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Help SFPA achieve non-profit status and expand its goals in promoting the speculative poetry community!
Issue 48 • April 2023
edited by Avra Margariti

Table of Contents

Editor’s IntroductionAvra Margariti

Hyphal knot • Marisca Pichette
seductions of like species • Lynne Sargent
Shadow Work • Tiffany Morris
Everywhere Mother • Elia Karra
Prototaxites stellaviatoriJordan Hirsch
mycocosmos • Eva Papasoulioti
Mycorrhizal • Priya Chand
Little Lost Oyster • Gretchen Tessmer
Spores of Destiny • Alicia Hilton
Harvest • Elizabeth R. McClellan
Foxfire • Julie Shiel
Dark Taxa of The Fungi • Egbiameje Omole
billboards on the fungal highway • M. Lopes da Silva
Candida AblatioGrace R. Reynolds
Dirt Teaching • Joe Koch
hyphae hot pot • D. A. Xiaolin Spires
Chattycap • Erin Brown
Flesh of the Gods • L B Limbrey
An Invitation to the Decomposition Party • Abigail E. Sims
Song for Ophiocordyceps unilateralisAnastasia Dziekan

Hyphal knot

We gather in a circle:
faerie, pixie, midwife, witch.

each: a fungal seat, waiting for night.
each: wrists cut, eyelashes pinned wide.
each: naked, voluminous, empty.
each: self-appointed nominee, eager sacrifice.

Sun sets, moon slips free of the horizon.
Our circle comes at last to light.

nether green, aurora blue
bacteria light our skin,
infuse our breaths,
turn dying to waking.

Where blood leaks, spores collect.
Mycelia climb our gaps,
fill our arteries with fungal bloom.

we feast (they feed)
we die (they grow)
we sink (they rise)
we love (they lust)

In our forest circle
no stones mark our graves.

We never perished, our bodies adapted
to another kind of magic.

Cross the threshold—
breathe our descendant air
and remember our names,

goblin, banshee, kelpie, hag.
Released, revived
and growing 

—Marisca Pichette

seductions of like species

it would be no good to speak
the same language
for you are already a hungry poet
and I a networked parasite

–neither definitive of our kind,
and yet, exemplary–

but the want is already there
mine for your infecting spores
and you for my imagistic insights.

for what poet does not want to consume?
and what fungi does not want to experience immortality?

thus, I will succumb
speaking here, inhaling, 
out of desire and necessity both

I will succumb,
hoping you already have.

—Lynne Sargent

Shadow Work

Light wanes from soft gills:
pink wax stained with soil
touched to our tongues
in strange sacraments,
rebirthed truth in iridescent hue-
drinking the quieted hush
of bruised-edge worlds,
mapping arterial rivers of self
where tree ring memories
reach the soft limbs of
half-devoured heartwood-

find us in our exquisite exhalation
of spores and blossom:
an exalted kingdom
of new homes created
in the places where
wounds become becoming

—Tiffany Morris

Everywhere Mother

mother bore and birthed us in the dark
flooded the cellar with damp and cries

we grew from her dust, floating conidia,
attached ourselves to splitting walls and
crawled on spindly legs, hunting for sun

she was there when we took form, roots
watched over us with endless adoration,
maternal and mycotic, spreading in our
bodies like tender, terminal disease

she was there always, a quiet spectator,
each split of mycelium like a knot in a
komboskini, each of our living moments
a prayer and a penance in her hands 

we tried to wean ourselves; we did—
hacked our umbilical filaments off in 
hopes of keeping none of her in us

mother gathered our shredded pieces in
a little box, sowed the air with us anew

—Elia Karra

Prototaxites stellaviatori

            Home smells like the underside of a rock,
            and crawling with six-legged things. There’s
            all the way from here to there, and if I
            my(self)celium that far I can
            your thinning hair, cook you
            sleep with just one 
            between us instead of 
            When I place my palm against the
            beside my bed, you’re not
            softly on the other side anymore. The stars I’m
            are the ones you’re gazing 
            at, too, I’m sure, but those are also too far 
            and have already decomposed—their light from the past
            across space like we do toward each other.
            seas of dirt and decay, I’ll say
            to you again before you’re gone,
            your astral eyes as many times as
            will let me.

—Jordan Hirsch


we brought them back with us
never realized the aurora stardust
showering us breath after breath
in that twilight forest was spores
          in dialogue 
                       with our bodies
they cultivated, cuddled our lungs,
every cubic centimeter created
their own capillary network 
from mycelium
                             we coughed 
them up on the walls of our ship, 
our food and water, our kin,
primordial fruits formed fresh
through our throats, our mouths,
                           our words
wide open to the change, the rapid
blooming through decomposition,
        the devouring 
                 of ourselves, the composition 
of the new matter of discussion
inside of us, directly
spitting our divergence 
on the back of 
our world

—Eva Papasoulioti


I have
tasted the things
that twine the trees
and anchor the earth
and I am happy
to feed
the growth of a forest
over the remains
of a spaceship
that will never
colonize Mars

—Priya Chand

Little Lost Oyster

damp hollow in the mushwood
all vapors and fog
feet gone moldy, my love?
says the caterpillar
I left the leaf mulch
hoping you’d sponge it up
with those Mary-Jane shoes
but you haven’t got any, do you?
watch the mildew
in your moonlight swim
through black mud
dredging white caps
with bread-and-butter edges
pear jam, plum jelly
will stain your pretty apron
while fingers hold fast
to the coarse hide of a giant muskrat
toes tickled by underwater

—Gretchen Tessmer

Spores of Destiny

Wielding axes fashioned from carved mice bones,
a clan of wee forest folk harvested mushrooms.
Wind carried their song and the promise of rain.
Faster, faster, they worked, racing against rumbling thunder.

A young lad scampered up a tree,
roaring in victory when he found snow-white lion’s mane,
delectable fungi pompons to sauté in acorn butter.

A boy no taller than a stalk of clover,
dragged golden chanterelles to their wagon,
luscious treasures to roast over a smoky fire.

The littlest wee one of all,
a girl tyke as light as a buttercup’s petal,
grunted as she plucked frilly hen-of-the-woods.
What a wonderful mattress the fungi will be,
a soft bed for dreaming of her destiny.

The tiny imp wanted to rescue a fairy princess from an ogre.
What boon did she wish for as a reward?
Not gold, rubies, or a dragon’s egg.
A kiss, she hoped for a kiss.
Of course, it would be lovely to marry the princess.

—Alicia Hilton


Blood moon rising through the open
window, dancing on the hill, child
in the haymow hiding in the sweet

fermented cow scent. Their mother said
never dance under the red moon,
never mind friends, taught them to hide,

to say nothing if someone was gone in
the bright blue morning, because others
would find it odd. Now they hide 

because the miller’s strong boy
is on the barn floor, and something is laughing 
like tinkly ice wasted in summer heat.

The child knows how everyone laughs.
No one laughs like that. But something might,
something smells of leaf mold and brackish 

water, something that could—climb? 
The child cowers, tries to become an
invisible rabbit too still for predator gaze,

while the sounds change to a different animal,
thick like viscera beside a felled deer, 
air gone all copper spoons. Now the laugh

is throaty as a bullfrog, wheezes mirth.
Wet and rattling sounds to silence, then a
tread light as their own on the ladder.

Laughter stops. I know you’re there.
Do you dare to follow me? I dare you,
little barn mouse. I know how you smell now.

They don’t want to disobey their mother,
but they dart away, flying down the steps,
chasing the thing with a bundle of bones

strapped to its back like graveyard kindling,
red moon and pink mist hovering,
the sour breath of death-dreams.

They follow the stink, the clink of femur 
against skull, the laughter like bells
and frogs, the voice that echoes catch me

if you can. The child does not notice 
the light changing, stumbles into the clearing
where all is revealed, giant flat cap

corpse-colored and corpse-bearing,
rilled and flaring, golden spores drifting 
summer snowflakes, the wrinkled body,

the withered arms, the bony legs it 
has borrowed, to run fast and sure, to dance in,
to haul the bones of Jan the miller's son 

into the circle of giant fungi staring
with a million million no-eyes at the child 
and the charnel pile. I knew you when

 you were a mandrake root,
it chuckles, I was there when you were 
pulled squalling from the earth. Welcome home,

cousin, who has so much to teach us 
about running!
But the child cannot run;
spores have reached ankles. In fertile dander 

feet twist down to roots, tasting earth made hungry
by bone meal, sucking up life and tracing bark
along paths where veins used to bleed,

fed on scarlet moonlight and all dead things.
The mousy child remembers mother saying 
I grew you, remembering this taste,

mixed with the scent of milk. In minutes 
all that remains is a knobbly mandrake
in a fairy ring. The child has gone

to ground, as mother always feared. 
They learned so much that now winks 
through the root system at mycelium speed,

teaching the cousins everything they know
about milk and knees and the movement
of muscles that bends, at last, the knee.

—Elizabeth R. McClellan


     •    Mycologists tell us that the fairy ring phenomena 
is from the mycelium sending pale questing hyphae 
and reaching through the slow earth in concentric circles,
that toadstools are the fruiting bodies of
Marasmius oreades or Armillaria mellea or Omphalotus illudens 
sprouting in a transitory biological wheel.

Never mind that they appear
when the moon is dark and
the veil between worlds is
more of a gossamer moth’s wing;
that they manifest overnight 
and that Bridget went missing 
that midsummer eve,
chasing a wild song to the forest’s edge
the aching notes igniting
a hunger within her heart.

Those pallid stout warriors 
glowing with green foxfire   
illuminate a fey court dancing 
the ancient sacred rituals 
never meant for mortal eyes,
solemnly circling gilled sentinels
lit with an eerie allure,
gathered to bear witness
to the ethereal Wild Hunt.

    •    Mycology teaches that witch light is just luciferins oxidizing 
a phytochemical reaction to attract insects for spore dispersal
a bioluminescent display soon to deliquesce,
but Aristotle described it as cold fire 
the pale and luminous relics of the Aes Sidhe 
an uncanny witch light of the wildwood. 

—Julie Shiel

Dark Taxa of the Fungi

The Dark Taxa
weather millennia,
in dark matter
enshrined; obscured from micro-
& telescopic sights.

—Egbiameje Omole

billboards on the fungal highway

when you 
need a 
little space


when telling 
“do not eat”


what’s better 
than some 
see spots


trying to 
say “no”?


—M. Lopes da Silva

Candida Ablatio

Three incisions to the groin—
            Our intruder’s point of entry

Left to right, the hyphae grow—
            Embedded in anterior walls

Threaded catheters through the aorta—
            Phenotypic shift

Ventricles, atriums, fungi burgeon—
            Sporadic arrhythmia

Surgical debridement—
            Inflamed endocardium

Cauterize the site—
            Disrupted mycelium 

Nerve endings scream—

Microbial detachment—
            Perfidious pathogeny

—Grace R. Reynolds

Dirt Teaching

Come to me you said
And I came
Secret beneath the soil
Corded millions of mycelium
Silent reaching
teaching tendrils
Building our vessel of unseen threads
like electric fur

You said
a mind in the earth
Thinking decay into a ship as big as the universe
us, inverse
this idea
of us
You said
this will come from us

Let us be spent out upon the dirt
All flesh must be spent and launched for dead
(I sing of corruption electric)
All bodies nested within the thinking dirt
Fruiting flowers
(the tangled fruit of our new bodies)
willing dirt
Spores like stars inoculate a black vacuum
(we bloom at night)

We are the ship thinking
new mind manifest
we come in death
bodies fruiting
One womb-orb woven of fungal threads
globe of blooms
mind comes
To our vessel Earth

—Joe Koch

hyphae hot pot

i was at h-mart
and the lunar new year
was just around the corner

i turned to my sis
let’s get some
enoki, okie?

k, she said
picking up the
damp package
beads of droplets
encased in plastic
brushing against the
Flammulina filiformis

long, pale sinuous
its tendrils voluptuous—

when new year’s eve
came rolling around

the steam rose from the
scalding pot
as we gathered around the table

we dumped in
fish balls
pork bones

we slit the bag
of the silky shrooms
lopped off the base
shaking off sediments
of the sawdust medium—
and piled it in

it bubbled

i picked up one tendril
with my chopstick—
and chomped

the slimy, silken texture
pallid, sinewy
felt so good on my lips
so slippery, so noodle-like—
i slurped
hot, slick, lubricious

i felt my chopsticks wiggle
my limbs limp
my arms extending

my form

the alabaster moon
shone a panel of light
that landed on my bowl

i had a burning desire
to reach that faraway moon
embrace it
envelop it in 
even paler flesh

the heartiness of the mushroom limbs
i knew
would pass through the glass of the window
would traverse the emptiness of space

as it had been grown in the dark
fruiting in cool environments

i reached out—
extending extending
towards that arresting light

Flammulina filiformis
in Latin
jīnzhēngū 金針菇 in Chinese
golden needle mushroom
i wanted to pierce its cratered face
like a pin popping a zit—
acupunctural bliss
i wanted to thread myself into its regolith

i reached out
extending extending
towards that arresting light

finally my button-nose extremities
my mushroom cap hands
convex, small and bulbous 
fingered the moon’s surface

i wrapped myself around the rubble
’round and ’round
like bandaging a wound
or swathing a mummy
twisting in traditional
decorative Chinese knots
tying hyphae bows

i flirted, cuddled, squeezed

i gave it my all

fleshy, fibrous hug

followed by 

basidiosporic kiss

—D.A. Xiaolin Spires


I was born in a bell 
I wasn’t alone, a fleck I was whole 
the grower was nice, and real real rich 
she belched me out
and chewed her chow 
I was reborn in a wheel 
wet wood, I was
well on my own, a loner 
drifts shimmer past,
we said hello, they say she said 
“work this beech into 
a bet, and win” 
I burst out bright, 
tickling toes down to 
burned and chilled  
shout a winds holler, all this
my niche a cellar I’d hewn 
from a sealed cell 
The owner sent me a bill 
and ordered a collar 
The weather rolled
and all our toes toes 
grasp to chat 
in threads of shimmer.
Flecks sass as they pass
in the wet of the winds
Weather howled
when I told it to heel. 

It kneeled, 
I set my flecks upon it
kissed and watched them
flicker away
I was born in a wind,  
reborn in a shell
curled my toes
into the toes of trees
shivering in their winters. 

I hold them, and we shimmer.

I was born a winner.

—Erin Brown

Flesh of the Gods

God is a mushroom. God is big and blooming
and filament thin. God spans forests, takes messages
from tree to tree. God is poison. God is rot. God
is fruiting bodies, uneasy harvest, berserker-fuel,
centaur-fodder, spell-weaver. God is found in still-
ness and in death. God is everywhere. God is quite
often invisible. God is a society. God is the mutual
aid of plants. God will devour us. God will devour 
us. When the land has swallowed up our bones and 
the sand has inherited the earth and the cities, God 
will wait in the damp darkness, licking its lips on our

—L B Limbrey

An Invitation to the Decomposition Party

Life, to the eternal discomfiture of scientists everywhere,
ends in the strangest of half-lives,
in crumbling, unseen places. 

Six feet under: wet, warm, damp. The venue broad,
the seats inviting, refreshments fleshy and limitless…
if a little overripe. 

I’ll meet you there. Under mushroom caps with fluted gills,
bare stalks drenched to disco down,
feet sunk rich in our own vices.

Maggots cavern our ribs—an eager if polite appetizer—
crawl orifice to osseus, rend ruthless to the rind
words we said. (Or didn’t say.)

A jawbone juts on the earth-skin dancefloor;
You did promise me gentleness, after all. It slices a little,
sharp like fiberglass. The regret. 

Roots reach down, down, below phylum and spore,
to silent lungs. Mycelium winds around our two hands,
clasped, a last time, in dissolution.

In the dark, the lights go out,
the music stops. Even the gnawing larvae pause for breath.
Lips twist, open, ask—

What bones are these?
I still know the shape of your calf
better than my own.

—Abigail E. Sims

Song for Ophiocordyceps unilateralis

This is a song of self-sacrifice. 
Mold me over.
Spore me, spear me,
Unicorn me.
With stroma breaching skin,
Grow a stalk, a structure, a perithecia.
Wave it above my head like a banner in the wind.
Bridle me and ride me into battle.
Convulse me higher.
Make me jump.
Make me grip.
Make me wait.
This is a song of giving up. 
Life is long, and I am weak.
All my dreams are about me being useful,
But very few are about me being alive.
Take it from here, play the rest of the song.
Scat it, improvise, switch the genre—
It’s yours.
Parasite me. 
Pilot me.
Psychopomp me from the inside out,
Drive me higher,
Katabasis me.
Sprout me, wither me,
Leave me as a graveyard marker. 
My best ending looks like someone else’s beginning.

—Anastasia Dziekan