Short Stories and Poems I Enjoyed in March and April 2022

Normally, I share a list of poems and short stories as part of my Culture Consumption post for the month. However, since I let two months go by before posting, I gathered up a long list of great reads to share. Below you’ll find the title and a few lines from the work to tempt you into reading.

Spiny Waterflea” by by Amelia Gorman (Sundress Blog) —

“The spiny water fleas enjoy a game of water polo. See their good sportsmanship as they flit about to congratulate the winners and assure the losers of their good play.

Watch as they put away their things after the game, model citizens and good Christians.”

L’Esprit de L’Escalier” by Catherynne M. Valente (Tor) — “Eurydice always loved The Smiths. Melancholy things made her smile. Balloons and cartoons and songs in any of the major keys put her out of sorts. When they first met, she slept exclusively in a disintegrating black shirt from the 1984 European tour. He thought that was so fucking cool. Back when he had the capacity to think anything was cool. She’s wearing it now. Nothing else. Dark fluid pools in patches on the undersides of her thighs, draining slowly down to her heels.”

The Book of the Kraken” by Carrie Vaughn (Uncanny Magazine) — “They could all see it now. The little boat was being towed by some…creature. A sort of harness made of what seemed to be canvas looped around a thick, tapered head. A swarm of impossibly long tentacles rippled and writhed, propelling it through the water, pulling the ship behind it and leaving a churning wake. A great squid, as long as the launch itself, its slippery red-orange skin contrasting with the black of the water and the white foam of the chop.”

Of Monsters I Loved” by Ali Trotta (Uncanny Magazine) —

“I spent years pulling my heart
out from behind my ribs, certain
that I didn’t need it, that barking
mess, making all that noise—
I threw it to the wolves,”

Two Poems by Sarah Ghazal Ali (The Adroit Journal) —

“I heard them, wings beating
a din beyond the thistle, pilgrims
beckoned by the promise of carrion.

Lured by the lurid, I followed
their song off the path, turned my back
to the lake. Angels fled the quarry,”

Syrinx’s Song Silenced” by Chloe Hanson (SWWIM) —

there was a woman. There is always a woman,
a sum of parts: hair, hand, breast.”

The Woman the Spiders Loved” by Couri Johnson (PseudoPod) — “There was a woman who the spiders fell in love with. You knew her in high school, but you weren’t friends. She was plainish. She still is. But that didn’t matter to the spiders. They thought she was beautiful.”

Because Change Was the Ocean and We Lived By Her Mercy” by Charlie Jane Anders (LightSpeed Magazine) — “We stood naked on the shore of Bernal and watched the candles float across the bay, swept by a lazy current off to the north, in the direction of Potrero Island. A dozen or so candles stayed afloat and alight after half a league, their tiny flames bobbing up and down, casting long yellow reflections on the dark water alongside the streaks of moonlight. At times I fancied the candlelight could filter down onto streets and buildings, the old automobiles and houses full of children’s toys, all the waterlogged treasures of long-gone people.”

The Body Is No More Than a Greening Thing” by Louisa Muniz (SWWIM) —

“The body named self, named she, named soft,
composed of stars & dust & longing,

longs for belonging, longs to know from where it’s come,
forever chasing, forever racing to slake

the burning in its bones. But isn’t it pretty?
Body husk of skin, pressed paper thin,”

The Artist and the Door” by Dorothy Quick (PseudoPod) — “The advent of the artist and the door was almost simultaneous. I have always wondered if the one would have been as sinister without the other. Of course, the evil was in the door, but if the artist hadn’t come along just then perhaps it might never have been released. I say that to comfort myself, but I know it isn’t true. Evil is evil. It is a power and its strength is beyond mortal knowledge. Even without the artist there would have been horror. He only served to give it speedier expression.”

Open House on Haunted Hill” by John Wiswell (Diabolical Plots) — “133 Poisonwood Avenue would be stronger if it was a killer house. There is an estate at 35 Silver Street that annihilated a family back in the 1800s and its roof has never sprung a leak since. In 2007 it still had the power to trap a bickering couple in an endless hedge maze that was physically only three hundred square feet. 35 Silver Street is a show-off.”

I want to tell you what poverty gave me—” by Melissa Crowe (Poetry Daily) —

“a life outside capital, though I know it doesn’t
seem to make sense, given my grandfather’s knuckles,
cold-cracked and smelling always of kerosene,
my uncle’s back permanently bent in the shape”

The Eelgrass is Dead” by Gabrielle Griffis (New Flash Fiction Review) — “The beach erodes. An entire diner was consumed in less than 13 hours, swallowed by the maw of the ocean. Our transistor explodes like blue fireworks. Just a few feet from the kitchen door, a gunshot of electricity in the rain.”

[The whole soldier doesn’t suffer] Poetry by Lyudmyla Khersonska (words without borders) —

“The whole soldier doesn’t suffer—
it’s just the legs, the arms,
just blowing snow,
just meager rain.
The whole soldier shrugs off hurt—”

He asked if I’d want a daughter” by Emilee Kinney (SWWIM) —

” on our porch, after a dinner of burnt
rice and buttered zucchini, we’d been laughing
about how we could barely feed ourselves.
Now, all I can do is watch as a vermillion sky spreads

like a blooming hyacinth, like a woman’s mouth,”

One Thing” By Eileen Pettycrew (SWWIM) —

“In the kitchen, a life could leave
a loaf of freshly baked bread
to cool. The fragrance
could waft upstairs,
where the daughter
has picked out a book.
The mother could think
that bread is love…”

Not everything is a poem” by Maggie Smith (The Slowdown) —

“or has a poem inside it, but god help me
if I can’t find one when I empty

my son’s pockets before I do
the wash: one acorn, two rocks”

out of the cave” by John Reinhart —

“lightbulbs planted in fall, dead, burnt out, shattered shards spread along the bare, dark earth, only the faintest reminder of the book read at bedtime

neat rows of promise neglected for years, forgotten, rotting until some electric version of the second coming”

Venus of Willendorf at the gym” by Merie Kirby (SWWIM) —

“Some anthropologists now say
she is a woman carving herself
in limestone, recording her body as she sees it
looking down, as she feels it when she rests
her arms on her chest. Not fetish,
but selfie. Not goddess, but sculptor.”

Morag-of-the-Cave” by Margery Lawrence (PseudoPod) — “Nobody knew just where the child Morag got her love of the sea. Seemed it dated from her very earliest years, for many was the time her mother would miss the baby, and find her crawling through bent and wildblown grasses down towards the beach.”

Cleaver, Meat, and Block” by Maria Haskins (PseudoPod) — “The first thing Hannah learned when she came to live with her grandparents after the Plague, was how to wield the meat cleaver.”