Size / / /

(after Wallace Stevens)


Among twenty

abandoned space stations,

blackbirds settle to scavenge.


Artificial intelligence

going mad

takes advice from blackbirds.


Blackbirds play in autumn winds,

a small part of the

habitat's rapture.


A man and a blackbird

and a hostile alien soldier

are one.


Blackbirds stop whistling

only to crack the whitened bones

in old settlements.


The last settlers dream of blackbirds.

Ice feathers across the biodome.


Oh worm-men of Io,

why imagine bird gods

when blackbirds hunt you?


We know the rattle

of feather-stalled ship's engines

and curse the blackbirds.


When they fly out of sight,

they mark the edge of

the universe itself.


Police-droid blackbirds

get green light.

Bawds of privacy cry out sharply.


The shadows of alien ships

and the shadows of blackbirds



The twenty-first settlement is burning.

The blackbirds must be crying.


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
25 Sep 2023

People who live in glass houses are surrounded by dirt birds
After a century, the first colony / of bluebirds flew out of my mouth.
Over and over the virulent water / beat my flame down to ash
In this episode of  Critical Friends , the Strange Horizons SFF criticism podcast, Aisha and Dan talk to critic and poet Catherine Rockwood about how reviewing and criticism feed into creative practice. Also, pirates.
Writing authentic stories may require you to make the same sacrifice. This is not a question of whether or not you are ready to write indigenous literature, but whether you are willing to do so. Whatever your decision, continue to be kind to indigenous writers. Do not ask us why we are not famous or complain about why we are not getting support for our work. There can only be one answer to that: people are too busy to care. At least you care, and that should be enough to keep my culture alive.
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