Poetry Introduction

We begin with an injunction, an order: “Resist / feeding serpents your stories.” Serpents expect the performative, we are warned; they prize shiny illusions over truth. But we are survivors, and we have not survived by accepting limits.

So, sly, we speak aslant. We speak of whales and horses. We seduce would-be censors with “world-tree cuttings [that] root / in rich waters.” Others of us, caught mid-scream, continue screaming. “Half trunk half scale all drowning,” we belong nowhere, we have nothing. Still others of us have too much: too much hunger stoked by “sleeplessness and fear…” Too much loss, too much pain. And, yes, some of us are feeding the serpents—but on our terms. We’ve turned our difference into Instagram influence and our admirers understand when the “body is swollen with fog.”

In the end, despite all injunctions, we the crooked talk straight among ourselves. Perhaps we meet “once weekly in a moon- / less annex of the community health center” or at the bus stop; maybe we commiserate in Discord. Spies cannot understand all we say. Dismayed eavesdroppers turn away. But even in silence, we speak. Listen…

Lisa M. Bradley

Lisa M. Bradley writes everything from novels to haiku, usually with a speculative slant inflected by her Latinidad. Her debut novel, Exile, depicts a young woman’s desperate attempts to escape the street wars of her quarantined hometown (Rosarium Publishing, July 2019). Her short fiction and poetry appear in numerous venues, most recently Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Anathema, and Rosalind’s Siblings. In addition to being Poetry Editor for Uncanny’s special issue Disabled People Destroy Fantasy, she is the coeditor, with R.B. Lemberg, of Climbing Lightly Through Forests, a poetry anthology in tribute to Ursula K. Le Guin (forthcoming from Aqueduct Press). She is also a maternal-looking Murderino, the most dangerous kind. Follow her—if you dare!—on Twitter (@cafenowhere) or check out her website: lisambradley.com.

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