rewound world 10: open the curtains of the past


Previously on the Rewound World: four travelers searching for a luminous future beyond the apocalypse were dawdling in a café with very little to offer when the bearded waiter announced that he knew all their secrets. The first episode is here.

The waiter tore off his imitation beard
with flair, uncovering a more modest
beard beneath.

Much more will be revealed, he declared.


Dearest Deirdre, you seek salvation
in the natural philosophy of physics.
And yet beneath this very table,
a theory of alfalfa grows.

We all looked.

How green it is, yet pale, soft, and moist.
Does more than this require contemplation?
Don’t you know that nature’s nuts and bolts
are fixed with nuts and bolts?


Spectral Paulo, who once dined on humble salted crackers.
You daintily partook, but the blushing cheese
and perfumed baklava, the barely pickled herring,
were left upon their plates.

Their contact with your tongue
was far 
too multifarious,
their scents undid your senses,
unravelled all your thoughts.

You were waiting for another world:
after time, a second chance at living.
You thought timidity might still pass for virtue,
and now it’s all you have.


Anthropomorphic Ada, made of mysteries,
magic, and mechanics.

No no no, you say, when you confront
conceptual alfalfa, 
I must adjust
my trimming capacitors
with an insulated screwdriver.

Unaccepting of yourself,
you languish in the corner of a corner
where numberless magicians defy the numerate.


He turned to me.

And you. Your formless thinking
rises from the vacuum that the horses
of von Guericke 
failed to dislodge.

You’re everyone’s exaggeration,
a competition of addictions,
desperately seeking Martians
as if the burning earth were merely fiction.


After smokes and drinks and laughter have dwindled
in the salon, when you seek pluperfect secrets
in tricks of light that falls on motes and lolly wrappers,
remember you were touched 
by grace.

to continue


Title from Aquarela do Brasil, Ary Barroso (1939), João Gilberto version.

Otto von Guericke, of whom I have a small bust given to me by a visitor from the University of Magdeburg. Otto demonstrated that teams of horses couldn’t pull apart the Magdeburg hemispheres when they were joined to form an evacuated sphere. I suspect the horses didn’t try hard enough.

The bearded waiter’s error: there is no “after time” (or “before time”) because “after” and “before” only have meaning within the directed time stream.

Some stills from Kaosa, a video made in collaboration with the photographical alchemist Paul Sutton (insta). Kaosa will be shown at Articulate in Sydney: Articulate Turns Nine, 7-22 December.

21 thoughts on “rewound world 10: open the curtains of the past

  1. So much to like about this exceptional piece and it’s focus on sensuality.. I love the character of the waiter, ‘the theory of alfafa’ and the insulated screwdriver. My favourite passage was ‘Unaccepting of yourself, /you languish in the corner of a corner/ where numberless magicians defy the numerate’. Also enjoyed your series of images reminiscent of decay and change.
    Steve, I invite you to participate in the Community Poem on my blog at All you need to do is write one line in response to the opening line which is ‘She was the only titanium woman in the village’. More details on my blog. ☺️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Nikita. I’m hoping to finish off Rewound World, and I wanted to flesh out the characters a bit.

      I finalised the collaborative video for the Articulate show today, with soundtrack. It will be interesting to see what people think of it.

      The community poem is a great idea. As you know, I’ve written a brief meander, and I’m looking forward to seeing the final piece.


    • Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed. I apologise for the delay in replying. This summer has been particularly difficult so far in Australia with widespread fire storms burning the bushland, a preview of a possible future. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to pass. I would like to wish you and yours all the best for 2020.


    • Thank you, Paul. I am finding it difficult to focus on fantasy poetry at present with more bush fires on the way (and other events in the world). Part of me wants to inflict on these fictional characters what humans probably deserve. No doubt I’ll change my mind several times before I write again.


  2. “Don’t you know that nature’s nuts and bolts
    are fixed with nuts and bolts?”
    If there are infinite layers of nuts and bolts, maybe it’s better to stop peeling off layers (for sanity’s sake).
    If the bearded waiter is mistaken about the nature of time, he could be wrong about many other things.
    Your writing blows my mind, Steve. Take that as a compliment. 😉


    • I agree, Magarisa. In the real world, the answer is quantum mechanics and Heisenberg uncertainty which limit how deep we can go. Mind you, they do create other problems. 😸 I have some sympathy for the bearded waiter, at least he tries. Thank you, and I hope your mind recovers. 🌈

      Liked by 1 person

  3. have been away from WP for sometime, attending to life and all the boring stuff. very happy reading this, have missed the way I can just float on moonbeams immersed in your stories. beware those waiters, sometimes they can be house elves in disguise, they know more than they can say. after and before thoughts are simmering in my brain stew now. are they just signposts we ignore when want to trick time?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you enjoyed, Gina. I’ve been struggling even with once a fortnight on WordPress, and the effects of climate change on the Australian summer have made it even more difficult, both in terms of time, and having my thoughts in the right place to write.

      I think that time itself is even trickier than house elves. We live within its illusion; in a sense, all our perceptions are made of time, and we cannot see outside it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • i understand the struggle to keep on blogging, it’s been something I have issues with too, time as always is the enemy and alibi..huh?! you’d think living this long with it we knew how to tame it.

        The effects of that climate change is so far reaching and just too devastating. We watch helplessly.

        take time for yourself, you know your readers and admirers are always loyal to your work. be blessed Steve and be safe.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Jim, and for pointing that passage out. I was influenced (in a general way) by Pablo Neruda’s Oda al caldillo de congrio (Ode to conger chowder). It’s a very sensual piece, and, if not for Latino exaggeration, you might even think he had something else in mind. 😸


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.