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14:1: “For a Lighter Spring Carryon”, by Sarah Ann Winn...

  You won’t have room for every leafless tree.
  One may represent all, especially if you
  shake it like an umbrella
  to lessen moisture before closing.

Don’t bother with the wooly mantle of snow.
Think layers. Dustings in varying thicknesses
will allow you flexibility.
Rolling conserves space, prevents wrinkles.

Pair slushy shoe puddles after they ice over,
then turn them to face each other. Stow them
in a drawstringed bag made from the waterproof new moon.
This will protect the hibernating chipmunks and squirrels.

Turn inwards the lean rows between apple trees, taking care
not to crease any paw prints, or snag on wayward twigs.
Begin with a corner of the Gemonid shower. Vacuum
packing eliminates excessive city glare. The stars
flatten into bright smears, ready for use,

when you and Demeter appear over
the horizon, each of you ready to find
your place in the newly minted sky.


Sarah Ann Winn’s poems have appeared or will appear soon in Day One, Bayou, Massachusetts Review, Quarterly West, and RHINO, among others. Recently, her piece “Field Guide to Alma Avenue and Frew Drive” was a finalist for Tupelo Quarterly’s Prose Open contest, judged by Joanna Howard. Her chapbook, Portage, was released by Sundress Publications. Find her at bluebirdwords.com or follow her @blueaisling on Twitter. She says:

“For a Lighter Spring Carryon” is inspired by my last visit to Ohio, which is where I spent my childhood. Since my MFA exam, Frost’s “Nothing Gold Can Stay” has been knocking around in my head, especially the line “her hardest hue to hold.” In considering how impossible it really is to go home again, but also to leave, somehow Spring became conflated with the memories of place, and I wondered how that article might read in one of those breezy travel articles that dispense advice about going.

14:1: “Cyber Saloon”, by Steve Klepetar...

At the Cyber Saloon I was asked my name
and given a map to a house
in the woods that might have been mine.

All my keys were taken and replaced
with colored chalk. The windows
were made of steel, my table of antler

and bone. I could see the road wind through
thick and tangled brush toward the door
for miles. Then I was asked to draw a boat,

with attention to mast, sail, keel and hull,
but all I could make was a submarine,
bullet-shaped, which they nailed to the wall

above my head. No ice, no soda, only house-
brewed beer and a liquor distilled from the veins
of trees. Horses danced on tables as we spoke

of origins, how galaxies formed from hot, fusing
gas and rushed apart like lovers too scarred
to face their mirrors or the rising floods as winter ends.


Steve Klepetar’s work has received several nominations for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, including three in 2014.  Three collections appeared in 2013: Speaking to the Field Mice (Sweatshoppe Publications), Blue Season (with Joseph Lisowski, mgv2>publishing), and My Son Writes a Report on the Warsaw Ghetto (Flutter Press).  An e-chapbook, Return of the Bride of Frankenstein, came out in 2014 as part of the Barometric Pressures series of e-chapbooks by Kind of a Hurricane Press. He says:

In the mid 70’s, I taught at a small college in Wisconsin and one of the places my friends and I frequented was a bar called The Old Siber Saloon. I got to know the owner, who was quite a character, and when I thought about the place recently the named resonated with the oral pun on “cyber.” I imagined a cyber saloon in which realities could fuse and transform as quickly as web sites on the Internet, especially if fuelled by that home-brewed beer.  Hence the poem.

14:1: “under a flowering cherry tree”, by Yunsheng Jiang...

sitting alone
under a flowering cherry tree
deep in meditation
on the Buddhist sutra:
the form is nonexistence and
nonexistence is the form….

shoulders were covered with
sakura


Yunsheng Jiang (1944-) was an associated professor of Chinese literature at Shanghai Open University, Songjiang Branch before he retired. He has won 6 prizes for his short story, science fiction and thesis in Buddhism philosophy in China and Taiwan. One of his short science fictions, Boundless Love, was translated into English and included in Science Fiction from China [Publisher: Greenwood Pub Group, 1989]. Mr. Yunsheng Jiang is an autodidact in English. His poems appeared in Space & Time, Star*Line, Scifaikuest, Aoife’s Kiss, Beyond Centauri, Ideomancer and other E-magazines. Two of his sf haiku were Included in DWARF STARS 2013. He says:

I am always puzzled about the relation between modern physics and Buddhist philosophy! There are so many views on the structure of the world, on the relation between matter and spirit… and so on, which coincide with each other! Maybe we should call this short poem a realistic work rather than an sf poem!

14:1: “Twinned at Pasture”, by Alicia Cole...

“The Reverend John Michell calculated in 1767 that the probability of a chance alignment of so many bright stars was only 1 in 500,000, and so correctly surmised that the Pleiades and many other clusters of stars must be physically related.”

As near as the tufts on a dandelion blown
in the haze of spring, heading separate
directions; as far as the edges of Cades Cove.
My sister, there are fences

that separate us. You stand, a bull tawny
amid the purple clover, while I run the field.
I would gauge our shared constellation
for a sign, but all it tells me

is related. Our hair matches to the very root.
Our hearts reach further than the Taurean arc:
I am nestled among the Pleiades, you range
the rim of the Hyades,

neither of us touching Aldebaran.


Alicia Cole, a writer and educator, lives in Lawrenceville, GA, with a photographer and a menagerie of familiars. Her poetry appears or is forthcoming in Asimov’s, Strange Horizons, Liminality, Dark Mountain, and Lakeside Circus. Her musings on writing and life can be found at facebook.com/AliciaColewriter. She says:

My twin and I are very different human beings: she extroverted yet ranging close to home; I introverted yet adventurous.  Both born in the sign of Taurus, we have gravitated our entire lives to our mother star.  As a NASA engineer, a true rocket woman, she shines brightly.  I am warm on making my own light, peeking out bit by bit from Mother’s corona; my twin stands calmly, in a place I do not yet understand.

13:4: “The Matter of the Horses”, by Mary Soon Lee...

General Qiang stood in King Xau’s tent
with the king’s other generals
and the king’s advisors
and the king’s guards
and the king’s serving boy
and the king himself,
the tent crowded with men,
rank with sweat.

The young king sat on a stool,
his left arm in a sling,
a grimness about him
that matched Qiang’s own mood
though the war was over,
the victory theirs,
the king’s advisors jubilant.

Qiang hadn’t slept last night.
Had tried to sleep. Failed.
Yesterday’s battle still with him.
The horses. Mud, rain, blood.

In the tent, the talk moved
to the matter of the horses,
to how it could be exploited
for conquest.

“No,” said the king.
One word enough to quiet the tent.
“We do not crave conquest.”

“Even so,” said an advisor,
“we should test the limits
of your control over the horses,
the better to employ it for defense.”

The advisor turned to Qiang.
“General, how would you proceed?”

Qiang looked at the advisor,
a man who’d never fought a single battle,
who’d sheltered in a tent yesterday,
warm and dry,
while rain cascaded from Qiang’s saddle, his armor,
turning earth and horse-shit to stinking mud,
Qiang riding on the king’s right
(the king, injured, unable to hold a shield,
but still riding),
Qiang’s horse maneuvering beneath him
before he even gave the commands,
all the horses in perfect unison
as if they were a thousand shadows
of a single faultless form–
a thing out of legend,
out of the old times
when dragons flew to King Nariz
and demons walked the earth–
the stench,
the pounding of hooves, of Qiang’s pulse,
as he rode beside the king,
as the enemy charged full at them–

And stopped.

Every horse in the Red King’s army
rooted to the spot
though their riders kicked them.
Whereupon the Red King,
red-haired and red-handed in war,
screamed in his barbarous language.
And then the enemy had slaughtered
their own horses,
slitting their necks,
the horses foundering in blood–

Qiang looked at the advisor and said,
“If it were my decision,
I wouldn’t test the horses.
I would let them be.”

“Even if inaction now leads to defeat later?”

“Even then.”

Into the stretching silence,
the king spoke:
“What happened with the horses
is not a trick to practice and parade,
but a gift. A gift the horses gave.
A gift for which many of them died.”

The king’s gaze rested on Qiang, anchoring him.

Qiang touched his hand to his heart,
offered it palm-up to the king,
a gesture Qiang had never made before,
the sign of allegiance of warriors
in the old tales.

The tent crowded with men,
but for that moment
only the two of them.


Mary Soon Lee was born and raised in London, but became a naturalized US citizen in 2003. Her poetry credits include Atlanta Review, Apex Magazine, Dreams & Nightmares, The Magazine of Speculative Poetry, and Star*Line. More of her work-in-progress may be read at thesignofthedragon.com. She says:

I wrote “The Matter of the Horses” a year after I first started writing about King Xau. I’d been thinking about how Xau’s advisors and generals would urge him to exploit his power over horses, and how he would react to that. When I let General Qiang into the poem, it acquired its own identity.


Photograph of hoarfrost in Niedersachsen, Germany, by Daniel Schwen, is provided under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

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