Size / / /

(after Wallace Stevens)

I.

Among twenty

abandoned space stations,

blackbirds settle to scavenge.

II.

Artificial intelligence

going mad

takes advice from blackbirds.

III.

Blackbirds play in autumn winds,

a small part of the

habitat's rapture.

IV.

A man and a blackbird

and a hostile alien soldier

are one.

V.

Blackbirds stop whistling

only to crack the whitened bones

in old settlements.

VI.

The last settlers dream of blackbirds.

Ice feathers across the biodome.

VII.

Oh worm-men of Io,

why imagine bird gods

when blackbirds hunt you?

VIII.

We know the rattle

of feather-stalled ship's engines

and curse the blackbirds.

IX.

When they fly out of sight,

they mark the edge of

the universe itself.

X.

Police-droid blackbirds

get green light.

Bawds of privacy cry out sharply.

XI.

The shadows of alien ships

and the shadows of blackbirds

converge.

XII.

The twenty-first settlement is burning.

The blackbirds must be crying.

XIII.

It was autumn all year.

Blackbirds came and went.

So did humanity.




Joanne Merriam is the publisher at Upper Rubber Boot Books. She is a new American living in Nashville, having immigrated from Nova Scotia. She most recently edited Broad Knowledge: 35 Women Up To No Good, and her own poetry has appeared in dozens of places including Asimov's, The Fiddlehead, Grain, and previously in Strange Horizons.
Current Issue
26 Sep 2022

Would a Teixcalaanli aristocrat look up at the sky, think of Lsel Station, and wonder—with Auden—"what doubtful act allows/ Our freedom in this English house/ our picnics in the sun"?
I propose that The Expanse and its ilk present us with a similar sentiment, in reverse—a warning that for all the promise of futurism and technological advancement, plenty of new, and perhaps much worse futures are right before us. In the course of outrunning la vieux monde, we may find that we are awaited not simply by new worlds to win, but also many more which may yet be lost.
where oil slurped up out of the dirt, they drink the coffee
Science fiction is a genre that continues to struggle with its own colonialist history, of which many of its portrayals of extractivism are a part. Science fiction is also a genre that has a history of being socially progressive and conscious – these are both truths.
Bring my stones, my bones, back to me
If we are to accept that the extractive unconscious is latent, is everywhere, part of everything, but unseen and unspoken, and killing us in our waking lives, then science fiction constitutes its dreams.
they are quoting Darwish at the picket & i am finally breathing again
Waste is profoundly shaping and changing our society and our way of living. Our daily mundane world always treats waste as a hidden structure, together with its whole ecosystem, and places it beyond our sight, to maintain the glories of contemporary life. But unfortunately, some are advantaged by this, while others suffer.
Like this woman, I am carrying the world on my back.
So we’re talking about a violence that supplants the histories of people and things, scrubbing them clean so that they can fuel the oppressive and unequal status quo it sustains.
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