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"Three Small Slices of Pumpkin Pie"
  Wendy N. Wagner

"All My Pretty Chickens"
  Josh Rountree

"And a Pinch of Salt"
  Hal Duncan

"Wunderkammern Castle"
  Krista Hoeppner Leahy

"Eating Persimmons"
  Michael Kellichner

"Pantoum with Reverb"
  Jen Schalliol

"Imperative"
  F.J. Bergmann

"All the Saints are Looking Through Your Trash"
  Teresa Milbrodt

 


Imperative

by F.J. Bergmann

After Who Dealt This Hand? Kelli Hoppmann, oil on panel, 2003


You were waiting for the blue veils of twilight

to drape over you, layer upon layer of wavelengths

coming millions of miles. Sometimes you can’t focus

on the difference between reality and plausibility.


At the center of the spiderworld, a butterfly freezes

for an instant in mid-seizure. As if convulsing or not

could save it from those dark fibrillations. Its wings

open like hands that are tired of praying for anything.


Both fanged and horned, an observer shifts its objective

viewpoint from one head to another: Nature has so many

beautiful and dangerous lessons to offer us. Incarnadine,

engorged, it absorbs those instructions like visible light


from the wrong end of a spectrum. You ask what it will do

with that knowledge? Construct more effective snares.














F.J. Bergmann writes speculative fiction, poetry, and what falls between those worlds. She is the editor of Star*Line, the journal of the Science Fiction Poetry Association, the poetry editor of Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, and poetry editor at Dark Renaissance Books. Her chapbook Out of the Black Forest, an illustrated collection of conflated-fairy-tale poems, won the 2013 SFPA Elgin Award, and her poem "100 Reasons to Have Sex with an Alien" won the 2015 Rhysling Award for the Long Poem.