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Once, you handed me half a heart,
a pretty keepsake, as if love
could be contained in glass,
displayed as truth,
a weapon, a warning,
a silver bullet against
every demon
you fashioned in the dark—
but you cornered the wrong monster.

You offered honey
but arrived with too much grief,
a gift of quicksand kisses,
a ruin of howling
keening
between every word,
the ghost of love
conjured as fruit, ripe
as belladonna,
too much and the sleep
is endless—
but a witch always knows.

You think this story is yours,
but it isn’t; you haven’t escaped
the labyrinth, this stone river
knows what you have done,
what you stole, what you broke,
what you burned to ash—
there is no mercy here,
only haunting,
a cadre of shame
brandishing knives—
and you abandoned
the wrong Fate.

Now, you wake
godless, soul-hollow,
your chest vacant
and clockless,
ribs perfectly arranged
around the emptiness,
this cathedral of lies,
this once-holy space,
ringing with a dark hymn
only the damned will ever hear—
look down,
you are standing in your own grave.



Ali Trotta is a poet, editor, dreamer, word-nerd, and unapologetic coffee addict. Her poetry has appeared in UncannyFireside Fiction, and Cicada magazines, as well as in The Best of Uncanny Magazine (Subterranean Press). She has a poem forthcoming in F&SF magazine. Ali’s always scribbling on napkins, looking for magic in the world, and bursting into song. Follow her on Twitter (@alwayscoffee) or visit her blog (alwayscoffee.wordpress.com). Three of her poems were Rhysling Award nominees.
Current Issue
16 May 2022

we are whispered into this new land, this old land, whispered anew
i tuck myselves under coffin nails. and then i am the sun like a nairobi fly, burning spine and skin.
The last deer in heaven flees, and Sestu pursues.
Wednesday: The Anthropocene Unconscious: Climate Catastrophe Culture by Mark Bould 
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Issue 9 May 2022
Podcast: 9 May Poetry 
Issue 2 May 2022
By: Eric Wang
By: Sara S. Messenger
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Sara S. Messenger
Issue 18 Apr 2022
By: Blaize Kelly Strothers
By: Ken Haponek
Podcast read by: Blaize Kelly Strothers
Podcast read by: Ken Haponek
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 11 Apr 2022
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By: Devin Miller
Art by: Alex Pernau
Podcast read by: Courtney Floyd
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Strange Horizons
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Strange Horizons
28 Feb 2022
We would like stories that are joyous, horrific, hopeful, despondent, powerful and subtle. Write something that will take our breath away, make us yell and cry. Write unapologetically in your local patois and basilects in space; make references to local events and memes to your heart’s content. Write something that makes you laugh and cry. Indulge in all the hallmarks of your heritage that you find yourself yearning for in speculative literature, but know that we will not judge you based on your authenticity as a Southeast Asian. 
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