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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
Current Issue
5 Jun 2023

Jackson sat at Kay’s bedside, one of her hands laid atop his, palm to palm, fingertips against the soft inside of her wrist. His fingers measured her temperature and pulse, her blood pressure, and her blood oxygen levels. She was no weaker or stronger today than yesterday. He was unsurprised and uneasy. Her vitals were regular with sleep. She had been resting when he returned from the shore.
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