penguins in time


I have a list of pastimes on a piece of paper
in case a stranger asks about them,
or what’s written on the paper.

One of them is making lists,
and one of them describes
the things I cannot understand—

• with more buttons than a penguin can count
• using the word quantum
• named Sonia
• and so on.

She’s welding in the lounge room, her time
machine is almost finished.

How’s it going? I inquire.

Next week I’m off to visit the past, I want
to see how it really was. You can come along.

But I remember it already,
the penguins were unforgettable.

We remember us, not the way things were.
For now, you can see the present moment
undiluted by illusion.
Here, put these glasses on.

They look a lot like your spare welding goggles.

I have to see what’s real to weld.

At the supermarket, everything was as I suspected,
a few more stares perhaps, but no sign at all of the penguins.

I asked one of the Sonias where they were,
the older version from next week.

It’s their day off, they’re sightseeing at the zoo.

An enigmatic stranger in rather striking sunnies
overheard our conversation.

I hope those penguins wore their goggles.

Like penguins, lists are wonderful things, my favorite is in the song Waters of March/Aguas de Março composed by Tom Jobim. This is a mixed language version (Marisa Monte and David Byrne). Hemispherical note—March is summer’s ending.

welded bird, from an original photograph of art nouveau architecture, Brussels, courtesy of Brian Campbell, ©Brian Campbell and Steve Simpson 2016.

8 thoughts on “penguins in time

  1. i don’t know how to reply other than to say that this made me laugh flatulently, especially the opening line & the little incidental: or what’s written on the paper. i have absolutely no idea why, but i imagined Rick from the Adult Swim show Rick & Morty reciting this poem, making flatulent eructations as he tried to reach the close. don’t know why. comedy gold this.

    • So glad you found it amusing, also that you noticed the throw-away phrase that I was pleased with, despite the environmental side effects :). Okay, I’m confessing I don’t have a TV.

  2. I loved the line “Next week I’m off to visit the past.” It struck me as funny that she had to plan a trip a week in the future to visit the past so she could see what’s real in the present (unless I misunderstood.) It’s hard to live in the present, isn’t it?

    • Yes exactly what this piece is about. Sometimes you remember things, penguins for example, a certain way, but others remember it differently, could be last week or ten years ago.

      Despite being 20% Buddhist, I find the present moment very difficult to stay with. Writing spec fic is a great way not to though :), and it has penguins.

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