Proxy

This selection is paired with Book 2 of The Odyssey by Homer. Get Issue #22 of NonBinary Review from Zoetic Press.


In Ithaca each night, the suitors sung her name
(and to/of her praises) though lewd and out-of-tune.

So seven-and-a-half-(some) years into The War,
it wasn’t just the women who hated her, but

the old men and the-no-longer-toddling children,
when they all began to pick and choose their

smooth stones, jagged rocks (and boulders)
to hurl at the still, pretty wife who’d, unlike

chaste Penelope, taken one of these “eligible” men
claiming to know the fate of her husband before

she’d had—and it was that Name held back
by (and underneath tongues)—with a loudness

(never uttered) which could not have made their
aim more true: Helen, no, Penelope, no, Helen.


Eric Pierzchala teaches Humanities, is a former professional baseball player, and teaches chess to children. Eric holds an MFA in poetry from Murray State University. His poems have recently appeared in: Plain Spoke, The 2018 Surrealist/Outsider Anthologie, Rue Scribe, Cathexis Northwest Press, The Stirling Spoon, and The International Anthology on Paradoxism.

She Contains All

This selection is paired with Book 1 of The Odyssey by Homer. You can get the full issue of NonBinary Review #22 from Zoetic Press.


I waited for you and I waited. I waited and waited. After some years of waiting, I took a pebble from the stream outside the garden. After some years of waiting, I emptied the thrice-mended offering bowl of nothing. After some years of waiting, I wiped the thrice-mended offering bowl clean of the accumulation of my waiting: ashes, ashes, and dust. After some years of waiting, I put the bowl beneath the bedroom shrine and shifted the shrine drape to keep the bowl from prying eyes. The maids and our son. The guards and the cook. A suitor, another suitor. Another suitor again. None of them would know. None of them would see. After some years of waiting, I dropped that first stone inside.

Waiting each day, I walked to the stream. Waiting each day, I clutched the hem of my skirt to the tops of my knees and waded, waiting, into the water. Each day, I secreted a pebble into the folds of my skirts: each pebble my pearl, never larger than the birthmark on my left shoulder, never larger than the peeking stone of our child’s first tooth. My accounted account, my bottomless boon for another day, another day, another day wadded through, waiting. One pebble. One very small stone.

Every day, I took my pebble home and dropped it in that empty offering bowl, that empty offering bowl I received at our wedding feast, that empty offering bowl once intended for offerings of water and flowers in gratitude for each and every night I received you, each and every night I loved you, each and every night you were there to love me back. Four years the bowl sat empty but for the offering of my dead skin. Now, each and every day I return from the stream with a very small rock. Each day, I drop this very small rock in the very large bowl. I listen for the clink of it: first against the empty clay, then against the other stones. Then dropping down the mountain of pebbles smaller than baby’s teeth and birthmarks drifting up the sides.

I remember that first time our bowl broke. I was not in the room. There was an earthquake. The earth shook. The maids shrieked, our son spilled soup. The bowl fell off the bedroom shrine. Certain it was an omen, I put on my best gown and presented myself to the Oracle. Begged the Oracle: Tell me what has happened! Tell me what I need to know.

He lives. He is surrounded by water. He is well-fed by witches. He sees much of the world. You are his root. You are his rock. Keep waiting. Your waiting will be rewarded. You are his hearth. His home. That for which he returns. Keep the home fires warm.

A root and a rock, I went home. Well-fed by witches. A prize on the hearth, I sat in the garden and blinked.

I remember the second time the bowl broke. I ran from the dining hall, I ran through the weaving room, I ran like hell from that swarming horde of suitors. All I do, some days, is run. Their spoil of war. My spoil of war. My spoiling war. Spoiled by war, I ran to the sleeping quarters, clumsy and weeping. Blurred with tears, shaking in my sandals, I lost my footing and crashed into the bedroom shrine. Certain it was an omen, I slipped into a hooded cloak and crept out the back way. I went to the Oracle. Held up a waning crescent of my wedding bowl. Begged the Oracle: Tell me what it means.

He is coming. He will come. You must wait. You must keep waiting. All you can do is wait. Keep the fires lit. Keep the bed warm. Keep calling him back to you. He will come. He will come. You are his. All you have to do is wait.

But how? I begged. How can I keep waiting when I’m dying from the wait?

The Oracle thought about that for a minute, but only the one. Make the wait sacred, they finally offered. Make it an offering of love.

I went home. I sat at the foot of our immovable bed, an offering of love. An offering of love, I sat in the root of my immutable wait. I waited. I waited. Still, I wait.

Every day, as a show, an hourly performance, noon show’s full up! Come back at two, I weave my living husband’s shroud. Every day, to prove my waiting to these strangers, I weave and weave and weave.

How she has weaved, the suitors murmur, when they notice. Such lengths, she has weaved. At the back of the hall, the crude ones make conspiracies of cobwebs. I think I’ll have them executed first. Every day, I weave my wait. Every night, I undo my weave. Invalidate my wait. Make it an illusion. Make three hours of work last three years. Make it oh honey, I’m just so glad that you’re home safe. The suitors are always drunk. She looks so young, the almost-tolerable ones whisper. So young for one who has been weaving for so long. I think I’ll have them executed last.

I remember the third time my bowl broke. Starved out by witches, I smashed it in the stupid stream. He is surrounded by water. I gathered the pieces. I mended it silently. I shoved it to the back of a storage room shelf. I did not query the oracle. I spat on the dark hearth.

I remember the final time it broke: crumbled under the weight of my waiting. Disintegrated by waiting so long. What was once indestructible. What no man could put asunder, now only rubble on the bedroom floor. I swept it into a pile. I swept it out the backroom door.

I am not angry. I am not angry. I am not angry, I am waiting. I wait. I wait and wait and wait. I am the God of Waiting. Even as my time dwindles, I know I cannot die. My mortality has been removed and replaced by a stream’s boon of miniscule stones. I will not die, I will only wait. I will only ever wait.


Judith Lloyd is a social construct: or she isn’t. There’s a chance when you look at Judith Lloyd what you are seeing are elements of her external environment and your personal history manifesting a distinct entity which, in reality, has nothing to do with Judith Lloyd at all, but really. Who hasn’t had that day?

Calypso, Riddled

This selection is paired with Book 1 of The Odyssey by Homer. Get the full issue of NonBinary Review #22 from Zoetic Press.


My grapes glisten obediently upon trained vines,
But you cannot be trained.
The water channels I’ve shaped duly irrigate my cave,
But your troth cannot be drained.
Ambrosia and nectar have been bested by meat and wine,
For you, Odysseus, my would-be slave,
Resist the divine.

Who’s truly captive when they captivate the captor?
Go on, chop down my tree.
Here. Augurs for your raft. Bore holes in the wood,
Like you have done to me.
Who flees an immortal’s embrace and thus has trapped her?
You, Odysseus, moving on for good,
Ending my chapter.


Katherine Quevedo was born and raised just outside of Portland, Oregon, where she works as an analysis manager and lives with her husband and two sons. Her poetry has appeared in the Santa Clara Review and Civilized Beasts, and her fiction has appeared in Factor Four, Apparition Lit, and elsewhere.

Grodlik

This selection is paired with The Time Machine by H. G. Wells. Get the full issue of NonBinary Review #21 at www.zoeticpress.com


I am called Grodlik. My name is more a sound that came from my lifegivers when they saw me than an actual title, but I am satisfied with the grunt. That was all we ever did—grunt. For the first two decades of my life, I knew little in the way of communication. But I am not dictating this. I have learned this language called English and I have learned through many painful years of aborted attempts how to tell my own tale.

It is perhaps the most remarkable event that in this most remarkable of surroundings and circumstances, I have become reasonably literate. I am told that my brain, the piece inside my skull that allows me to learn and reason, is most inferior—certainly not suited to tell a tale. But at this point I have read widely, and shall try.

My education was not my own doing. My teacher wanted to enlighten all my people, but soon enough discovered the utter impossibility of attaining this lofty goal. Few of us were inclined to listen. The Time Traveller (for so it will be convenient to speak of him) could not successfully expound even the most commonplace logic to us. I am a Morlock. My race was unalterably set in its ways.

It is my understanding that the Time Traveller visited us twice. The first time he came to our world, we sensed his presence. He was known as the demon who brought violence and fire to brutalize our people. I had just joined our hunting parties, and sometimes caught glimpses of him through the foliage, but always when I was apart from my group, and always when he had fire in his hand. I gave him a wide berth. By the time I reported my sightings, he had always moved on. For most of us, he was a minor annoyance.

Then came the night, as he told me much later, he had fallen asleep next to the protection of his campfire. Our subterranean-bred eyes could not bear the stabbing light, and thus he had felt safe by the flames. To his horror and ours, the fire had spilled into the surrounding woods and ignited the great conflagration that had finished many of us as we tracked Eloi in the darkness.

After that night, I was dispatched to the depths of our caverns and demoted to the maintenance of our machinery. I was bitter, but knew the elders had their own primitive reasons for all they did. I heard no more of the Time Traveller for many years; I did not know he had gone back to his own place—as he called it, his own time. I existed, I labored; I obeyed.

When fully mature physically, a female was offered to me, but no offspring came forth. A type of disdain enfolded me from the sensibilities of the others. I was not exactly ostracized, but I was no longer embraced or included in major rituals. My food was provided from the piles of offal, and my female took up with another. I left the caves by night, and sojourned in the depths of the woods. One midnight I watched stray Eloi nervously faltering back to their compound, and saw in their shining eyes the fear that came with straying too far afield before dusk. They amused me, but I no longer felt the need to gnaw at their throats, chew their insides, or suck upon their bones. I felt a hole in the pit of my gut that our “cattle” would not fill, and I came to understand that I was different than my clan. I had not been different growing up, but something had stirred. I feared I could never understand this painful passion, and was turning to retreat to the underground machines when a match flared in my face.

I shrieked and buried my head in the bushes. In a moment, the light dimmed somewhat, and with pain I saw past it. The Time Traveller stood before me, the flame in one hand and a raised club in the other. I had seen him close up through the trees twice in the far past, and he had not grown a day older. He watched me with interest, and lowered the weapon. “I don’t want to hurt you,” he said.

He sat upon a rock at hand and studied me for a long time. His match went out, and though he knew I could now see him far better than he could see me, he did not light another. I sat on the ground and stared stupidly back at him. Somehow even at this early moment of acquaintance, I felt wisdom in his eyes. After some minutes of quietude, he reached into a bag and produced a slice of dried meat, which he offered to me. I edged forward cautiously, and grabbed and devoured it. Then he reached into a pocket and extracted what I later learned was a slide whistle. As he put it to his lips and blew into it, a strange squeal of noise reached my sensitive ears. I clapped my gray clawlike hands to the sides of my head and groaned. He softened the tone, and slowly I became enamored of the new sensation. Something I can only now describe as a laugh escaped my throat. When the man got up to leave, I followed him at a distance.

I followed him for years. It was easy for him to teach me to listen. It was far more difficult for him to teach me to speak. It was grueling for him to teach me to read—and to understand. But he did all this, and much more. I became a sort of assistant to him, and he said I was invaluable to making inroads with others of my kind. We were going to succeed or fail together. We failed far more than we succeeded. Because I was at his side, no hunting parties would molest us, but the only Morlocks who ever received anything in the way of instruction were the few stragglers we might catch alone on a path before dawn.

I came to comprehend my Teacher’s motives. He wanted more than to save the half-witted Eloi from our carnivorous regimen, he hoped to prod a sort of further evolution in the Morlocks themselves. In the later days, he frequently opined that I seemed the only specimen with an interest in self-improvement, and though my desire to learn was prodigious, he saw little long-term advantage to ennobling a being without offspring. He would ask about the female I once knew but we never came across her in our excursions; indeed, we would find few females without descending into the caverns, something we were now both loathe to do.

The Teacher resigned himself to doing his best with me, and eventually led me far afield to a secluded overhang halfway up a hillside. Inside, hidden by brambles, was the most glorious thing I ever beheld. He explained that it was a machine, in some ways like the things I had maintained, but nothing in our caverns ever glittered and shone in ways that burned our eyes. It was all crystal and something like bone, and it had a seat and a stack of levers, and he explained over and over that it allowed him to go far forward or backward across the centuries. I never fully understood, but he assured me he had been to the end of things, and he wished desperately to avoid such a finality. Inside the machine were many books, and over the decades I read them all.

We transported the volumes to the place of the Eloi, which he called the Palace of Green Porcelain. Of course, they were terrified of me at first, and apparently no one remembered the Time Traveller either, but over time they accepted the presence of both of us. Needless to say, no amount of bathing or grooming helped me resemble them, but we set up a library and living quarters of sorts in a corner of the compound, and soon they saw I was no threat and ignored us.

I studied in a dark sort of closet by day, and followed the Time Traveller’s trail by night. I began to call him “Teacher”, as I have noted, and he made no objection. Always, he seemed to be meditating on a fashion for spreading his success with me to the other Morlocks. I felt a throbbing pain within me always because I was unwilling to rejoin my clan and thrust a type of moral lucidity upon them.

One dark evening I stood too close as he struck a match for the lamp. I winced and tossed myself into my niche. “I am terribly sorry, my friend,” he apologized as I reappeared. “You have learned so much I sometimes forget the differences in our physiognomy. You have removed so much of the shaggy pale hair and adapted an excellent style of dress—and advanced mentally beyond my dreams. You are quite human. I forget the damage fire does.

“Fire damages all beings,” I replied quietly. “How did you escape the great fire many years back?”

My question startled him. He looked at me for a long time. “You remembered the night I left my campfire unattended when I drifted to sleep?” he asked at last.

“I do. I was with others in the surrounding woods. They wanted to surprise you. Ha! You inadvertently surprised them.” My words were rather slurred; my tongue had difficulty with certain letters, but he knew what I had said.

“Many of them died in the fire before morning.”

“Yes,” I nodded. “I was the only one remaining.”

The Teacher (the Time Traveller) did not speak for many minutes. The lamp grew low. I heard thunder far off. At length he said, “I had an Eloi girl with me. Her name was Weena. She died in the fire too.”

The thunder came closer. I moved to my closet. I don’t know why I answered; it just seemed I must. “No, she did not,” I said.

When I awoke the next evening, the Time Traveller was gone. I scaled the far hill but there was no trace of his machine. He had, however, left me his books. Whatever may come, I shall carry them below with me. I owe him that.


John Kiste is an organ donation ambassador, a McKinley Museum planetarian and an Edgar Allan Poe impersonator who has been published in such works as A Shadow of Autumn, Modern Grimoire, Dark Fire Fiction, Theme of Absence, and whose work was recently included in the Unnerving Press release Haunted Are These Houses, and the Camden Press anthology Quoth the Raven.

The Homilies of Edward Prendick

This selection is paired with The Island of Doctor Moreau by H. G. Wells. Get the full issue of NonBinary Review #21 at www.zoeticpress.com


I was once lost at sea
madness became me
because I found Him
saw his reborn
saw the dark of his Word

His is the House of Pain
His is the Hand that Wounds

The congregation nods
crucifix hanging above
plaster blood dripping on its face
Yes they pray
the Wounds they nod
He is the Hand of Wounds

Edward shakes his head
And continues
from the mount

I was once lost at sea
And mad visions overcame me
visions of His Chosen
rising with his touch
His Hand of Pain and Healing

His is the Hand that Heals
His is the Hand that Makes

I saw God create life
Then take life
Then life take God
this is
the madness of this island world

The congregation nods
Healing hands is our God
they sing
His hands made the world
they cry

I was once lost at sea
And I returned to the lost
rather than see the works of God
turned to Men
the works of Men
lost in the Word of His Law

That is the Law
Are we not Men

I was once lost at sea
and became man
now the scent of creatures
who break the law
are all around me

Yes the congregation applauds
then shuffles outside
to eat flesh and fish
chase other men
and rip the bark of trees
with machines that claw

I am still lost at sea
though land is all around me  —
Edward whimpers alone
watching the cold white stars
circle blackness above


David E. Cowen is the author of four books of poetry, Sixth and Adams (PW Press 2001), The Madness of Empty Spaces (Weasel Press 2014), The Seven Yards of Sorrow (Weasel Press 2016), the latter two being named to the Bram Stoker Award Preliminary Ballots and Bleeding Saffron (Weasel Press 2018). David was also the editor of the Horror Writer’s Poetry Showcase Volumes III and IV.

 

The Crying Puma

This selection is paired with The Island of Doctor Moreau by H. G. Wells. Get the full issue of NonBinary Review #21 at www.zoeticpress.com


“Experts Say Southern California Mountain Lions Could Become Extinct in 50 Years”.—www.kcet.org

You wouldn’t let me live.
Your freeways and your strychnine
kill and maim the same
as Moreau’s House of Pain.

The sea’s a distant cry.
Through the pass I follow deer
up the hillside to the Getty.
Rich men love their art
more than they ever loved their beasts.

So I hid my ears beneath a hat
dressed in a fine wing-collared suit
served tea and macarons
to the wealthy donors on the hill.

They smiled and saw me not.
The crystal clinking hurt my ears.
I snarled and no one noticed
until there came the tears.

Someone had grown a heart
or had one implanted in a lab
and heard my miaows and gulps
over the strolling violinist.

Console they would not allow
and so, my cover blown,
I leapt before the bodyguard
could untangle his shoulder holster.

The roar of traffic matched my own
(and they say we do not roar)
as I fled and feared for my life
but no bullets twanged the air.

If you had the choice
to save the last Puma concolor,
or else the favored Brueghel’s Ark,
I hope you’d vote for me.
You may not have a choice.
I think I hear the sea.


Denise Dumars is a widely published author of poetry, short fiction, and metaphysical nonfiction. She is currently nominated for the Rhysling Award for her poem “Mars Must Remember.” Mountain lions, aka Pumas, live within the County of Los Angeles, not far from her home in L.A.’s South Bay, but are dying from eating animals killed by rat poison.

The Man Alone

This selection is paired with The Island of Doctor Moreau by H. G. Wells. Get the full issue of NonBinary Review #21 at www.zoeticpress.com


tell me Mr. Prendick,
which of our constellations brought you peace?
lend me the books
tomes that touched your savage mind
calming the violent shrieks of the city
and of the island.

I, too, have been in hiding.
I have cowered from shopkeepers in the street,
well meaninged passersby
regard me with pity,
or disgust.
oh, how my traitorous mind turns their stomachs.
I am uncomfort incarnate.
I scream at them all,
feral and wild,
pleading with them to see that the greatest victim
of the mind unhinged
is its former frame.

you must share my distrust of doctors.
what a comfort they must be
to those whose ailments are external,
or at least identified as foreign,
an alien lifeform.
but not to us, eh Prendick?
for our nature is unnatural to them, it is our
core
posing the threat to our
own bodies.
the treatments promise to cure it,
to kill it.

did you ever wish to have been a drowned sailor?
tell me how the waves rose
like anger dredged from a deep, watery soul.
tell me how it was beautiful
compared to the evil
ebbing and flowing
in our neighbors and friends,
in ourselves.

but I fear…

oh, the fear.
my dear Prendick, tell me,
if terror is a disease,
is it terminal?


Kayla Stansbury is a writer and an educator based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She is a PhD candidate in Comparative Literature at LSU. Her debut poem, “Saudade,” can be found in Dovecote Magazine.

Far Too Short a Day

This selection is paired with The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells. Get NonBinary Review #21 from www.zoeticpress.com.


“Ulla…”

“Ulla…”

“Ulla…”

“Ulla…”

The Martian wandered, and it wondered.

It wondered at the artistry of this great city the humans had made; proud and tall, even under the black dust, even throttled at every bend by the tangled red weed.

On Mars, there was no pride in cities. No color, no architecture to speak of — only building after featureless, airtight building. Martians were creatures of pragmatism. They had to be.

“Ulla…” the Martian muttered. “Ulla, Ulla, Ulla…”

It wandered, and it wondered if its people would remember it. The humans surely would. What stories would they tell of the Martians? What would their histories say of this short, pointless war? Would they confess to the atrocity they had wrought on their spaceborne enemies?

Of course, the Martian reflected, picking its agonizing way through the weed-choked rubble, what place did it have to judge the humans? Had it not murdered them by the hundreds with its fire? By the thousands with its smoke?

The Martian remembered them running, their many-colored faces made ashen by poison. Their screams had been so small. There had been power in the Martian’s tentacles.

Among those fleeing Earthlings, the Martian had seen a tiny human, with a head and appendages that seemed too big for her…his…had it been male or female? It did not matter.

Two other humans, larger than the young one, had gathered the latter close. They wrapped the child in their arms and raised their faces to the War Machine.

And the Martian…it had lowered its heat ray.

“Ulla, Ulla, Ulla, Ulla…” the Martian mumbled.

Eradicate them all, the superiors had said; a simple order. That town was not to be saved for draining.

Presently, the Martian came upon yet another ruined building, a sort of long, tapered triangle. The highest tip stood nearly level with the War Machine.

More of those strange spasms, for which the Martian had no name, wracked its body. It was getting harder to see. Each movement came a little slower than the last. The Martian braced one of the War Machine’s many tentacles against the building’s spire, struggling to keep the tripod upright, but the blackened architecture crumbled away at its touch. Gone in a puff of black dust, like so much else.

The Martian had its duty.

Alone in this desolate, alien city, so unlike the Martian’s own, it wondered if the violence had been worthwhile. As it watched, one of those lithe, four-legged creatures, the ones humans domesticated, gnawed on a scrap of burned flesh, far below the Machine’s tentacles. Human or Martian, it was impossible to tell.

For the sake of all Mars, they had sung. For the sake of all Mars.

The Martian wandered on, spooking the beast away, and it wondered what that small human called itself. What did it see when the Martian’s War Machine had razed the world around it? Perhaps these humans had stories, like those the Martians told many, many centuries ago, of beings infinitely greater than they, beings of terrible power and invincible might.

“Ulla, Ulla, Ulla, Ulla…” the Martian murmured.

The human buildings shrank as the Martian stumbled through the dust. Past the tall triangle rose squat, rectangular structures. These, the Martian knew about. The superiors had been quite specific: destroy the little buildings, force their human occupants to flee.

Another Martian had already been through here. Some of the buildings still burned. Blackened bodies cowered in the blacker dust.

Even had this not been the case, the Martian could not bring itself to raise the heat ray. It hardly had the strength to move its tentacles anymore, much less use them to cause yet more destruction. More death. There had been so much death.

The spasms were worse now, coming faster and lasting longer.  Was this how the humans had felt in the Martian’s smoke?

“Ulla…” the Martian moaned, when the choking finally passed. “Ulla, Ulla, Ulla…”

The Martian wondered why it was still wandering. What was the point? It would not change anything. With pained movements, the Martian brought the War Machine to a quivering stop, towering over the crumpled human homes. Light sparkled off the Machine’s metal cockpit. The Star was brighter here, huge and pale in the scarlet sky as it sank toward the horizon.

From its vantage, the Martian could see down into the nearest human structure, lit in uneven bars by the setting Star. Their living buildings were so strange; cluttered with unnecessary objects, priceless space wasted to store solid food. Now heaps of red weed tangled through their windows and up their roofs.

The Star’s light caught along the edges of a tiny square, drawing the Martian’s labored gaze deeper into the structure. It brought one twitching tentacle down into the home, sifting the larger items aside until it could reach the thing.

Extricated, the object proved to be an image, primitively preserved by way of flash powder. A different small human, its mammalian hair long and dark.

The Martian brought the glittering rectangle close to its cockpit, opening its hatch so it could see the image clearly.

“Ulla…”         

The Martian had a duty. It had to leave. For the sake of all Mars.

Movement arrested the Martian’s attention. An adult human, peering at the War Machine from beneath a patch of weed. It studied the Martian with careful eyes. This one was not afraid. Perhaps it already knew.

But the Martian had little concern for the human. It looked down at the image once more. The spasms came, and they did not stop. Darkness crept over the little human child’s face. Was the Star giving way to night already? Earth days were so very short.

“Ulla…” the Martian brushed the image’s face with a tentacle. It stared at the child until night overtook the Machine. Alone in the dark, the Martian held the image close.

“Ulla…”

“Ulla…”

“Ulla…”

“U—”

J. Nelson Jr.’s short horror story, “First Night’s Always Free,” was originally published in NonBinary Review Issue #19 and will soon be available on Amazon. He is currently workshopping two novel manuscripts: a steampunk western and a sci-fi thriller. More information about his work can be found at www.starkest-madness.com.

RSVP – Mars

This selection is paired with The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells. Get NonBinary Review Issue #21 at www.zoeticpress.com.


“… Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us.”

“… And we men, the creatures who inhabit this earth, must be to them at least as alien and lowly as are the monkeys and lemurs to us.”

The War of the Worlds, Book One: The Eve of War HG Wells

We imagine you, earthbound, huddled
over primitive transmission systems
scanning frequencies of silence
for one drop of stellar truth.
 
Your Teslas and Marconis
tip-tap-toeing at our windows.
Eavesdropping on your elders
Testing, testing, 1,2,3.
 
Do  you really want to hear
 the galaxial mockery you  inspire?
Half your planet still believes
you were created
in some image, any image.
We would laugh, if physiology allowed.
Playing hide and seek with data
to avoid the bitter truth:
You are accidental. Every species is.
 
Perhaps sentience bloomed on an inferior branch
of Terra’s evolutionary tree.
Maybe the dinosaurs died of embarrassment
seeing you monkeys gain control.
 
Here, in the cold clarity of space
there is only room for hard science
and harder truths.
The universe has no special interest
in a middling backwater planet
or  the welfare of its apes.
 
The bleeps and pleeps you manifest
at the edges of our hearing
shouting down a stellar well to summon imaginary friends.      
These tell us  more than you suspect.
 
We have been waiting here
impatient to see you shuffle off your wonder
and stride out into the universe
armed with more than words and hopes.
 
While  you beam your invitations,
#lookwhatwecando  #comeandplay
Crowing to the exo-verse
how grown up you are
what smart games you play
what your meat is made of .
 
We have heard you children of Terra
and we are coming,  someday
sooner than you suspect
to accept your invitation.
Can you hear us now?


Carrie L. Clickard (aka Clarice Radrick) is an internationally published author and poet. In addition to her children’s books, Carrie’s work has appeared in numerous publications including Mirror Dance, Light, Literary Nest, Defenestration, Poet’s Haven and Enchanted Conversations. For more information please visit www.clclickard.com and www.clariceradrick.com

Invisible? Man, I Wish

This selection is paired with The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells. Get NonBinary Review Issue #21 at www.zoeticpress.com


No, I can’t say I ever met             —was it Griffin?
but I knew a man—let’s          call him D—
who was that much of a dick | that’s             not what
the D stands for       (here)      but it fits | of course,
he’d say           the D stood for                       discovery
or maybe delight | but he’d be wrong
—not that he’d listen        god    —
the thing about D was                         he thought he was
—god, that is | just like fucking Griffin
god complexes             everywhere | the man was
insufferable! that is     we suffered him | dear God
did we suffer                           | what’s worse, he was a serial
offender | no novel could detail his sins          adequately
: the mansplaining       the pompadour           the strut          the strut
the confidence
god grant me the confidence
of a mediocre white man, ego
            bandage and salve for every blot

 

D didn’t like listening              to the demands of women (namely
his bosses)      he thought he knew better      | he burned down
any bridges he’d built with us             so we fired
records of our encounters with him                day by day                  like witches
and danced      in the glow      —as much as we could—
while he malingered

berating | harassing | targeting | oil-slicking | bloviating | haranguing | tarnishing | obfuscating

 

anyway we wished he was invisible
and one day
he was

but that didn’t make us any safer


Gretchen Rockwell is a poet and supplemental instructor of English at the Naval Academy Preparatory School in Newport, RI. Gretchen’s work has appeared in Glass: Poets Resist, Into the Void, Noble/Gas Qtrly, New Plains Review, and elsewhere. Gretchen enjoys writing poetry about gender and sexuality, history, space, and unusual connections.