Size / / /

The first ones,

those who built everything

worthy of the name,

and named it,

better than we could ever hope to;

Those who built the viaducts that last,

not merely for millennia,

but forever,

or as close to that

as we could ever get,

and a little bit farther too;

Those who occupied every planet

worth having,

before anyone else

even got out of diapers,

who sucked the juice from the heads,

and stuffed the first mushrooms;

they probably invented mushrooms,

and maybe heads as well;

Those who used up fabulous elements,

making remarkable machines

that almost worked

when some younger races

heaved themselves out of the slime;

machines that don't really work now,

but if we could only get more

of those ultramundane elements

we could surely do something with them,

maybe just not as good.

David C. Kopaska-Merkel won the 2006 Rhysling Award for a collaboration with Kendall Evans, edits Dreams & Nightmares magazine, and has edited Star*Line and several Rhysling anthologies. His poems have appeared in Asimov’s, Strange Horizons, and elsewhere. A collection, Some Disassembly Required, winner of the 2023 Elgin Award, is available from him at
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20 May 2024

Andrew was convinced the writer had been trans. By this point his friends were tired of hearing about it, but he had no one else to tell besides the internet, and he was too smart for that. That would be asking for it.
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It’s your turn now. / the bombs have come in the same temper— / you in your granny’s frame
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