SCIFAIKUEST ONLINE

February 2020

Happy Valentine's Day! Our Door artwork is Inside, by Christina Sng. This issue includes an article, Imbeciles, by Robert E. Porter. If you don’t have a subscription to our PRINT edition, they are available in our Shop. And, if you would like to join the select group of contributors by submitting your poetry, artwork or article, you can find our guidelines in the Guidelines option under More in our toolbar.

 

Martian Valentine

in the red gritty soil

someone drew a heart

 

-sakyu-

 

 

***

 

SCIFAIKU

 

pack of werewolves

wondering if we can still change

full moon on Pluto

 

Christina Sng

 

***

 

fissures in the skin

the gradual process

of turning to stone

 

Christina Sng

 

***

 

tidal waves

broken heart

of the siren

 

Christina Sng

 

***

 

happy hour

everyone’s

a time traveler

 

LeRoy Gorman

 

***

 

in black holes

angels

hide

 

Denny E. Marshall

 

***

 

interplanetary

market costs soar

crop failure

 

Tom Sacramona

 

***

 

manned mission on Mars

AI first order of business

burying the dead crew

 

Brian Gene Olson

 

***

 

world of sentient trees

scholar studies treatise bound

in human vellum

 

Brian Gene Olson

 

***  

 

beneath burnt rocks -

on moonless Mercury

refuge for werewolves

 

Banks Miller

 

***

 

disconnection

Herb Kauderer

 

an email addict

spaceship transiting Luna

her hands are trembling

 

***

 

Golden Record

the Emperor's claws click-clack

to Satchmo's blues

 

Nick Hoffman

 

***

 

photons in knit and purl
particle to string, string to fiber
a quantum sock

 

Kimberly Nugent

 

***

 

Ganymede

disgorges ships ships ships

solar sails open

 

David C. Kopaska-Merkel

 

***

 

canoe the arctic

a manatee glides

beneath us

 

David C. Kopaska-Merkel

 

***

 

"Gifts for the Future"

Matthew Wilson

 

burying time capsule

rarities for future generations

seed of the last tree

 

***

 

smell of sweat and oil

humans race in summer heat

their autos place bets

 

Guy Belleranti

    

***

 

suddenly hostile

my dog bites the new neighbor

his injury bleeds blue

 

Ngo Binh Anh Khoa

 

***

 

HORRORKU

 

glistening scalpel

he struggles against his bonds

shouldn’t have promised her his heart

 

Guy Belleranti

 

***

 

home, alone…

   aliens enter the bedroom

      and abduct her

 

ayaz daryl nielsen

 

***

 

our team

approaches the summit

something emerges

 

David C. Kopaska-Merkel

 

***

 

snowy plains

so hard to hide

a blood trail

 

Christina Sng

 

***

 

TANKA

 

living an eternity

past the event horizon

of a supermassive black hole

the bullet takes forever

to reach my skull

 

Christina Sng

 

***

 

whispered words

from genetic memory

my dead cat alive again

the forgotten art

of necromancy

 

Christina Sng

 

***

 

FIBONACCI

 

 

all the lonely humans  

Herb Kauderer

 

hive

mind

explores

every

biological

possibility

concluding

uplift

won’t

work

 

***

 

Underworld Creatures

Herb Kauderer

 

in

trench

warfare

burrowing

aliens sell their

services

lowest

bid

wins

 

***

 

making it homey

Herb Kauderer

 

on

a

desert

planet’s plain

science brings rainstorm,

indigenous life

climbs through mud,

shivers

with

fright

 

***

  

 

Fibonacci

 

I

cloned

myself

big mistake

my clone took over

and cloned me over and over

until I was here and there and perhaps everywhere

and now I am very confused

and haven't a clue

who are clones

and who

is

me

 

Guy Belleranti

 

***

 

CHERITA

 

your stubborn younger self

 

your time-brought gold

wasn’t invested in Amazon or Google

 

rent was due

cards maxed out

casinos to be visited

 

what the hell you ask

just before young-you clubs you

maroons you in time

 

*ding-dong* Time Police confiscate

world’s first time machine

 

stick young-you in Prison Absolute

 

David C. Kopaska-Merkel

 

*** 

 

ONE-BREATHS

 

[untitled one-breath]

Herb Kauderer

 

flu shot: alien invasion

 

 

***

 

ONE BREATH

 

Earth artificially inseminating the Martian soil

 

Tom Sacramona

 

***

 

JOINED POEMS

 

Timing is Everything

 

at last our starship nears                          

the third planet

in a system of eight -

rocky with liquid water

orbiting in the habitable zone

 

bio-scanners detect

giant lizard beasts

and some toothy birds

no intelligent life here yet

we'll be back

 

Lauren McBride

 

***

 

HAIBUN

 

I question why we call them civilized. What kind of civilized being would do something so horrid to itself? It was the second day of our expedition. We had already recorded many of their strange social norms when we were invited by a native to a social event. As described it was a common ritual celebrating the female body. I and my partner eagerly accepted the invitation. We didn’t know the horrors that waited.

At the appointed time we came to the appointed location and waited with anticipation. The ceremony began and we were instantly sickened. Out marched things that were more human embodiments of pain and suffering than they were females. In strange ceremonial garb they showed their corpse like bodies to all in attendance. They had mutilated and starved themselves it seemed. Very little on them looked natural. It was as if they had modified themselves in some inhuman way.

human ritual
worshiping corpse like beings
walking the catwalk

We came to find that this ghastly affair was known as a “fashion show”. We were horrified by the event and immediately sought to return home. With all the information we collected we set off back to the vessel. We were on our last leg of the journey down a road with many shops. As eager as we were to escape this frightful land I happened to peer into one of the shop windows and I saw it! I have sent the plastic idol to you in hopes that we can understand these barbaric beings. This is only my humble opinion but I believe it is their female idol.

letter finished
Barbie doll stares
out of box

 

William Landis

 

***

 

ARTICLE

 

 

IMBECILES

Robert E. Porter

 

When I submitted my picture-poem, I provided some background:

"What's scary about those Russians hacking our democracy, I think, isn't that they appealed to the bad guys.  It's that they knew how to push a good guy's buttons too, and get him riled up.  It's about polarizing Americans and breaking our government down.  They didn't have to get their Manchurian candidate in, so long as they kept moderates -- and bipartisanship -- out."

The editor replied:

"This is really nice, but I'm afraid I can't use it for [insert genre magazine name here], as it really isn't Science Fiction, Horror or Fantasy. I do hope you find this a home, however, because it's really awesome!"

Is it really?

Maybe it's a mistake to submit anything that needs some explanation. If it can't stand alone, it's not going to work. Or maybe I should quit second guessing myself and wasting so much time on the rewrites. Here is a first draft of my cover letter:

"I used to sleepwalk as a kid; I know what it's like to be a passenger in my own body. And in my tweens I watched The Manchurian Candidate -- the original black-and-white version with Angela Lansbury. Maybe that's why Heinlein's (and Metallica's) puppet masters resonated with me. Here is my own version."  

Looking back, I wonder... Would a reference to a well-known SF novel have made any difference? Could it have genre-fied my haiga? Here it is; you tell me.

 

Seriously. Who's going to be fooled by what amounts to swapping the labels on cans of peas and pears, especially after opening up that attachment and looking at the contents? I don't know. But it happens all the time.

Meaning is not inherent; it depends. Nod "yes" in Bulgaria, and you'll be telling the locals "no." Context matters. Even among people who share your own language and culture, misunderstandings crop up like weeds in a garden. Consider politics and religion, where a different take on some ambiguity in the founding documents can be worth fighting over, even killing and dying for. This only seems absurd when you don't share that partisan mindset, but you have your own -- as I do, as anyone does. No member of a society can be entirely apolitical. Politics boils down to finding ways to live and work together, and religion is just politics bound up with claims of the paranormal.

I was raised in the evangelical church, and maybe that -- more than sleepwalking -- made the brainwashing and mind control of The Manchurian Candidate resonate with me. Monsters like "father" Abraham were held up as role models because they would rather murder a child or ditch their loved ones than doubt the voices in their heads or the hearsay and speculations of a bygone age. I was offered no choice of beliefs. Neither were my ancestors. Such bigotry and superstition would have died out long ago if children didn't have their heads crammed with the stuff before they had a chance to realize what's really going on.

Like many teenagers, I rebelled. But not in the usual ways. I began to see paradoxes and hypocrisy in the church. I wanted to root them out. I wanted to get at some underlying truth, to uncover the facts about God and Christianity, to be a good man, and "testify." But as I peeled layers of that onion it brought tears to my eyes, and I found only an irritating stench.

Because certain questions occurred to me, and I asked them, and because I could not accept "because I said so" for an answer, I joined a much-hated and disenfranchised minority of Americans, and risked being outcast by my family. Did I underestimate their love for me, or the power of the church over them? Because that old-time religion has steadily lost ground as economic refugees leave their homogenous little farming communities for hubbub of the big, bad city, where the rough edges get knocked off. People tend to be more well-rounded and accepting of diversity.

Walter Lippmann pointed this out almost a century ago in his Preface to Morality, and this trend has continued. You can see in it in political maps of the US, which show blue metropolitan oases in deserts of red, and today's moderates are almost exclusively blue. Like the agrarian Southerners who counted on three-fifths of their slaves toward pro-slavery representation in Congress, today's "reds" cheat. They rely on voter suppression, gerrymandering and armies of Russian hackers to cling to power and frustrate the majority of Americans, who are not feeling especially nostalgic for the days of minstrel shows and lynch mobs. Most of us, I think, prefer the progressive "weaknesses" of democracy and civil rights to the traditional "strengths" of a Putin or Dutertes.

As the title of a collection of Orwellian essays suggests, all art is propaganda. Even the most escapist genre ku advances some way of dealing, or not dealing, with the problems of life and work. It is, like my haiga, intrinsically political. The puppet masters in Heinlein's novel can be interpreted as the communist behind double-agents like Fuchs, Hiss, and Philby, who betrayed our secrets to totalitarians; or more insidious "anti-communist" hate-mongers like McCarthy, Nixon, and Kissinger, who undermined democracy at home, propped up dictators abroad, and showed contempt for human rights everywhere.

Other puppet masters include Alicia's father, a villain of the Fantastic Four, who made clay figures of the people whose minds he wanted to control. This kind of imitation can be very flattering. So can the idea that our group is better than theirs, and we have every right to... -- by any means.

Before that car plowed into protestors in Charlottesville, or America's Nazis rallied around the General Lee, with their "shepherd to lost sheep" tweeting his support from the Oval Office, there was a lot of ranting.

I can't shut them up. But if I can't shut up, who's controlling me?

 

***

 

FAVORITE POEM by editor, t. santitoro

 

This horrorku tells of death and possible murder:

 

snowy plains

so hard to hide

a blood trail

 

Christina Sng

 

The verse is concise and full of unwritten details, yet it still leaves much to the Reader's imagination, all the while encapsulating an entire story. What makes this my favorite poem, is the ah-ha moment delivered by the last line. Well done, Christina!

 

***

 

BIOS:

 

R. Jean Bell: Since before she can remember, R. Jean Bell has been devouring any available reading material. In recent years, good books--averaging one a day--have proven the most effective relief from chronic pain. Writing fiction and poetry and editing for her peers renews the sense of purpose she lost to disability.

*

Nick Hoffman grew up in Michigan, but moved to Dublin, Ireland in 1995. He now lives in Cork, Ireland's second city.

*

William Landis is an agronomist and weekend warrior from the great state of North Carolina.

*

Lauren McBride finds inspiration in faith, family, nature, science and membership in the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA). Nominated for the Best of the Net, Rhysling and Dwarf Stars Awards, her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in dozens of publications including Asimov's, Abyss & Apex and Dreams & Nightmares. She enjoys swimming, gardening, baking, reading, writing and knitting scarves for troops.

*

Banks Miller: I grew up on the third planet of a G2-class star in the spiral arm of ... um, I mean, in the Houston area and graduated from Texas A&M with a Biology degree. I currently work in Fort Worth in the environmental industry. A lifetime love of science, SF, and adventure inspires my writing, both poetry and prose.

*

ayaz daryl nielsen, veteran and former hospice nurse, lives in Longmont, Colorado, USA.  Editor of bear creek haiku (28+ years/150+ issues) with poetry published worldwide (and deeply appreciated), he is online at:  bear creek haiku   poetry, poems and info

*

Ngo Binh Anh Khoa: I have recently completed my Master's thesis in English, and at present, I am working as a teacher in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. I also enjoy writing poetry in my free time as well, with my poems having recently been featured in Eternal Haunted Summer, NewMyths, and other venues.

*

Kimberly Nugent is a freelance editor and stay at home mom who tortures her cats with death metal as she flits about the house. She is also a gamer, nerd, and lover of all things geek...and crochet.

*

Brian Gene Olson lives in Washington state with his family.

*

Tom Sacramona (b. 1992) is a poet living in Plainville, Massachusetts. With experiences in both teaching and proposal writing, he works today in the Greater Boston area. Tom is a member of the Haiku Society of America.

*