John C. Mannone has poems in speculative journals such as Space & Time Magazine, Elixir, Nebo, Eye to the Telescope, and speculative poems in literary journals North Dakota Quarterly, Foreign Literary Review, Le Menteur, Poetry South, New England Journal of Medicine, and others.

He won the Dwarf Stars Award (2020) and the HWA Scholarship (2017). Some literary distinctions include: Impressions of Appalachia Creative Arts Contest poetry prize (2020), the Carol Oen Memorial Fiction Prize (2020), and the Joy Margrave Award in nonfiction (2015, 2017). He was awarded a Jean Ritchie Fellowship (2017) in Appalachian literature, Weymouth writing residencies (2016, 2017), and served as the celebrity judge for the National Federation of State Poetry Societies (2018).

His collections are Disabled Monsters (Linnet’s Wings Press, 2015), Flux Lines: The Intersection of Science, Love, and Poetry (Linnet’s Wings Press, 2021), Sacred Flute (Iris Press, 2022), and Song of the Mountains (Middle Creek Publishing, 2023). He edits poetry for Abyss & Apex, Silver Blade, Liquid Imagination, and American Diversity Report.

A retired physics professor, John lives in Knoxville, Tennessee.



Why worry about all the natural
disasters, like the universe throwing
stones at us the size of giant mountains
(like the one the dinosaurs had to deal

with sixty-seven million years ago)?
Or that hyper nova in our quadrant,
if not a gamma ray burst that’ll ruin
our atmosphere and make a noxious goo?

Our own sun could lash out a super flare
to singe the very air we need to breathe.
What about right here when our volcanoes seethe?
Pyroclastic flows will also bury prayers.

And the rest of the list? The truth is clear:
Hatred/Greed—it’s ourselves that we should fear.

(a nod to Edvard Munch Der Schrei der Natur)

The ground rumbles, shakes
my insides much more than
usual when the geothermal
geyser pressurizes to spew.
It’s a surprise this caldera is
sixty thousand years overdue
to erupt like a super volcano.
I know—I studied Yellowstone
too long. I stared at the face
in Munch’s painting—the sky
behind her, fire-tongued with
Krakatao’s anger—blood red
and scarlet, tinged mustard
like death. More rumblings,
a wave of adrenaline courses
through my veins, I try to get
hold of myself as fear erupts.
I pray it is not today. I worry
there are far too many dead
volcanoes to prod, too many
cores of earth to sample, test.
But the smell of sulfur is much
too thick—all hell’s breaking
and flames lick the sky with
the enormous infinite scream
of nature—maybe it is time.


Jagged pines edge the field and the moon waxes full at dusk. By the woods, an anxious wolf crouches, salivates; waits for the right moment. The sheep gathered in the pen. The air is still, so the ovine don’t sense the creeping danger.  The wolf approaches, closer and closer. The sheep finally notice the wolf. It’s too late. Frantic bleats intensify. The wolf is ready to pounce.

It’s all over quickly: teeth tool into spikes as wool uncurls like sprung ribbons of razors, hooves morph into claws—wolf blood gleams on their sheepish lips.


Perseus holds her head by the snakes of her hair; her ghoulish eyes glare a stone-cold night, death chiseled in her eyes as August meteors fall—and Absinthe, too. It plunges into rivers, poisoning—bodies bloat, lips contort around swear words still stuck in their throats. They float on a greenish surface full of addiction and hallucination—ravage of fallen spirits. By whose horoscope but Horror’s itself?

Do not be dismayed: fire will purge, wind will sift chaff from wheat, water will wash us clean, but first, the earth will coffin our dust. Then our spirits will be set free.