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A thousand Persephones lie bleeding in the Lethe,

a thousand more cross on Charon’s armada,

proud brows gleaming, hair windswept,

the first shawls they made once they taught themselves to knit

clutched to their shoulders, flak-jacket secure.

Behind the sandbags crouch the grunts of Hades, primed to feed

a thousand chains of regret through greasy barrels.

We peer through sniper slots

at the enemy’s gowned grace,

shudder, rub our hands, wish for breath

to warm our palms, wait sadly for the order

to serve the feast.

His first short story collection, The Button Bin and Other Stories, is forthcoming from Dagan Books, and his first novel, The Black Fire Concerto, is slated to come out from Black Gate. His short fiction has appeared most recently in Beneath Ceaseless Skies and Not One of Us, with more on the way in Solaris Rising 2: The New Solaris Book of Science Fiction. Many more of his poems can be found in the Strange Horizons archives.

Mike Allen is president of the Science Fiction Poetry Association and editor of the speculative poetry journal Mythic Delirium. With Roger Dutcher, Mike is also editor of The Alchemy of Stars: Rhysling Award Winners Showcase, which for the first time collects the Rhysling Award-winning poems from 1978 to 2004 in one volume. His newest poetry collection, Disturbing Muses, is out from Prime Books, with a second collection, Strange Wisdoms of the Dead, soon to follow. Mike's poems can also be found in Nebula Awards Showcase 2005, both editions of The 2005 Rhysling Anthology, and the Strange Horizons archives.
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