Size / / /

The Gate said "Abandon All Hope."

I thought I'd tossed all my hope away,

but when I stepped through the Gate, it still pinged.

One of the guards slithered out of its seat,

snarling as it drew forth a wand.

C'mere, it hissed,

it seems you're still holding out hope.

Its crusted hide was a Venus landscape up close.

It brushed that cold black wand all over my skin,

put it in places I don't want to talk about.

Snaggle fangs huffed in my face:

Sir, step over here, please.

Then the strip search began.

My flesh rolled up & tossed aside for mushy sifting.

Bones X-rayed, stacked in narrow rows, marrow

sucked out, tested, spit back in.

They made me open mind, heart, soul, shook them out

like sacks of flour, panned the contents

for every nugget of twinkling hope, glistening courage;

applying lethal aerosol

to any motion that could be ascribed to love or will

or malingering dreams—

sparing only a few squirming morsels

for later snacking.

Once they were done

they made me pick up my own pieces

(I did the best I could without a mirror),

then my guard kicked me out—

with a literal kick—

sent me rolling down the path to my final destination.

I'll be honest with you, it's no picnic here.

But, my friends, I still have hope. I do.

I'm not going to tell you

where I hid it.




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
9 Dec 2019

“Full ahead, Mister Sal,” says Moore. I grit my teeth and force the Anastasis forward. The engines, the strongest of any ship I’ve ever steered, screech and whine like dying things. The nightgaunts are ten deep around us and it’s like flying through tar.
By: SL Harris
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents SL Harris's “Into the Eye.”
I stand in a cell for suffrage.
By: Jessy Randall
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Ciro Faienza presents Jessy Randall's “Mary Agnes Chase (1869-1963).”
Wednesday: Sharp and Sugar Tooth edited by Octavia Cade 
Friday: David Mogo, Godhunter by Suyi Davies Okungbowa 
Issue 2 Dec 2019
By: Sheldon Costa
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Mari Ness
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 25 Nov 2019
By: Nisa Malli
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Nisa Malli
Issue 18 Nov 2019
By: Marika Bailey
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Alicia Cole
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 11 Nov 2019
By: Rivqa Rafael
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Mary McMyne
By: Ugonna-Ora Owoh
Podcast read by: Mary McMyne
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 28 Oct 2019
By: Kelly Stewart
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Kelly Stewart
Monday: Aniara 
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Issue 21 Oct 2019
By: Omar William Sow
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Amy H. Robinson
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 14 Oct 2019
By: Kevin Wabaunsee
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Ruben Reyes Jr.
Podcast read by: Ruben Reyes Jr.
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 7 Oct 2019
By: Charles Payseur
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Davian Aw
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 30 Sep 2019
By: Kali de los Santos
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Heitor Zen
Podcast read by: Julia Quandt
By: Sérgio Motta
Podcast read by: Sérgio Motta
By: Isa Prospero
Podcast read by: Solaine Chioro
Monday: 3% 
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Issue 23 Sep 2019
By: August Huerta
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
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