44 | Poetry & Art from the Editor, Winner of the Macmillan Education Onestopenglish Poetry Contest
Editor’s Note: When I won the Macmillan Education Onestopenglish poetry contest twenty-years ago, I was certain that editors everywhere would be falling all over themselves to publish my work. Looks like I may have been wrong. However, there is this one particular editor out there who obliges!
The installation will gleam with fallen metal.
Metal that had glowed white with heat, and great engines made molten by the shuddering explosion.
Its fiery plummet, that of a pierced and disintegrating celestial dragon, a ship made of far star-traveling technology, a vast and iridescent deathflame-cocoon, roaring embered horror through a darkly atmosphere.
Cooling upon its thunderous impact.
Geometrical sections warped and wrapped into shapes never intended, plates of puddled quicksilver, remnants of a shipboard, starfire catastrophe, deep above the beige and pinnacular outcroppings and the dull hum of daily life in the dry valleys.
The installation will reflect their wondering, many-topaz eyes, bright-alive with the radiant magic of an alien technology, a sacred, spacefaring metallurgy, delivered by ancient gods, both wise and wicked, into a world of sand and stone.
The inhabitants’ strangest ideas of the sparkling Desert-Beyond-The-Sky, and of the possible, made tangible in the cold, liquid-silver shimmer of the installation.
The artist-priest describes the holy inspiration, the spiritual work, and the enraptured process.
The being’s multi-organed mind quick-pulsing electric halos to the many, gesturing in bioluminescent arcs dissipating into after-glow, through the ever-present gloaming.
Objects from the heavens arranged in a fantastical display,
capturing a glorious vision of the divine, the eternal, and the infinite.
A portal of fallen metal to the stars, to the future, and to the gods:
the ancient ones, the newly discovered, and those yet unknown.
She’s a Spacefaring Santa Claus
Atnas Sualc as she is known on her home planet, had, upon her great discovery, soon chosen a cyber-camouflaging program for her flying saucer that would render it comprehensible to the inhabitants of this planet.
But absent-mindedly, overlooking the laws of physics here, she decided upon a sleigh, drawn by reindeer. Her ship’s wormhole-sensing prow glowing through in cherry red.
Her spacesuit, disguised as the attire she’d seen the snow-dwellers wear. Her beard, an elaborate breathing apparatus. A fine Medusa’s head of tubules and capillaric technology, with a secondary purifying chamber belted firmly around her bioluminescent waist.
Lifting off from the North Pole, the replenishing of her ship’s hydrogen stores complete, with the help of the green-suited perma-larvae crew and a male of her kind, whom she mischievously calls Mrs. Sualc, who had agreed to live there in an exobiological pod, nestled within the ice and snow, an enduring redemption for otherworld transgressions.
The work begins, hovering just above rooftops, transporting down chimneys in great haste, a large sack slung over her padded and pinnacular shoulder, to harvest the one substance most valuable on her distant and sparkling world: soot.
Coal is too bulky, not of the right consistency, not of value, it is left behind, carelessly strewn, sometimes conveniently stuffed into colorful, curved receptacles that hang about the soot-rich environs.
A cylindrical white liquid and circular objects, often found in proximity to the soot, are vaporized in laser-twitching repulsion by Atnas.
Though a gift, a trade, is left by Atnas under the glittering, twinkling conicals endemic to the soot mines, in return for the priceless substance; these are materialized-on-demand replications of items observed on this planet, with coverings that mimic their surroundings — it is the least she can do in exchange for such vast riches, for her spacefaring species is nothing if not honorable and generous.
After every seven cycles of her star system, she returns to replenish her wealth, to this planet of limitless soot, discovered long ago on one of her relentless deep-space explorations — and still a secret close and fiercely kept.
But for the inhabitants here, who celebrate her star-flown arrival, in each of their years.
Their technology determines a new chapter in the story of cosmic conquest.
An infinity of worlds, resources and scientific knowledge, they are now a step ahead.
Their superluminal silver saucerships,
controlled by interstellar explorers. Their personalities unfit for daily civilization, they thrive in the desolation of the vast and its enduring speculation of great discovery.
An orbital survey-scan, a percentage of the projected return on a claim calculated and loaded into their Lifecycle Token by Central Command, and on to the next jackpot.
The firing of an Eternal Beacon into the center of a far distant planet, is a joy unknown to most.
A universe-wide, pan-alien land and gold rush, long since underway. The newest wave of pioneer-settlers and 49er-extractors scattering ever further across a galaxyscape of destiny,
in pursuit of faint signals.
Some find their dreams in the twilight of dying stars. Others, their premature demise, light-years from TrueHome.
It landed in a flash, in the middle of the field, a silver craft, saucer shaped.
It intercepted the football with a tractor beam,
or some such thing.
It flew through the goal posts and then straight back,
moving smooth as a Cadillac.
It was all quite puzzling.
The game had to be called. Broadcasters cut to commercials. Fans crammed the exits.
The military arrived just in time,
to see its laser cut the field, straight down the fifty-yard line.
Its tractor beam rolled up the turf like a carpet and away it flew,
with half the field in tow.
Maybe it liked arena football more, I really don’t know.
Editor’s Note: Previous contributor Kwame “Cadillac” Cavil played professional football in the NFL and CFL. I was inspired to write this little poem imagining the disruption that an intruding UFO might cause during a football game. Read Kwame’s excellent essay, “Like Peanut Butter and Jelly: Sports and Science Fiction,” a Best of the Net & 25th Annual Critters Readers’ Poll nominee, in the debut issue of The Space Cadet Science Fiction Review, Spring 2022.