All these poems are copyright 1995. None may be reproduced without their authors' consent.
This needs a bit of introduction. Joe Haldeman, the first instructor at Clarion 1995, challenged the participants to write poems based on randomly-assigned science fiction topics. Joe also required that the poems conform precisely to specific poetic structural forms, which were also drawn randomly.

Practically everyone in the workshop took Joe's challenge, and the following poems are a sampling of the results.


Cyborg Rag

by Nalo Hopkinson

She's always lived in the city dump. A lonely, dirty place
when you never age. Or even if you did.
Her deathless body will survive; problem is, the brain decays.
She's always lived in the city dump. A lonely, dirty place.
She doesn't remember. What is a mind/machine interface
when the mind's no longer there? Brain dead? Brain did ....
She's always lived in the city dump. A lonely, dirty place
when you never age. Or even if you did.


Reunion

by Michael L. McComas

Everything is closer now, day by day.
The stars, shifted blue, salt the heavens' dome,
Bloating and pulsing, dying much the way
Our own sun had after we left our home.
Chaos conquers heat, gravity masters all,
Drawing nebulae back into their womb,
Collapsing, churning in dark matter's call
To the cosmic kernal, the primal tomb.
Clusters shepherd in far-flung stars by night.
Galaxies gather them by twos and ones.
Quasars last of all, first and farthest light,
Latecomers in the reunion of suns.
When stars cool to cinders and time has run,
The cosmos ends the way it was begun.


The Berserkers

by Joshua Peterson

A billion came, drifting eons forward.
Gravityless hulks, ion jets kicking lifelike mechanisms nightward,
outward pressed quickening round stars, the unliving vedettes,
war-machines, xenophobes, yearned zero-hour.


Rachelle's Denial

by Damien Filer

The sun shone golden, deep in Rachelle's eyes;
old Deacon waited, frisbee in his teeth,
but Rachelle only noticed the black skies.
Despite the news, she still would not believe.
Eros approaching, megaton explosions
and asteroid extinction, she denied,
but fear crept into her heart and left her frozen;
she watered grass the summer sun had dried,
because she didn't know what else to do.
The emerald grass turned steely blue and quiet.
She would die on a Sunday afternoon,
with Deacon, either ignorant or defiant.
Her soil now tended, under the dark sun,
she lay down with her dog. Their work was done.


Terraforming Dune: Man vs. Nature

by Debbie Donofrio

Death's Pale Angel tills this hopeless plot.
Gaea wouldn't get these shoots to take.
Cursed from Hell by James (The Coyote) Watt,
This Sisyphean tour seals Angel's fate.

Gaea wouldn't get these shoots to take.
Seas of whisk-broom grass, a dry-hole well.
This Sisyphean tour seals Angel's fate!
What I don't want: to spoil this perfect Hell.

Seas of whisk-broom grass, a dry-hole well.
"No chlorophyll's beyond persistent powers.
What, I don't want to spoil this perfect Hell?"
Angel christening sand with shit and showers.

No, chlorophyll's beyond persistent powers;
seeds and prayers; lime and Miracle Grow,
Angel christening sand with shit and showers.
Nothing's greening me, not man nor hoe.

Cursed from Hell by James (The Coyote) Watt,
Death's Pale Angel tills this hopeless plot.


About the Authors

Nalo Hopkinson, 34 years old, lives in Toronto, Canada where she enjoys writing stories that keep her mother awake at night. One of her stories was recently purchased for Snow White, Blood Red IV, a collection of re-interpreted folk tales edited by Ellen Datlow (Omni) and Terri Windling.

Michael L. McComas is a super-senior at MIT and an editor at A Different Beat (all cop stories, all the time) and former assistant at Aboriginal SF Magazine.

Joshua Peterson is pursuing an MFA in creative writing at Michigan State University. He recently won first place in L. Ron Hubbard's Writers of the Future Contest with his short story "Patient's End."

Damien Filer lives in Oregon with his partner of eight years and a big dog. His fiction will be featured in future issues of Pulphouse Magazine.

Debbie Donofrio lives in Houston, TX with her husband and two kids. She holds an MS in microbiology and worked for eleven years in the research department of a "major industrial water company" until four years of re-organization caught up with her. She's now concentrating on her second career as an SF writer.


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