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MAY 2023




Rainbow Cat

by Denise Noe




Greetings and Happy Spring!


This time of year is all about the promise of new life and change. Speaking of change, we have some small ones here at Scifaikuest. For example:


PLEASE NOTE OUR NEW FORMAT! Renku, sedoka etc., are now considered Joined Poems along with joined Fibonacci, joined cinquain etc.)


We’ve got a fanciful Door by Denise Noe, called Rainbow Cat, and two cool black and white illustrations by Denny Marshall and Christina Sng.


For the very first time, our Featured Poet spot is SHARED!! It’s a combination of fantastic poetry by two wonderfully talented poets, Ann K. Schwader and David Kopaska-Merkel, and you won’t want to miss their high quality, intense poems.


Don’t forget to check out my Favorite Poem! It’s by Gabriel Smithwilson, and it’s amazing.


Scifaikuest finally has its own ISBN!!! Please inform your local book stores and library that they are now able to ORDER SCIFAIKUEST!!!


You can always find us here, at Hiraeth Books at:


If you don’t have a subscription to our PRINT edition, they are available at:

And, if you would like to join the select group of contributors by submitting your poetry, artwork or article, you can find our guidelines at:

Pssst! Looking for something to read? You can order t.santitoro's latest novella, Those Who Die, at

THOSE WHO DIE by t. santitoro | Hiraeth Publishing (

You can also order t.santitoro's novella, Adopted Child, at:

And, you can still get a copy of her novelette, The Legend of Trey Valentine, at:


As always, a huge thank you to our newest ONLINE contributors: Doris Lynch and AJ Wentz


on the Crojan homeworld

blooming plumeria

not just a sign of spring








dying fire

at the cave’s entrance

a dinosaur’s shadow


Stephen C. Curro




marooned—day 546

teaching aliens how

to do the Macarena


Stephen C. Curro



lunar dog park…

and I thought my German shepherd

could jump on Earth


Stephen C. Curro





the things I told the aliens

as the drugs wore off


Stephen C. Curro





the tickle of nanites
cleaning his teeth 


Stephen C. Curro




flying saucer


invasion begins


Gabriel Smithwilson





her lovely bones

holding him again


Gabriel Smithwilson



universal language

tears falling from her eyes

alien love song


Gabriel Smithwilson




metallic sparks
towering spaceship


Roxanne Barbour




Galactic Structural Committee
deciding to cut humans
from the Federation


Roxanne Barbour



spaceship damage
Martian insurance claims


Roxanne Barbour




running backward


Roxanne Barbour




pools of lava
attracting Centaurans


Roxanne Barbour



urban smog

dragon’s new lair

a skyscraper

AJ Wentz




sudden blackout

those using the teleporters

remain atomized


Ngo Binh Anh Khoa






the lover

that never got away

lunar meteorite


Doris Lynch



witty Martians
offering comedy night
amusement falling flat


Roxanne Barbour





I regret adopting

a dragon


AJ Wentz






too weak

for the work camp

days numbered


Joanne Morcom




doctor removes

kidneys and liver

the body burned


Joanne Morcom




Robot From Beyond by Denny Marshall




listen in
and hear everything

without anyone else knowing
because they look like
dust bunnies

Guy Belleranti







Lisa Timpf


merino retriever—

watchdog with golden fleece

a crafter’s dream


pot-bellied pig dog—

the clatter of hooves

on Christmas morning . . .


Siamese cat-bird—

which came first

the kitten or the egg?


chameleon tarantula—

the panic on their faces

when he goes missing






First Contact with a Dead World

Herb Kauderer

As Daiyu stepped onto the surface of Traynor, her sensors immediately confirmed that the bad news first heard in orbit was true.  The planet’s inner radiation belt actually reached the surface and below.

They left earth on the wings of the best science and engineering in history, nine thousand people on a generation/cryo sleep ship to a promising colony world.  At first there were messages from the homeworld, ever more infrequent as the Homesteader accelerated toward a growing fraction of the speed of light.  Then the messages stopped completely, leaving the colonists to believe they were the last hope of humanity.

And the surface of the planet that they pinned their hopes on was poisonous.  The options were limited to, living on the Homesteader, carving a modest colony into one of the system’s rocky satellites, or trying to build something in one of the asteroid belts.  She was doomed to lead her people from seven hundred years in a tiny lifeboat for humanity, to other tiny low-gravity lifeboats.

Daiyu watched the monitors of her ETE suit as the radiation fluctuated without pattern.  But there had to be a pattern.  Traynor had a molten metallic core and an active magnetic field.  It couldn’t all be random.  She wandered in thought until the suit’s alarm told her to head back to the shuttle.

For the walk back, she paid no attention to the suit monitors, to the radiation threat, to the feeling of doom.  She simply reveled in being the first human in centuries, to walk under open skies, using real gravity to power her steps.

And then she returned to the small enclosed shuttle.  Outside its portholes, was all of space, but she and her pilot were stuck shoulder to shoulder in a closet. 

This is not the final fate of humanity, she decided.  We will not hide among asteroids, or in low-gravity moon caves.  We will tame this planet.  We will find where the radiation is livable, and then we will harness the radiation for our needs.  I will die in the effort, but I won’t die in a closet.

Back on the Homesteader, the governing council didn’t argue much at all.

radiation winds
tangling her spacer’s hair
clearing cabin fever
an alternate trail charted
the new horizon beckons


Making a Run For It

Lisa Timpf 

Carolyn stands at the starting line, in the middle of the pack. She’s never been one of the front-runners, but won’t, barring injury, be the last to finish. Besides, speed isn’t the only critical factor in successfully completing the Zombie Fun Run. 

The concept is simple. Run 5K, negotiate a few obstacles along the way, and avoid getting touched by one of the fake Zombies, who have green paint on their hands. She’s always enjoyed the event. Besides, some of the money raised goes to charity. 

A stir of anticipation ripples through the participants as the starter moves into position and raises his arm. Carolyn leans forward. 

waiting for the gun—

summer breeze carries

a whiff of corruption 

Nice. Clearly, the organizers have added olfactory effects. From the choking noises emitted by the runners beside her, they could’ve gone a little lighter on the dosage. Still, Carolyn appreciates the gesture. It makes it feel more real. 

Boom. As though shot from the gun themselves, the pack surges forward. The first set of obstacles, a series of sturdy hurdles, looms ahead. Pace yourself, Carolyn tells herself. Last race, she went out too quickly. She matches her speed to the runners to the left and right, and negotiates the barriers with ease.

A slight uphill, now. Screams ring out behind. Newbies, Carolyn thinks, a tad smugly. It’s easy to forget how terrified she’d felt, the first year she participated, when one of the volunteers dressed as a Zombie lurched toward her. 

Another scream, from the right of the pack. This time, Carolyn glances over, and frowns. The handprint on the fallen runner is red, not green. When she sees a finger from the Zombie’s hand ooze off and plop to the ground, she realizes the grim truth. The run has been infiltrated by real Zombies.


harsh breath rattles—

she senses, from behind,

a reaching hand 



Seahorse by Christina Sng



The Corpsman’s Mutant Children

By Robert E. Porter



You take the high road. I’ll take the low road. We’ll meet somewhere above the English border for a bite of aegis. Bring your dirk and targe. I’ll come dressed as Athena in a lily plaid kilt and a breastplate with Versailles Pallas knockers, smelling of whisky sours and sousing my Robert Burns with icy packs of Robert Frost. That’s how we like our poets, these days: thoroughly soused. In a lake of fire, preferably. But icy hot.

Like the old song, we might sing of high art and low art. Haiku falls somewhere in between, doesn’t it? Perhaps on a trampoline. Of course, it could be an outlier. Scifaiku certainly is. So is horror ku.

When it comes to zit-popping pop culture, I can’t help but think of the genres’ corpsman -- Robert Corman. Sorry, Roger. He razed low art to a fine grainy stuff and showed it could be highly profitable. Our genre’s prophet!

“The beauty of mastering low-budget filmmaking techniques for the ‘exploitation’ market of the 1950s,” he said, “was that the films cut across such a broad and amusing spectrum of themes. It was never dull… The whole idea was to tell an interesting, visually entertaining story that would draw young people to the drive-ins and hardtop cinemas, and not take yourself too seriously along the way.” (Corman)

Words to live by! Life’s too short to take ourselves too seriously. Ku and other minimalist forms are even shorter.

And to quote Martin Scorsese:

“Little Shop of Horrors, which is a movie that’s beyond tongue in cheek, is a film that totally enjoys itself, and the audience is in on the gag. And part of the gag is that it was made in three days! Now, whether you like the films or not, he [Corman] provided that a film can get made in three days! Which, when you think about it, is really quite amazing.” (Nashawaty)

Three days to make a movie about a vegetable that drinks Marley’s red, red wine! I bet it made a lot of bread, too! 500 loaves, at least!

In other words:

“Feed me!”

Forget the popcorn. Pick up Buckets of Blood:

“This was truly a fast-paced romp from the start, almost like a party,” said Corman. “It didn’t feel like work; we were all laughing throughout the shoot… Everyone was coming up with ideas as we went and we just tossed them in.” (Corman)

Sounds like fun. Why not try your own undead severed hand (and a friend or two’s) in a collaboration? A rengay, for ex. Garry Gay came up with this variation on the renga. It’s short. It won’t take long. Take turns. Bounce ideas off each other. Tossed word salad. Mix it up like vinegar boys and baking soda girls. Gee whiz! It’s a fizzy biz.

Our genre’s corpsman too had plenty of help along the way. One day, his brother Gene said:

“‘Roger, do you think there’s any chance I could join your organization?’ Blood is thicker than anything else, so he said, ‘Come aboard!’ And I never looked back.” (Nashawaty)

Vamps don’t appear in the rearview mirror, anyway.

Gene went on:

“Roger, even at the beginning, was smarter than ninety percent of the people in this town. At that point in time, the drive-in was everything. And to play a drive-in, you had to have something they could exploit. We couldn’t get actors of substance, and you had to have something to hang your hat on, so we felt exploitation and horror was what the marketplace wanted. Movies with titles like Night of the Blood Beast and Attack of the Giant Leeches. You could make them cheaply, and you didn’t need a big name – you just had to have a great poster. That’s how you sold everything.” (Nashawaty)

James Patterson is a big name. His books overflow library shelves like all-devouring tribbles. I don’t know who’s been feeding them. I suspect Patterson invested a mammoth-sized chunk of his early proceeds in a Bunker-busting Animal Factory that has since employed hundreds of Edwardian ghost-writing cranks who crank out the NYT-bestselling pabulum for the bawling, be-diapered masses. Tribbles begat tribbles, crowding out the rest of us.

But we can still have our Corman-like posters, and our Corman-like poster children. My! What big teeth they have! How they scamper, pitter-patter, across the funny pages, looking for the next-door girl in the blood-red hoodie. She knows where it’s at, man! That way-cool arthritic joint, below street-level, where the hep cats scat, the steam-punks in wolfish granny glasses blow wild, wild, Western chunks, and our bug-eyed beta readers float belly-up in helms of bubbly.

Yes, we can have our posters, our picture-poems, and Basho genres together in haiga, too. For ex., the still from a corn pone shiner’s picture: some be-jangled Li Po werecat pawing at the moon in a tinsel-littered kitty pool while the V-2 blasts off behind her -- Himmler and his cloned Hitlerite harem leaving wartime Krakow for a splashdown in the Sea of Tranquility.


their fragged ark

on the regolith

life’s ejecta


John Landis, of Thrilling music video fame, said of Corman:

“I don’t think people realize what an accomplishment it is to get a movie made at all these days. And one of the things that I love about Roger is he’s still making movies. It’s in his blood.” (Nashawaty)

Our genre’s corpsman inspired countless, milk-curdling screams and squeamish, titillating nightmares that made wet sheets run cold on the coroner’s table. We can do the same but different. Be original! Mutant children borne gorily from the corpse of the drive-in age! Before teeny-boppers self-lobotomized on twitter, overdosed on outrageous machinations, or sold their souls to the tweachewous Twonky! Excelsior!


Corman, R., & Jerome, J. (1990). How I made a hundred movies in Hollywood and never lost a dime. Random House.

Nashawaty, C. (2013). Crab monsters, teenage cavemen, and candy stripe nurses - roger corman, kin. Abrams.




Ann K. Schwader and David C. Kopaska-Merkel




Star Gardens


same season

as these seed packets

cold sleep


snow flakes kiss the windshield

pancake breakfast weighs me down


frost blossoms

a familiar stranger

stares back


both of me

lick cracked lips

lost-world dreams


organic constellations

wake in new soil


counting food bars

made on the home world

shoots unfurl




Migration Season

on sharp-edged wings

Elder Things glide towards new stars

thousand-year dreams


white noise shadows

insomnia again


a sculptor shapes

nightmare out of clay

thought machines burn out


claws drawn

down the silence

midnight mind


legions of eternity

cities go dark


this world before

candlelight stories

in whispers




a rengay

Sea Change


global warming

thaws the hidden sea

monsters wake


amid the tonic bubbles

Greenland fissures


noreaster blows

out the satnav signal

empty lifeboat


bleached coral

all the colors of bone

but this one


empty beach houses

peak of the season


basking shadows

last island above

the waves




Shifting Night


Amanita ring

around the sleeping babe

hot-coal eyes open


inside midnight

a cradle rocks backwards


dog whines

at the nursery door

Mother starts awake



the risen moon

new voices


miles from the car

under a racing sky


milky smile

another star

goes out







the nightmare inside

my nightmare



last page

in my Mars saijiki

pink spring sandstorm




before the fall

still real



extee breakup

he gave me his heart

but it grew back



soap bubble planet

our history

of pins



never noticed

the expiration date

cryo chamber



sunflower planet

self-spitting seeds







new-world forest’s

chirps, whistles, and croaks

sleep doesn’t come




a poem

translated from hippo

its name is mud




the kid’s

wishing on falling stars

Dad’s coming home




front door opens

the ghost of the old man

closes its book




wish I had your taste

on my tongue last night

full moon




a small town

hassled by a bad neighbor

Dorothy drops in




Some Thoughts on the Altair Question (a drabbun)

The so-called natives are nothing of the sort. Their genetics has nothing in common with true natives of Altair Three. They share ancestry with a few species they use for food. These they must have brought with them when they invaded the system. As an invasive species, the “Altarians” can have no legitimate claim on Three. Finally, they don’t use the land’s full potential. I propose that we establish reservations to which they would be confined. Our need is great, as 300,000 more colonists are en route, and will arrive in a few years.


and high latitudes

they’ll adjust


Seeing the World (a drabbun)

The king sent an expedition to test the theory, proposed by his most learned advisor (his aunt Margaret, Minister of natural philosophy), that the world was in the form of a loop of ribbon with but a single side. This was effected by giving the ribbon a half twist before fastening the ends together, in the paper model: Margaret assumed the Creators had made the world de novo and in this peculiar shape, rather than by twisting rock and soil alike afterwards. The shape was called moebius, which meant one-sided.

alas the king

never saw their return

he was dead






David Kopaska Merkel:

How long have you been writing poetry?

Since I was a child. My sisters and I were all encouraged by our mother to write, including poetry, from a very early age. We were all supposed to write poems for Chanukah, as part of the celebration. So I've been writing for more than 50 years. I started writing poetry seriously in the 80s, but at first I was very bad. Fortunately, most of those early efforts are exceedingly hard to find. I constantly strive for improvement, and I like to think I'm still making progress.

Did you begin writing haiku before you branched out to scifaiku?

Yes. The University of Alabama had an annual haiku contest. I participated for years, and only a few of my entries were specku.  This was back in the 90s.

How did you learn about scifaiku?

I don't remember! I probably learned about them from Debbie Kolodji. I've been writing scifaiku for decades now.

Where did you learn to write scifaiku?

Aside from picking up the rules from Debbie and others, I've just learned by doing, and by reading others' scifaiku. I've had no formal training.

Do you write poetry other than genre poetry? If so, what kind?

I write non-spec haiku and senryu as part of my daily practice of writing several poems. Of course, many of these poems are speculative.

Whose poetry has influenced you the most?

I can't really say.

Who is your favorite poet?

Here again, I don't have an answer. I don't do favorites. I don't have a favorite author, movie, food, or anything. Perhaps I like too much. I have a favorite spec convention, Worldcon, but aside from that, nothing.

What/who is your main inspiration?

For my daily practice, my main inspiration is what's going on around me. Other poems are inspired by a wide variety of things, including my surroundings, what I read, and more.

What poetry magazines do you read/contribute to?

Many! "Favorites" include Strange Horizons, Asimov's, Star*line, Kaleidotrope, and Polu Texni. My work has been published in hundreds of magazines, many of which no longer exist, such as Twisted, Prelude to Fantasy, and Eldritch Tales.



Ann K. Schwader:


How long have you been writing poetry?

At least since I was in junior high school, though most of my earliest output was humorous (or some attempt at it). Blame Dr. Seuss and Ogden Nash. My first professional poetry publication was in Seventeen Magazine when I was in high school.


Did you begin writing haiku before you branched out to scifaiku?

I think so. I didn't get terribly involved with either until I was maybe 35 or 40. I may have been writing scifaiku first, actually.


How did you learn about scifaiku?

Seeing it in genre poetry journals like Star*Line, Dreams & Nightmares, and plenty of others -- though I suspect many of my inspirations aren't being published any more.


Where did you learn to write scifaiku?

Mostly by reading it. I did figure out fairly quickly that 5/7/5 was more acceptable in scifaiku than it is in contemporary mainstream haiku, though I still write freeform scifaiku as well. I also read somewhere (I think in the old SFPA manual ) that spec poems about the size of a business card sell well for layout purposes, and scifaiku definitely qualified. For me, at least, this turned out to be true.


Do you write poetry other than genre poetry? If so, what kind?

Mainstream haiku / senryu, and very occasional mainstream formal verse. I've also written mainstream haibun, not too successfully. My mainstream haiku tend to run dark, but I've been fortunate enough to place them in several haiku journals ( The Heron's Nest, Modern Haiku, Frogpond, etc) and a few anthologies, most recently Haiku 22. I'm a long-time member of Haiku Society of America.


Whose poetry has influenced you the most?

I'm not sure, but reading Edna St. Vincent Millay when I was in high school showed me that a woman's voice (a young woman's voice, at that) could speak clearly and passionately through formal verse. Her sonnet sequence Fatal Interview was a revelation to me, after reading things like Sonnets From the Portuguese. ( It also probably contributed to my need for a sonnet intervention . . . )


Who is your favorite poet?

I don't have one. It completely depends upon the mood I'm in, though Millay or Dylan Thomas always get my full attention. (Formalist, here.) In contemporary haiku, I'm particularly fond of Fay Aoyagi's unique vision. Some of my favorite genre poets are F.J. Bergmann, Marge Simon, Denise Dumars, Wade German (for weird verse), and Deborah P Kolodji (for both genre and mainstream haiku).


What/who is your main inspiration?

My fellow genre poets, especially fellow formalists who dare to impose order upon imagination's chaos. Or at least try to.


What poetry magazines do you read/contribute to?

Star*Line, Dreams & Nightmares, Spectral Realms, Abyss & Apex, The Heron's Nest, Frogpond, Modern Haiku, & numerous others. I also subscribe to at least three poetry emails to keep my Inbox well-supplied!



Scifaikuest Author Bio: Ann K. Schwader


Ann K. Schwader lives a deceptively quiet life in suburban Colorado with her husband and a female Pembroke Corgi (AKA She Who Must Be Obeyed). They share their home with increasingly excessive quantities of books and houseplants. When she's not writing (or reading), Ann gardens, consumes podcasts, sips First Flush Darjeeling, and contemplates the impending return of tentacled elder deities from beyond space-time. She used to travel, but the current world situation makes eldritch horrors the safer option.


Her eighth poetry collection, Unquiet Stars, appeared in 2021 from Weird House Press. It won a 3rd place Elgin Award (full-length collection) from the SFPA in 2022. Ann is a two-time Bram Stoker Award Finalist, and has received Rhysling Awards for both short and long form work. She was named an Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association Grand Master in 2019. Find out more at



Scifaikuest Author Bio: David C. Kopaska-Merkel


David C. Kopaska-Merkel, a retired paleontologist, has been writing speculative poetry and fiction since the 1970s. He won the 2006 Rhysling award for best long poem (for a collaboration with Kendall Evans), and edits Dreams & Nightmares magazine (since 1986). He has edited Star*line, an issue of Eye To The Telescope, and several Rhysling anthologies, has served as SFPA president, and is an SFPA Grandmaster. His poems (more than 1200 of them) have been published in Asimov’s, Strange Horizons, Night Cry, Kaleidotrope, and more than 200 other venues. Some Disassembly Required, his latest collection of dark poetry, 

is out from from Diminuendo Press (available from the author and from Amazon). @DavidKM on twitter. Blog:



FAVORITE POEM by editor t.santitoro



her lovely bones

holding him again


Gabriel Smithwilson


Oh! What one would do, if they had access to magic! Great story-telling! Kudos!-- editor, t.santitoro

Rainbow Cat_DeniseNoe_MAY2023DOOR_RAINBOW_USEthisONE.jpg
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