Three Poems by Gregory Kimbrell

These poems by Gregory Kimbrell take the language and tropes of tech, sci-fi, and ancient myth to create a new parable of identity and self-construction, suggesting the timelessness of our struggle to impose inner and outer meaning and order on experience: This is the fate of love/ against a background/ of cinema/ and nuclear destruction.”

by: Gregory Kimbrell

Translation: Trauma・Layer

The security door is closed, but the bar
is still crowded. And like words written

in the memo, the brain-enhancing drug
is inert, yet not wholly harmless. Vapor

travels through the steel frame filled by
electric lights with a white fluorescence.

In an automated system like this, it’s all
too easy to sublimate a need into a vice,

self-reflexive vacancy that locks in only
on built-in targets. Our weapons wreck

ground and air, but we congratulate the
android simply for obeying its directive.

The hostname in hexadecimal language
means assassin. It’s a corruption of our

most ancient game. This petrochemical
gas burns everyone’s eyes so they don’t

open, but it smells like death. However
safe the area, droplets of blood inside a

clear glass jar aren’t clear. The hands of
the black clock move counterclockwise.


Translation: Biophoton・Fog

When the yellow poison collects inside
my heart, the cells change into a brittle

surface. Lost in that yellow network of
fever, I’m scared. I’m not chasing after

the shadow of death. But under yellow
light, new, yellow sediment results. It’s

moored in my body, dependent on the
network for assembly. I’ll go to the lab,

enter my pyramid. I won’t be executed.
Light didn’t erode the night. The night

was made of fire. Cell God, dark silver
wheel, I listen to the name in my mind.

What hope could you have for me still?
You overtook my skull, found the way

to lift the spinal armor and capture the
light. You’ll destroy my brain the same

way. You can manipulate death. Under
my flesh’s enthusiasm you are fire, and

the water flows down, like flame, from
heaven to me. We all are opportunities.



In the heat of summer,
brain fluid reeks of belief.

The tube explodes,
and soldiers open doors.

Whether you want God’s light
or the devil’s fleshy desire,
the wind at midday
is hot.

The creeping of time
dries and yellows bone.


The devil entertains us,
cutting open his head
and letting out
the cats.

They descend
on the lion road
to where we live
in the housing complex.

You taught me to love
the hidden fire.
If names leave my mouth,
none will be yours.


The lion’s command
is not divine.
An iron hand
holds my head to the block.

In the breach of winter,
the bones disappear.

This is the fate of love
against a background
of cinema
and nuclear destruction.

Even a bad man
wants to destroy evil
in others
and open a path in the dark.


Gregory Kimbrell is the author of The Primitive Observatory (Southern Illinois University Press, 2016), winner of the 2014 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award, and The Ceremonial Armor of the Impostor (Weasel Press, forthcoming). His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Abyss & Apex, Fearsome Critters, IDK Magazine, Impossible Archetype, The Operating System, Otoliths, and elsewhere. More of his writing, including his sci-fi/horror magnetic poems and erasures, can be found at

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