Red Waking

Ann K. Schwader

Red Waking

(Olympus Mons)


Our nightmares have turned seismic here beneath
the shadow of this lost volcano raised
above its planetary rivals. Grief
of molten eons, layered myth explained
by stalled tectonics occupy our lives
in quantifying nothing. Quiet reigns
untainted save for quivers amplified
toward tangible—enough to keep each day
in motion. Yet imagination roils
below the brittle surface of our sleep
like magma, intimation of a noise
our blood cannot forget. We stifle screams
& tear our bedding, desperate to erase
the silhouettes of sleepers in Pompeii.


Author’s Comments:“ Red Waking” mostly came from an EarthSky newsletter article, “Is Mars still volcanically active? New study says maybe” (May 22, 2020): The notion of Marsquakes and possible magma still flowing deep beneath Olympus Mons triggered memories of a museum exhibit I’d been to many years ago, featuring casts of some of the bodies (or shells thereof) discovered at the site of Pompeii. The possibility of Olympus Mons going active again is beyond extreme – but isn’t that what spec poetry is for?

Ann K. Schwader’s next collection of dark verse is forthcoming from Weird House Press.  Her poems have recently appeared in Spectral Realms, Dreams & Nightmares, Star*Line, Abyss & Apex, and HWA Poetry Showcase Vol. VII.  Her most recent collection, Dark Energies (P’rea Press 2015) was a Bram Stoker Award Finalist.  She was the SFPA Grand Master for 2018.

Editor’s Notes: This is an American sonnet complemented with a surreal volcano art of Olympus Mons (a Josh Lewis illustration in Highlights Magazine for Children.)

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