How to Leave the Planet

Edited by Dominik Parisien

Copyedited by Chelle Parker  | Selected by Julia Rios

February 2020

Listen to this story, narrated by Daniela Acitelli:

Airborne birds: easiest, still impossible. fly
up and out, pump your wings hard
until the air thins into blazing light
in the darkness. panoramic view of
the junkyard below is not to be

Lampreys: feed on diseased
blood, food, and scientific fodder
for the stars, until you explode. your pieces will
cycle carbon, nitrogen, water, rock,
for eternity.

Fire salamanders: the fire isn’t real until you find
one. your plume of ashes is visible from
the space station.

Shrews: dig down until the pressure
caves tunnels. curl your venom
into a ball to be distilled into
diamond. wait.

Humans: others first, then us. blast cliffs for
diamonds until no fingerholds remain
unharvested. fall.

© 2020 Hal Y. Zhang

About the author

Hal Y. Zhang

Hal Y. Zhang is a lapsed physicist who splits her time between the East Coast of the United States and the Internet, where she writes at She has a language-and-loss chapbook, AMNESIA, from Newfound, and a women-with-sharp-things collection, Goddess Bandit of the Thousand Arms, from Aqueduct Press.