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
29 Nov 2021

It is perhaps fitting, therefore, that our donor's choice special issue for 2021 is titled—simply—Friendship.
The year before this, the girls at school had called her Little Lila .
Pictures of me that day are kept in the ship’s files, sent back to Earth to be used in my captors’ eventual war crimes tribunals.
Perhaps a new urban system of star navigation is needed
This world, covered in spectral ebullience, was tied together by bows of light
Are you a good witch / or a bad witch? / as if there’s an answer earned, inscribed in bubbles reflecting an inverse crown.
When does the pursuit of pure thought, pure idealism, pure escapism become detrimental?
Wednesday: The Best of World SF, Volume 1, edited by Lavie Tidhar 
Friday: Anti-Life by Vee Tat Lam 
Issue 22 Nov 2021
Issue 15 Nov 2021
By: Madeline Grigg
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 8 Nov 2021
By: Allison Parrish
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 1 Nov 2021
By: Liam Corley
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Liam Corley
Issue 25 Oct 2021
Strange Horizons
Issue 18 Oct 2021
By: K. Ceres Wright
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 11 Oct 2021
By: Lisabelle Tay
Podcast read by: Kat Kourbeti
Issue 4 Oct 2021
By: Anthony Okpunor
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 2 Oct 2021
Podcast: Fund Drive 2021 Poetry 
By: Michael Meyerhofer
By: Wale Ayinla
Podcast read by: Michael Meyerhofer
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
29 Sep 2021
Opening to fiction submissions for the month of November!
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