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Invisible Stars

Invisible Stars
by F. J. Bergmann

There must always be one with eyes the wrong color.
Some children were even more cruel than others,
as if affection were a weakness as well as a commodity;
as if they already strode, proudly, with the starving dead.

Not every menace out in that desert was imaginary.
A caravan found tracks before wind swept them away:
nothing left of the goat but blood spattering the rocks.
The grandmother told stories meant to comfort them.

She spent her kindness knowing it would never be repaid.
They blamed him for the plague, dead lizards in the well,
ominous manifestations unfurling in summer clouds,
until even the endless dunes seemed more welcoming.

Death was a friend whom he would thank when it came.
Evening did not dim the immobile whorls in the sky.
He walked until the glowing flux was directly overhead.
Stars were from the elder myths; the moon unremembered.

That night he slept at the foot of a closed door, waiting.
The dream voices asked him what he had hoped to find.
He wanted only the answers that would help them all.
Something with a mane of embroidered light let him in.

* * *

F.J. Bergmann edits poetry for Mobius: The Journal of Social Change and imagines tragedies on or near exoplanets. Work appears irregularly in Analog, Asimov's, Polu Texni, Pulp Literature, Silver Blade, and elsewhere. A Catalogue of the Further Suns, a collection of dystopian first-contact reports, won the 2017 Gold Line Press poetry chapbook contest and is available from

What do you think is the most important aspect of a fantasy poem?

Fantasy, as all narrative, depends on reflecting, albeit in a distorted or simplified version, some aspect of present reality and human experience—and then allowing magical/supernatural problems and/or solutions to affect that aspect. It’s not fantasy without the magical/supernatural element … but it doesn’t work without the presence of real-world predicaments and basic, familiar emotional needs.