Descent by Stephani Maari Booker Winner of the Featured Work Contest!
Constellations by Bradley Earle Hoge
The stars are now too numerous
to name them all, our gaze expanded
beyond night sky. Even planets,
are appearing too quickly
to assign more than identifying
numbers. And I’m not sure,
but do we still look for constellations
in the plethora of newly discovered
stars emerging as we look deeper
and deeper into space?
Every seemingly empty spot
twinkling with new galaxies
every time we focus our cameras
and zoom in on these dark
patches. Or have we given up
assigning significance to apophany?
Of random associations. Of moments
scattered across our field of view
like faces of every life lost
throughout a lifetime? Or the ages?
Bradley Earle Hoge’s poetry appears in numerous anthologies and journals, most recently in Fleas on the Dog, Angry Old Man, Shanti Arts,
Event Horizon, Red Planet Magazine, and The Transnational. His book Nebular Hypothesis was published by Cawing Crow Press in 2016.
Tombstone of Ash by J.S. Brevik
My house is a mausoleum
The mailbox a tombstone
Memories are all that remain
But infinitely valuable
Thoughts are ants
that crawl in my head
Unable to march in unison
Is a cauldron
Boiling up in my chest
He saved me from sadness
Accepted my heartbreak
And gave me purpose
Now the pain is a tool
A hammer or knife
To see his will done
The crawling, boiling rage
Explodes from my hands
As searing red flame
Houses burn in my wake
The good Lord’s desire
His will guides my hands
But when the ants march in line
And the cauldron only simmers
I see the error of my choice
I burn his church to the ground
Until all that remains
Is a pile of flinders and ash
The Lord was never my saviour
And I was foolish to think
That causing pain would heal mine
Now the embers are a marker
For where the Lord’s word died
A tombstone of ash
J. S. Brevik is a writer living in the Canadian prairies. He spends his time reading, writing, and
learning new things about our planet and the planets beyond!
Constellation Spills by Nicholas Alti
I will return as the shadow of a moon, alone & far from now
shaped like shipwrecks. Like getting lost in a body.
This wandering is less like deliverance than a scythe or a sieve.
In this particularly dying moment
I look for answers in the stars
& a constellation spills.
An opal on the tongue of the world:
you’re glowing like a hot stone or
lilting lips, a reservoir, or more.
I’m fishing for a flying leviathan
to discover if I’d release it—
if I am better than needing permanence.
I will sleep as the ache of a wisp, unnoticed & depleted
falling into stasis or worse. Like recurring dreams of waking.
This want is less like remedy than a holiday or hallelujah.
Mostly where I’ve been I want
nothing more to do with. Home
is the type of drunk with spins.
The nice thing about stars is that
I don’t know what they are.
I presume carbon & epochs
as overwhelming as their predecessors.
Disparate fractals & cosmic anomalies.
Home is so much like sawdust in wind.
I will want as god desired power, a devastating need for joy
as the thunder sings forgiveness. Like needing new memories.
This crooning I do is less like salvation than famine or war.
From rural Michigan, Nicholas is an optimistic depressive with trigeminal neuralgia, no known future career paths, and a modest criminal record. Recent poems have found homes at Grimoire, FRiGG, Into the Void, The /temz/ Review, and Always Crashing. He lives in Alabama.
Sapphire Rain by Gwendolyn Harper
Wake me up my littlest pod-pea
Stir me from this waking artificial dream of
alien minds not wrapped in writhing,
hungry vines but instead
trapped in strange idle binds.
Bodies that do not swim or hover
but drown and lumber, they sneeze not shudder
in their thin atmospheres where,
hiding in their homes, they fear
the sound of the coming, palid thunder.
On savage warming planets where the natives
Suck the marrow from their cradled
Infants. Living amidst ruined days,
supping soup of their
bones and doling out mediocrity.
Split this sense-pod and free me to rejoin the real me
And be with our strange family,
Amidst a familiar canopy of
purple and blue silent alien trees.
Or sadly, is this the world that is really
inside of me and this place,
this hardened bole, is this the waking dream?
I pray for chartreuse and sapphire rain
Gwendolyn Harper (She/hers) is a transgender goddess, writer, model, and artist who writes about class, mental illness, gender, sex, inequality, science fiction, games, and kink. Her work has appeared in Wicked Gay Ways, 365 tomorrows, and the Gongfarmer’s Almanac. She lives in western Washington with two boyfriends, lots of stuffed animals, and a good alibi. Publisher of Maenadum and Sub-ether.
The Approach of Mars by Raich. Eckley
Out-glittering the glare from streets and
Earth’s brightest sibling isn’t hard to
A shock of amber, even
Beneath the arching dullness of the
And yet well-matched with Earth is sister
Although unearthly cold may be her
She boasts the stubborn skin our Earth has
And bears the proof of venerable
Come, climb this hill with me! She’s closer
At any time in sixty thousand
Then let’s commune together while we
And whisper up to her our dreams and
For she, before her poison-breathing
Shall one day feel the pressing foot of
Illusion by Sadie Maskery
"Do you see", they laughed, "It shows
our camera's frame rate
matching the flap of a bird's wings."
"Look", they said, "The bird floats
hovers in defiance
of our understanding.
All we thought was true
would seem a lie,
w a r p e d to nightmare
if we could not say,
But I saw the terror on their faces.
Sadie Maskery lives in Scotland by the sea. Poems have been accepted this year by Star*Line, British Fantasy Society,
Glasgow University and Dreich. She is on Twitter as @saccharinequeen.
Crowned with a halo of dark stars
Atlas contemplates the world
Transformed into stone through ceaseless meditation
The weight of the world on his shoulders
Both metaphorically and metaphysically
As he seeks to understand
To comprehend the All
That transcendent reality
Concealed within scalloped robes
Of a jaundiced hue
The very personification of the truth
Acknowledged by the wise that
It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands
Of the Living God
Red sands riding wind
Scouring prefab plastic domes
Housing human life
Little piece of Earth off-world
New life on this long-dead world
Demoted by DJ Tyrer
Pluto travels on
While distant from system’s edge
Debating planet’s status
Uncaring world demoted
DJ Tyrer is the person behind Atlantean Publishing, was placed second in the 2015 Data Dump Award for Genre Poetry, and has been published in The Rhysling Anthology 2016, issues of Cyaegha, Frostfire Worlds, The Horrorzine, Illumen, Outposts of Beyond, Scifaikuest, Sirens Call, Star*Line, Tigershark and The Yellow Zine, and online at Grievous Angel, Lonesome October, and Three Drops from a Cauldron, as well as releasing several chapbooks, such as The Tears of Lot-49. The echapbook One Vision is available from Tigershark Publishing’s website. SuperTrump and A Wuhan Whodunnit are available to download from the Atlantean Publishing website.
Contraction by Mike Turner
He slowly contracted his world
Withdrawing from social interaction
Without formal plan
Yet with deliberation
First severing social ties with co-workers
No longer engaging in parties
Focusing only on his assigned tasks
Spending the hours between
clocking in and clocking out
In his cubicle
Carrying his lunch in a brown paper sack
And eating at his desk
So as to avoid the communal lunchroom
Until he became a corporate non-entity
A faceless name on the company rolls
And ultimately simply a coded bank account number
Into which first his salary, then pension
He next winnowed
His circle of friends
Jettisoning first those who were but mere acquaintances
People known but not relied upon
And then, closer
Those he could count on
But did not, thus avoiding disappointment
Worn contacts from school, college, earlier jobs
With whom he now only had in common
Memories of better times
But no current shared connections
Further compressing his existence
He ensconced himself in his small apartment
No need of interacting with neighbors
Outside trips limited to necessary shopping
And even that eliminated with the advent of delivery services
Orders placed first by phone, then on-line
Packages left at the door
Collecting his mail at odd hours of the night
So as to avoid anyone in the elevators or lobby
As days stretched into weeks into months and years
The seasons changing in cycle outside his window
The confines of his apartment grew larger
Not the walls expanding
But he himself shrinking
Mentally, physically, spiritually
Swirling and circling inward
Forming a human black hole
Becoming a shadow, a pinprick, a dot, an atom
Vanishing at last
All his thoughts and cares and hopes and dreams
Collapsed into nothingness
Beyond the corporeal
In his infinite
Mike Turner is a songwriter and poet living on the U.S. Gulf Coast. He was a featured presenter at the 2020 Monroeville (AL) Literary Festival. Mike’s poems have been published in numerous print and on-line journals including Spillwords Press, GreyThoughts, Sci-Fi Lampoon and Red Planet Magazine.
The Red Planet Blues by Randall Andrews
I remember when red was the color of roses,
And warm summer sunsets, and spiced winter wine.
I remember when red could catch your eye,
Just here and there, not everywhere
Like it is in this damnable desert,
This wasteland of sand and stone.
I remember when red was my favorite hue,
But now I crave blue, or yellow or green,
Or anything new, anything else instead—
Anything other than red.
Randall Andrews is the author of two books, one of which won the National Indie Excellence Award. His short stories have been nominated for a Locus Award, won the Write Michigan short story contest, and been included in the speculative fiction anthology The Best of Abyss and Apex: Volume Three. When not writing, he can be found wearing the soles off a pair of running shoes, listening to his favorite John Williams soundtracks, or hand-feeding his loyal flock of wild songbirds.
Descent by Stephani Maari Booker
Let me see what you dream,
my octopus in slumber.
Show me your colors,
brights and darks,
roughs and smooths.
Envelop us with ambrosia arms
in the briny blackness.
No sunlight needed,
water and heat make life—
in the inky depths
the milky clouds
we release will give
for the littlest microbe
and the largest whale.
Our breaths will illuminate
the ultraviolet abyss,
revealing neon radiance,
our chromatic language.
We will dwell far below
the shallows, basking in
an underworld aurora
only we can see.
Stephani Maari Booker is surviving the fire, plague and wrath of 2020 Minneapolis, MN, by writing works in which she wrestles with her multiple marginalized identities: Black, lesbian, lower-class and nerdy. Her poetry has been published most recently in Queer Voices: Poetry, Prose, and Pride (Andrea Jenkins, John Medeiros and Lisa Marie Brimmer, editors; Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2019) and Wanderlust (www.wanderlust-journal.com). The author of Secret Insurrection: Stories from a Novel of a Future Time, Stephani also has science fiction in Minnesota Women’s Press
(Vol. 36-12 & Vol. 37-1, womenspress.com), Astral Waters Review (Issue III, www.astralwatersreview.com) and many other publications. For more information about her work, go to www.goodreads.com/athenapm.