12:1: “The High Tree on the Hill”, by David Kopaska-merkel...

He’s parked under the big oak tree
on the hill above the road
gives him a great view across the valley and away
I don’t know how he got there
I hope he has good brakes on his chair
cos that would be a bumpy ride
with a nasty spill at the end

I don’t see a car and I really start to wonder
I park at the bend and hike up the hill
But when I reach the tree
I find no one there, no tire tracks,
no crumpled beer can or cigarette butt,
no flattened blades of grass
I know about these things
it’s in the nature of my work

But I don’t know visions
still less visions of hobbled old men
enjoying the view
I don’t know faith either
but some people say it can find you
whether you seek it or no
so was this a vision of my future
a waking dream behind the wheel
or a burning bush?

Back at the car I glance again
up at the tree; darned if the old man
in the wheelchair isn’t there again!
It’s the same tree, seen from here or there
this time up the hill I run
this time the tree, again, is solitary
and I find only my own footprints

Returning to the car, again
I keep my eye up there
and risk my neck, but between one blink
and the next he’s gone and then he’s there
what do I have to do to reach the tree
under which the old man sits?

I drive on and ponder while traveling
up and over the mountain, all the ways
I could proceed:
     do nothing
telephoto lens
approach from the other side
charter a plane
wait at the bottom for him to descend
But I think I’ll keep the mystery
and contrive to come this way again:
that tree bears watching.


David Kopaska-Merkel describes rocks (and the holes in them) for the State of Alabama. He lives with an artist in an urban farmhouse. Kopaska-Merkel has published 1200+ poems, short stories, reviews, and essays since 1972. He won the Rhysling award of the Science Fiction Poetry Association for best long poem in 2006 for a collaboration with Kendall Evans. His latest book is The Tin Men, a poetry chapbook co-written by Kendall Evans & published by Sams Dot. Kopaska-Merkel has edited and published Dreams & Nightmares magazine since 1986. DN website. Blog at dreamsandnightmaresmagazine.blogspot.com. @DavidKM on twitter. He says:

This poem refers to my disability (spinal-cord injury; confined to a wheelchair). Beyond that, I was trying to evoke the kind of mystery that Roger Zelazny was so good at. I think I’m not there yet.

Photograph of a twisted tree on Craigneston hill is by Walter Baxter and is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License.

10:4: “Taking it Slow”, by David C. Kopaska-Merkel...

A finite xenoflora,
in this refuge,
seamlessly recursive;
its fractal beaches
flower in the heat
of eviscerated stars.

Not timeless, this museum,
but expect changes back home
if you get out alive;
I recommend departure
before the big Evaporation,
official warnings almost
drowned in the furious sounds
of rampant vegetation.

It’s been long enough:
she had the baby,
her brothers forgot you
or have passed on,
their annoying insistence
that a free spirit like you get hitched
the oldest of old news.

There are other girls,
but this place has no more exhibits
on its horizon,
time to take the tunnel,
which might still connect
this place to spacetime.

But what is this familiar face,
that firm hand on your shoulder,
those cadences reminiscent
of your erstwhile home?

Which short-straw grandchild was sent,
armed with a treasured holo,
to drag you out of this hole
to face the music,
and why?


David Kopaska-Merkel describes rocks (and the holes in them) for the State of Alabama. He lives with an artist in an urban farmhouse with a yellow “tin” roof. He collects wormholes & the like. He was born in Virginia, but has lived in the home of the crookneck as long as anywhere. Kopaska-Merkel has published 1200+ poems, short stories, reviews, and essays since 1972. He won the Rhysling award of the Science Fiction Poetry Association for best long poem in 2006 for a collaboration with Kendall Evans. Kopaska-Merkel has edited and published Dreams and Nightmares magazine since 1986, and has published a few Rhysling winners over the years. Flash fiction at www.dailycabal.com. Blog at dreamsandnightmaresmagazine.blogspot.com featuring a daily poem. @DavidKM on twitter.. He says:

This one came from the idea of a scoundrel who did a woman wrong. He got her pregnant & then left. He’s hiding from her family in a virtual environment inside the event horizon of a black hole. Even here, the family can find him.

10:3: “The Egg that Exploded”, by David Kopaska-Merkel and Kendall Evans...

Primordial and all-encompassing
We, the whole universe,
Still inside that egg.
Nothing is lost, or really found;
From the outside we still look
Like a dimensionless point . . .

Or consider that egg,
That singularity
To be a seed;
The seed of Yggdrasil,
Needing a little something
To germinate into
Asphalt, seaweed, temporal lobes,
Long-grain rice, pyroxene, poetic forms.

The peace and quiet of before
Lasts forever, from the outside,
It’s coming to us as well
In a few trillion years,
Or is it quadrillion?
Whatever —

And what of all the points
In space, seemingly dimensionless,
Numberless,
In our own cosmos;
Might they not
Hold aliens we will never encounter,
Countless worlds,
Oceans of thought,
World-surrounding seas
Forever kept from us?

When all the vireos and video games
Fall silent, smooth out,
Give themselves up to the great equalizer:
Entropy,
We’ll still look the same from outside,
And even when a new spark ignites —
Why, it could be inside what was once you,
Our universe will never notice
Nor be noticed.
Collectively
We are all, always, alone.

From the outside, the universe is,
Was, and always will be a mere point,
This cosmos; this singularity.
Perhaps all of what goes on in here
Never really happens
At all.

Here, or anywhere
Else.


David Kopaska-Merkel describes rocks (and the holes in them) for the State of Alabama. He lives with an artist in an urban farmhouse with a yellow “tin” roof. He collects wormholes & the like. He was born in Virginia, but has lived in the home of the crookneck as long as anywhere. Kopaska-Merkel has published 1200+ poems, short stories, reviews, and essays since 1972. He won the Rhysling award of the Science Fiction Poetry Association for best long poem in 2006 for a collaboration with Kendall Evans. Kopaska-Merkel has edited and published Dreams and Nightmares magazine since 1986, and has published a few Rhysling winners over the years. Flash fiction at www.dailycabal.com. Blog at dreamsandnightmaresmagazine.blogspot.com featuring a daily poem. @DavidKM on twitter.

He says:

The idea for the poem came when I read about the theory that universes like our own could form within other universes, which they could never touch. Kendall & I took turns adding & tinkering till we were done.

9:3: “diurnal/nocturnal”, by David Kopaska-Merkel...

long
days
fade to
evening’s mare:
dust yawns through scissored
gapes ambiguous worlds in brief
arborescent splendor, overture for velvet night
which moves its sinuous muscles
a devastated
landscape shrinks
from its
furred
touch


David Kopaska-Merkel, descendant of procaryotes, describes rocks for the State of Alabama. He lives in an urban farmhouse with a yellow “tin” roof. He has published a thousand poems, etc over the past quarter century. His latest book is The Simian Transcript. He says:

I had the idea of combining (1) a tear in reality that connected, temporarily, two very different worlds with (2) a qualitative difference between day and night, so that night wasn’t simply darker, but that something moved in it. These were just images. I find the Fibonacci-no ku form very good for messing around with images and fragmentary ideas because the changing line lengths naturally lead you to build to a revelation or conclusion. You play around with the words until they fit the form and say something. Whatever that is, that’s what the poem’s about. It may not be what you expected when you began.

7:4: “Designation and Succession Among the Gods”, by David Kopaska-Merkel...

She Who Must Not Be Named met
He Who Must Not Be Named after school,
behind the bleachers.

He Who Must Not Be Named gave
She Who Must Not Be Named
that which must not be named
and it was good.

The next morning, He Who Must Not Be Named
challenged He Who Rules
and there was a terrible battle.

He Who Must Not Be Named was defeated,
and He was cast out. He Who Rules took
possession of She Who Must Not Be Named
and it was good.

In the fullness of time She Who Must Not Be Named
returned to school with the Son of God in tow
and great was the rejoicing.

The next morning, the Son of God challenged
He Who Rules. There was a terrible battle,
and He Who Rules was defeated.

Much was the lamentation of those who follow
and the Son of God placed He Who Ruled in the sky
where every day he shades the yard during recess
and it is good.


David Kopaska-Merkel has had poetry and fiction published in Asimov’s, Night Cry, Strange Horizons, Mythic Delirium, Star*Line, and dozens of other venues on paper and on the web. He has work forthcoming in Asimov’s, the Daily Cabal, scifaikuest, chapbooks from speculative house of poetry and naked snake press, and a myriad other places. He lives in a centuried farmhouse in what was once rural Alabama, and is surrounded by artists.

I donated to the Strange Horizons fundraising auction the right to choose the topic of my next poem. I really hoped that whoever bought it would choose a subject I could work with and Lisa Mantchev chose secret names. I was grateful! It was a short step to the concept of the nameless God. Yahweh (not his real name) is perhaps the most famous example, but there is He Who Must Not Be Named from the Cthulhu mythos and that’s what I was thinking of. I don’t really know what made me translate this idea to the schoolyard, but the rest was almost inevitable.

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