The New Ways

The old ways were lost on a dusty road between
Orion and Abora, sewn with the splintered skins of stars,
tracked in spirals, where once a small boy
fit Jupiter in his eye. It became a habit with him, the vast—an ocean fell
out of his mouth, and in it he rolled
the planets up with small green snakes,
made cormorants of his mistakes,
until his blood ran cold.

Three centaurs wearing bowls of glass
in a vision once I saw
they were a mesh of light and shade
and through the vastness whole they neighed
singing of bright Carina.

The new ways were found tucked inside a nautilus shell,
spat up from the swell—a missive white and tiger–striped,
a particle from waves. Cradled against the ear it spoke
old names in careful sequence, hummed
a path to walk in spirals, drummed
the silence ‘til it broke—and hatched
uncanny creatures mixed and matched
to thunder through the air, ablaze,
to toss their fractal hair, to raise
a thousand voices in a song
of praise, of wonder, loud and long—

the new ways will cost
they sang as they flew
but they flew so high.

(Editors’ Note: The Uncanny Magazine Podcast Episode 1 features “The New Ways” read by Amal El–Mohtar.)


Amal El–Mohtar

Amal El–Mohtar has received the Locus Award, been a Nebula Award finalist for her short fiction, and won the Rhysling Award for poetry three times. She is the author of The Honey Month, a collection of poetry and prose written to the taste of twenty–eight different kinds of honey, and contributes criticism to NPR Books and the LA Times. Her fiction has most recently appeared in Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, Uncanny Magazine, and The Starlit Wood anthology from Saga Press. She lives in Ottawa with her spouse and two cats. Find her online at, or on Twitter @tithenai.

5 Responses to “The New Ways”

  1. Uncanny, issue 1 | Brewing Tea & Books

    […] “The New Ways” by Amal El-Mohtar I listened to this on the podcast, but I had a fever yesterday and frankly I was sleepy so I should properly read this again if I am to be fair to it, because right now I don’t remember it at all. […]

  2. Amal El-Mohtar's The New Ways Nominated for an Aurora Award - Uncanny Magazine

    […] El-Mohtar’s poem “The New Ways” from Uncanny Magazine Issue 1 is nominated for Canada’s prestigious Aurora Award for […]

  3. The Poetry Project: Amal El-Mohtar - Pretty Terrible

    […] “The New Ways”, Uncanny #1, November 2014 […]

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