|The world ended in a rampage of appetite,
a storm of teeth, a gale of tongues,
a tsunami of throats, an all-consuming acid
apocalypse. And finally they faced each other,
twin ravenous plagues walking the earth
on parallel paths, twin hunger holocausts
who shredded and swallowed every scrap
of squirming flesh and shrieking soul
between them, breathed in every puff of
air and expelled it poison-laden — at last
nothing left to devour but one another.
Iron jaws interlocked in paralysis, needle-claws
tangled intricate as filigree, they sprouted
new modes of ingress, blood vessels extended,
latched like lampreys, nerves burrowing as
dragon worms beneath each other’s skin,
feeding on each other’s substance and their
own again, sprouting more branches to seek
other sources long gone, a single tree
of slow mutual murder, our final marker.
Mike Allen works as the arts and culture columnist for the daily newspaper in Roanoke, Va., where he lives with his wife Anita, a goofy dog, and two mischievous cats. In his spare time he does a ridiculous number of things, including editing the critically-acclaimed anthology series Clockwork Phoenix and the long-running poetry journal Mythic Delirium. His own poetry has won the Rhysling Award three times, and his fiction has been nominated for the Nebula Award. He’s also recorded podcasts for StarShipSofa and Clarkesworld Magazine and participates in local improv theater, where he’s often asked to provide the voice of an Ominous Narrator or play the part of Satan.
Inside Her hole-black heart, poisoned darkness drowns
bright secrets screaming for air, sunken in spells
which cannot unwind from around tangled stars doused there
to be squeezed and bled; they are provender,
spirits drawn like vein’s blood to flood Hers; stretched,
compressed into the sorcery that binds Him until time
spits the last droplets of its sacred light: His
unholy light stirs then, thrashes against the drowning
spell until celestial seams rend, bubbling bright into Her
black: His pale rages stains, hateglow drawn through
void. Are there new shades of grey then to be born,
starlight doused dull by apocalypse? Her voodoos cannot prevent
unions in repulsion, enemies blended: shared secrets seep
final darkness, dissolving suns once kindled by His fury.
Alas, no great emotional epiphany to report: this started as an exercise in puzzle-making. Quite a while back an editor put out a call for poems with acrostics. I thought I’d be ultra-clever and create one with two hidden sentences, one tracking up, one tracking down. But when I actually tried it I stalled on the runway … just recently I came across the draft again in a notebook during an office cleanup, looked it over and realized: I can do this! And voila.