Speculative Poems

 

 

The following poems have appeared in this blog. Each is written under my pseudonym, Kurt MacPhearson.

 

THE ALIENS BREATHE CHLORINE: A COLLAPSAR

The aliens breathe chlorine
purifies our drinking water
remains essential for deep space
requires thick suits
dominate a CEO’s worst nightmare
evokes little pity in most of us
refuse to acknowledge the aliens
plan to crack open the moon
influences flow in our tides
play havoc on castle walls
stymie the alien’s death machines
attack biochemical constructs
grow up to be girls or boys
dream of being astronauts
roam knight-errant above our skies
aren’t (fortunately) chlorine

Originally appeared in Star*Line 35.4

 

CALLISTO’S MURKY TALE

Your story began the moment
the Great Pretender lured you
from Diana’s train; bore him Arcus,
a strapping Greek lad, but with him
came Juno’s ire, which regardless
of her husband’s charms, got you
just what you deserved: transformation
into a bear, and a son dead-set
on spearing you

Your tragedy would have ended
at the point of a thrust
if Jupiter hadn’t stepped in
and flung you both to hang
like dippers in our northern sky,
so forgive us if your tale seems murky,
finding you the outmost Galilean —
a pitted bronze shell of your former self
with an icy-tear patina suggesting
your troubled history — yet no sign
of your wayward son

Some dare say you earned this fate
for lack of discerning core, yet few
resist godly charms; take solace
that your aren’t alone: Europa
knows how to handle stress,
Ganymede’s scarred shoulders
remain strong, and with stealthy plumes
of SO2, Io lags to warn
of a scornful wife’s attack

Though it may appear we’re only
concerned with crater formation
and how your hidden seas
generate a magnetosphere,
the truth is that we have many eyes:
the heavens may be a forest in which
even legends get lost, but if
we ever develop tools with which
to penetrate myth, we’ll certainly do
all that we’re able to reunite you
with your long-lost cub

Originally appeared in Dreams and Nightmares #96

COGNIZANCE: A TRIPTYCH

strange how      the aliens            open up
their                    third eye             like a window
perceiving          views                  with shades
can invoke         emotions            showing
revulsion            as                         proof
inside                  a spectrum        of lying

originally appeared in Star*Line, 35.4

DON’T THINK THERE’S NOTHING TO FEAR

Don’t think there’s nothing to fear
ripples through all composite things
decay into sepulchral echoes
extrapolate like telescopes
peek into the unknown
lurk in ominous shadows
fall after an uttered curse
tastes of wormwood
swills in polystyrene
outlasts most ancient relics
incite fervor in the heart
encapsules time like flies
observe from a crumbling wall
displays a rusty civil defense symbol
reminds us of a bygone era
acts often as an anodyne
struggles to conquer paranoia
keeps us on our toes
hold fast to party lines
confuse conversation’s context
dictates a particular existence
stems from tiny quarks
explode from split atoms
shudder when we think

Originally appeared in Star*Line 36.2

EVENT HORIZON

a pin-prick point
of everything
and nothing
lodged in the heart

 a cosmic eraser
leaving empty
theoretic explanations
as the soul rides

Originally appeared in Star*Line 28.3

five-star
zombie restaurant
live physicist tank

IO’S REALITY CHECK

You’ll find no sympathy,
because Juno’s tears were more than irritation
from your stealthy plumes of sulfur dioxide.
It doesn’t matter
if you couldn’t resist Jupiter’s charms.
You were her priestess, dammit!
Yet you still simmer beside your peers,
just because, to avoid getting caught,
he temporarily transformed you into a heifer.
Give thanks.
You could have ended up like Medusa.
Europa surely doesn’t care.
They’ve got enough problems.
Why should they worry about the internal stress
from the command Jupiter still wields
over your heart.
Quit pretending.
We all know its iron.
Your tantrums don’t fool anyone.
Just be content with the fact
that instead of becoming one of four moons
that got Galileo’s attention,
Juno could have turned you
into a sow.

Originally appeared in Dreams and Nightmares #88

JACK AND THE JOVIAN GIANT

Jack
you intergalactic farmer
with three-bean
capitalist dreams
shooting stars
to the tune
of celestial harp strings
beware
that Jovian Giant
swinging satellite clubs
in your afterburner trails–
fee and fie
a deep core of molten fum
with an icy belt
and swirling liver spots
of caustic misanthropy–
leave him
to his cloud-shrouded castle
desperate corporate climber
let go your dream
of that elusive goose
there is
no gold here

THE SPACER’S HAND

exchanged oath for credit extension
with a tentacled handshake

exposure to a Capellan microfungus
left a freckled spray of chemical burns

grease from the cyborg’s truncated knee
required weeks of scrubbing before fading

torque wrench sprung from grasp —
thumb smashed; two fingers broken

pinkie surrendered to pirate’s knife;
preferred conscription to air lock expulsion

met an Aklaran in a spaceport dive;
her blue skin sleeker than anticipated

signed on with a short-trader crew
to escape a lawman’s pursuit

knuckle pulverized against a bulkhead
after learning she’d grown tired of waiting

punched out the bridge watch;
altered course to slingshot Earth

crawled behind the computer’s console
to avoid the captain’s fire as Mars loomed

scaled Elysium Mons to set a rescue beacon —
tore open glove; shredded both palms

huddled beneath salvaged bubbletarp
while drawing Phobos and Deimos in red sand

thick prison glass between the spacers splayed hand
and that of his half-alien son

Originally appeared in Star*Line 36.3

SPOILED CHILD

A nebulous toddler
woven over epochs
into blubbery orange and yellow swirls
with blazing green quasars for eyes
and a single curly tuft of blue
upon its bald, lopsided head
sits as a greedy Buddha
at the edge of space
gobbling galaxies
like peanut clusters
and ignoring the dark matter
stuck between its two gaseous teeth
as it reaches for red giant crumbs
with tentacle fingers
squeezing avaricely
till knuckles form
all the while broadcasting
a collective mine-mine-mine!
in gamma ray belches
from deep within its black gullet
as a warning to the cosmos
should it learn to crawl

Originally appeared in Star*Line, 33.4

STARFARER
(with  Rick Yennik)

we went there
with preconceived notions
cargo holds bulging

useless baggage
of peacefulness

digital treaties
fill in the blanks
and supply what’s demanded

breaking the rules
building the conflict
entertainment in red

sugar-packed newsreels
of feel-good features

humanity’s message
shipped in our actions
to those faraway worlds

Originally appeared in The Magazine of Speculative Poetry, Autumn 2005

THRESHOLD OF SLEEP

In the space between your slippers
and that fuzzy patch
the vacuum can’t quite reach
a monster awaits

Claws clicking, stomachs smoldering,
tentacles toying with the corner of the sheet
as your shuffle begins with outstretched arms,
as if to embrace a prodigal dream:

No shield, sword,
nor white-knuckled charm shall protect you
as you pass through the veil
between consciousness and sleep

When stars wink out like nightstand lamps
and the universe unfolds
in non-Euclidean angles
with a membranous stir

The beat is not your heart in ears
but tom-toms on hilltops,
and the frission across your neck
is the fetid breath of a forgotten god
lurking
at the threshold of sleep

Originally appeared in Dreams and Nightmares 93

 

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