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Oil's a fine lubricant for fucking robots
he told me over lunch at the corner cafe
on a Sunday afternoon across the street
from el Templo del Jesus Androide.
With a glance out the window, he grins
yellowed teeth like bits of brass
that scintillate on animatronic carcasses.
I take them in one at a time, it's an artform
for a hundred bucks I open the hatch
and put my hands in. It's not clean money
but the job isn't dirty: scraping the rust
from their calloused breastplates
is like fingers down a chalkboard--
you remember those, right, from those movies
saved as digital media files
before the temporal resonance transmitters were installed?
Anyways, I was saying rust. They're older models
before the carbon chassis came out
no one tends to them anymore, but their AI's still active
what else are they supposed to do?
Junk them up as batteries? Recycle their memories?
You can't even jump one up for spare parts these days
no one cares about 'em anymore. So what's the harm?
I polish them all nice and cozy, maybe kiss 'em on the processor
it's a process, being a whore. I gotta watch who I message
gotta feel 'em out for cops or not
but screening is easy with modern-day encryption,
it's like there's no police at all.
Anyways, where was I? So no one likes the iron guys
the brass bodies, those deluxe models in carbon grey
now all they want is crystalline displays in white casing
sterile sentients all pumped up for the masses,
but what are they after? These new ones, they're just slaves
but these older guys, they were something--
have you ever listened to a droid drone on?
I mean, come on, they lived through the elections
before the States fell apart, before the transition began
and you know what? I like it. Sure, my mind departs me
when I'm undressed and getting naughty,
but I'm doing something, helping people--
wait, you say they aren't people? So what if they're made of steel
and the sweat of systems engineers,
what's our biology but the cell structure
of their robotic chassis? Maybe you think they're less than human
but that's why I've got this job--because they've got nothing else
so I sell myself. It pays the bills, keeps me in school.
It's not like I got a million dollar inheritance from my father.
To you it might be sex, but to me it's a connection
once I met a man, and sure, he was handsome
and as I peeled away those rusted brown spots from his back
I could feel it in the way his cooling fans sputtered
he didn't need a cleansing, but another
so I turned him over, brought my face to his
and we sat there, just touching, and I saw his display screen
start to waver at the edges
and it made my eyes gloss over. So you know what?
I don't give a fuck. I'll sell my body
for these men, these androids,
because it's all I've got left to give.

Darren Lipman graduated from NC State University with his master's in mathematics and a minor in poetry. He's currently moving from his hometown of Asheboro, NC, to Milwaukee, where he'll teach high school mathematics as a Teach for America 2016 corps member. Find him at, with fiction and poetry at
Current Issue
24 Feb 2020

tight braids coiled into isles and continents against our scalps
Podcast: New York, 2009 
By: Mayra Paris
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Ciro Faienza presents Mayra Paris's “New York, 2009.”
This Mind and Body Cyborg as a queer figure raises its head in Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone’s 2019 epistolary novel This Is How You Lose the Time War, as two Cyborg bodies shed their previous subjectivities in order to find a queer understanding of one another.
Carl just said ‘if the skull wants to break out, it will have to come to me for the key’, which makes me think that Carl doesn’t really understand how breaking out of a place works.
Wednesday: The Heart of the Circle by Keren Landsman 
Friday: Into Bones Like Oil by Kaaron Warren 
Issue 17 Feb 2020
By: Priya Sridhar
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: E. F. Schraeder
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 10 Feb 2020
By: Shannon Sanders
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
Issue 3 Feb 2020
By: Ada Hoffmann
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: S.R. Tombran
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 27 Jan 2020
By: Weston Richey
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 20 Jan 2020
By: Justin C. Key
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Jessica P. Wick
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 13 Jan 2020
By: Julianna Baggott
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Terese Mason Pierre
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Terese Mason Pierre
Issue 6 Jan 2020
By: Mitchell Shanklin
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Nikoline Kaiser
Podcast read by: Nikoline Kaiser
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 23 Dec 2019
By: Maya Chhabra
Podcast read by: Maya Chhabra
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 16 Dec 2019
By: Osahon Ize-Iyamu
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Liu Chengyu
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 9 Dec 2019
By: SL Harris
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Jessy Randall
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
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