behind the self-help section

behind the

false wall

lies all the

burned books—

banned and


they shimmer,

glittering in their


ghost words

that send shivers

down unknowing shoppers’


when these patrons

traverse too close

to the self-help


covered in goosebumps

hairs standing straight on their arms

these readers don’t realize that

they’ve brushed up

against the living dead

their souls still hung

shifting, uneasy

behind the false wall

where the phantom outlaws

condemned words

aching to have eyes pass over them



(Editors’ Note: “behind the self-help section” is read by Joy Piedmont on the Uncanny Magazine Podcast Episode 33B.)


D.A. Xiaolin Spires

D.A. Xiaolin Spires steps into portals and reappears in sites such as Hawai’i, NY, various parts of Asia, and elsewhere, with her keyboard appendage attached. Besides Uncanny Magazine, her work appears or is forthcoming in publications such as Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, Analog, Nature, Terraform, Galaxy’s Edge, Fireside, Andromeda Spaceways (Year’s Best), LONTAR, Argot, Star*Line, and anthologies of the strange and beautiful: Deep Signal, Ride the Star Wind, Sharp and Sugar Tooth, Broad Knowledge, Future Visions, and Battling in All Her Finery. Select stories can be read in German, Vietnamese, Spanish, or Estonian translation. She can be found on Twitter: @spireswriter and on her website:

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