the detective 4: safeways


A detective and his client journey through the post-apocalypse, seeking what lies beyond the obvious sea. Here is part 1.

We walk for hours towards a hidden horizon
where the distant bivalves are silvery phantoms,
photoluminescent contradictions
in the darkness.

My client has her axolotl armaments,
and I might be brave, but I’m myself—
a frightened woodland creature
seeking refuge from the restless night.

She makes a stop sign with her hand,
although it’s not hexagonal.

Over there a building stands.
We’ll rest until the daylight.


I’m awakened by a dream of death
to find that I’m alone
with packs of batteries, pegs,
and colorful party favors.

Further down the aisle,
where the shelves are penned and papered,
an old man’s writing explanations of his mistakes
in schoolboy repetitions.

The time has come for me
to be
the detective I was meant to be.

In an aisle of gaudy bottles and boxes,
person A
(my nomenclature, which may be accurate by coincidence)
is sorting all the product on the shelves,
arranging like with likeness,
disinfectants and detergents,
air fresheners and abrasives
scented with a hint of bleach.

A warning sign reads, Slippery, I’m afraid.

Next across, persons B and C
are combing, brushing, and spraying on
a range of promised miracles
or their money back.

The denizens of the pet food aisle
have no interest in chemical dreaming
or bacterial annihilation.
Cat D is snoozing, while cockatoos E to R
peck at packages of seed, the shelving,
and supporting structures.

Still further on, amongst the fizzy drinks,
I find homologous axolotls X and x
guzzling Fanta through straws with stripes.

My head is filled with clues.
It’s time to add a dash of logic
and stir continuously.

All of us are shipwreck survivors,
together and alone, the desolate
remainder of a division we never understood,
and in the parking lot, my client’s sea
is surging in a storm.

Her dream, her stolen fantasy,
was prescient, an omen
now become intransigent reality,
and beyond her sea, the bivalves
are inevitable.

And yet I have some doubts.
What’s the role of the cockatoos,
the cat, and penguins S to W
whom I forgot to mention?

While I’m puzzling, I remember
that I heard my client calling out to me:

We have to get away from here.

But without an exclamation point,
I didn’t pay attention,
even though the axolotls
scurried off to join her.

That was quite some time ago,
and now a rushing sound disturbs
my mental merry-go-round.

to continue

Usually the obvious solution to any problem is incorrect, simply because it’s obvious. As new solutions come to light, they must be discarded as incorrect for the same reason. Generally the most absurd, nonsensical solution is the right one, but because it will never be obvious, it will never be found.

after sunfall (part above)


29 thoughts on “the detective 4: safeways

  1. oh boy, you are spinning my mental merry-go-round…
    Some of those lines really made me laugh out loud. Such a great, thought provoking, enjoyable ride, as usual.
    And your About…dug me further into a spiritual place. (And being a Christian, I enjoy that. Thank you.)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You always seem to nail the human condition with such beautiful poignancy and humor, Steve. And I am learning a lot of big words! I love how the animals are going about their business, blissfully unaware.

    Favorites: “Slippery, I’m afraid.”
    “All of us are shipwreck survivors,
    together and alone, the desolate
    remainder of a division we never understood,”

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks BG. I have some sympathy for the innocent animals, although the cockatoos tear the street lamps apart here, and unfortunately sometimes the cats kill ringtail possums.

      Have to admit, I was pleased with the”remainder” line. For me, sometimes life feels like that, quite apart from an apocalypse. Thank you again. 😃

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Steve hehe I agree with boomergirl! I read with my finger gently resting on the dictionary. I love your adventurous nature. If I could only shrink and spend a day sitting on a chair in your mind sketching. What a trip that would be.
    Always your talent rises to the top. 🙂 I look forward to part two.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Tamaya. You have quite the imagination. 😄 I am wondering what you would see, but I suspect it would be very boring. The question is where do ideas in the arts come from? Maybe it’s a little like Murakami’s marvelous novel “Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World,” where the protagonist can use part of his subconscious to encrypt (or scramble) data–I’ve always thought the brilliant Murakami was talking about his own creative process.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh Steve! I believe I would see a lot hehehe. Remember I am primarily a visual person, your extremely wild imagination delivers so many images and they come from inside your head. I have always imagined thoughts and ideas as little people running about in our heads. Probably why I have been drawing little people within the walls of skin and bone hehe. You have again introduced me to someone I had no idea Murakam existed. I just googled him and have bookmarked some books for my next trip in town. I like the explanations very much. Throughout my youth, if I was caught reading a book it meant that I have time on my hands and would be put to work. It has taken so many years to outgrow that restriction. Poetry is the first form of literature that I read for pure pleasure, this is why I enjoy the creative explosions I read so often. Thank you for being explosive ehhe

        Liked by 1 person

        • My pleasure Tamaya. Being stopped from reading in your childhood is pretty terrible, I’m glad you’ve overcome it. I hesitate to make recommendations because people have very different tastes. I’ve read most of his novels, I love them, but I wouldn’t recommend his most recent from “1Q84” on. “Hard Boiled…” is one of the early ones.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Yep, definitely hooked. The axolotls drinking Fanta through a straw, the penguins, there’s enough clues but is there enough time? (Time will dawdle and creep until the next instalment – and I’ll have to occupy this narrow edge of my chair till then.)

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.