Size / / /

Content warning:


[click on each image to view full-screen]

Text: I scuttle in the dark down barely-lit galleys, a sliver of life amongst hulks of discarded craft. Image: A black-robed figure with a helmet approaches an enormous half-buried turbine across a night-dark field tinged pink. Text: Salvage, they call it, but no one comes for it. We are alone, floating in space…the wreckage of old spaceships… Image: The robed figure's large bulk is hunched and weary. Beneath its hood, instead of a face, there is a fist-sized circle of red light. A second image, larger and less shadowed, reveals an angular armored face with a single glowing red eye. Thin metal tentacles curl past the chin like dreadlocks. Text: …and myself. Title card: "The Stars My Destination," written by John Philip Johnson. Art and lettering by Adam Martin.

Text: The creak of old hulls is the void trying to break in, the relentless crush of nothing. Image: The black robe drags across the ground. Text: We resemble the end of all things; the apocalypse does not recycle. The end of light, its dull terminus, the passing of the stelliferous era— Image: An air tank on the robed figure's back resembles an insectoid sea lion. Text: It does not kindle new light, Image: Light streams from the figure's face. Text: Yet there is no end to endings.

Text: For now, we are the only place free from any nature, even our own. Image: An empty red circle. Beneath it, an identical red circle contains a small, indistinct, green gleaming oblong. Text: Garbage exists out of time, beyond history, unencumbered in the near-perfect dark. Image: A third identical red circle magnifies the mysterious object. It is a test tube which contains a seedling.

Text: I am an egg. I am the egg of eggs, formless and empty. Image: The robed figure holds the test tube in metal fingers. Soft red-gold light from the figure's face refracts through the glass around the seedling. Text: Able to take any shape I want, or none at all, I am the only thing without inertia.

Text: I want nothing. If I am born, it will be without meaning… Final Image: A single-leafed seedling planted in rough ground, in darkness, firmly rooted. Final Text: Like a star.



John Philip Johnson has work in Rattle, Asimov’s, F&SF, Apex, Mythic Delirium, The Pedestal, Phantom Drift, Ted Kooser’s newspaper column, “American Life in Poetry,” and the Poetry Foundation, with Pushcart, Best-of-Web, and Rhysling noms. He would love to live on Mars. His comics are from his new comic book, The Book of Fly, which is graphic poetry in Twilight Zone-like episodes. Available at www.johnphilipjohnson.com.
Current Issue
24 Jun 2024

I am a little sad that story has ended, even though I could have been the target
We are all harmonic oscillators / Sloshing around in watery bags of salt,
The Rise of Speculative Poetry 
Strange Horizons
Speculative poetry has the power to detach and disarm, to tease and pull, to play and emancipate.
Wednesday: Island Witch by Amanda Jayatissa 
Friday: The Silverblood Promise by James Logan 
Issue 17 Jun 2024
Issue 10 Jun 2024
Issue 9 Jun 2024
A Tale of Moths and Home (of bones and breathing) (of extrinsic restrictive lung disease) 
Phonetics of Draconic Languages 
Critical Friends Episode 11: Boundaries in Genre 
Issue 3 Jun 2024
Issue 27 May 2024
Issue 20 May 2024
Issue 13 May 2024
Issue 6 May 2024
Issue 29 Apr 2024
Issue 15 Apr 2024
By: Ana Hurtado
Art by: delila
Load More