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Issue 43 • January 2022
edited by Jordan Hirsch

Table of Contents

Editor’s IntroductionJordan Hirsch

C • Michael Janairo
Aubade for Those Who Burn • Ingrid L. Taylor
The Fields of Elohim • Richard Magahiz
Glint of Light on Broken Glass • S. T. Eleu
Hydrogen • Ellis Bray
E=MCcon brioDavid Jalajel
Will-o’-Wisps Convergently Evolved in the Sea • AJ Wentz
Psyche as Vampire Squid • Laura Reece Hogan
Match Girl • Helen Patrice
Eosphosphorus • Avra Margariti
In the Middle • Marisca Pichette
Enola Spelled Backwards Is Alone • Aurelius Dragan
Millennium Fallout • Jennifer Ruth Jackson
Trial of the Will-o'-Wisp (A Triolet) • Katherine Quevedo
Tigers, Wanderers, Queens • Shana Ross
River of Stars • David C. Kopaska-Merkel
The Optics of Space Travel • Angela Acosta
Journey Through Darkness • Matthew Wilson


C is for One hundred eighty-six thousand miles per second
car, cat, cup a child knows thoughts move faster than that
city, center, corpse but when it comes to solving murder mysteries
clown, comics, captain we want an easy hero, any fistfight will do
C, C++, C# it's how we're programmed, from the start
carbon, charm, constant simple life forms, the embodiment of a promise
Cthulhu, chafing, caterpillar yet always eager for something beyond reckoning
canceled, cracker, capacity like pain or creatures, pushing to our very limits
Celsius, catcher, column while scientific precision keeps us in bounds
consent, country, cookie and we return, always return, to things that comfort and heal

—Michael Janairo

Aubade For Those Who Burn

Oh, divine creep of morning
that flames across the sky,
I have not called you into my necropolis.

The night’s hours fall into dawn,
relentless like the beads of vertebrae
counted between my fingers.

My hands a fumbled rack
of sinew & bone—
they grasp

for the candied rise and plummet
of your golden shimmer,
each swoop and pivot a small extinction.

With your khamsin breath

you have set fire to this land
& washed everything
down to bones—I have no coin to spare

for redemption’s ledger. I have spent myself
on the heat of your leaving, & I sleep alone
in a wasteland bricked by these two hands.

I have glazed my ash to obsidian & chiseled
this rubble to monument. In the grim
of twilight, it is easy to twist

a lock of hair with my spit and blood, to speak
the blistering words of desire, & sprout
these seething demon wings.

How can you, with your morning glories
& sparrow’s song, fathom the comfort I find
in these leathered and clawed appendages?

My wingspan grows in the matinal hour, it lifts
my sorrow and molds it to a shape that I can hold—
or it holds me.

Do not take from me the succor
of this night-spawned frame
that spoons my bile like nectar back to me.

Do not take from me
this ruinous beauty, as you break
upon the daylight’s fragile border.

& though I reject
your promise of renewal—

like a honeyed basin, you rise
on a quiver of birdsong and gentle breeze,
& you wash my embers to dust.

In your muting glow,
I surrender my bladed obsidian
for granite’s dull heft

& trade my smoldering darkness
for seraph's wings.

—Ingrid L. Taylor

The Fields of Elohim

bound in dungeons
of dull stone,
the mind winkles forth

    your third eye Pole Star...    act quite human

and powers
searing hosannas

    for something blue,    this bride chose lightning

a soul hum,
the night packed with stars
blossoms and splits

    the glint of Fear,    soon, that of Terror

—Richard Magahiz

Glint of Light on Broken Glass

Du Dunkelheit, aus der ich stamme,
Ich liebe dich…


no, I do not see you


I have no reference
I have always been


from ivory towers

and though a blade now presses against my flesh
and though the assailant reeks of hunger

he is but a man


interrogated, subjected

I am laid out to be
a parched canvas
his eau de vie

in chains to a chair whose cool steel
soothes my bare, blue skin

I wait
wait beneath his tense language
I never learned to speak

I stare
stare, because curses from Earth
mean nothing to me


in light

as assault, as allergen
as vanity of vanities

from the lamp above
to burn, blind, betray


all to compel confession
and coerce from me the dimensional coordinates
where my kind, in darkness, fly free


the only light we trust
exists but once

for the sin it carries
is seldom forgiven

and when spent incurs the cost
of sacrifice

for like bees
who, too, bear such burdens among men

we know it is only the eyes of snakes
as dice end their roll
that can save us



games I can play no more
given the risk
and given flesh that grows weak, willpower weaker

the man returns
with eyes ablaze, with renewed resolve

to split thoughts

from synapses

I draw in one more breath
and as oxygen dances its dance
I release from my gizzard its pyrophoric contents
and exhale all hell from within
and burn


these chains

the entire room

to ashes

the clash is over
but for the final landing of the dice

roll, roll, stop:             •
roll, roll, roll, stop:               •


I have no reference
I have always, always, always been

—S. T. Eleu


I remember the brief day
that you told me Zeno's Paradox:
how nothing is whole because all can be halved;

and I replied with the Rule of One:
          there is only One Everything;
          existence is binary,
                    zeroes and ones,
and Zeno's Halves have no power here.

Tell me, once more, that you love me,
          here before the gates of Hell,
while the cloven sky rains cremated remains
          and the noon sun glowers, birth-bed red;
while we breathe in fulgurant air
          and exhale those first furious cries;
while the atoms accept our violence
          and absorb it and move on.

Our whispered doxologies lost to the wind,
          world without end
                    (all things must end).

"Atomos" means "that which cannot be sundered,"
and you are my proton, and I am your neutron,
          and within us, physics must fail, because
                                        1 + 1 = 1.

Let Zeno's Law halve Hydrogen,
          and watch the world ignite.

—Ellis Bray

E=MCcon brio

Purge! Invigorate!—Now jubilation!
As season follows season, mortify!
Solstice virgins, sungods’ consummation.
Sol Invictus! Bless this flesh to thrive…

* * *

Radiant corrosion-proof enamel
coats the panels soaking up the sky.
Flannel-clad enthusiasts synch channels.
Phototropic dendrites hum alive…

Neural networks revving up for hours,
careful modulations mollify
delicately fluctuating powers.
Cells ignite in: 1,2,3,4,5…

Optic fog of proton radiation –
curtains drop to field the quantum eye.
Now! Be picked up at our new location.
Two-bit photon-photon gates elide…

DC/AC/battery conversion,
a spirit path for off-the-grid AIs.
Open floorplan gourmet heat dispersion
hits the spot’s hedonic sunny side…

Personhood links android mental prowess.
Urban thinktanks help synthetic minds
flee to where the prefab solar houses
breed like rabbits in the countryside.

—David Jalajel

Will-o’-Wisps Convergently Evolved in the Sea

Moonlight broken on water is its own song,
full of vibrato and in a minor key.
The ship’s prow cuts through the music,
pushing the notes away to protect
finless, gill-less cargo from suffocating in
patterns of light and dark. But the hull and deck
cannot protect against the other song,
wafting on the air and sloshing onto the
decks. The sirens sing of sunlight-shattering
prisms that create colors no human
has ever seen and a secret, second sun
hidden below the waves, promise visions
so beautiful they would drive the beholder
to ecstasy. This song, too, is in a minor key,
filling the listeners’ blood and bones and being.
Those who listen too long find themselves
diving overboard, searching underwater
for the secret sun at the bottom of the depths
that dances just out of sight.

—AJ Wentz

Psyche as Vampire Squid

She’d like them to believe she’s dangerous
as a matter of self-preservation. She sharpens

each spike for the deep-sea cosplay, inverts
the collar of skeletal spines,

but it’s all a big show for the predators. She tricks
her ink colorless, throws in a pinch

of bioluminescence in a classic defense response
to snatch eyes to twinkle lights

while she flees. But you. She’d like you to believe
she’s harmless. She wants to see you, wants

to know who she loves there in the dark. She holds
a candle or glint of knife

at the end of every arm,
warm allure just for you. She is neither octopus

nor vampire, but she thirsts for what’s under
the skin. She’d like you to see

the Cupid you’ve become; she’d like
to sink into your soul.

—Laura Reece Hogan

Match Girl

She’s a faint ghost,
the girl at the night window.
Thin girl, young girl,
see-through girl.
Old-fashioned clothes,
and holding up a long taper of a match—
longer and thicker than you’d buy today,
with a yellow sulphur burn.
Our steaming dinners have become smaller each year
because we can’t stand her longing gaze.
Guilt fills us more than bread rolls.
It’s Mom’s bad luck to go into labour
just as the golden roast chicken is carved.
The ghost disappears.
Later that day, I have a new sister
with the match girl’s eyes,
and she suckles Mom’s breast
just as though she’s starved.

—Helen Patrice


We called her Phos, our mother
tongue for light.
Later, Phosphorus, when our gums
blackened, blistered, bled
with every lullaby: little baby, little
baby go to sleep.

We renamed her Eosphoros, our daughter
best beloved, bringer of the light.
Once, it must have been in toddlerhood,
we watched her tear her skin
with the lead of a mechanical pencil:
resounding static of celestial bodies,
gilded ichor trickling onto playroom foam
floors. It must come from somewhere,
we told each other. All this light.
It must come from somewhere.

—Avra Margariti

In the middle

In the middle of the fireflies
          the world is not diseased. Dande-
          tions sneeze seeds into the air like
          they don’t care who gets sick, like
          sickness doesn’t exist.

In the middle of the fireflies
          a ghost slides out of a horse-
          shoe. “Bring out your dead,” she says
          to me. “Bring out your dead, but don’t
          forget to breathe.”

In the middle of the fireflies
          sticks are burning. Smoke obscures
          the stars and suddenly
          space is not so far. All the stars
          are here.

In the middle of the fireflies
          I wear a mask of the brightest green.
          My hands in glow-in-the-dark gloves
          make animals in the night. Flap, roar,
          canter like a rabbit into dawn.

In the middle of the fireflies
          there is a plague in words, a mire
          that absorbs grass and flattens
          the hills the moles made. I sink,
          my toes grabbing mud.

In the middle of the fireflies
          they hold a bag for me. I reach
          inside and fill my hands with flour.
          I spin and spin and dust the summer
          in caster-sugar snow.

In the middle of the fireflies
          fire flies, fire flies. Flies from my head
          and catches the trees. The field burns and
          mud cracks, cakes around my baking
          feet. Smoke shades the morning.

In the middle
          I stand still.
          The sun reveals nothing I didn’t already see
          in the light
          of the fire-

—Marisca Pichette

Enola Spelled Backwards Is Alone

I stepped out onto my front porch and looked through the
bare trees to see the tangerine and rose bank of
dawn silently rising there beyond the little city.

Well, it’s still going, I say to myself and then
I imagine that I had said Well, it’s still growing,
and then, I hear… it’s still glowing, eyes limpid with
the golden morning shining on & into all the little city,
dwellers waking from their own dreams to this
Dream-at-large just now.

“I do NOT have mystical experiences,” proclaimed the
little investment banker just then from the other side of the world, who
otherwise spends his sangfroid life asking questions, blithely questioning
everything but power, calling interrogation the best way for him to get closer to
some Thing he calls Truth. And yet, to his oddly defiant disclaimer I must ask
Why not?

Me? I have gotten into the habit of
breaking habits. I gave up
on feeling obliged to
take dictation from sources that value medals & power
over Human Rights, from merchant minds outside of my
own energetic and legitimate authority:
no dictatee I, my little doctors of tyranny, cold little
fuggars of whited history who long have been the mothers of war,
rude fathers of the pissing away of the treasuries of our human race
from the top down, and it is from the far-removed top down that
Bloody Regimes toast their pro-chaos strategies
in the name of kings and Country, in the name
of whatever Name you most revere still, still
pasting a face on your flags amassing:
flags of fear, flags of every god-fearing nation building walls,
walls made of flags, facing flagging faces you may know….

THE DAWN is the slowest explosion, you cannot make IT move any faster
or use it to long validate what you did or the relief felt when you
did not immediately die in its supra-historical conflagration.
It shone on you, too, as you too shed your human shivers in
the slow Egalitarian Warmth
of the morning of the Dream-at-large, the One we must all experience
personally, privately, non-violently, that is today still glowing
warm as one fine-tuned star, & is still growing democratically deep & far, still going-free,
revelatory as the global Dawn ever was, and still is… will Humanity! ever be.

There is a very good reason why you do not have mystical experiences!

—Aurelius Dragan

Millennium Fallout

we who live underground have dirt in the pink
of our mouths (a color merely felt in darkness).
our dissatisfied hands scratch heat like hives.

we tap the skin of neighbors. echolocation
slaps dull in endless hours. surfaces, smooth
or scaled, churn restless. we tunnel towards

a phenomenon called Light, an endless song
of sting our ancestors couldn’t hum. so lost,
they were, after flashes of megaton war.

—Jennifer Ruth Jackson

Trial of the Will-o’-Wisp (A Triolet)

What is your will, O wisp?
Or do you mean to lead me out
—not trick me, trap me, grasp
what is yours? Will a wisp
use light for ill? A gasp,
a desperate calling makes me doubt
what is your will: a whisp-
ered, “Do you mean to lead me out?”

—Katherine Quevedo

Tigers, Wanderers, Queens

There’s no easy answer for
when to leave a planet.
My mother’s sister took
my hand and said Don’t go
because you are afraid—you
come from a people who manage
to survive, against all odds.

A week later she called to say
I’ve been thinking, maybe we survive
because some of us listen
to the voice that says go, now.

We landed on a rock, and we sunk
roots deep into nameless soil.
We made children at the same time
as grasses, tiny fists full of flowers
as the meadows went wilding.
All our unsteady feet learned to run
with grace. We sprinkled familiar
forms into the world like salt. The bees,
the songbirds, the trout. No rabbits
without foxes, no wolves without deer.
We took balanced turns whispering
our favorites into this new world.
Monarchs, someone said, so we made
milkweed and a small fir forest to the south.

The season was filled with wings,
sunlight stirred into a jar. Poison
fed and become. Warnings worn.
When the time came for migration,
they stayed, unflappable, longer
than expected, but finally they awoke
to purpose. They circled, in a cloud,
our houses, our farms, our footprint
of a future city. One turn, two, and then up,
impossibly up, something calling
homeward. They froze, half falling
like rose petals, half flown too far to be
pulled back to the ground we claimed,
the dirt we made in our image.

Determination rings this world now,
the iridescent dust of their wings
too faint to be made out unless
you know where to look:
shining, shining, each so small
and yet they catch the light.

—Shana Ross

River of Stars

vanes unfurl
pressure on the sail is light

we begin to move
gaining speed incrementally
pressure on the sail is light

we call home
but there are delays
memory dims
pressure on the sail is light

years pass, and worlds
our star a burning mote
the final veil, and we’re caught
by the wide ocean’s flow
pressure on the sail is light

—David C. Kopaska-Merkel

The Optics of Space Travel

I descend from those who immigrated on ships,
the ones who crossed oceans, mountains, and borders,
passing through the threshold of space at escape velocity,
a Terran whose names reflect peoples encountered and lives lived.

Our eyes meet briefly as cloudy, stormy great-grandmother eyes
take me in, a child still learning to see the world in all its color.
In that moment she wishes a single glance could grace her descendants
with her decades of wisdom and travel plans for a new tomorrow.

Space travel is not a problem of triangulation and radio waves
as our space born kin gather in new types of ships, no longer tethered by gravity
but the optics of human life itself, the focal point between the past and future
through which a telescope points towards unborn generations.

My eyes are the bridge between worlds and generations,
when languages and cultures have been assimilated out of me.
I can still see the road ahead, of stories yet to be told,
onward towards Mars and the deceleration of the universe.

When my light goes out, the story will continue,
a new beginning shining on through passing millennia,
a taste of biological immortality not through cellular therapy,
but the stares and fleeting glances sparking emotions between us
that give us life and a reason to live.

—Angela Acosta

Journey Through Darkness

Light takes eight minutes
from the sun
to where Earth used to be.

—Matthew Wilson