J.D. Harlock

The Woman Who Wasn’t There 

In a moment of despair,

I killed the man I could not scare

I killed the man I could not bear

I killed the man who wasn’t there

Then I wandered through the ware

Then I wandered through the air

Then I wandered on a prayer

In a moment of despair

For he’d beat me,


He’d beat me 

in his care 


He’d beat me 

beyond repair


He’d beat me 

in that lair


He’d beat me 

on that chair

In fact,

He touched me….


He touched me 

right there….


He raped me…..


He raped me, 

I swear….

And… And…

It doesn’t end there…

The liquor had made him worse for wear 

And with a snare

He chased me…


He chased me…

up those stairs….

And then he… And then he… 

pulled my hair…

And on his face was that awful glare….

And I still can’t…


that I’ve won…

And no one 


what I’ve done

For I’ve told no one, 

but you

What would happen 

if they knew?

Because I killed the man 

who killed me

I killed the man, 

Can’t you see?!

We Are The Forgotten 

I – Knowledge 

We are the forgotten,

the restless souls that will never be at peace,

haunting the lower quarters,

were those who remember us dare not go.

Beneath you

our souls have been left to rot

Above you 

the rabid cries of those who want to let them suffocate

Yes, I understand your concerns.

I have heard it all before.

But nothing will be done 

Nothing can be done. 

We are the eternal guests of this wasteland,

this barren hell

where nothing ever lives 

and nothing ever dies

It’ll always be like this

This is all I know

And all I will ever know.

II Clarity

I am told

we were once humble souls

who took pride in the roughness of our hands,

and the wrinkles of our skin,

that could tell you stories 

of love and labor

dating back generations 

But now we stalk the crooked alleyways 

always keeping to the shadows

Hoping to remain unseen

Lest the wrong eyes catch a glimpse 

Of what they hope they could forget

with an onslaught of scorn

Our cobbled roads lead nowhere

Our promised land is nowhere to be seen

All we have is a memory,

Ever fading, ever-elusive

Slipping out of fingers

that have been lined with cuts and puss

for so long

we’ve forgotten what it feels like

to latch onto something, 


and not want to scream

Thankfully, I have no life left in me to scream,

no tears in me to cry,

because after all those years

it’s clear to me now

We will always be forgotten

The Dead Man

Lo and Behold…

These are the dead lands.

These are the dead people

Watch them rot and decay— 

before your very eyes.

There is the crooked hill.

There is the crooked crow.

Watch it skin and guzzle— 

before your very eyes….

Now watch… as this crow flutters… with its broken, blackened wings through a sea of corruption to perch itself on tar…

It will then turn to me… 

its only solace in these lands— 

and ask:

“What exactly are you…”

My friend, I will say. 

I was once among the living. 

I was once a man— 

the jewel in his suitors eyes, the envy of his peers—

—but, as I grew older… and knew less of myself… and who I was… slowly came to realize that… I could only find comfort in….. dead things and dead people….

And so… 

I abandoned the only home that I had ever known— 

traveling far and wide to every corner of our young world— 

to savor the little comfort I found in the company of men…

That, and that alone, was enough to keep me… anchored… for as long as I could hold on and collect myself—

That is, until that emptiness overwhelmed me again and I was compelled to move on wherever the cobbled roads took me.

But… when I had seen all there was for a man to see, I was finally overcome by the darkness…. and… in a moment of desperation plunged myself into depths unknown…


….that’s when I found myself, here… in these lands… long ago… when I had a pulse… when I had a thought… 

But soon found out that— 

they would serve me little here… 

among the dead things and dead people…

In this madness, I screamed out— 

But they did not care.

In this madness, I screamed out— 

But I did not care.

That was when I knew.

This was where I was meant to live.

This is where I would always live.

This is where I have always lived…


It has been ages… and ages… since….

I can no longer remember when or why I came here.

My heart has withered away.

My mind has turned to ash.

I am no longer whatever I used to be.

But I dare not go back.

For I have always found comfort in… dead things and dead people….

I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,

And Mourners to and fro

Kept treading – treading – till it seemed

That Sense was breaking through – 

~ Emily Dickinson

Born with Asperger’s Syndrome, I’ve suffered from the ire of a society that stigmatizes mental health and treats the mentally ill with disdain my entire life. When symptoms of Bipolar disorder began to appear, the atrocious mental health care I was forced into by my school only compounded my troubles and ended up ruining any hope I had in a fruitful academic path that wasn’t reliant on my aptitude in the humanities. Now, I’m forced to make ends meet with odd jobs in the western short SFF market.  The Lebanese financial crisis has made it near impossible for a business graduate to find gainful employment, especially one that isn’t demeaning, draining, and disrespectful to the time and money put into acquiring said degrees. Though I have an American passport, I can not afford to move there, and must bide my time, until that is feasible. Not that I have high hopes for it. The U.S. isn’t Europe or Canada, and is as bad as Lebanon in a lot of ways. I’ve reached a point where it’s too late to do anything about any of this, other than write, reflect, and write again.

JD Harlock is a nonbinary writer/editor based in the Middle East. He/they are the poetry editors at Solarpunk Magazine & Orion’s Belt. You can find them on Twitter @JD_Harlock.

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