“Peace Reigns” by Mack W. Mani

Every summer
he returns to that place,
the humid Florida air
taking him back
to the methane swamps
and cramped helmet of his biosuit.

He has triggers,
noisy machines
and bumpy roads,
insects sometimes
scorpions or spiders,
deep sea creatures on tv
reflect the scars
of his subconscious.

He doesn’t drink
as much as he used to,
but still has to sit
alone sometimes
to kill the anger
and remind himself
that he has escaped.

He reads graphic novels
and when his hands don’t shake,
he paints images both vivid and surreal:

The American flag
planted atop a rust red mesa,
a rifle trigger slick with blood,
the thickness of their world,
a yellow smog obscuring
chemical jungles.

He told me once
that every step there was a struggle,
their gravity twice that of the earth’s,
but while waking he will not speak
of the ruins they left behind
of the ghosts they made
of the incinerate gold-black haze of their Sun.

He is thankful to be home
but I know that he carries that place with him,
their world as much a part of him now,
as all his time on earth.

Mack W. Mani is an American poet and author. His work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Neon, and The Pedestal Magazine. His screenplay “You and Me and Dagon Makes Three” won Best Screenplay at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival in 2018.

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