Sunday, June 22, 2014

Poetry Review Special Feature: "Cosmic Conflict" by F. J. Bergmann

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present "Cosmic Conflict," a previously unpublished poem by F. J. Bergmann.  Ms. Bergmann writes poetry and speculative fiction, often simultaneously, appearing in Black Treacle, Bull Spec, Dreams & Nightmares, Lakeside Circus, Silver Blade, and a bunch of regular literary journals that, according to her, should have known better.  She is the editor of Star*Line, the journal of the Science Fiction Poetry Association, and the poetry editor of Mobius: The Journal of Social Change She won the 2012 Rannu Fund Speculative Literature Award for Poetry, and her fourth chapbook, Out of the Black Forest (Centennial Press, 2012), won the 2013 SFPA Elgin chapbook award. She is not shy about admitting that one of her pseudopodia can reach all the way from the bedroom to the refrigerator. She frequents Wisconsin and

Cosmic Conflict
F. J. Bergmann

Anger was a valued trait among the alien Crab Nebula
beings, whose totem resembled a lion, not a lamb.
The Crab Nebula
Cathartic releases of pure spite; elaborate public
displays enacting ineffable, vitriolic hatred; and
ecstasies of memorable viciousness were
fueled by surrender to self-indulgence, as if
granting one's own dispensation. Escalating
hostility was the only safe way to reach
into another creature's mind, the sole anti-
jeopardy position of strategic advantage.
Keeping any entity held dear safe from attack
led to accusations of cheating or unethical
mawkishness and would initiate a pogrom:
neither gravid matriarchs nor litters still in
oocyte stages were shown any mercy. No
pains were spared to ensure ardor or to recap
quibbles that created more grounds for pique.
Regret, however, was an effete delusion, for
sissies and milksops. They felt a mild distress
thinking that others might mistake a warrior's art
under battle conditions for cowardice, or imbue
venomous subtleties with the taint of failure to strive.
We Terrans were their enemies too, of course, by now:
xenophobia came as naturally to them as violence and sex.
Yet sometimes they dreamed, in mid-slaughter's revelry,
zazen-like, of peace flowing over them like a gentle breeze.

Poet's Notes:  I find that working with arbitrary restrictions (vocabulary, form, etc.) seems to generate my best poetry. The double-abecedarian form is especially onerous if one is to avoid awkward or unnatural choices for beginning and ending words (even with cheating on "advantage," "pique," "imbue," "strive," and "breeze"). As always, I choose my words carefully and hope that they are not misinterpreted by the reader.

Editor's Note:  Prosaic pieces such as this one are usually a tough sell for me, but Ms. Bergmann's mastery of the double abecedarian form more than makes up for my bias.  Not a single beginning or end-line word is forced, and her free verse has a gentle rhythm which moves the poem along nicely.  Her ending is a wonderful surprise.

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