Crossroads on the valley floor, a sign,
a part-time river colored laundry blue,
and by the water in a town, the air is scented
with hot absence, molecules in chaos
ignoring windward motion.
The parkland’s plaque is dull, I make it shine,
reflect the woken world with Brasso,
and polish out its words:
You wonder why you’re still asleep.
Your other wonders why he’s still awake.
If none of (a) to (f) apply, please explain your reasons in writing in the space labelled “Other.” Inmates are not permitted additional pages.
[A selection of “Other” responses follows. Respondent’s names have been replaced by pseudonyms to preserve inmate anonymity. Comments scratched into the wall and/or with rows of indecipherable symbols were excluded.]
“Anonímia de Tal”
I measured my expectancies—
mantras, books, and pills in quantized repetition,
overtime and undertime spent flickering from pillow to post,
leaping with the pendulous clock,
though in a temporary lapse,
I once considered skin mites, so fearsome microscopically,
and the sparrows pecking hair lying fallen at my feet.
While I was washing roses by the gate
with a dash of liquid Omo on a toothbrush,
fish-heads came to mind,
and I began a metaphysical meander
with just the two of us: my neighbor’s cat and I.
Two chords for self-taught breathing,
causality’s unwound tidal oscillations,
nor birds nor raindrops nor Pangaea:
everyone is waiting for a doorway in the wind,
feather-dusting the furniture for departure.
Proteus, the Jurassic prototype person, created Proteus II, a luminous version of himself, by reciting his own name. Following the advice of Archie, the archaeopteryx, flesh-and-blood Evita was created when Proteus II recited her name. After an interlude in which questions of Jurassic fashion were resolved, Proteus II claimed that he’d created Proteus in the same way, that he came first, à la chicken and egg, and the Proteus brothers took to arguing. Part one is here
Evita found a sapling
and whipped them both
around their heads.
Now there are two version of Proteus, the Jurassic prototype human. Proteus, the original, made of liquids, solids, and a not insignificant amount of gas, and the ionized and luminous Proteus II, created by Proteus when he said his own name. Proteus speaks with glowing lights, and conversely, the plasmoid Proteus II speaks with sounds that condense solids. Archie, the talking archaeopteryx pointed this out, but neither version of Proteus grasped its significance. Part one is here.
Don’t you see, you prehistoric buffoons?
If Proteus II recites the name “Evita,”
she’ll coalesce in flesh and fluid form.
Proteus, the Jurassic prototype human, speaks with luminous shapes, not sounds. The shapes melded to form two plasma creatures, Evita and Adamstown, who ran away together. His companion Archie, an ancient bird who now has the power of speech, knows how Proteus can be reunited with his beloved Evita. Part one is here.
There’s a way for you to join Evita,
who’s shockingly electric,
and would stop your heart
at the slightest touch.
The radiative Evita ran off with Adamstown, and Proteus plans to knit himself a striped woolen outfit to win her back. Proteus speaks with lights (which coalesced to form both Evita and Adamstown) and, starting at the beginning of the manufacturing process, he said the word “sheep” over and over before falling asleep. Of limited relevance, when he said “lightbulb,” his companion Archie swallowed the resultant glowing shape.
Proteus was awoken by nocturnal rustles, roars, and yawns,
but not a single bleat.
We must return to the ironsand beach,
he advised his mute and mildly feathered companion,
that is where the creatures shape themselves.*
Proteus, the prototype human, speaks with glowing shapes, not sounds. His words created the charming and luminous plasmoid Evita, and unexpectedly, her companion, Adamstown. Now they’ve eloped, and only Proteus and his silent companion, Archie, are left. Archie is an archaeopteryx who enables soliloquies. The scene is the usual Jurassic jungle.
By my words alone, I will generate
the necessities of modern life.
Behold, when I say “lightbulb,”
a lightbulb appears.
Proteus, the prototype human, was speaking with the radiant Evita when Archie, the archaeopteryx, traced out a semaphoric flight path as a warning. Lulled by the night-lit lumens of his own voice, Proteus ignored the ancient bird and continued with his exposition of the integers.
When solar rays were manifest,
Proteus had an inkling that his feeble wisdom
did not limit the world, and recognized
the twin subversions of his dreams,
ignorance and arrogance,
but the revelation came too late.
Proteus, the Jurassic beta-release human, has met a luminous creature on a headland overlooking the world’s ocean. The being understands his speech, which is glowing shapes rather than sounds. Part One is here.
The stranger introduced herself to Proteus.
I’ve named myself Evita,
and you’re the conduit of my creation.
Not your ribs, but your intangible phrases
that weave the darkness
with their phosphorescent trails.
Between the near and far,
they reconnected, coalesced,
and here I am.
Proteus, the prototype human, lived in Gondwanaland with selected Jurassic creatures. Instead of audible words, glowing shapes emanated from his mouth whenever he tried to talk. Part one is here.
If I could only speak,
engage in conversation
with anyone at all,
I’d be sage and silent.
Archie, the archaeopteryx
that Proteus addressed,
ignored the paper lantern lights
floating from his mouth.
Proteus is a prototype human (beta release) living in Gondwanaland in the Jurassic era. Part one is here.
As it happened, Proteus could not speak with sounds:
when he opened his mouth and set his throat to vibrate,
glowing bubbles, leafy baubles, necklaced seeds,
a myriad of elemental protozoan shapes,
floated from his lips, sparking, drifting through the trees.
This is the untold tale of Proteus,
the legendary beta man,
the greatest and only scientist of the Jurassic,
friend to the tasteless simpsonodon
and the slightly feathered archaeopteryx,
as bearded as da Vinci,
and in whose hair,
a flickering of iridescent wings,
mostly still attached to dragonflies,
glittered in the sunlight.
The wind drops violins, my ducks are misaligned,
and the day that you created is winding up
and winding down.
I’ve spread the margarine of time
across the bread and crossed it out.
I need no answers, Alícia,
to questions no-one asked.
Cakely words by Sara Lee
are baking in the oven
and I don’t know who’s to blame.
Millie has defeated the Dark Solarian and the kilowasp, and there is nothing more to say. Part 1 is here.
From the rooftop, down and down
the silent page we went. I heard
the hisses of an elsewhere night;
shoreward waves derailed
from their sea tracks
to crash against graffitied cliffs;
and a lackadaisical buzzing
that occupied the plaintive gaps
between my thoughts.
On the roof of the Dreamwalk Library, a Dark Solarian is draining Librarian Millie’s life force, and a fearsome kilowasp cloud (to the nearest power of ten) is descending. The library employee plans to offer his own life force, if he has any, to save Millie, and no-one cares what the penguins are doing.
In my penultimate moments,
I decided I’d reveal my inner life.
You make me nervous, Millie,
you’re not as librarian as you appear.
You’ve taken me so far from science,
my mind is burning in a consequential fire,
and I’d like a coffee.