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For Claire Suzanne Elizabeth Cooney

Letter by letter, words trickled through the sand

blown before him on the shore by a wind

that bore the lake's own cool caress;

he failed to read them, eyes drawn skyward

by a lone black-winged speck that etched

lush loops beneath a canvas of clouds.

He came with easel, brush in hand,

himself not unlike a painting, skin

blended gesso pale, long black strokes

of hair. He propped up his own canvas,

paused, stood sculpture-still and marveled,

at a voice threaded through

the whistling breeze, the lapping waves.

Syllables not quite heard in full,

like fingers almost pressed along

the ridge of his cheekbones, against

the pulse beneath his chin, tilted his head,

aimed his gaze at a column, a shimmer

above the water, a figure formed

of sunset light, of fleeting umbral fire,

and that molasses-sweet whisper flowed,

embedded in the shore's wet breathing.

He took a step, another, allowed

the lake to take soft hold of his ankles,

his knees, his thighs, as unnoticed

the black birds gathered above,

writing cursive lines on shifting slate.

Always, her voice, her silhouette of flame

ahead of him, as his feet left the shelf,

as his eyes lost the sky, as the drink

filled him in, as he drowned unknowing,

pursued her murmur down into the deeps.

Past the light's last grasp the space

opened into other realms—stars blinked

below him and swan-white maidens

swam among them, spread gossamer fins

to slip aside, circle him, pluck his clothes.

Their laughter brought no bubbles. Neither

did his protests as he sped his gait.

The fever he chased sported a face,

dark-eyed, a coaxing-ember smile

easier to see in the expanding dark,

receding as a comet races, over plains

of magma murk where spined and shelled

imps bent to their work, harvested

the hollow-eyed dead for cooking pots

and tentpole torture games. They waved

their claws his way but he kept on,

his tapered sylvan feet well out of reach.

In a luminous demesne he at last became

entangled, nearly severed from his star

amidst a tightening lattice of hungry

radiance that craved all his layers

and would not be denied, until black forms

sliced their cursive from below, freed him

from the listless weight of flesh,

filled his arms with hues and shadows,

and lines to sew them in a greeting gift.

He stood before her, naked, reed-slender, blue

as the current that claimed him, black hair

in a cirrus crown, and dared to encroach

upon the corona draped over her shoulders,

the mist cinched at her waist, the aurora

of her tresses, to lay the circlet woven

of his soul's final art upon her brow.

And her speech came clear,

her syllables embraced.

Washed up on the rocks, his body

showed no wear, his dreamy smile

translucent as a half-remembered sunset.

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.
Current Issue
27 Jul 2020

Stefan škrtl další sirkou a zapálil jednu ze svíček, které s sebou přinesl, pak další a další, dokud je neobklopoval celý kruh. Hanna nakrčila nos. Svíčky vydávaly zvláštní zápach, ale ne nepříjemný. Připomínal čerstvě posečenou trávu. I jejich tmavě olivová barva byla nezvyklá.
By: Amel Moussa
Translated by: Hager Ben Driss
Many things in my kitchen resemble me; I relate to them; we entertain one another. Water, fire, and electricity vegetables, water rich fruits, and dry fruits
أشياء ٌكثيرةٌ في مطبخي تُشبهني أتماهى مع هذه الأشياء ونُؤنسُ بعضنا.
He ignored her remark, ignited another match and lit a small candle. Then another one. He continued until a circle of candles surrounded them on the stage. Hanna scrunched her nose. The candles exuded a strange smell, but not an unpleasant one. It resembled freshly mown grass. The color was unusual too, a deep olive-green.
By: Eisuke Aikawa
Translated by: Toshiya Kamei
The translucent Ōe-san steps out of the bathroom and sits at the table as usual. He spreads butter on an invisible slice of bread, takes a bite, and chews it, holding the morning paper in his other hand. Just like a mime. I sit on the floor and observe his movements.
Issue 20 Jul 2020
By: Ranylt Richildis
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: JD Fox
By: JD Fox
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: JD Fox
17 Jul 2020
Strange Horizons is now accepting fiction submissions for our Mexico Special issue, which will be published at the end of November 2020!
17 Jul 2020
Strange Horizons lanza su convocatoria en busca textos narrativos para su Especial de México, que se publicará a finales de noviembre de 2020!
Issue 13 Jul 2020
By: Alex Jennings
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Kimberly Kaufman
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 6 Jul 2020
By: Stephen O'Donnell
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Thomas White
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 30 Jun 2020
By: Carlie St. George
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Janelle C. Shane
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
Issue 22 Jun 2020
By: Neha Maqsood
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Neha Maqsood
Issue 15 Jun 2020
By: Remy Reed Pincumbe
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Preston Grassmann
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 8 Jun 2020
By: Kathleen Jennings
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Keaton Bennett
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 2 Jun 2020
By: Sheree Renée Thomas
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Maggie Damken
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
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