Abandon Normal Instruments
Arkady Martine

There isn’t any such thing as you.
(And now there really isn’t.)

You protean exile! All narrative, all trick.
All abnegation of humanity.
A succession of images
– apophantic messiah! alien traveler! –
encompassing their own negation.

But this is how to make a god:
The total dissolve of the self into meaning. Gone.

You practiced. I’ve watched you kill the narrator in public
More than once. Suicide by adulation –
The shapes of you a murmuration of sacrificed selves, turning in the air
Impaled on the altar of our stretched-out hands
Savage – wonderful – devouring you like smoke feeds gods

Everything designed.

January. Alone at my desk I am dissolving too.
The space of you closed like a thunderclap.
It is not you but the mask that speaks.
I am at last outside myself.



Cloud Wall
Arkady Martine

The city does not love you as you wanted to be loved.

Don’t be surprised.
These ways are inhuman ways:
no midnight phone calls,
no possessive hand curved on your waist
when you stood on the pier
and took the sea-wind full in the throat.
Nothing of the city is only and ever yours.

(You were there the night the last one went into the water.
Black windbreaker flaring unzipped, his face
a featurelessly distant smudge descending.
A man does not survive such poetry. You knew—)

But the lights are a garland on the river.
You are shakingly cold. This is a vision given to you,
a high-wire communiqué from some impenetrable and dancing god.
You spent a week
knees tucked under your chin,
the dawn sliding grey-gold
over the glass and the steel.
The machinery is inescapable.
A net of bridges has caught you up.

You could drown of luck.
Never anywhere but the right place:
the hissing iris of a subway door; the club’s
bright and razored lacuna of your night.
Snow fell for ten minutes out of a clear sky.
I told you not to be surprised. It was the new year
and you were hardly human yourself,

ready to dive into the Hudson and come back
a bride-ring clutched between your perfect teeth.


“Cloud Wall” first appeared in Strange Horizons (2014). 

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Arkady Martine
Arkady Martine is a speculative fiction writer and, as Dr. AnnaLinden Weller, a Byzantine historian. In both capacities she writes about border politics, rhetoric, propaganda, and liminal spaces. She was a student at Viable Paradise XVII. Arkady grew up in New York City and currently lives in Uppsala, Sweden. Find her online at arkadymartine.wordpress.com or on Twitter: @ArkadyMartine.