Aphelion Issue 293, Volume 28
September 2023
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by Simon MacCulloch

Inspired by the Rodney Matthews poster “Warriors from the Sky” (1975)

A singed-paper sky is their element; ragged and lean
Their morals have burned to a crisp in the stone desert glare
No end to the cruelties pupilless slit-eyes have seen
No history - ravagers all that they ever have been
A living as simple and sharp as the fangs that they bare.

Nock arrow, draw sword! The defenders come scuttling out
Another dry race, troglodytic and fierce as the sun
(Though pale from the seasons they lurk in their rock-formed redoubt)
All savage and ready, a tooth-bladed, mail-rattling rout.
A lance meets a shield and the short deadly battle’s begun.

But how can the incomers lose? For the wasps that they ride
Must surely be more than their flightless opponents can best
Fit steeds for a folk in whom mercy and pity have died
With drooping antennae, and razor-barbed legs planted wide
And stings in reserve to deploy at their riders’ behest.

A past or a future? A present - on Earth or on Mars?
These vicious encroachments go on in an endless repeat
Minds brutal as insects, though weapons may take to the stars.
One lesson (if any survive) to be learned from the scars:
A world without love is a world of relentless defeat.

© 2023 Simon MacCulloch
image © Rodney Matthews 1975

Simon MacCulloch lives in London. His poems live in Reach Poetry, The Dawntreader, Spectral Realms, Aphelion, Black Petals, Grim and Gilded, Ekstasis, Pulsebeat Poetry Journal, Ephemeral Elegies, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Emberr, View from Atlantis, Altered Reality, The Sirens Call, The Chamber Magazine, I Become the Beast, Lovecraftiana, Awen and elsewhere.

Find more by Simon MacCulloch in the Author Index.