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Nobody needs your damn armada.
Come hear the truth from me.
I'll tie you to the mast, Capitán,
kelp-tickle your beard
as you sink into the sea.
No more a mermaid
than a taxidermied monkey
neither selkie nor siren
am I
nothing so glorified.
Solamente soy una guadaña:
spindrift and ozone solidified,
fashioned human on this armature
of shipwreck splinters
and adipocere.

    Soon I will flow back
    lentamente
    a kiss dissolving into Mother . . .

Insidious as rats in steerage,
I infiltrated your crew.
Tongue oily as seals, I pirated
your words, a language that skewers sea,
making masculine.
In these dark alleys
between night-crested waves,
I whispered queries marlin-sharp
to sailor and soldier alike.
See how they rise,
Mutiny their answer.
I smashed your puny sextants
on principle, slashed your maps
for spite.
Now ready your wrists
for my lightning strike.

    And seeded throughout your fleet
    my salt sisters shadow me . . .

The only monarch we mind:
Oceana
(To your knees! The deep-sea chorus
sings! "Celosa medusa, Hermosa bruja . . .").
The only regent we recognize:
her bastard consort Gravity.
Too long have you siphoned
sacrifices meant for our goddess,
too often squandered blood
on beaches that should have slaked
the whirlpool mouths of
our queen. Mi reina
sends assassins not ambassadors,
death not diplomacy.
For her, I bleed.

    A monad in the depths, I dreamed darker
    than the ichor spilling from this illusion.
    This effigy is a shell
    soon to be discarded . . .

Propelled by Majesty's orders
I clip throats and sails.
With whale-oil overboard I ignite
mis hermanas olas
so bright your enemies
shield their eyes on shore.
Proud, I bring this plague ship
to port on benthic floor.
Your flotilla twirls and tumbles,
castillos al revés.

    Mother mocks your keeled cathedrals
    and turns them into pearls.




Lisa M. Bradley is a Tejana living in Iowa. Her words have infiltrated Uncanny Magazine, Interfictions, Cicada, The Moment of Change, Mythic Delirium, and other publications. She loves gothic country music, broken taboos, Spanglish, and horror films—all of which influenced her collection, The Haunted Girl (Aqueduct Press). For more, see her website or Twitter.
Current Issue
21 Nov 2022

As far back as I could remember, Oma warned me about the bats. She said they would eat me if they found me exposed at night. But I knew the green light of the moon would protect me, even when I was still smaller than Oma.
The truth is: / she does not have to bend into a ceramic plate to carry us beautifully, & my father / isn't the hand that will break her.
the rattle of the rails, the shuffling-muttering of hundreds of passengers nestled in the one long limb of you
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