"Monstrous Regiment" and "Palliative"

Monstrous Regiment

            after Sarcophagus Depicting a Battle between Soldiers and Amazons, 140–170 AD


If this was a video game, your armor
wouldn’t be so functional, wouldn’t cover much
of the breasts we don’t discern at first. Back then,
the curiosity was just that you were female:
your writhing isn’t erotic, but only analogous
to your antagonists’ desperation. Perhaps they raped
male prisoners too. Pale marble, corporeal ghosts,
through the ages you’ve struggled as much with sex
roles as with your merciless opponents’ forces.
All of you lopping heads or kneeling in surrender
(and what gender was the sculptor?) or galloping
toward eternity on your small horses. Struggle on.




No point in more surveys, even with a safe-conduct,
nor in print; nonetheless, we traverse the gravel roads
with simple educational leaflets, distributing them
among small country villages, speakers blaring anti-
propaganda from the roof of our rust-mottled Mazda.
If it’s natural for some types of people to act that way,
then maybe de-naturing is what’s needed. If we’re going
to go down, let’s go down flaming. The two-party system
bats a shuttlecock of trivia, caked in fake, back and further
back; we are the net, immobile, invisible, watching the news
and its paid-for-by ads hemorrhaging floods of money
that could have been put to far better use, while we propel
the oarless coracle of our leaking credulity up a certain
well-known estuary. Some efforts can only be palliative.



F. J. Bergmann

F. J. Bergmann is the poetry editor of Mobius: The Journal of Social Change. She lives in Wisconsin and fantasizes about tragedies on or near exoplanets. She was a Writers of the Future winner. Her work has appeared in Abyss & Apex, Analog, Asimov’s SF, and elsewhere in the alphabet. She thinks imagination can compensate for anything. She recommends the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Wednesday, September 14, 2022 - 22:03