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It was fine until the shuttles from HQ
Stopped coming and my art supplies ran low
A painter has to paint so I had to get creative
Had to source locally
Yes, lots of things here are toxic
We live in a bubble where we
Grow our own food and
Make textiles from the leavings
But surely a little paint
Wouldn’t hurt anyone?
Blue from a local shell
Ground fine outside so the dust
Wouldn’t contaminate the HVAC
Red from the clay under the northern
Mountain and yellow from the rocks
Littering the face
Stabilized with local water
I prefer oils to watercolors but needs must
The new colors were beautiful
And if I’d had a sealant, some clear, thick resin
Perhaps, it would have been all right

I found out how long it would take
For the local offerings to kill us
When I hung the first painting
In Camden’s quarters—a surprise birthday gift
I meant to make him happy
And he was for a day or two
Until the illness set in
Nobody looked twice at my painting
Nobody thought to question why
I’d changed techniques
He died, slowly and horribly and
I never said a word
I just took the painting from his quarters and
Destroyed it once I got outside
I don’t paint anymore
Okay? I don't paint anymore
I’m sorry and I miss him and I miss
Art too and someday, if a ship ever
Comes back, I’m going to go home and the
First thing I’ll paint will be his portrait
Made with oils, not water—what color is regret?



Gerri Leen is a Pushcart- and Rhysling-nominated poet from Northern Virginia who's into horse racing, tea, collecting encaustic art and raku pottery, and making weird one-pan meals. She has poetry published or accepted by The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Dark Matter, Dreams & Nightmares, Liquid Imagination, NewMyths.com, and others. Visit gerrileen.com to see what she's been up to.
Current Issue
25 Sep 2023

People who live in glass houses are surrounded by dirt birds
After a century, the first colony / of bluebirds flew out of my mouth.
Over and over the virulent water / beat my flame down to ash
In this episode of  Critical Friends , the Strange Horizons SFF criticism podcast, Aisha and Dan talk to critic and poet Catherine Rockwood about how reviewing and criticism feed into creative practice. Also, pirates.
Writing authentic stories may require you to make the same sacrifice. This is not a question of whether or not you are ready to write indigenous literature, but whether you are willing to do so. Whatever your decision, continue to be kind to indigenous writers. Do not ask us why we are not famous or complain about why we are not getting support for our work. There can only be one answer to that: people are too busy to care. At least you care, and that should be enough to keep my culture alive.
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