She wore a gown the colour of storms, shadows and rain and a necklace of broken promises and regrets.

© Susanna Clarke, ‘Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell’, pg 191 (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2005)

(for Loren Eiseley)

Big Bang breaches the
membrane,
rushes into the vacuum.

Barred owl’s incantation
bruises dew gathering on grass.
The Pleiades come into focus
when looked at askance.

Words: elemental, essential,
nothing about things,
their own Milky Way.

When language falls away, swallowed
by the black hole’s raging silence,
souls sing and laugh.

We are tribal, heads upraised
to the dark, supplicants
seeking the shamans of the night.
Pine tops, fractal antennae
set against the horizon,
tune to the inexorable hum
of chaos. Orion’s there,
canted. Saturn turns, we know,
a speck of sand suspended
in pitch-black amber.

Everything surrounds us.

We spin in place, centripetal—
or is it centrifugal? And who can know
the dancer from the dance?

© Patrick Smith, ‘Astronomy for Amateurs’ originally published in Abyss & Apex

No need for painkillers: we have found
a faster way to induce anesthesia.

We build shrines to cyber gods in exchange
for the power to keyboard our destiny.

Copy clones in RPGs and chat rooms, press
buttons to pause and reboot, forgetting
that flesh bleeds and bones break so easily.

Exchange vows with soul-mate avatars, give birth
to yourself with a mouse click, shatter
the screens between hearts and robots.

© Yilin Wang, ‘Oblivion’ originally published in Abyss & Apex.

Now she dreams of her beloved
whose power once moved continental plates
until he grew ancient, like a burned oak
like a country drained, condemned to be desert,
now bone and old clothes
under pastures where stone horses graze,
a thousand miles away.
Quiet as ice.

© Mary A. Turzillo, from ‘Diva’ as published in Goblin Fruit.

she is an extinct flag hanging on a broken stick,
she fruits with frightening clots of flesh gone wild
desiccated by chemo and leeches
her mind reined behind paralytic prisms.

© Mary A. Turzillo, from ‘Diva’ as published in Goblin Fruit.

Women’s Shadow in the American Western

"Director of photography Vilmos Zsigmond’s wooded American wild [Deliverance, 1972] is a voluptuous green, backlit by an acid sun. Zsigmond desaturated the film’s Technicolor, dredging the photography of reds, blues and yellows, effecting a backwoods that vibrates with fecundity, a cannibalizing flora that eats at the edges of the frame.”

There is nothing else in magic but the wild thought of the bird as it casts itself into the void.

© Susanna Clarke, ‘Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell’, pg 158 (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2005)

Moon, make fishes of falling leaves
and kelp of waving goldenrod,
this whole world underwater.
Give her space she has never known
in a land-locked, day-locked life.

Do not abandon her to the sun,
and the brittle cracking things
crunching so easily underfoot.
Let her drift in your waves
as if sharks will never smell
her new blood, as if she will never
be caught in an undertow, forgetting
the only way out — stop struggling,
swim parallel to the shore.

© Jennifer Schomburg Kanke, ‘Mid-western Selkie Girl’ originally published in Goblin Fruit.

My bit of knitted ocean,
wrap around me, waves warm.
Encircle me. Stop me,
my made-by-hands uneven-woven
stitches-haphazard windkeeper,
from wandering the workplace
a grey ghost. Save me,
my colour-of-sea rough-tweeded
before-storm garment,
from breathing too deep
the mist that fills
this building — poison fog,
poison fog. Keep me, blue-of-ocean,
till my time
is done, and I walk out
into the gale, freedom tugging
at my lips, my feet, and oh, above all,

my sea-witch heart.

© Sara Norja, ‘Shrug Charm’ originally published in Goblin Fruit.