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W. Gregory Stewart is a short story writer and poet whose work has appeared Amazing Stories, Asimov's, Dreams & Nightmares, several Rhysling Anthologies, and dozens of other publications.

Dark Planet is designed and edited by Lucy A. Snyder. If you spot any errors, or if you have any comments, please contact her at lusnyde@cyberus.ca.

All materials copyright 1996-1998 by their respective creators. No stories, articles, poems or images from this webzine may be posted or published without the written consent of their creator(s).

home again

by W. Gregory Stewart

    body parts
    arms and legs and livers and lips
    stacked in the freezer
    beside Tuesday's casserole
    and a tub of green tea ice cream

    on the street outside
    an animal control officer
    nets a Witness
    and locks it up
    in the same cage
    as the Jones kid

    the barefoot season
    is down at the corner
    but nobody wants to wait
    for the starting gun
    as happy toes grab
    the sidewalk once again

    gravity waves snow quietly
    through channels that nobody watches
    and wind is narrowcast
    along the local cable franchise

    stones are stacked
    in large irregular piles
    about small animals
    and onions
    leaves cover the stone
    and logs cover the leaves

    when the fires are set
    tiny screams
    are just audible
    above the crackling laughter
    below gray skies

    there is a stop sign
    at the city limit
    and a dry well
    outside the courthouse
    and the real world
    stops on the other side
    of each of these

    when the fires die
    the stones are moved away
    and the small animals
    whisked away
    to kitchens
    and commissaries

    the animals aren't
    and tongues are clucked
    in red-faced regret

    and the thing
    that is not an animal
    is cut up
    into more convenient pieces
    and stacked in freezers
    beside casseroles
    and ice cream
    just in case

    welcome back
    and welcome home

    rest a moment
    then go
    and find your first stone