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King Arthur Wakes in 2023

By Tania Chen in Issue Nine, June 2023

   It's in pieces: the mind, the Kleenex box with torn openings,
   the cables and cord extensions stretched out like the markings of where a round table would be.

   The no ending, unending, infinite: the sense of loss;
   warm metal carrying the intermittent ticking of the electric surges, Excalibur without its scabbard

   this is an old place with the hummingbird flimsy red plastic feeder swinging from the balcony two-steps from disintegration. No castle, no crown.

   His mind goes: void, spark, frisson—a supernova born consciousness within the roots of jacaranda trees, violet blooms turning mulberry under the clouded sky.

   The Kingdom has come knocking before the past has finished calcifying in the recesses of his heart. Hope rises, sleepy-eyed and says

   this world needs him, with his dry hair still scented from centuries-old shampoo, to survive. Awake, half-hoping the tea-burnt tongue is not too thick to swallow

   Choked-off grief, choked-off fear. Merlin's silhouette devouring each and every doubt. Beyond the door they wait.

© 2023 Tania Chen

Tania Chen

Tania Chen is a Chinese-Mexican queer writer. Their work was selected for Brave New Weird Anthology by Tenebrous Press and has also appeared in Unfettered Hexes by Neon Hemlock, Apparition Lit, Strange Horizons, Pleiades Magazine, Baffling Magazine and Longleaf Review, among others. They are a graduate of the Clarion West Novella Bootcamp workshop of 2021 and a recipient of the HWA’s Dark Poetry Scholarship. Currently, they are assistant editor at Uncanny Magazine and can be found on twitter @archistratego or mastodon at @archistratego@wandering.shop.

Poetry by Tania Chen
  • King Arthur Wakes in 2023