After Amazon ran out of everything, we kept layers of curtains drawn, like cumulonimbus veils, and bolted chainlink over that. We whispered (even cuss words), wore slippers—noises attracted eaters. They were clowns—probably; they did paint their faces. Spicy odors preceded them, along with incantations that immobilized their prey (us). Wet cement was an effective barrier, but concrete mix had vanished from stores. The Big Deal, read a huge sign outside Menards, where we’d trekked to make sure. From inside a floor-model gazebo, a trumpet segued into “2,000 Light Years from Home,” then the flapping of enormous clown shoes.
F. J. Bergmann edits poetry for Mobius: The Journal of Social Change (mobiusmagazine.com), and imagines tragedies on or near exoplanets. She has competed at National Poetry Slam as a member of the Madison, WI, Urban Spoken Word team. Her work appears irregularly in Abyss & Apex, Analog, Asimov's SF, and elsewhere in the alphabet. Her dystopian collection of first-contact expedition reports, A Catalogue of the Further Suns, won the 2017 Gold Line Press poetry chapbook contest and the 2018 SFPA Elgin Chapbook Award.