Our end-of-year issue features poems that span the night sky and look back across the centuries.
Alexandra Seidel’s “The Star Reader’s Almanac” summons the wonder of the sky, a topic taken up again in the charming scene in C.E. Hyun’s “Dragon Girl”. In Bogi Takács’s and Marian Rosarum’s poems, two very different characters – one a woman who believes herself to be unremarkable, and another a powerful goddess – travel through history on their respective quests. Next, in Mary Soon Lee’s “The Matter of the Horses” we meet King Xau once again. Having won over the horses and the horse lords, his next challenge is to capture the respect of his own general. Lynette Mejía’s “Visiting Hours” presents us with an immortal (this seems to be a running theme), but one whose vast life seems hopelessly limited by the mortality of the person she loves most. With “A Kindness of Ravens,” James J. Stevenson brings us a similar hospital scene, but one in which the confines of a hospital bed are not limiting at all – thanks to a certain trickster bird.
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Vol. 13 Issue 4
Special Poetry Issue
“The Star Reader’s Almanac – Alexandra Seidel
“Six Hundred and Thirteen Commandments” – Bogi Takács
“Demeter Sails the Stars” – Marian Rosarum
“Dragon Girl” – C. E. Hyun
“The Matter of the Horses” – Mary Soon Lee
“Visiting Hours” – Lynette Mejía
“A Kindness of Ravens” – James J. Stevenson
Helen Marshall’s Gifts for the One Who Comes After – Claire Humphrey
Collections: Kaleidoscope and Irregularity – Liz Bourke
Photograph of December frost in Sweden, by Sigurdas, is provided under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Unported license.
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,
Qiang hadn’t slept last night.
In the tent, the talk moved
“No,” said the king.
“Even so,” said an advisor,
The advisor turned to Qiang.
Qiang looked at the advisor,
Every horse in the Red King’s army
Qiang looked at the advisor and said,
“Even if inaction now leads to defeat later?”
Into the stretching silence,
The king’s gaze rested on Qiang, anchoring him.
Qiang touched his hand to his heart,
The tent crowded with men,
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.
I knew I couldn’t keep you.
grey hair so human, splayed
like spider silk across the starched pillow
a firefly, a flicker among the trees
like the ones I captured as a child.
I watch you breathe.
I think about time.
How difficult to love.
How easy to forget.
Lynette Mejía writes science fiction, fantasy, and horror prose and poetry. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Goblin Fruit, Dreams & Nightmares, Strange Horizons, Mythic Delirium, and Star*Line. She is currently working on a master’s degree in English Literature at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, and lives in Carencro, Louisiana with her husband, three children, six cats, and one dog. You can find her online at www.lynettemejia.com. She says:
“Visiting Hours” was inspired by a short story I wrote a few years ago called “Becoming,” about two lovers, Elinor, who is fae, and Dee, who is human, and their quest for acceptance in the world. I still think about Dee and Elinor every once in a while, wondering how they are, and what’s become of them. This poem was the result of that, imagining how hard it would be to part with someone you loved so deeply, but how much the worse for knowing that your time alone would not be measured in months or years, but in centuries.
The dragon girl soared
over the city. From below,
a little boy pointed
and waved. She was
his favorite hero.
She waved back.
C.E. Hyun’s stories have appeared in The Good Men Project, decomP, Mirror Dance, and The Northville Review. She currently lives in Orange County, California and at cehyun.com. She says:
I love superheroes, and wanted to write something whimsical and subversive concerning them.
Photograph of hoarfrost in Niedersachsen, Germany, by Daniel Schwen, is provided under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
The night is open like a book begging to be read
there is, in its starry letters, catabasis to be had
and the dream of falling up and under
the spell of sky
I bind my firmament to the night sky
Inscribed book of firmaments and fates,
Alexandra Seidel writes poems and stories of things born from imagination and dreams. Some of her work can be found in Goblin Fruit, Mythic Delirium, Strange Horizons, and elsewhere. If you are so inclined you can follow Alexa on Twitter (@Alexa_Seidel) or read her blog: www.tigerinthematchstickbox.blogspot.com. She says:
This poem actually began with the first line, which just happened to plant itself in my brain during a bout of creativity. The rest just fell into place around it like any constellation would.