Sci-Fi Pantoum

Chworktap left Lalorlong with Simon
While seeking the answer to the primal question
(Why are we created only to suffer and die?)
To live as immortal space wanderers.

While seeking the answer to the primal question
Simon and Chworktap tumbled into love,
To live as immortal space wanderers,
Against the improbable odds of the universe.

Simon and Chworktap tumbled into love
With preserved consciousnesses and unnatural long lives
Against the improbable odds of the universe.
A lady robot and a human man

With preserved consciousnesses and unnatural long lives.
They were adrift in space and the space between
A lady robot and a human man.
O’ longevity! Inadequate measure of fulfillment!

They were adrift in space and the space between
Deep thought and its conclusion.
O’ longevity! Inadequate measure of fulfillment!
Consider the Universe! Filled with emptiness.

Deep thought and its conclusion!
The primal question is an empty question.
Consider the Universe – filled with emptiness –
Emptiness has been decided on.

The primal question is an empty question
Still highly considered, though emptiness is not.
Emptiness had been decided on.
For more of the same basic experience,

Still highly considered, though emptiness is not,
Chworktap and Simon bypassed emptiness.
For more of the same basic experience.
Any punctuality at the edges of space is such a lust.

Chworktap and Simon bypassed emptiness
Like so much water in a dirty tub.
Any punctuality at the edges of space is such a lust
That unnatural long lives forsake empty space.

Like so much water in a dirty tub
Emptiness is not non-reality.
That unnatural long lives forsake empty space
So what was known shall always be.

Emptiness is not non-reality.
Chworktap left Lalorlong with Simon
So what was known shall always be.
Why are we born only to suffer and die.

Eclogue

Partially, your truth spoke. They’ve nearly carried it all away.

You and they.

Those winded cedars rose to the sun on boulders.

How could they be louder? Buried feet may not be winged.

 

O’ Lover! it ran downward, its carving grew.

I stole it from you, for you! The scent!

I’ve begged it wash me from you. Anoint

Surfeits of evil.

 

Ghosts! Shepherd, listen, “A wish is induced

by a sudden change in the wind’s decay. Shall we

to the water’s edge?” Go then, bathe in what’s left.

As If

In the sight of paying passengers crews stomp dusty work days

into boot-prints on not yet hung brass ceiling tiles. Passengers gawk

at the business of the business of the illusion of luxury travel.  

 

As if the passengers pacing the marble tiles in King Street Station

hadn’t purchased their tickets on the backs of cold transit mornings

and yet un-noticed fuck-ups, as if their tickets made them new,

 

they gawk. As if they don’t expect to return to see those same

        boot-prints

hung as if some long gone passengers climbed the polished marble

and walked upside-down among the pounded-brass-lilies.

Excuse My Feet, Please

Kurt knew how to walk lightly over the forest’s delicate carpet, but didn’t. He moved westward through spindly ponderosa pines scrunching dried litter under his feet and avoiding the sprawling prickly pears, though their needles had grown rubbery and harmless. He scouted for hope, any sign, of a returning natural world. There was no hope. Kurt knew it, and he assumed he knew why. They had all made up their minds to leave Earth.

The last, the vultures, the slugs, the maggots, even mushrooms and molds, and all the rest, left after the feast. The world’s population was reduced to the humans and any tree or shrub that could be easily sown and kept alive; that was, until the soil became useless and other methods of creating oxygen had to be invented. The very last to go were the vultures. Kurt wondered about this. The vultures’ bodies, and any human who died after the extinction, at the absence of any species useful at decomposition, remained on earth unchanged. He wondered why the vultures should be chosen, if a choice it was, to mock the last species clinging to the end of life. The old poets had reserved the raven, or the swallow, the thrush, and sometimes eagles as the birds of great change. Perhaps the poets were afraid of being too trope-ish or cliché to assign so obvious a symbol to the changing worlds in their poems. Whether or not it was cliché would never matter anyway, this cycle was the last laugh of the natural world as it left earth for good.

The extinction was eerily quiet in the news. For a while, after the oceans dumped their dead on the shores of the still, sort of, living, the conservationists and the scientists argued on CNN and Fox about the causes and coming affects, but new news happened and human life seemed to go on much as it always had. Though, without the need for ecological based restrictions, industry spread exponentially.

For one, since human bodies could no longer decompose, and there seemed to be something gravely unsettling about planting a person in the ground to remain unchanged for ever, there was a great demand for crematoriums. The sharpest businessmen jumped at the demand, purchasing all the permits and rights to cremation and with an oligopoly over the disposal of human bodies set to creating a new and lucrative economy.

The morgues, at first, grew to be the worlds largest private economy, it was assumed that from their wealth could be found some panacea from the extinction. They became like banks. They loaned money, provided funeral insurance, and of course collected the dead to be cremated. The human compulsion for control remained as blindly ironic now as it had before the purge.

For a while ashes were spread ceremoniously by the families.

Crematoriums were discovered to be greedy fat bodied scavengers, bodies were piled and burned by the dozen. Once the families of the dead learned that inside the precious urns were little more than soft white orgies people’s sentimentality slowly waned. They stopped trusting the insurance services provided by the crematoriums. They forfeit their memberships. There was still great need for cremation. But the people wouldn’t pay for it. So the crematoriums wouldn’t burn. Some folks built their own furnaces. They were arrested. It was dark.

It was the work of a small group (a million or so), the last remaining members of the old Tea Party, who thought to arrange the bodies of their members at the steps of the crematoriums, watching endlessly (the eyes were the worst part, they would not stay closed. The common theory was that the eyes remained a window into our world when the soul had left). It would be the catalysts to the crematoriums’ backslide. They would become more like disposal facilities.

The mortician-businessmen, owning all the necessary permits and rights to human disposal, hadn’t counted on a ruling by Judge Mary Abbey which lay responsibility for human disposal squarely on those who owned the rights to human disposal. The once lucrative business became a duty, the permits were non-transferable, not that anyone would take them, and the businessmen became public servants.

Kurt was moving into the dead silence of the forest to go the way of the rest of the animals. If a forest it could be called. The air, if air it could be called, held the motionless scent of plastic. The ground squeaked like Styrofoam. He passed an ancient stock tank; a pocked, frozen, tub mould. Even in his childhood it wasn’t useful to its purpose, it was just a muddy pit, he walked there with his mother some evenings. His mother thoughtfully named it Travis Lake which offended his father whose best friend inspired the naming in his declining phases of alcoholism. Travis died a shadow. He was dying for a long time until one day he wasn’t dying anymore. It came as a relief to his friends who had watched his slow death, helplessly.

The only eyes on Kurt were those of the fat, still, vultures perched as timeless sentinels on cardboard remains of colorless pine trees. Kurt would find his own perch; and there remain.

Ghazal

First thing in the morning
On stainless steel when the lights come up

And the first tinny percolations
From the coffee come up

And the first violent soliloquies
From the stinging slap of potatoes comes up

And the cold outside is all forgot
As fingers embrace and fresh heat comes up

And the first head nods match blade strokes
Cutting through Mirepoix as the beat comes up

And the first customers pace the deli case
Dan races to begin before the sun comes up.

Is it a gentle rain? seems to be

tracking my window
long, raised, glimpses
into a distorted dimension

Douglas fir bends
impossibly
growing downward

from a blanketed sky

the mind is saddened
by things out of sight
which pass me by

beyond the window
what I see from the couch
trying to ignore the t.v.
I wont turn off

wooden fences
built in the spring
stand like haunting
after winter breaks
grey, bowing, laced in moss

naked deciduous
peer over the half painted
fixer upper’s real estate sign
leaning into its fate
across the street

The Man Who Gave His Awl

I’ve often stirred my coffee with the barrel of my pen
And oftener let both sit at the edge of my desk
That they go too cold to be useful to me

But now, with age, my hands have an un-sate-able shake
And my wish is to grip my coffee without the scalding drip
To stir it without leaving my pen sunk to its nib

Grief

I wanted to write a poem about grief. But I couldn’t get past the first line. I wanted the poem to exaggerate the emotion. Not only the griever’s. But also the consoler. The consoler wants to share stories of his own grief. But the time is wrong. The griever wants to be okay. But it’s okay to not be. And I was stuck at the first line. And the first line turned out to be the last line also. And that’s not much of a poem. This is my poem about grief:

That’s really too bad.