the anaerobic flow



In the beginning, my home was a barracks
filled with strangers.

With picks and shovels in gloved hands,
we dug sephine from the earth,
from glimmering veins of pale crystals,
soft like melting snowflakes.

Not the lightest touch with our flesh
was permissible, and no-one told us
where it came from, or where it went,
but our toil meant food and lodging.


From a broken-columned building on a hill,
a refuge for the weary and befuddled,
I gazed out over trenches, contoured
like rice paddies on the slopes,
where soldiers with weighty weapons
scanned the horizon’s invisibilities.

And all of us were sure an enemy
was out there.


I spend the night in the remnants
of suburbia, beneath bedclothes
of papered garments, torn and burnt,
and awaken in the cold sun’s light to
mechanical roars and muffled booms:
the endless march of the new machines
to solemn drum beats.

Between two partial pullovers,
haemoglobic and chlorophyllic,
threaded with four knitting needles,
I find a scrap of paper:

Remember writers, your opening
page must draw the reader in,
because you might not write

I hear a sound and scramble to my feet,
dress myself in the motley pullovers,
arm myself with the knitting needles.


My visitor is humanoid, her skin’s
translucent, glimmering
like deliquescent sephine,
and within, I glimpse fine traceries
of veins and intraskeletal structure.

Her voice is soft and soothful.

“So few of you remain
—blood and water, bound
by carboniferous bonds—
but the further path
of evolution is waiting.

“Come with me in my machine.
We’ll traverse the six toroids of the multiverse,
visit the voltaic crystal ranges,
admire their volcanic silver flames
that burn in defiance of infinity.

“We’ll tour the inverse lattices, where
time spirals outward from lunar suns
shining on the beach of future dreams,
and we’ll fly my Plymouth satellite
to the far beyond,
to celestial sea tongues
made of Olbers stars,
where the quantum N-Whales

“But first, take off your clothes,
I’ll have to bury you in sephine
until you suffocate.”

“Will it hurt?”

“Don’t be a baby.”

I’ve started using an online grammar checker. It loses count of my mistakes and displays an emoji something like this: 😨, which I can relate to.

The Undreaming Path, made with VEE, the visual evolution engine. Still from Ablative Promenade II.

9 thoughts on “the anaerobic flow

    • I wanted to cover the timeline of an apocalypse, and I needed years. It seemed reasonable to start in the present, Perhaps it’s how I see the world currently, including what might be happening that we don’t know about.

    • Thanks Margarisa, haha. When I first wrote The Flow, suffocation and death were mentioned, but I didn’t want to make it sound even more uninviting. I have to admit I’ve written about sephine quite a bit, and when it’s used, the consequences are generally regrettable. This is the exception. Possibly. 😸

  1. A cinematic piece Steve, brimming with apocalyptic vision. It’s like a novel or a movie compressed into a poem. Some wonderful imagery too:
    “We’ll tour the inverse lattices, where
    time spirals outward from lunar suns
    shining on the beach of future dreams”
    A treat, as always, Steve!

    • Very generous words, Jim. In part, it’s me being a little optimistic about the end of the current world. I do like to hide in fantasy. At present here, coming into winter, there’s a very heavy morning fog, which softens the edges and adds a mystical touch to Sydney suburbia. It doesn’t inspire me to write or art or whatever. I just sit around drinking coffee and listening to music. I need pollution, smoke from bushfires, pandemic warnings, to actually do anything. 😸

    • My pleasure of course, Vanessa, and so glad you found a bit of light relief. My mood oscillates, but I try not to share unrelenting darkness. I think that just the act of writing something others will read changes my mental state, somehow confirms that there’s sunlight out there in the world.🌞

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