Night and day were mid-grey corridors
and everyone was bees and ants,
exchanges without and never within,
until people started vanishing in pairs,
a magician’s trick without a trapdoor.
Nominal leaders declared there was no need to worry:
statistically, you might be fine;
and hermits were in the headlines,
flashlit in their sorry caves.
Unwilling volunteers were strapped on rails by robots,
and laser verniers in lab coats did their math,
argued, and decided.
The minimum safe separation
before an unexpected vanishing with a perfect stranger
was half a meter, give or take an open hand or heart.
Dayglo public transport warnings
spread the message to terrified commuters,
and the morning peak hour grew to meet the evening.
Avant-garde thinkers, never left behind,
devised profitable solutions
for every random human purpose,
and mentioned on the Morning Show
by the charming Isabela, Succubus of the Year.
Tango wasn’t quite the same,
and a haircut featured levered scissors,
a cord and pulley wheels.
My hairdresser, in his telescopic glasses,
apologized, and sponged my blood
with cotton wool wrapped around a stick.
Yet hashtag disappearedaswell was a never-ending avalanche,
through mishap or intention,
and couples crossed with stellar confusion,
lost in calor humano, were lost again.
When Amelia’s auburn hair had grown quite long
and my bloodied ears had healed,
we decided on an interpersonal investigation
inside the minimum distance.
For our final earthly moments, we chose a park
from a finite subspace of parks nearby,
and brought a picnic lunch with a fold-up yardstick.
I felt some marginal concerns around our pending evanescence,
and as we raised our glasses to imitate a friendly touch,
I asked Amelia what might be waiting beyond our world,
with a casual quaver in my voice.
I’d expect a B-grade movie plot—
flying saucers from the kitchen cupboard,
actors dressed in colorized robes,
pointless and unconvincing.
Better than atomic vaporization, then.
to continue to a second and final part
- Dayglo is a trademark of Day-Glo Color Corp.
- My favorite tango is blue (Leroy Anderson, 1952), it has a sense of inevitability.
- Plan 9 from outer space, considered by some to be the worst film ever made.
- The story is set in the same universe (it’s actually on the same planet) as the Omégaville series, where Isabela is a well-known media personality.
artwork a finite subspace (detail above)