"Scorpions" by Chris Fox

After writing all night, I awoke
to find scorpions in the shoes of my sentences.
So I went barefoot.

Later, the scorpions became
words, almost--
phonetic with exoskeleton,
grasping and pinching,
stinging at the world with interrogatives.

Later still, scorpions and shoes became
sentences about scorpions, shoes
and sentences.

It's hard to write with pincers,
hard to type
with shoes on the feet of my hands,
hard to love you the way I do
when you keep mistaking the shape of my body in profile
for a rhetorical question
and I desperately need
your answer.

originally published in Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet No. 16, reprinted with permission of the author


  1. Heh. That is a terrific poem. Thanks for posting!

  2. What a wonderful poem. Thanks!

  3. This is hardly a 'SF poem' - if there is such a thing. The use of body and/or nature in figurative interplay with words/language is very common in contemporary poetry, and has been done much better by Seamus Heaney or Don Paterson, to name just two. And I find the 'turn' is not cute, but cutesy - in other words, trite.

  4. Resoinding to Lee's comments: Well, first, yes, we're called the Science Fiction Poetry Association, but we happen to be of a mindset that includes fantasy, horror, and the unclassifiable within the umbrella term of science fiction. (Heck, we even voted on that issue last year when we contemplated changing our name, so I can official say that the SFPA is 'science fiction' is intended the same way the Science Fiction Book Club means it: you can find all sorts of otherworlds here.)

    So whether or not this is technically an "sf poem" has nothing to do with whether or not it's eligible for the Rhysling Award. (Quite a few of the winners in the past 5 years have been poems with fantasy themes, by folks like Tim Pratt, Theodora Goss, Sonya Taaffe, Ruth Berman. The 2001 winners, by Bruce Boston and Joe Haldeman, were both personal confessional poems.)

    As for whether there "is such a thing' as sf poetry" ... that's a question I keep seeing raised, that I personally find amusing. The idea that a poem that has an sf theme, or is based on sf assumptions, isn't an 'sf poem,' to me has the same logic as declaring, "you can't have orange soda. It's all just soda." But of course, poetry is so much more fluid than soda, so to speak, and the boundaries are far blurrier....

    And, Matt, yeah, we're going to make sure your noms get in this year. :-)

  5. Just to prove that I do know some grammar:

    So I can officially say that SFPA's 'science fiction' is intended in the same way the Science Fiction Book Club means it.



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