the end of the first inter-apocalyptic era

The planet is cocooned in a hydrolithic sheath,
formed from the vaporized detritus
of ancient modern living.

Its mysterious condensates and fractionated hydrocarbons
hide the Martian battle fleet, hovering above
in orbital geostasis.


My neighbors came to me on a quiet Sunday morning.
An intervention, they informed me,
because I’d been infected by Deija Thoris.

They listed all my symptoms. I won’t go into detail,
although it must be said that I rarely cleaned
their windows after midnight.

It was true that I’d met Deija once
—the Martian Princess of Glass—
when her troops were razing Wollongong.

She came close, with optical correlations
of the near and far shining in her Windex eyes.

No-one will miss it, she told me, We’ll do Dapto too.

I said nothing, and she came closer still.
What will you think when you’ve thought
all your thoughts?

I had no answer. My neighbors were right,
and I would never forget her.


Besides, you’re an acolyte of the darkest arts:
logic and science, that led us all astray.

That was Andalucía, who lived next door.
Her pet dragons were always sooting up
my window panes.

I responded with a jaunty confidence,
and I would have gesticulated too,
but they’d bound me tightly
to the jacaranda in the yard.

Our breathing necklaces
are entirely scientific

quantum molecular aggregators.

We all wore them, to survive
in the oxygen-depleted atmosphere.
Mine was fashionably transparent.

Nonsense. They’re enchanted, they summon
breathable air from the planet’s distant past.

The dragon on her shoulder puffed a tiny cloud
in my direction.

I changed the subject.

Would you kindly loosen the barbed wire,
and bring my crayons and coloring books,
so that I might pass the time?

But my well-intentioned neighbors took no notice.
They went their separate ways, to do whatever
uninfected people do on a serious Sunday morning.


After a while, I noticed a flickering around me,
accompanied by a smell of burning carpet,
as if my hair was smoldering.

High above, I saw a brilliant flaming line,
an unnatural sunrise, an inferno consuming
the hydrolithic clouds.

The suspended crystals all around my house
began to tinkle in the spiralling convective winds.

By good fortune, that very morning,
I’d cleaned them thoroughly with Windex.
They glittered brightly in the firestorm,
starlight flashing like a cosmos in miniature.


  • Windex is a trademark of S. C. Johnson & Son, Inc.

alternating realms, we would all like to choose our planet: youtube video made with VEE, the visual evolution engine.

23 thoughts on “the end of the first inter-apocalyptic era

    • Thanks, Nikita. It all seems to make sense to me, although I can’t explain why. It’s partly that, with the grim facts of an apocalyptic scenario, I wanted to lighten the mood.


  1. That ending would be unpleasantly familiar to all too many people lately. I hope the cleaning helps and the hero of this tale survives. Although you do not say that it will continue, it would be interesting to see what comes next.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, although I wasn’t thinking consciously about climate change, after last summer here, and seeing what happened in California, I think it’s embedded in the background.

      Glad you’re curious about what happens next, but I’m not thinking about continuing it at this stage. In the future, who knows?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.” — Isaac Asimov. That’s especially important if your neighbor’s pet dragons soot up your window panes. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting, I’d never come across that Asimov quote before.

      Fortunately, I don’t suffer from the protagonist’s fetish in the real world.

      In terms of assumptions, which may not be based on a lot of data, I guess Asimov is saying not to have a closed mind and ignore evidence available around you: good advice.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Jim. That would be Peter, Paul and marijuana, I imagine. 🐉

      Dapto’s location might be useful if you played Australian Trivia. When I worked in Wollongong, and drove through Dapto regularly, I never once stopped, apart from red lights. Before that, I think I had a flat tyre there once.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I like the melding of the domestic world with the fantastical. The work has a homely feel about it, the interaction with one’s neighbours and the cleanliness of one’s windows. I enjoyed this, Steve, this marriage between mundanity and mythology.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Paul. In some sense, it’s my own reality. The windows, and, more importantly, the lawn and garden at my place, are an unfortunate stain on the well-manicured neighborhood. Luckily, my real-life neighbors are pretty good about it, they know what I’m like.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Beyond imagination Steve I don’t know how you do it. ‘What will you think when you’ve thought all your thoughts’ is brilliant Something other than thought maybe? Breathable air from the planet’s distant past again is a uniquely magical phrase. I love the mysterious artwork

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. Running out of imagination—writer’s block— is one of my many concerns. I’m not talking about giant ten-legged fire spiders from Rigel 5, like the ones that are unsuccessfully trying to hide in my backyard, I’m talking about… Hold on, that’s the problem, I don’t know what I’m talking about. 😸 Glad you enjoyed the possibly art.


    • Glad you found it entertaining. At this stage, I’m not planning to continue, too much else on my plate, although someone else also expressed an interest. I’m a big fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom. Occasionally I’ve re-read novels by authors I admire and found them rather dated. One could nitpick some aspects of Barsoom, but the series was ground-breaking and timeless. And it uses the Planetary Rhyming Convention. 😸

      Liked by 1 person

    • Ah that’s too bad, but I understand having a lot to do! Maybe I should try re-reading, if you say its timeless then that’s promising – and I did not remember this Planetary Rhyming Convention! Nice 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, time can be hard to come by. I have to admit that I get a lot of recommendations of books to read, and mostly I don’t. Everyone has different tastes, focuses on different aspects, and I know my own tastes have changed quite a bit through the years, although still centered on scifi and fantasy.


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