Astynome, After, by Mike Allen

The Fates persist in fractal layers,
the tapestry they weave
spreads fingers, grips skeins
the work itself a weaver,
that winds yet another copy
through the warp, piling colors
until the shuttle gives rise
to coils of minute artisans,
who wind the reverse sides
of countless lives until the scene
that draws me out arrives,
threading stone and flesh,
kings, priests and generals.

Ships high in the backdrop,
goddesses squeezed to the margins,
moving pieces of a single surface
that can only, you believe,
be unbound by blade or fire;
I kneel, stitched, between
my father and my captor,
studiously recording notes
as my body is bartered,
auditor of my own plunder,
or so the thread has cast me.
The men that surround me
gaze at each other, my cage
strung by lines of sight.

Yet on other planes I too weave,
not more copies but a reprieve,
your light and cunning the warp
you provide without knowing.
Map what my reed has marked,
string dark whorls into letters,
mouth a word to guide my weft,
spin plague from the wrathful sun.

Echoes across centuries still
hammer tremors of the scourge
that made Agamemnon quake.

Sickness gels in shadows
that no light will dispel
until you have freed me,
granted me the final spree
begun by the myopic dreamers
who returned me to my father
and left my thread trailing
in the Lethe. From the fluid
in your spine and throat
I wade ashore, my cords
wound around yours, worms
looped around the wooden hook
that twines them to the surface.
I peer out through your windows.
I am owed, owed outlets
for pent-up combustion and shocks.
I deserve to slash the holy,
burn the priceless, drop antiquity
three stories and giggle
as it shatters and fissions. We
will wind my new fate
full frontal, we will brave
Ptolemy’s wobbling spheres,
hopping from disk to disk,
and at the edge of the universe
we’ll pay the Moirai a call,
you keep them talking
while I transmute their spun wool
into a gunpowder fuse.

Two-time World Fantasy Award finalist Mike Allen edits and publishes the Mythic Delirium Books imprint. His short stories have been gathered in three collections: his Shirley Jackson Award-nominated debut Unseaming; The Spider Tapestries; and Aftermath of an Industrial Accident. His novella “The Comforter,” a sequel to his Nebula Award-nominated horror story “The Button Bin,” appeared in an anthology of four dark long-form tales, A Sinister Quartet. Mike is also a three-time winner of the Rhysling Award for poetry. You can follow Mike’s exploits as a writer at, as an editor at, and all at once on Twitter at @mythicdelirium.

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