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after the Middle English Complaint Against Smiths

Many merry mutants, mauling in melees,
Force me to flee their fists and their fights:
Such scraps stop my sleeping and sour my mind.
What voices like villains at vengeful volume!
Telekinetics toss tables and tangle
And our weather worker sends wind against walls.
Snikt snikt! sounds one, snarling; another sends snow
And hail at high speed upon hostile heads;
One goes bamf! and bamf! bouncing on his blue heels.
They skirmish and scrape and they spar and keep score;
They fly and they fling their friends like fastballs
And warn our winged man, “Whoa! out of the way!”
With lasers and leaping and loud metal loads,
They strike and they stretch their strong limbs of steel
And drive into dregs many droids and drones.
The Danger Room doesn’t go dark for one day!
Professor X should explain these exertions
Training his tyros at twelve and at ten.
My live-in lab allows me little latitude:
I can’t concentrate with their cannonball crashes,
Their blasts and their blams!, great blows that draw blood,
Still slam in my ears. I can’t slip back to sleep.
I can’t stand such stress. O my stars and garters!
Maybe Magneto can make them go mute.
If those callow kids won’t cool off or calm down,
I’ll move myself out of the mansion this month
And join the Avengers. Avoid the X-Men!



Stephanie Burt is Professor of English at Harvard. Her latest books are After Callimachus and Don’t Read Poetry: A Book About How to Read Poems. She’s @accommodatingly on Twitter.

Current Issue
12 Apr 2021

The spaces within me both heal and house oracular properties.
By: Morgan L. Ventura
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Morgan L. Ventura
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Ciro Faienza presents Morgan L. Ventura's “Dispatch from a Ruin in Mitla, the Town of Souls,” with a reading by the poet.
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