Size / / /

CONTENT WARNING:


“To slow an animal
You break its foot with a stone”
-Michael Ondaatje

They arrive like sailboats,
skirting the wheat fields
with weary, tattooed feet.
Their tongues spill broken riddles,
but on the acidic, smoke wind,
a tragedy is whispered.

They passed through the mountains,
carrying their perfumes,
and discovering new ways
to carry their dead.
We cry, but then a story
repeats itself.

We show them the cornstalks, white stones.
They touch the plants
with their burnt fingertips,
and offer gifts:
tamed fireflies, seeds that sprout in droughts—
we are not interested.

In the evening, they whistle for ghosts,
breathe out the sunset, and plow fields with oxen.
A little girl dances with a little boy.
Do we occupy the same space?
Or do we remain sovereign, pure?

They fill their scars with indigo
(since they are all doctors),
and always know the right medicine—
burning dandelions, dizzy smoke,
the smell invades our wooden homes
and ruins what we know.

The medicine, they say, is for the mind,
for the heart, and soul.
Their medicine makes them sick,
but it makes them forget.
Our doctors cannot do that.

We cannot control the wind
or the circumstance.
Only how, sweet honey, drizzles
on sweet bread,
and how fire burns so quickly,
so greedily.

The killing begins at dawn,
or perhaps night.
Throats of their oxen,
dragons and pets, slashed
with carving knives.

The burning begins at noon.
First with their white linen and then
their burlap sacks of preserved memories.
Eventually the same color, same value.
After the smoke clears,
shoeprints of ash.

We stand to attention,
burn in shame for our cowards,
but still do not cry when the nomads
leave with the wind,
to the next unwelcome place.

To slow an animal, you break
its foot with a stone.
To break humans
requires more thought, and careful
attention to detail.



Maya C. James is a part-time adventurist and full-time student. Her work appears on Hello Giggles and Soar: For Harriet. Maya also writes and performs speeches in front of politicians and diplomats. In her spare time, you can find her drinking sweet tea and boxing. Learn more at https://mayajameswrites.wordpress.com/
Current Issue
21 Oct 2019

I don’t exit this world; it’s the only way I sleep. One of two boys in the darkness, hanging our feet off the ledge, staring at nothing.
By: Omar William Sow
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents Omar William Sow's “Promise Me This Is Ours.”
It had been awhile since Bridget had feasted
By: Amy H. Robinson
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Ciro Faienza presents Amy H. Robinson's “Follow You.”
I love illustrating portraits. There's something surreal in the subtleties in people's faces.
Wednesday: Soft Science by Franny Choi 
Friday: The Test by Sylvain Neuvel 
Issue 14 Oct 2019
By: Kevin Wabaunsee
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Ruben Reyes Jr.
Podcast read by: Ruben Reyes Jr.
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 7 Oct 2019
By: Charles Payseur
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Davian Aw
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 30 Sep 2019
By: Kali de los Santos
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Heitor Zen
Podcast read by: Julia Quandt
By: Sérgio Motta
Podcast read by: Sérgio Motta
By: Isa Prospero
Podcast read by: Solaine Chioro
Monday: 3% 
,
Issue 23 Sep 2019
By: August Huerta
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 16 Sep 2019
By: Marie Brennan
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Hester J. Rook
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Hester J. Rook
Issue 9 Sep 2019
By: Shiv Ramdas
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Sarah Shirley
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
31 Aug 2019
Brazil Special Issue call for fiction submissions!
Issue 26 Aug 2019
By: Cynthia So
Podcast read by: Cynthia So
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 19 Aug 2019
By: S. R. Mandel
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
Issue 12 Aug 2019
By: Niyah Morris
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Dante Luiz
Art by: Em Allen
By: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Rasha Abdulhadi
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Load More
%d bloggers like this: