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What might one write in a poem for Death?

An essay on the peace found in the grave,

a dietary plan addressed to worms,

or praise for the deceased, that one might drink

a toast to, lying quietly in the coffin,

features solemn as if just asleep?

Or should one see instead to one's own sleep

and, in that way, attempt to forestall death,

through healthy habits thus avoid the coffin,

through good eating cheat the waiting grave

and at the same time deprive food and drink

to nature's creatures, the honest lowly worms?

But yes, who of us sheds a tear for worms

that, even as we, must at times find sleep

and at times wake, must breathe and eat and drink,

and as we also end their days in death,

to stretch themselves in their own worm-sized graves,

although, unlike us, probably lacking coffins?

Is that the difference then, the expense of a coffin

that shows we're civilized, while lowly worms

go naked, naturally to their own graves,

and, while we like to speak of eternal sleep

and callings home, I wonder at worms' deaths

what lesser beings find in them food and drink.

But, ah, this is a wake and so we drink

and gather prayerfully around the coffin,

paying in that way respect to Death,

yet through embalming still seek to cheat worms

of what is their due, pretend still it's just sleep

that keeps the deceased lying in their graves.

And one more toast let's offer to the grave,

the yawning pit whose thirst defies mere drink,

whose future claim for us disturbs our sleep

as, all too soon, our beds will be the coffin,

flesh will be no more than food for worms,

and so ourselves be servants of fell Death.

This sleep is longest that is in the grave

and death for any is a bitter drink,

the coffin's treasure at last food for worms.

James Dorr's collections Strange Mistresses: Tales of Wonder and Romance and Darker Loves: Tales of Mystery and Regret are published by Dark Regions Press. Other work has appeared in journals ranging from Aboriginal SF and Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine to Xenophilia and Yellow Bat Review as well as numerous anthologies.
Current Issue
29 May 2023

We are touched and encouraged to see an overwhelming response from writers from the Sino diaspora as well as BIPOC creators in various parts of the world. And such diverse and daring takes of wuxia and xianxia, from contemporary to the far reaches of space!
By: L Chan
The air was redolent with machine oil; rich and unctuous, and synthesised alcohol, sharper than a knife on the tongue.
“Leaping Crane don’t want me to tell you this,” Poppy continued, “but I’m the most dangerous thing in the West. We’ll get you to your brother safe before you know it.”
Many eons ago, when the first dawn broke over the newborn mortal world, the children of the Heavenly Realm assembled at the Golden Sky Palace.
Winter storm: lightning flashes old ghosts on my blade.
transplanted from your temple and missing the persimmons in bloom
immigrant daughters dodge sharp barbs thrown in ambush 十面埋伏 from all directions
Many trans and marginalised people in our world can do the exact same things that everyone else has done to overcome challenges and find happiness, only for others to come in and do what they want as Ren Woxing did, and probably, when asked why, they would simply say Xiang Wentian: to ask the heavens. And perhaps we the readers, who are told this story from Linghu Chong’s point of view, should do more to question the actions of people before blindly following along to cause harm.
Before the Occupation, righteousness might have meant taking overt stands against the distant invaders of their ancestral homelands through donating money, labour, or expertise to Chinese wartime efforts. Yet during the Occupation, such behaviour would get one killed or suspected of treason; one might find it better to remain discreet and fade into the background, or leave for safer shores. Could one uphold justice and righteousness quietly, subtly, and effectively within such a world of harshness and deprivation?
Issue 22 May 2023
Issue 15 May 2023
Issue 8 May 2023
Issue 1 May 2023
Issue 24 Apr 2023
Issue 17 Apr 2023
Issue 10 Apr 2023
Issue 3 Apr 2023
Issue 27 Mar 2023
Issue 20 Mar 2023
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