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Language in the town of Wyelle
is communally woven
by teams of spiders,
each one trained and selected for
a distinct word in the text.
Some words escape:
the corners of the cellars and the backs of cupboards
are full of senseless words,
and sacred texts spread into the wilds around
like an infection

In the forests outside Bairn,
torn by feuds and years-long fights,
trees record the spoken word,
stitch it into their trunks;
it takes three decades for the bark
to harden into legibility.
Among the feuding clans it's said
'Memory need not be perfect
only patient for the trees.'
When many speak at once
a grove will share transcription duties
as secretaries to the feuds

On the western shore of the Shawl Sea
writing is permitted only between tides
in the drying and dampening sand;
all words must be gone
by the high tide's turn
or be declared false, anathema.
Their texts are not lost,
so they claim,
for across the sea
the waves recreate each word
erased by the tides
an equal and opposite reaction;
whether the peoples of the coast
mean this literally or not
they will not say, but
in their spoken tales the sea
is often taken to mean death




Daniel Ausema is a writer and poet from Colorado. His poetry has previously appeared in Strange Horizons, and his fiction has appeared in many publications. He is also the creator of the steampunk-fantasy serial fiction project Spire City. He has a background in experiential education and is a stay-at-home dad.
Current Issue
21 Sep 2020

The day the last qawwal was killed, my childhood city, already known for its lethal silence, for its censorship of words, for its refusal to listen, went into a deep deep quiet.
By: Aqdas Aftab
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents Aqdas Aftab's “Quiet.”
By: David Clink
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Ciro Faienza presents David Clink's “Back Story.”
You like that every single word, image, and idea in my poetry has meaning and is put there for a reason, so when you ask about the plant in my poem and need to know more about it. . .
Wednesday: Dead Astronauts by Jeff VanderMeer 
Friday: The Supernova Era by Cixin Liu, translated by Joel Martinsen 
Issue 14 Sep 2020
By: Fargo Tbakhi
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Jenny Blackford
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 7 Sep 2020
By: Catherynne M. Valente
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Bethany Powell
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Bethany Powell
Issue 31 Aug 2020
By: R.B. Lemberg
By: Julia Rios
By: Sonya Taaffe
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: R.B. Lemberg
Podcast read by: Julia Rios
Podcast read by: Sonya Taaffe
Issue 24 Aug 2020
By: Leslie J. Anderson
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Leslie J. Anderson
Issue 17 Aug 2020
By: Emma Törzs
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Liz Adair
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 10 Aug 2020
By: Anya Johanna DeNiro
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Laura Cranehill
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 3 Aug 2020
By: Christine Lucas
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Christine Lucas
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Krishnakumar Sankaran
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Krishnakumar Sankaran
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!
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