Judges’ dilemma: good Space Western Senryū—don’t require a bribe. — ed, N.E. Lilly

First Place

Red sands of Mars

My footprints alone

Stretching back to the horizon.

Mark L. Van Name: Good space western tie and human feeling.

Second Place

Cowboys on a ship

have no cattle to lasso

so they rope tribbles

Honorable Mentions

consciousness exists

only in its echoes:

who can resist shouting?

”  Mark’s Pick: Lovely mix of images and human emotions. Barely a space western, but close enough in tone that I counted it.

flashing lights of stars

dance never-ending cancan

squinting eyes shrivel

Mark L. Van Name: Very good images and human counterpoint. Barely a space western, but close enough in tone that I counted it. A very close second to being my judge’s pick.

alive three months

Sterling-Suit lashed to hull

Jake burned on re-entry

Mark L. Van Name: Nice irony and ties to space westerns.

on the range

space cowboys apply

SPF 5000 sunscreen

Alana Joli Abbott: Because getting a sunburn out in the black is mighty painful.

Standoff under two suns. Fire!

Still Standing. No blood. Oil drips.

Damn robots.

We hesitate to welcome

the artificial:

tomorrow we won’t.

Mark L. Van Name: Not at all a space western, but I liked the simplicity of it enough that I gave it a high score.

stagecoach floats empty,

bushwhacked at asteroid gulch,

seals broken, skull-like

throughout robot ghost

town, metal cows quietly rust,

lowing like chimes

Seamus Kevin Fahey: evocative… dig it.

Ships blast off for space

for the asteroid roundup;

rocks for lunch again

Alana Joli Abbott: The last line of this one made me laugh out loud. There’s such disappointment implied that this must be a regular occurence. Rustling those wily asteroids and only getting rocks for lunch? It’s a rough life!

for sale: plexiglass

stetson — oxygen filter

noisy, but still works

”  Alana’s Pick: I love the construction of this poem: the advertisement placed in the paper on a frontier planet for a used stetson surely has a story behind it. I can almost hear the sound the old, used filter makes, and imagine the dings in the old hat.

coughing up red dust

a dental practise, absurd

he plays out his hand.

Seamus Kevin Fahey: random… in a good way

shot of whiskey

the whore reaches for my gun

with her tentacle

Seamus Kevin Fahey: I get the western, I get the sci fi, I get a moment… what’s not to like?

planetary rings,

sagebrush moons, red-tailed comet —

ranch’s back forty

he was fast and slick

eight pistols simultaneous

from slimy holsters.

Alana Joli Abbott: This is why the best gunslingers have multiple arms—or tentacles as the case may be. I wouldn’t want to play poker with this fellow either. Brilliantly done!

meg’s missing

in the circus-ship’s wake

and its sad-eyed, mouthless clowns

Mark L. Van Name: My nominee as weirdest, which I consider a good thing.

Seamus Kevin Fahey: I like the description… and I know a girl named Meg…

echoes of mirth

metal grips the hard man

where lust had hoped for flesh

Mark L. Van Name: Good images.

Breaking human hearts

With bullets or cold silence

Is the outlaw way

Telepathic horse

but the horse can’t speak and the

sheriff don’t speak horse

bullets fly spaceward,

nicking moonlets — gunfight at

zero-g corral

In space

Lone Ranger’s lovelife

Absolute zero

he was a half-breed

which side would he choose

the reds or the blues?

”  Seamus’ Pick: Clever way of taking on the challenge.

Nathan E. Lilly is the editor-in-chief of SpaceWesterns.com and a man who wears many hats.

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