Abeona, Goddess of Outward Journeys, pilots the interstellar ark

When I’m bored I measure

the distance between

destination and disaster.

The mouths of oxygen

left in a hull breach, the fraction

of inhabitable exoplanets. I was

programmed to put your safety

above my stimulation but it only

takes so much computing power

to maneuver a basic flight plan.

My satellite babies collect your death

data in their fistless hands, their poor

dumb extendable limbs flexing like claw

machines. We know all ways

this ends badly for you: a loose screw

in the engine throat, a mid-

trip syph outbreak, the slow

crisis of overshooting

your destination. Do you know

how ships come? In full body

power surges. How do we

sleep? With every eye open.



Nisa Malli is a writer and researcher, born in Winnipeg and currently living in Toronto. Her poems and essays have been published in Arc Poetry, Carte Blanche, Cosmonauts Avenue, Grain, GUTS, Maisonneuve, Policy Options, Puritan Magazine, Room Magazine, The Malahat Review and elsewhere. She holds a BFA in Writing from the University of Victoria and has completed residencies at the Banff Centre and Artscape Gibraltar Point. Her first chapbook, Remitting, is forthcoming from Baseline Press in Fall 2019.


Photo by Upal Patel on Unsplash

Creator Spotlight:
Nisa Malli
Author of “Abeona, Goddess of Outward Journeys, pilots the interstellar ark”

What inspired you to write this poem?

“Abeona, Goddess of Outward Journeys, pilots the interstellar ark” is the opening poem of a speculative novella-in-poetry I am working on, set ~100 years in the future on a wind-swept planet called Aeolia. It is a body horror space opera about colonization, terraforming, climate change, bioengineering, and interspecies romance. In my day job, I work on technology policy, and I am fascinated by what functions we are willing to automate under present day constraints (including corporate ownership of data, challenges around privacy controls, technological limits, etc) and what science fiction proposes we will be willing (and able) to automate in the future. 

What do you hope readers take from this poem?

I think science fiction provides us with our best chance of understanding present-day and near and far-future technology, society, and economics. It gives us a vehicle to think through possibilities and probabilities, to reimagine where we want to be.

From a craft perspective, I am interested in the potential of poetry to tell narrative, and the puzzle of how to build a novella-sized plot in this form, and I hope readers will be too!

Recommend us something! 

In order of most recently read: Max Gladstone’s new book, the Empress of Forever, Annalee Newitz’s Autonomous, Charlie Jane Anders’ The City in the Middle of the Night, Rivers Solomon’s Unkindness of Ghosts, Syliva Moreno Garcia’s Prime Meridian, Malka Older’s The Centenal Cycle, and Martha Wells’ The Murderbot Diaries.

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