flawed, beaded light billowed and twisted
an effigy destined to drown in cold flame
two decade wick dipped in sour toxins
long & deep / enough to sizzle
undercover, then explode
a crippling spike of other worlds
poured in through an open door
flattened by chaotic ticks
utterly random / exactly on time
expectation’s death, unexpected
it’s quiet here, where I fought to be.
stable stars anchor my floating, helplessly
in control, an astronautical ballerino
missing the Earth and People after pressing to
erase them from skies by removing the factor of
me like a clicking crawling man-sized bug,
a big toe hopping astral stairs,
an interstellar metatarsal begging
mouthlessly/psychically to be
beamed inside a passing pod to recharge
my sometimes-hole, fill my cup with
alien love, then launch from the airlock
while my hosts are distracted with
bigger things and questions, implements
of labour – calipers prods tubes and cups suckling
air like suffocating catfish, half-baked little
greys sunk in tubes of goo. I float again,
frozen on the other side, xenomorphic,
free, a toe song away from a
welcome to feed, a fill and a doggie
to drag along when I leave.
Stephen Ground graduated from York University, then migrated to a remote, fly-in community in Saskatchewan’s far north. He’s since returned south, co-founding Winnipeg-based Pearson House Films, where he acts as writer and producer. His work has been featured in Bending Genres, Back Patio Press, Flash Fiction Magazine, Typishly, and elsewhere.
strips of flesh running like broken
flapping in heat of endless breeze
paint them like black cats playing skunk
stitch tight with fish line or spears
lull meat to sleep in the sun
let it sizzle
let it suffer and learn
that actions cause pain
and there’s safety
in the house next door
hairless chimps observe
painted zeroes and ones
stick tines in sockets be
cause it seems good and
theoretically feels it and
the chimps feel it too in
their tines and sockets
in the middle of the night
ogling glittering rectangles
in basements washrooms
perched on bowls like self-
waxing gargoyles silent and
still though they’re sure the
others on their ledge are
asleep but they’re not just
like hairless zeroes and ones
painted gargoylezees self-
waxing alone and together
in the house next door
Stephen Ground graduated from York University, then skipped town for a remote, fly-in community in Saskatchewan’s far north. He’s since returned south, and co-founded Pearson House Films. Find more at www.stephenground.com, or his tweets @sualtmo.
I used to see my whole family – Mom, Dad, little sister, a couple cats – hanging by their throats from rafters in the garage. Twice-weekly, sometimes more. Always after pounding the door code two, three times; first-try success hampered by warm Colt 45 and shake rips off pop can pipes, testing the limits of my Bambi-legged tolerance before curfew at eleven. Buzzed, sausage-fingered, I’d eventually crack it – the door half-up when I’d see them, mind’s eye but crystalline, tangible, dangling stiffly. I’d watch the door creep higher, awaiting toes pointed at the floor; shins, knees, ribs, necks wrung like dish rags.
It’d nudged the end of the track; the roar paling. Mucousy light from the bare bulb coating the empty garage. I’d rush inside, lock up, and kill every light; trot upstairs to distance myself from a bad feeling, knuckles rapping wood railing in frantic beats, all three sides of my doorframe – inside, out – then each side of my dresser, the posts of my bed. Only then I’d feel safe, the last tendrils of dread releasing.
It felt normal – tricks of a tired mind, triggered by what I’d ingested recently in friends’ damp, half-finished basements: Silence of the Lambs. A Clockwork Orange. The Matrix. Imagination was easily blamed – it brought sleep, surrender to neon hypnagogia. I’d slip under the surface but didn’t need air, and sink, deeper but unknowingly closer to the beast leaving corpses strung in a declaration of war.
Stephen Ground is freshly-freed. His work has appeared in The River, Soft Cartel, antilang, and others which can be found at stephenground.com.