In an unsatisfactory narrative sequence, the forgettable protagonist, who is alone even in his dreams, realized he could hear the motor that turns the universe through timelines. A while later, an apocalypse came along, and the humanoid Delfina told him it would be best if she buried him alive in sephine.

We’d escaped the alien mechanisms,
their aleatoric annihilation of all life,
and reached a stretch of cratered
parkland at the Menai.

Delfina had been right enough about the sephine.
I was certainly less dead than I might have been,
but I wasn’t the human that I once was,
and I shared a little, told her
about the engine at the edge
of the universe, how it shifted
our reality across the timelines.

“Yes, yes,” she spoke as if it were sucking eggs,
“My trans-reality cruiser works the same way.”


We found it easily enough,
but the Plymouth Satellite
wasn’t as I’d imagined.

The rusting coupé had no wheels,
its axles rested on bricks,
and it was overgrown with pumpkin vines,
flowering in penta-petalled tumeric.

I took the passenger seat, ignoring the springs
escaping from its tattered beige upholstery.

Our frantic flight from the mechatronic invaders
had paused, and I wanted to inspect my new body.
I undid the remnant buttons on my shirt.

Delfina was modestly transparent,
and after my sephine interment,
I was too.

I’m no biologist, but I recognized
my ribcage, and the pulsations
of a somewhat heart, pumping
a pale fluid through tangled conduits.

My sense of self was suddenly anxious,
and the pulsing accelerated.

I buttoned my shirt to hide my heart,
turned to Delfina, and tried
for calm and casual.

“Delfina, I’ve been wondering,
what sort of creature have I become?
Am I alive or just mechanical?”

“Pathetic terrestrials, By naming something,
you think you understand it.

“I’m just an ordinary humanoid,
who’s travelled beyond time,
to where there is no when,

“to where the toroids of the multiverse
are tied in Gordian knots,

“and where your simplistic dreams
of eternity are desiccated leaves,
fallen from the tree of what-may-be
in the autumn of all metaphors.

“But I can help you out.”

Her tone was caustic, pH 14, but I bit
my tongue, “Thank you.”

“You’re still biological, but not the terrestrial kind.
Your cells, your DNA, have been remade
by the sephine. It dissolved and recreated you.

“The boundary between the living
and the mechanical is indistinct.
Humans become robots when their anima dies,
although they might pass the Turing Test.

“And the living who see themselves
as androids, cold inside, might suddenly find
their heart is burning.

“The songs of your heart are yet to be sung.”

to continue


  • The Meeting of the Waters, to appear in The Purpose of Reality in 2022, describes sephine.
  • The Turing Test
  • Aquarela do Brasil, with its strange and beautiful lyrics, youtube, version by Caetano Veloso, João Gilberto, and Gilberto Gil.

The Autumn of Metaphors was generated by the Visual Evolution Engine from a view of George’s River at Lansvale. The figures, evolved separately, were created with ALISA, adaptive layered image automation, and the wood ducks help out sometimes as well.

15 thoughts on “delfina

  1. “Am I alive or just mechanical?”…I buttoned my shirt to hide my heart…” So many great lines in here that reflects the state of human kind, Steve. Stay well!

    • Thank you, glad you liked, Sobhana, Yes, I wanted to say something about people, and me at times, unfortunately. With poetry, I think you need to have had some experience of what you’re writing about, or an analogous experience.

      You too. We’ve just had a recurrence of Covid in Sydney, and I’m playing it very safe.

    • Thanks Paul. As you know, I am continuously anxious about running out of ideas. Actually not all the time, sometimes I think I’m a parrot who keeps repeating the same thing.😸

  2. There is a waterway called The Menai in Wales. I enjoyed this partly because I can recognise aspects of myself and people I have known in it.

    • Glad you enjoyed, Erik. The suburb in the south of Sydney is named after Menai Bridge in Wales, according to oog. I’m some of those people too, although I’m trying not to be these days.🤖

    • Thank you, Audrey. I’m slightly all over the place these days. My personal style is to start from scratch in a new area whenever I notice I’m getting somewhere.😸

  3. Well written piece you have here. But all of your musings are always thought out with a creative touch.

    • Thank you. Most everything is from events in my life. I suppose it has to be that way, even dreams are made from pieces of memory. If an alien spacecraft lands in my backyard, I’ll definitely take notes.😸

  4. Many great lines in this piece Steve. Too many to mention. The idea of translucent bodies is quite horrifying …..I’m so glad my innards remain hidden. Definitely more aesthetically pleasing! I like your use of humour. I could very much relate to:-
    “I was certainly less dead than I might have been,
    but I wasn’t the human that I once was.’ 😂

    • Thanks so much Nikita. Sometimes I do feel a bit like the walking dead.

      We’re all different, and I don’t find the idea of seeing inside that horrifying. I have a full-size synthetic skeleton that I use for art. Of course I’m talking about a rather tidy sort of image. For me, it means revealing the inner self. But yes, I prefer to keep my own insides inside.😸

  5. This is my favorite of all your pieces so far! Your understated humor at its best. Yes, we terrestrials do have the tendency to think that by naming something, we understand it. The Higgs boson, for instance.
    The protagonist’s apprehension at his new form reminds me of Adam and Eve feeling shame when they discovered their nakedness.

    • Wow, thank you Magarisa. Yes, names seem to be a kind of classification, but often they’re a misclassification, or convey no information at all.

      And yes, it’s about perception. The concept (translucency) is in quite a few of my stories, not always in an undesirable way. I don’t know where my interest came from, there are various possible symbolic meanings, but who cares? 😸

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