Black Petals Issue #104, Summer 2023

Editor's Page
BP Artists and Illustrators
Mars-News, Views and Commentary
A Question of Money: Fiction by Eric Burbridge
Behold, a White Horse; Fiction by Spencer Jepma
Crawling Flesh: Fiction by Michael Stoll
Elm Weaver: N. G. Leonetti
Hunger: Fiction by Mark Jabaut
Mr. Fuzzypants: Fiction by Paul Radcliffe
Stop the World: Fiction by Roy Dorman
The Road Less Taken: Fiction by Albert N. Katz
The Washer Woman: Fiction by Sophia Wiseman-Rose
Underneath the Sheet: Fiction by Hillary Lyon
Shining Up Grandma: Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
The Children of 666 Middle School: Flash Fiction by M. L. Fortier
Bleed: Flash Fiction by Liam Spinage
Good Times: Flash Fiction by Ronin Fox
Time Lost: Flash Fiction by Bruce Costello
Unhappy Shadow: Flash Fiction by Paul Radcliffe
Cemetery Road: Poem by Joseph V. Danoski
Chasing Desolation: Poem by Joseph V. Danoski
Detroit Jurassic: Poem by Joseph V. Donaski
Colonia Somnia: Poem by Bianca Alu-Marr
The Precipice: Poem by Bianca Alu-Marr
Dread: Poem by LindaAnn LoSchiavo
Home Movies: Poem by Christopher Hivner
Peppermint Twist: Poem by Christopher Hivner
There's Always Tomorrow Night: Poem by Christopher Hivner
Joke: Poem by DJ Tyrer
Ceramic Duck: Poem by Pete Mladinic
Choice: Poem by Pete Mladinic
To Stop the Killing: Poem by Pete Mladinic
Reaper: Poem by David Barber

David Barber: Reaper



David Barber



Oh, you know, you carry on as best you can.

Some would offer payment for such conversations,

and snap pictures of coffins at the graveside.


It seemed our Visitors forgot old beginnings

now that their flesh renewed itself endlessly

by clever tricks of the science we envy so much.


Soon it was rumoured that they’d asked to see

the moment when the hiss and thump of life support

was turned off, though they’d expected more


than just the settled stillness of a body,

the flatline, and a silence afterwards.

Not a body, we explained, a coma patient.


Mostly, loved ones squeeze the hand of the dying

as if to stop them slipping through their fingers.

We saw them savouring our words like fine wine.


These days they pay top dollar to watch a death,

live as it happens. Special rates for executions.

Also euthanasia, for the connoisseur.   




The End

David Barber lives in the UK. His poems have sometimes appeared in Star*Line, Apex, Strange Horizons and Asimov’s. (He framed the cheque). Though nominated, he has never won the Rhysling Award.

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