background stars background text eye to the telescope tour of alternate worlds spacer



Issue 28 • April 2018
edited by Holly Lyn Walrath

Table of Contents

Editor’s Introduction • TimeHolly Lyn Walrath

“tree rings” • LeRoy Gorman
Time, the river flows • Jane Dougherty
Horoscopes for Time-Travellers • Andrew J. Wilson
Pictures • Herb Kauderer
Time Cats • Mary Soon Lee
Valuable Commodity • Pat Tompkins
the philologist • Brittany Hause
Maze • Chloe N. Clark
safe time • Davian Aw
The Windshield Washer • Eloísa Pérez-Lozano
Dragon and Phoenix • Alex Yuschik
Hunting with Zeno’s Arrows • Brandon O’Brien
germination • Tiffany Morris
Nights of Malaise • Maija Haavisto
pacemaker • D. A. Xiaolin Spires
Ancient • Jules Crewe-Kluge
A Bonsai From Kyushu • Salik Shah
The Return • Jess Capelle
The Clocks • Peter J. King (translation from the German of “Die Uhren” by Gustav Sack [1885–1916])


tree rings
I pick a year
to travel to

—LeRoy Gorman

Time, the river flows

the river flows,
deep and dark,
and should you trail your hand
in its cold depths,
you may catch the tail
of a memory
better left beneath its stone
in the murk,
where one day,
the ever-running tide
may wash it smooth.

—Jane Dougherty

Horoscopes for Time-Travellers


If you don’t succeed at first,
try rewriting the timeline—
if at first you don’t succeed,
try trilobites.


As the old saying goes,
revenge is a dish best served cold,
but you can always heat it up again
in a microwave oven, if you must.


You will be in two minds
about whether a doppelgänger
is your long-lost identical twin,
or your double-dealing future self.


You’ve been on quite a roll lately,
but you’d do well to remember that
only the good die young—
and only the good stay dead.


While all roads lead to Rome,
not all roaming leads to Rhodes—
try to plan your expeditions
more carefully in future.


“‘History never repeats itself,
but it rhymes,’ said Mark Twain,”
wrote John Robert Colombo—
your fingerprints are all over this.


Never put off until tomorrow
anything you can do last year—
it’s always a balancing act and
a stitch in time will cramp your style.


Robert Louis Stevenson suggested that
it’s better to travel hopefully than to arrive—
but he didn’t have a time machine
and you don’t have a hope in hell.


Those centaurs are not your friends—
they have six limbs, which means
they are invertebrates, probably insects;
at all costs, avoid their hives.


You’ll have the chance to show
everyone what you’re made of at last,
but since they’re cannibalistic mutants,
perhaps you’d better not tempt fate.


Pop quiz! Never fight a land war:
(a) in Asia; (b) in Gondwanaland;
(c) somewhere over the rainbow; or
(d) anywhere below sea level.


A horoscope is a “marker of the hour,”
and is nonsense by any other name,
but even a stopped clock will be right
twice a day until the end of time.

—Andrew J. Wilson


On the second-floor promenade
of the Dreamer’s Mall
flat against the wall between stores
sits one of those tall boxy machines
you climb into and then pose
on a hard wooden bench to get
your picture taken.
Inside, a vertical row of buttons
lets you choose what pose to snap.
Here & Now is a favorite, as is
How I Remember Me.
People learn fast not to push
What I Could Have Been.
There’s not much call for
How I Am Remembered, either;
but What I Wanted to Be still
gets pushed a lot.
And How I Remember You
does the very best business.

—Herb Kauderer

Time Cats

Playing with possibility,
time cats ravel and unravel
the skeins of causality.

Unmoved by humanity’s woes,
they tamper with history
for private purposes.

Elementary to land elegantly
if time may be paused
to catch up with one’s paws.

A third world war
incidentally postponed
in pursuit of a perfect nap. 

—Mary Soon Lee

Valuable Commodity

The timekeeper sells pieces of time, not timepieces.
Antiquarian and futurist, she’s also a pragmatist,
yet items for sale carry no price tags.
In her dim shop, a radio on the counter plays Mozart.
A vase of faded silk roses stands in the window.
It is not a place for browsing or bargain hunting.
The timekeeper will barter but always gets the best deal.
Customers can be desperate; the most requested
item is often out of stock and on back order.
“What can I help you with today? A time frame, a time-out?
Interested in saving time?” The usual requests. “Quality time?”
Why not ask for fairy wings? But folks believed in such things.
She rarely gives the lecture: Time is time, neither good
nor bad. Do not kill or waste it. And if you want to buy
it, the price is high. Time never goes on sale.

—Pat Tompkins

the philologist

notebook in hand
I sit near the temporal rift
straining to catch
murmurs of a language
spoken only by the dead

—Brittany Hause


There was a man once who learned
how to still his body
so much that the world would move
and he’d stay in one place

you told me this story
while I was falling asleep
and the curve of your body
so imperfectly fit mine


  your hand on my hip
your voice sleep gentle
you said that the man
kept forgetting how

everything shifted around him
he’d try to find the ones he loved
in the faces of people walking by
but they’d already be gone
I thought you were telling
me something important
but I was already half
into dreams and your voice

your voice always
held me as close
as your body
and somewhere I fell

  into dreams I couldn’t find
my way out from
they shifted and shimmered
and you were never in them

I woke up years later
when you were gone
and found other people
who never told me stories
whose bodies fit mine
more perfectly
and time slipped
in and out

in and out
and I made a home
and changed it
and made another
  and I planted a garden
of things that always came back
every summer I dipped
my hands into sun-soaked soil

and imagined I could feel you
through the earth
a vibration of you walking
from thousands of miles away
And like in those stories
I dug a hole
and told a story
to the earth

I said once upon a time
there was a man
and there was a woman
and they learned

how to thread their
bodies together
so much that the
  world moved without them

—Chloe N. Clark

safe time

the golden sunlight of her childhood skies
assure her she is safe, completely secure
amidst the quaint anxieties of homework, bullies,
snatched lunches on the playground, fresh newspapers
displaying years before grown-up fears
for nothing and no one can touch her here
in the sanctuary of days already lived.

she sinks into the drone of teachers’ voices
the comforting stillness, the lazy air
the restless boys whose future sins
are still foreign in their minds,
unwritten on her skin.

she can stay here forever. they’ll never find her
youthful innocence still brimming with potential
the past relegated to a hazy future
she never intends to see.

—Davian Aw

The Windshield Washer

I see his scraggly brown beard and piercing blue eyes
as I wait in the center lane.
He wears a sleeveless, burnt-orange t-shirt and faded jeans. Faded from age,
not the process that makes them expensive and cool.
He weaves through cars and gestures with his cleaning bottle.
He nods, accepting the rejection of his services with grace.
He walks back to his bucket on the sidewalk, resigned to wait,
when he sees an older woman waving him over.
The promise of a dollar or two has lit up his eyes
and he steps off the curb.
Just then, the light turns green and I hear the speeding car before I see it.
I squeeze my eyes shut, but the sound of metal crushing bone invades my ears.
The car disappears below the overpass. I pull over and block his body
with my car, ignoring the honks and obscenities.
I call 911, but his breathing is shallow and I can tell he’s fading fast.
My mother told me not to use my ring unless it was completely justified.

He is an innocent soul and that’s enough for me.
I quickly twist the gold band five times, the blue
sapphire glows from within,
and I’m rolling up to the traffic light once more.
I drum my fingers on the steering wheel, keeping an eye on the older woman.
As she raises her hand, his tennis shoe touches the street.

I slam my horn as the light turns green and he jumps back, startled.
The car speeds by as he takes a second to gather himself, skidding
as it turns left under the bridge.
I let out my breath as he stands still, thinking.
As I drive forward, I look over and he lifts his eyes to meet mine.
Instead of gratitude, they glitter with darkness as he shields them from the sun.
A flash of blue catches my eye and my stomach drops.
I slam on the gas and my car lurches forward onto the freeway,
his sinister sneer the last thing I see.

—Eloísa Pérez-Lozano

Dragon and Phoenix

i. phoenix to dragon

Luckily, I can be reborn a thousand times
so I don’t mind when you kill me.

Something bought with this much pain
could not be without worth, this I know

this, every epitaph of resurrection carved into
my fine and hollow bones reminds me. I will

always be the first to forgive, to text back even
though every time I die I swear that this is the last

time I’ll remember when I have built myself anew
how much I never want to go through this again.

ii. dragon to phoenix

I collect your past lives because I could not
stand to live without even part of you.

When we met, I wore a black silk shirt with a red
dragon embroidered up each pane of my chest and

I destroy you because dragons can only have one
promise, slay or be slain. You wrinkle your nose

at my favorite shirt. Once, I showed you an old picture of me
hog-tied on the lawn, my hands a bouquet of surrender. No

glasses, my blue eyes wild as I faced the camera
with the same reckless grin that set California wildfires

and turned San Francisco red for days. You stammered
flushed, you thought this was impossible. And I know

you’ve saved that picture, the same way I know you’ll
always come back written in words of lesser fire

your sweet parted lips finally admitting you’re afraid
of me because I know precisely what it is I want.

—Alex Yuschik

Hunting with Zeno’s Arrows

I show you all the threads of the day
you don’t know
how to see: fractal into minuscule moments
that we have held
close into the eye so fine, and tear open into lotus flower years, reveal
the dimly lit hearts of mortal
hosts unravelling envies. you—such a good student of time, so full of
talent. I wish you noticed.
So laden with forking paths, precious opportunities! you cascade beyond
your crueller versions,
you blossom in my imagination—beautiful, sharp, with all the
answers in your hands and
mind. I wish visions in the alleys of your eyelids
gleaming with cunning.
tomorrow, shifting through scenes—
you find a shaded truth:
the world could find it as easy as you do to follow these lines,
twisting past themselves
to make space for finding compassion in all its homely colours.
even in the stippled forms,
even the faded yous. pure, in all the curves of gravity’s body.
in the event horizon’s edge.

—Brandon O’Brien


            whalebone-white      orchid petals,
a soft compliance: bees rustle loose
pollen             and
            hum into clockwork.

grey hissing ocean: before centuries,
calamity.      lightning,
            life        ignited
            with spark.
germination, genesis—
            spark, smoke, fire.

time expands [and] flows, a cold-breath morning.
            love born in sunrise—
skies ablaze
                  in tiger fur and
cherry blossoms,
            the first Promethean fire
clutched with careful fingers.

centuries weave the crawling
traffic:       the gold
of morning +       the molten air
            of afternoon
dripping into stars.

ocean into fire into love:
    time pressed into the
dark marrow of our bones
    (carrying invisible sparks
            called memory).

—Tiffany Morris

Nights of Malaise

the metal fatigues
its embrace worn-out, lackluster
my rust-speckled arms
the color of Jupiter’s sunsets
I will never see

nanobuds tucked in
by shriveled fingertips
titanium won’t corrode
it just grows weary

when does metal sleep?
does it close its eyes in the night
when I’m too tired
to even ache

or does it just yearn
to breathe?

they can build me meatbodies
freeze and thaw me
until the end of time

but there are no
echoes of morning
burning bright
behind the eyelids

there is no rest
in clouds of entropy

—Maija Haavisto


fluff-topped pumps
parked at closing
subway doors
—tinkling of electronic
melody, a tinge of somber,
tells yaling
late late
she toes the
impassive platform
yellow line
as ueno commuters
—punctual suited men
bag-clutching women
fine shoulders, upright chins
jostle behind glass
of the rushing train
she misses
over and over
rush hour after rush hour
the sound of the
departing melody
reaches two closing notes
ringing in her ears
ringing like the clapper
in her name
ya-ling, 雅鈴
graceful bell—
how the irony
of her perpetual
tardiness plagues
simulacrum of a ding
many appointments
the muttering of apologies
not quite felt


is what her doctor told her
she already was
at the ripe age of
once the pacemaker
ba-dum ba-dum
resounds in her chest
for the first time—
she wonders
if cyborg, where are my powers?
laser eyes, taser lips
but all she had was an
electronic heart—
an impulse that flutters
no matter if she
inhales, exhales
or spits
it just keeps going


time once flummoxed her
calendars, gregorian, lunar
national holidays crept up on her
like shadows at dusk
when she lost track of time
her pen wavered at every
form—which year, which sovereign,
which era, minguo? heisei?
followed by what numeral?
in all her residency
bank tax visa forms
of oceans crossed
the ink stopped at the line
her mind whizzing,
drawing a


after the first beat
of the device—
it all changed
a taiko swing
temporal ardor
into the wiggling cells of her being

it paced time
it made pace

forms filled themselves
calendars ripped off on their own behalf
appointments shimmied out space
subway melodies slowed to a halt,
holding sliding doors half-open


artificial heart
blood slip-slid
past abdominals
down muscled calves
coursing towards—

her cyborg steps
nestled in leather pumps
kept beat, beguiling
maneuvering time—
she strode through
the glass subway
doors, always open—
always remaining open
until she was safely
her appointments
waited patiently for her to arrive—
before the arrested second hand
quivered and

—D. A. Xiaolin Spires


I dip my palms in the honey-warm light / where it settles on our tabletop / to stain my future warm-gold / Time collects in pockets where my knuckles fold / Minutes run like quicksilver / Heartbeats stick like rain / I want to be ancient / I want to be older / than the starlight ticking my bedroom window / by cloudcracks /

If I can’t / be celestial polonaise, I will be dunes / instead / I fill my lungs with sand / when they shake nervous anyway / I want to be that heavy / Or I’ll sculpt my chest to a cliff face / and kick my feet / to oceans / Exhales make fine birds / When I was small, I thought shaky gasps / were how feathers were made / Maybe, if I stretch my arms wide enough / my stomach will fill up with cold planets / smaller than sugar grains / I can be a winter night / I’ll catch spirals of lovers’ breath / like fireflies / They’ll light up my fingers /

Let me be this ancient / I’ll fold away to soft bones / or dust / Those things are nearly the same / I’ll lie down under a forest / and sleep like soil / Love, I just want to go to sleep / I need a little rest / I’ll be so still / my teeth will grow wildflowers / buttercups, lobelias, dandelions if you get scared /

I’ll sing sunlight / I’ll sing eons / Walk over me / I’ll catch your footfalls / I promise / You’ve never seen anything turn this slow / The wind will call your real name / softer than gravity / I’ll give you geckos and amethyst / I’ll give you snow / I’ll give you anything / I’ll hold your head when it hurts /

But tacky-finish wood isn’t as soft as a year / even when they’re old with morning / My touch is smaller than a month / Your eyes are inches from me now / I tell the silver in your irises /

I’m not ancient
I’m less

You take my hand and turn it / so our knuckles face down and our shards of century / drip into a little pool / shining like seconds / You whisper while you trace my youngest bones /

Close enough, baby
Close enough

—Jules Crewe-Kluge

A Bonsai From Kyushu

Your absence 
rages ātar of my heart.

Relationship status:
apart, not entangled

Years before:

I float around you
like a bonsai
from Kyushu


red cherry blossoms
a loop


masters tāṇḍava
awaits a muse


abducted from home
sold to Language


the banyan trees
stop following me


I crawl


I babble truth
birth spirits
collect faces
shed skins
release time.

—Salik Shah

The Return

A prison, in a time and place unimaginable to the solar system,
experienced second by second, going forward.

Built impregnable: a complex for monsters.
In that place, the gulf between rooms became a universe;
borrowed light and heat and gravity.

Creation, a moment away, prowled: patient and deathless,
waiting for a question.
Until time ended, imprisoned away in the hearts of black holes.
A fail-safe.

Except … one day the Universe shook and crashed, throwing galaxies,
and suns unfiltered returned to time once more.
Revenge was what it wanted.

This poem is an erasure of Doctor Who: Nothing O’Clock by Neil Gaiman.

—Jess Capelle

Die Uhren

In weichen Riesenknäueln, darin Traum
und tiefer Schlummer brünstig sich umschlangen,
durchfloß die Nacht den hochgewölbten Raum;
so unaufhaltsam drangen
ihre Sammetwogen und so schwer und breit
aus einer unerschöpfbaren Unendlichkeit,
daß sie die Stadt, die Tages hier gestanden,
fortschwemmten in die fernste Ewigkeit
und meine Sinne sie nicht wiederfanden,
daß mich das Bodenlose ganz umfing
und zitternd ich in seinem Brunnen hing – – –
da ging ein Schlagen durch die Nacht,
von allen Türmen auf und nieder
schwatzten die Uhren ihre Stunde wieder,
wirr, hastig, auf und ab und ohne Ende
zerbrachen sie mir meines Brunnens Wände
und riefen: es ist vier! ist vier! ist viere! –
Da hab ich meines Schlummers laut gelacht
und ihrer, dieser braven Uhrentiere.

—Gustav Sack (1885–1916)


The Clocks (translated from the German)

In soft great tangles of deep slumber
ardently entwined with dream
the night flowed on through high-domed space;
its velvet billows rolled along so irresistibly,
so broad and ponderous
from inexhaustible infinity,
they washed away the daytime city that had stood here,
swept it off to uttermost eternity,
my senses couldn’t rediscover it,
so the abyss swallowed me completely,
in its well-shaft I hung trembling — — —
then a clamour echoed through the night,
from all the towers up and down
the clocks reeled out the hours again,
wild and headlong, up and down and endlessly
they shattered my well’s walls
and shouted: it is four! is four! is four! —
Which left me laughing loudly at my slumbers
and at them, these gallant Clockerels.

—Peter J. King