Words and Imagery

An Abundance of Words

I love to read. I can’t help to read whatever my gaze falls upon. Books, blogs, magazines, newspapers… The only criteria the words are strung together to convey thought, emotion, and detail with such precision that, while reading, it feels as if I’m sharing the experience. This love affair with words naturally, for me at least, leading to writing.

Over the last fifteen years, I’ve written dozens of short stories and enough fault-started novels to fill a footlocker. I’ve been fortunate to have several stories published (most recently “A Memory Deferred” in Interstellar Fiction). According to any number of successful authors who discuss the business of writing, however, “The first million words are just practice.” Only a million? Ha! I think I passed that milestone three years ago, and despite the constant frustration with word choice, I keep plugging away.

A Single Image

When it comes to writing poetry, I love imagery (painting pictures with words). Whether it’s a single image, or a string of a dozen, imagery gives a poem depth, breadth, and meaning. Remove an image and the poem crumbles into a pile of incomprehensible syllables.

The images used in science fiction, fantasy, and horror poetry (and prose) require a partnership between the writer and reader. The writer uses speculative imagery to show the reader a world that could exist, and it is up to the reader to either suspend belief, consider possibilities, or draw upon the imagination in order to make the imagery truly effective.

For the following poem, I used one image to show a world that could exist and carried that image as far as I could. Now it’s up to the reader to make it effective.

THE SPACER’S HAND
by Kurt MacPhearson

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 console36.3
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

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