a lonely wolf call in
desiccated rivulets,

the call penetrating past
sinuous rilles

as winding as the
curves of marian rivera

trails off
in the cold, thin air

a lone bot treks
crushing martian rubble

under eight symmetric wheels
it grinds red stone to dust

on its rickety shoulders
on its way to the pinoy colony

a used filipino flag pole
the first one of fifty years ago

when the astronauts
left the overpopulated moon

and started new quezon city
on this rust-tinged terrain;

faded blue and worn scarlet
an amber sun with geometric rays

hangs radiation-tattered
from this pole’s end

along with two swinging buckets

dripping precious sticky solvent—
syrup that evaporates almost as soon as it falls

he roves towards faint radio static
with hints of kundiman detected by his keen antenna

through the red regolith
the stunning sopranos of sylvia la torre

three minutes of pure joy
in every forsaken hour of airtime

he flexes metal-cast lips into an awkward shape
and makes a vibration

he thinks it humming (though it’s more of an electric buzz)
and calls out again


to the nothing that surrounds him
there is still at least one martian-day’s trek

before civilization
he pauses and adjusts his solar-panel cap

letting the rays hit the sweet spot
an exchange of mobility for sparse photons

from beneath the pole on his shoulders
in titanium alloy buckets

the silken tofu begins to slosh

stopped sudden in its tracks
and guided by inertia

the only fluid mesophase
touch of liquid

for miles

aromas of caramel arnibal mingle with
the tangy bite of auburn dust

plump sago pearls bob in bucket #2
the only lively dance in a day’s radius

so sweet and so moist
against arid rock


he shouts again
as dawn approaches this vacant expanse

a treacherously saccharine dessert
to feed this deserted landscape


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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