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Ghosts almost never harangue their killers. It's those who can actually feel guilt and shame who draw a ghost from hiding, regardless of whether they had anything to do with the death that spawned the haunting.
—Aaron Friedrich, These Bloody Filaments

alley behind our house

car parked against the fence, a beat up four-door compact
dead teen folded on the tiny back seat

all his blood emigrated through the new doors
moved out into the upholstery

cop had a laugh, said the boy came up short
owed someone meaner, had to pay exact change
no pennies left for his eyes

sure we didn't hear nothing?
struggle must've gone on for a while
he could've called for help

guy at our church owns a jewelry store
he grins around his reading glasses
they catch the one who did it, that's two thugs gone, he says

they towed that car off weeks ago
but the boy, he doesn't know

we've seen him draped on our chain-link gate
like he tried to climb over and couldn't make it
flimsy as the paper that shared his death
in four short paragraphs

no moon, nothing's waving
when we peek through the blinds
just a piece of trash tortured by the wind
so it looks like a face

Mike Allen is president of the Science Fiction Poetry Association and editor of the speculative poetry journal Mythic Delirium. With Roger Dutcher, Mike is also editor of The Alchemy of Stars: Rhysling Award Winners Showcase, which for the first time collects the Rhysling Award-winning poems from 1978 to 2004 in one volume. His newest poetry collection, Disturbing Muses, is out from Prime Books, with a second collection, Strange Wisdoms of the Dead, soon to follow. Mike's poems can also be found in Nebula Awards Showcase 2005, both editions of The 2005 Rhysling Anthology, and the Strange Horizons archives.
Current Issue
21 Sep 2022

There is little more inspirational than a writer who devotes her talents to the work of others.
I was twelve when my mother was born. Twelve or thereabouts. If I’d been older, I could have said things like I never wanted to be a daughter; I don’t have a filial bone in my body. Relatives could have tilted their heads at me, insisting I’d change my mind. But I was twelve so I said nothing. I had no relatives.
a few miles from the fallout zone. / You double-check the index card
Unripe morning / cut open too soon
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