Juxtapositions in Speculative Poetry
edited by Joshua Gage
Table of Contents
Editor’s Introduction • Joshua Gage
Pretty Half-Breeds, For Free • Natalia Theodoridou
“hibernation chill” • semi
Like God’s Chorus of Crickets • Alicia Cole
“traversable wormhole” • Julie Bloss Kelsey
When we got out from under Granny’s roof • Jessica Fordham Kidd
The Pornography of Reason • David Barber
Pretty Half-Breeds, For Free
How many years do I carry
on my back? On my chest?
On my palms, how many?
“Fifty, at least,” you might guess.
But it's not fifty, or a hundred
All the years, all the years, I carry.
We were all siblings once
upon a time but each of us
chose our side out of the countless
facets of this rock. Some took wings,
some flippers, some even those other wings
of nice buildings, or not, to rule and be ruled
Many forms in the slave markets of flesh,
a hundred, a hundred and fifty—and one,
We were always free to choose
and many changed with time—
but who ever got to pay off this fate:
Height. Depth. Suffocation.
Looking for this touch—the great touch,
the high touch—we became a new species
Half dragons, half men
Half a heart, half a dream
But, always, under the soft epidermis
you can unearth the old skin, stony and hard
the scales, the neurons pulsing always,
the membranes hot—a hundred and fifty seven
and a half—the nails, the nails
And then one day we unfold our limbs,
one day the pulse becomes too strong,
and the membranes break,
and then we beat ourselves against the ice
and then we are put on sale
and find our bodies nailed down and displayed
in a place where time is measured
and many half-darks later
a thousand and one—
with oil lamps and torches
we breathe the height of our bodies
Who wants us? Half blood, who'd want us?
In the end they always choose us, though.
Because—a thousand and two
a thousand and three—
because this counting never stops
And dreams are expensive, you know,
but you can always get pretty half-ones for free.
beneath feathered wings
new scales glisten
Like God's Chorus of Crickets
The naturalist splices the recordings together.
Track one: crickets, their high, bright summer
voices. Track two: slowed down. A choir,
thick with air; the cathedral's light-suffused
walls the edges of a field. Track three: solar
cycle, the rim of Andromeda. A shifting
protuberance of rough sand, bare antennae
moving with a sound just past the discordance
of a badly strung violin. Difference
and repetition, the strange tonality of existence
rebounding between two galaxies, the naturalist
splicing the recordings together.
the small puncture
in your flight suit
—Julie Bloss Kelsey
When we got out from under Granny's roof
It was a long time in the making,
but we finally had a home
of our own.
Our ancestors had to flit about
outside. They weren’t able
to haunt our new walls.
Room by room
She called out her best recipes
through my dreams
and by the wind creeping past
the kitchen window.
a place to bathe
a place for children to hide
There’s really no hiding from those
who’ve lived in this valley
so long they are trees and rocks
and a murmuring creek.
and hide and practice
the new dirty words
they had learned and stored away.
He laughed at their little rebellion
and would have scared them a bit
if he had been a ghost like the stories.
A place for cats to live behind.
A place for dogs to crawl under.
The animals see everyone who followed us
from the old house places.
They nuzzle the ghosts on the porch
once we’ve all gone to bed.
A road cut up from the highway.
Gardens sprawling out
as we cleared the rocks.
Better than our warmest quilt.
—Jessica Fordham Kidd
She reminds me that she sewed that quilt
before Granny was even born.
The Pornography of Reason
Francis Galton. He read as a toddler
and knew Greek and long division at five,
and by the age of six was insufferable.
Cutting a round cake on scientific principles.
Avalanches of the Jungfrau .
Half-cousin to Darwin . A whole tribe
burdened with brains and out of touch
with happiness. Cracked once, like a plate.
Inquiries into the efficacy of prayer.
The patterns in thumb and finger marks.
Arithmetic by smell.
An explorer, when maps had secrets still
and volunteers to tramp across a continent
searching for the wellspring of the Nile .
Hints for Travelers
and The Art of Travel—
shifts and contrivances available in wild parts.
Something not quite right with Stanley .
Galton spared no pains exposing
he was Welsh and illegitimate.
Sun signals to Mars.
Intelligible signals between neighbouring stars.
The relative sensitivity of men and women at the nape of the neck.
He counted and measured everything
from the attractiveness of women
to the fidgeting in public lectures.
A Beauty Map of Great Britain .
Three generations of lunatic cats. The history of twins
and the power of nature and nurture.
He blamed his childless marriage on his wife,
plain and doleful, and on her late, frail father
for siring such as her. No one was spared.
Deterioration of the British Race.
Eugenics, its definition, scope and aims.
Eugenics and the Jew.
His novel Kantsaywhere reveals nothing of pity;
a world immune to love and kindness, testing
who is fit to breed. The pornography of reason.
After his death, his family burnt the worst of it.
Imagine the smoke of words; imagine it ever more
rational; imagine the hiss of Zyklon B.