Size / / /

In the shuttered enclaves of the overrun Americas
Where green carries a stigma of the purely untouchable
They whisper of the Frog Spirit's moonfaced countenance
Beside the snow-crusted Scandinavian valley roads
Where only the most agile or artful dare to tread
It's wolf blood and Fenrir lines that chill the bone
Across the silvery dusts of the Sea of Tranquility
Where the horizon is marred by compressor towers
The lunar faithful give thanks for their sterile isolation
Every culture every ecosystem every tongue
Touched by the extensive reach of mutation
Has a blasphemous name for this agent of change
But on the terraformed red dirt plains of Mars
Historical references are lost on the colonists
They snort and sneer at such literate romanticism
They consider it more a bioagent of inevitability
Born from rain forests bred in wild profusion
It stowed away on every sunship and shuttle
From behind the pearly sheen of energy shields
The new Martians call it simply the "god trait"
Deepest sleeper in our evolving genomics
West of the Olympus Mons volcanic cone
Water ices reacted with lava flows to create
The cobwebbed networks of Amazonis Planitia
The newly populated flats and crags teem with
Barely recognizable variants on an Earthly scourge
Semi-sentient kudzu with meristem brain bulbs
And the vast reiterations of the gargantua trees
Cast long shadows over the lairs of red duendes
Neon toucans ghost lemurs necrophida moths
Here the resilient inhabitants the Schiaparellites
Push back these aggressive advances of untrue biota
And too fight the psychoactive ravages of pavonine
They consult the first mystics and forest explorers
They consult the Book of Genna for any slight clue
To the origins and evolutions of what they become
With a stoic ear attuned to the great green voice
They await the corruption's disarmingly hot embrace
And their impending ascension toward the unknown
Toward the unholy annexation of all human forms

Publication of this poem was made possible by a donation from Maureen Kincaid Speller. (Thanks, Maureen!) To find out more about our funding model, or donate to the magazine, see the Support Us page.

Robert Frazier is the author of eight previous books of poetry, and a three-time winner of the Rhysling Award for poetry. He has won an Asimov's Reader Award and been on the final ballot for a Nebula Award for fiction. His books include Perception BarriersThe Daily Chernobyl, and Phantom Navigation (2012). His 2002 poem "A Crash Course in Lemon Physics" was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Recent works have appeared in Asimov's Science Fiction, Dreams & Nightmares, and Strange Horizons. His long poem "Wreck-Diving the Starship" was a runner-up for a 2011 Rhysling Award. He can be reached by email at
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4 Mar 2024

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