysling Award Winners Showcase, which for the first time collects the Rhysling Award-winning poems from 1978 to 2004 in one volume. His newest poetry collection, Disturbing Muses, is out from Prime Books, with a second collection, Strange Wisdoms of the Dead, soon to follow. Mike's poems can also be found in Nebula Awards Showcase 2005, both editions of The 2005 Rhysling Anthology, and the Strange Horizons archives.
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