Penglai Shan

the eight immortals greet
visitors to Penglai Mountain-Island
with cups of poisoned rice wine, saying
“we can’t live without it”
and that’s true
for them

dreams do not die
as we do, and dying we become
the stuff of dreams —
so, visitor, reach for the cup
nearest to your hand
and don’t be afraid

the Queen Mother of the West
never lets on
how demure she is

after laying beneath the Three Stars
with the newly dead
in their cups

on Penglai Mountain-Island you must be
above all
polite, if you’d find your soul again
and learn to dream
as the immortals dream

of physicality

[WC Roberts lives in a mobile home up on Bixby Hill, on land that was once the county dump. The only window looks out on a ragged scarecrow standing in a field of straw and dressed in WC’s own discarded clothes. WC dreams of the desert, of finally getting his first television set, and of ravens. Above all, he writes, and has had poems published in Strange Horizons, Apex, Space & Time Magazine, Mindflights, Aoife’s Kiss, Eternal Haunted Summer, Star*Line, and others.]

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