Monthly Archives: December 2016

Issue #19: Speculative Poetry


We received a humongous amount of fantastic poetry submissions. Not all of the poems made the cut for the issue, but a good many were too good to pass up on. So as a result, this will be the largest volume ever published by The Were-Traveler.

This issue contains poetry from newcomers and seasoned, award-winning poets alike. There’s everything from old myths to new ones, from serious to humorous verse, and, like true speculative writing, fabulous blends of fantasy, science fiction and horror. There’s something for every fan of spec-genre poetry to enjoy.

Authors, please check out our Calls For Submissions page for upcoming themes. You can send your work to any issue that has a deadline posted.

There’s nothing else to say, except I hope you enjoy these fabulous poems.

Happy Holidays from The Traveler!

M.X. Kelly, editor/publisher

Issue #19: Speculative Poetry

  1. Con(temporary) Muse, by Tonya Eberhart

  2. After Receiving the Super Power of My Choice, by James J. Stevenson

  3. When Coyote Called Down the Stars, by Aaron Vlek

  4. Brighid, by Mary Soon Lee

  5. Requiem for E.A.P., by Notty Bumbo

  6. Old Girlfriends from Across the Universe, by John Grey

  7. Tombstone Tabby, by Mark Antony Rossi

  8. Gotterdammerung, by Ed Ahern

  9. Demon Fire, by Mary Soon Lee

  10. Crying Over Spilt Milk, by J.J. Steinfeld

  11. Heresy, by Tonya Eberhart

  12. Finish the Job, by J.A. Grier

  13. Princess Takane and the Raven, by James J. Stevenson

  14. Liar, by E. F. Schraeder

  15. Divination, by Tonya Eberhart

  16. Theda Bara, by Melinda Giordano

  17. Rules, by Ed Ahern

  18. Hard-forked, by Matthew Harrison

  19. Only When the Moon Wanes Can Rapunzel Sleep, by Tonya Eberhart

  20. Necromancer, by Mary Soon Lee

  21. Poetry Robot, by James J. Stevenson

  22. Tsunami, by Mark Antony Rossi

  23. The Whisperers, by E. F. Schraeder

  24. Richard Feynman’s Commute, by Jon Wesick

  25. Elvira Tired, by Ed Coletti

  26. Art of Becoming Invisible, by J.J. Steinfeld

  27. In Our Secret Cove, by BanWynn (Suta) Oakshadow

  28. The Secret, by Melinda Giordano

  29. The Nerve, by E. F. Schraeder

  30. Planting the Flag, by John Grey

  31. The Jeweled Net of John Stewart Bell, by Jon Wesick

  32. Roof Walkers, by Aaron Vlek

  33. The Adoration, by Ed Ahern

  34. Vengeance, by Mary Soon Lee

  35. Sidewalk Ghouls, by Richard Stevenson

  36. Shadows Come Alive, by Mark Antony Rossi

  37. What it signifies, by Ed Coletti

  38. Five Horror Haiku, by Denny Marshall

  39. Token of Affection, by  J.A. Grier

  40. A Frightening Metaphysical Puzzle, by J.J. Steinfeld

  41. Coyote’s Ancient Tail, by Aaron Vlek

  42. Before, by E. F. Schraeder

  43. Catherine wheel, by Melinda Giordano

  44. 8 Minutes of Sunlight, by James J. Stevenson

  45. Becoming, by Raven Starr

  46. The Electron Ponders, by Jon Wesick

  47. Have You Any News for Me? by J.J. Steinfeld

  48. Pantoum of Hairy Hands, by Richard Stevenson

  49. The Changeling, by Melinda Giordano

  50. Five Sci-Fi Haiku, by Denny Marshall

  51. The Storm Walker, by Ed Ahern

  52. The Perfect Poem … Tribute, by J.A. Grier

  53. Knight of Tiamat, by BanWynn (Suta) Oakshadow

  54. Theoriticus, by Aaron Vlek

  55. Solitary Nocturne, by Ed Ahern

  56. Truth and Beauty, by Jon Wesick

  57. An Ersatz Heaven Then a Genuine Hell, by J.J. Steinfeld

  58. My Wedding,  by Melinda Giordano

  59. Brown Recluse Obsession, by Ed Coletti

  60. Shadow Boxing, by Richard Stevenson

  61. Planet Names, by Denny Marshall

  62. Monsters, by BanWynn (Suta) Oakshadow

  63. Too tough, by Matthew Harrison

  64. A Poet is a Vampire, by James J. Stevenson

  65. Ratcatcher, by Ed Coletti

  66. A Man in Darkness, by John Grey

  67. White. Ghosts., by Tonya Eberhart

  68. Flight School, by J.A. Grier

  69. Returning, by Mary Soon Lee

  70. Absolute Zero, by Jon Wesick

  71. End of the Rope, by E. F. Schraeder

Images courtesy of Pixabay with the exception of the images used for “Theda Bara” and “Brown Recluse Obsession” which are in the public domain.



Con(temporary) Muse, by Tonya Eberhard


Black bile simmering in a black caldron—
acid burning in the stomach,
a fire to the heart. Like the touch of one
temporary muse.

Witches brew, she knew
of other charms besides kissing
frog to prince,
boy to man.

Mother witch, creator of muses,
making morning grow dark, darker than
black boughs snaking across the sky.

Sweeten the pot.

she pointed with a crooked finger.
the temporary muse. At the stomach, the heart.
A churning, a groaning from the throat
spitting black bile, creating a muse made from the self.

Otherworldly, yes.
Of mystical powers, no.

A ghost of flesh and bone,
heart of false valor,
tongue of pure stone.

Witches brew, she knew flame to
heart makes it beat faster.

Heart palpitations are
fiery passions.

She will love him.
She loves him.
She does say, I do.

Tonya Eberhard recently graduated from the University of Missouri. She currently lives in Minnesota. Her work has appeared in Algebra of Owls, The Commonline Journal, Dirty Chai, Yellow Chair Review, Open Minds Quarterly, and many others.



After Receiving the Super Power of My Choice, by James J. Stevenson

I asked my dog
which ability
she would have chosen,
and she said the power
to cry at the beauty
of a memory
of a phrase
of a chord
of a name.
That’s why she runs
to my lap whenever
she sees my eyes redden;
it’s not to offer comfort,
but to drink the potion
of tears from my face
loosened over
——–half-sick of shadows
In choosing to speak with animals
I learned that I’ve had
a super power all along.

My poems, stories, and comics have been published in a bunch of anthologies and journals, but the quickest way to see what I’m up to is @writelightning on most social media. I frequently post haiku+photography (often of my Star Wars action figures…) with over 400 in my archive. All my social media links are at

When Coyote Called Down the Stars, by Aaron Vlek


Coyote’s sitting beside a fire pit
late one night.
It’s real dark, and his back’s to ya.
Finally, after he’s made you wait
a good long while,
he signals for you to sit yourself down.
You’re sitting right there
in front of that old varmint,
but he ain’t seeing ya.
WHAT?— Coyote yells, finally looking up at you.
You thought Coyote was a Man?
Or some kind of wild dog?
Or maybe a spirit from the Before Times?
Well I’ll tell you something.
I ain’t none of them things!

You look in Coyote’s eyes.
You’re looking for signs,
signs that tell you
Hey! It’s okay,
Coyote’s only funning with ya.
But all you see
is those two yellow eyes,
and the firelight flickering
reflecting your own face
dancing in those old yellow eyes of his.
Then Coyote starts messing
with the fire,
sending sparks and smoke
curling all the way up to the stars.
Coyote, he’s mumbling something
to himself,
and there’s the beating
of nightwings overhead.
Coyote, he starts whistling,
pulling that old blanket of his
tighter around his bony old shoulders.
Hey, Coyote! What you calling down?
But Coyote, he doesn’t answer.
He never does.
Not directly, ‘least not right away.

He just starts messing with that fire again,
rocking back and forth,
mumbling something to himself.
Faster now.
Hey Coyote! What you calling down?
Coyote, he looks up at the stars overhead
and starts grinning.
There’s those nightwings again.
Hey Coyote! What you calling down?
Finally, Coyote looks you dead in the eyes
and shakes his head like you were some sorry excuse.
Best you just sit still now,
and keep quiet, if you can—
he hisses in your general direction
as he jumps up and sets to
his medicine dance.
Coyote, he always means business.

Aaron Vlek is a storyteller who works with the trickster mythos in its role as bringer of delight and proponent of disquieting humors. Some of her (yes, her) stories center around the goings on of the jinn, and of a universal imagining of the Native American character, Coyote. Some works are historical in setting while others occupy a contemporary and urban landscape. She also indulges frequently in the reimagining of classic themes of horror and the occult. Aaron is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College. Domine Canè, a short piece of speculative horror with a historic theme, appeared in the April 2015 issue of Bards and Sages Quarterly, Vol. VII, Issue II.  At the Kids’ Table appeared in the 2015 Christmas Edition of Chicken Soup for the Soup. Additional stories have been accepted for publication throughout 2016.



Brighid, by Mary Soon Lee



First published in Apex Magazine.

Six years old,
youngest of the demon’s servants,
didn’t cry when the king
roused her after the demon’s death;
nor when, an hour later, she remembered
her father’s scorched scream,
his flesh aflame;
nor when, toward evening,
a fishmonger recognized her
and offered to see her back to her aunt;
nor when, weeks later, the fishmonger
delivered her to her aunt, who hugged her–
and hugged the fishmonger–
and wept.

That night the farm tomcat,
a gray and surly mouser
not inclined to affection,
lay down on Brighid’s blanket
and matter-of-factly licked her arm,
her bare shoulder, her face,
his rough tongue rasping her skin,
and she cried,
thinking not of her father,
or their burnt home, their burnt town,
but of her mother’s voice,
a voice she’d forgotten
until the demon borrowed it,
that she’d known to be a lie
but followed anyhow.

 Mary Soon Lee was born and raised in London, but now lives in Pittsburgh. She has won the Elgin Award and the Rhysling Award for her poetry. Of late, she has been working on The Sign of the Dragon, an epic fantasy presented in poetry. A dozen poems from the epic may be read at

Requiem for E.A.P., by Notty Bumbo


To think the death of Annabel Lee drove him mad,
Or the streets of his fair city
Pulled him into their depths
Without so much as a fair-thee-well,
And we both richer and poorer
In our too-small grasp of that dark illumination.

Or, what carrion cause the heart to race,
Hidden within the chest of our imagination,
And the horror of the faceless death
Awaiting all who tremble still,
As the pressing of time, and its swift
And terrible pendulum swings back, unbidden,

Relentless at our heels. No amount
Of wishing will change this severing of ourselves
From what fears we ourselves bring forth. He dared
Look deep, and often askew, into the frail greed
As defines our kind, trembled in his thrall
To the opiate of the unknown, it’s relentless pull

That he himself could not avoid, nor delay the day
His own sad heart would race, bellowing from his
Bricked-in chest to scream those names
Who’d driven him lost and lonely, Baltimore
No Lord nor manor awaiting his gentle entry,
But despair his roof, and alone his wail.

No red death, but black and solitary, no fine wine
To make his passing happy, no masque to honor
The tales his life created, his a solitary dance,
Not even Death herself had time to waste, to ferry
His torn and shattered spirit, into the deep oblivion
His every word promised, to we who read his dreams.

Notty Bumbo is a writer, artist, and poet living in Fort Bragg, California. He has been published in a number of small journals and presses, including the Amphigoric Sauce Factory, Words Without Walls, Poesis, Telling Our Stories Press, and Calabash Cadence’ Taisgeadan.  His novella, Tyrian Dreams, is available on Kindle via Amazon Publishing. He has recently been responsible for Questor’s Odyssey, a daily commentary on life as we seldom appreciate it, from the perspective of a Trans-Universal visitor with three green hairs.

Old Girlfriends from Across the Universe, by John Grey


No days, no nights, out here.
just repetition, distances so far,
we’ve long since zoomed by meaningless.
My location lacks a threshold.

I’m no longer pin-pointed,
not even a speck in this great expanse.
It seems like lifetimes
since I strode Earth soil.

Old loves, I name them all,
each a cry in a lonely universe.
The ensuing silence has such starlit resonance.
There’s nobody here who knew me back then.
So how can 1 know me now.

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, Stillwater Review and Big Muddy Review with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Columbia College Literary Review and Spoon River Poetry Review.   


Tombstone Tabby, by Mark Antony Rossi

The smell of used cat litter
Is beyond the rotting flesh of humans
stinking up a condemned building.
The boldest cats don’t bury their shit
because they do not care
about your presence
and secretly hope
to leave a putrid present
on your fallen body

Mark Antony Rossi’s poetry, criticism, fiction, creative nonfiction and photography have appeared in The Antigonish Review, Anak Sastra, Bareback Magazine, Black Heart Review, Brain of Forgetting, Deep Water Literary Journal, Dirty Chai, Enclave, Expound, Farther Stars Than, Flash Fiction, Gravel, Indian Periodical,  Japanophile, Journal of Microliterature,  Kulchur Creative Journal, Mad Swirl, On The Rusk, Purple Patch, Scrivener Creative Review, Sentiment Literary Journal, Snapdragon, Syzygy Poetry Journal, The Sacrificial, Toad Suck Review, Transnational, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, Wild Quarterly and Yellow Chair Review.Website:

Gotterdammerung, by Ed Ahern

First published in Zodiac Review.


Vampire paramours but vanished brides of Christ.
Allah as warmonger but warlocks as heroes.
Fashionable witches but forgotten saints.
Buddha as bracelet charm but beloved murderers.

To abandon Gods
And fixate on monsters.

Ed Ahern resumed writing after forty odd years in foreign intelligence and international sales. He has his original wife, but advises that after forty seven years they are both out of warranty. Ed has had over fifty stories published thus far, most also reprinted. 

Demon Fire, by Mary Soon Lee

First published in Tales of the Talisman.

Outside: the harbor,
the town wall, both extant.

Inside: No trace of wood.
No leather. No cloth.
No birds, no insects.
The wells dried out.
The mud burnt brick hard.
A few stone buildings.
Ash. Charred bones.
Two kings (alive),
their guards
at a short distance.

“Too few bones,” said Donal,
the Red King: red-haired,
red-handed in war.
“We think most people
were taken prisoner,
or killed elsewhere.”

“Several escaped,” said Xau,
“and fled to us eight days ago.”

“At moon dark,” said Donal.
“And last month, the same thing–
a town obliterated at moon dark.”

He led Xau to the town center.
The stone fountain bowl
had cracked in two.
On the flagstones in front:
a black circle,
wide as a man’s height,
wavy lines radiating from it.

“Demon sign,” said Xau.

“Yes.” Donal spat on the sign.
“Help us. Name your terms.”
“We’ll help. No terms,” said Xau.

“But how? What can we do?”

“I don’t know,” said Donal.
“I knew how to fight you.
I have no idea how to fight this.”

They stood, silent,
by the dry fountain
at the center of what
had once been a town.

Mary Soon Lee was born and raised in London, but now lives in Pittsburgh. She has won the Elgin Award and the Rhysling Award for her poetry. Of late, she has been working on The Sign of the Dragon, an epic fantasy presented in poetry. A dozen poems from the epic may be read at