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For Louis Slotin

About suffering they were never wrong, the old comics:

Dr. Manhattan's accident a perfect recreation of Slotin's,

poisoned before his frightened co-worker's eyes.

Here's the drawing of him holding his screwdriver, tickling

the dragon. Oppenheimer would complain about his pangs

of conscience, the images of his friend haunting him.

They could imagine what he described: the sour taste

in his mouth, the pain in his hand, and they could still see

that blue glow around him, feel the heat wave

from beryllium meeting plutonium core. His retching,

then nine days of futile blood transfusions.

"A bomb putter-togetherer," he called himself,

though the bomb would take him apart atom by atom.

After this, they began to use robots; they wanted to find a way

to keep a man's hands from touching the demon core of this dragon.

Jeannine Hall Gailey ( is the Seattle-area author of Becoming the Villainess (Steel Toe Books, 2006) and She Returns to the Floating World (Kitsune Books, 2011). Her work has been featured on NPR's The Writer's Almanac, Verse Daily, and in The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror. Her website is, and you can see some of her previous work in our archives.
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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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