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.
The ether wave swept through and swept away
intangible imaginings: shimmers from the overworld,
refractions risen from the subterrain,
and the sephine webs connecting them.
When the wave had passed, the town of Fênix
was no longer cloaked in mystery and fantasy,
only naked objectivity remained,
a brutal realism that no-one could withstand.
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 Respondent’s names have been replaced by pseudonyms to preserve inmate anonymity.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.
Microscopic particles of time
rain upon our lives.
Paper promises grow brittle,
mapped forgiveness folds, unfolds,
frays and tears along the creases.
Our memories refract through prisms
until the brightest day is lost
in anesthetic runes.
I heard a motor revving in the carport,
and from my gate,
I watched my Kia Starfish drive away,
with the spindly legged carport
on an evening in the soft infinity.
The sheeting rain outside
is a comfort and a warning
while I solder in a copper tangle:
connections from the future to the past,
with an insulating bypass round the present.
In the stormy world outdoors,
bright cascades of lightning challenge
my pretense, until a sudden surge and roar
redacts the copper to smoke and honey,
and a circuit breaker trips.
After parts three, two, one, a flashback to the home of the crayfish on their reformed moon.
We live in a concrete paradise,
we must show the galaxy,
attract discerning tourists
and credit cards.
She said I was a baboon
dangling without a vine,
but I’m a crayfish stranded on the land.
I will punish myself today
for my regrets and future errors,
the accumulated consequence
of antithoughts and indecisions.
I’m not quite comfortable with that fireplace, amor,
or the smoke from all the books you’re burning.
I was working through the Dewey Decimals,
I’d kept a little eight two one.
You told me everything defined is lost
a soul’s reflection in a mirror.
I thought it best to undefine myself.
We need a chimenea.
I’ll remodel with the chainsaw.
The chainsaw roars, she says a little more
I cannot hear.
An arid future in a waterless world,
where all our understanding wavers
on a bridge to whiteness.
We are replicants in the land
of nothing new, and the westerlies,
hot and dry, are blowing away the children.
As they fall, we fall.
A small symbolic light above the planar world,
the curveless planetary horizon
and yapping dogs on the wind,
run I walk I queue I
grow tired, eyes close and flicker,
yet every photon tells a tale
of a restless luminous voyage.
After midnight I wander under
sodium doublet illumination
to the very end of the street.
plagiarism on a beach in france
I’ve imaginated death:
dark rivers, darker seas,
the luminiferous earth,
growing to that darkness
in headlong blind embrace.
I share my thoughts with Joana.
Oh how you’ve changed, amor.
The city is to blame,
its exhumations and exhalations,
obsidian and glass.
I want you to live without me,
the time has come for you to spread your petals,
to hop and flutter.
I knew I couldn’t fly
but still I left her, not without regrets
or longing, but knowing I was
so much more than the helianthus
I once was.
I was ready to seek another light.
It starts with fire and ends with rain,
zero is infinity
and my home
is filled with strangers,
yet their strangeness is not reciprocal.
worth the special introductory
price of free.
The scientist Irene in white
peered over her half-moons.
Let’s apply a little logic: if everything
is worthless, so is that idea.
Come with me to Improbable Park.
… meet the zeroth law of motion.
We’re dropping out of hyper now
into normal space,
the words of Azulinha, the fluidic pilot,
flashed inside my head,
and don’t touch that,
it’s not a percolator.
Soon there’d be no more
chromatic thought transference—
empathic rivers of the gaseous mind.
It would all be stuttering and stumbling
with optics and acoustics
on the surface of the planet.
There’s something unfortunate about seven a.m.,
when the dreams of worlds that might have been
ascend into the vanishment.
As I traveled the Redfern Rail one night,
through tunnels that smelled of soot and ghosts of steam,
I chatted with a stranger. Her auburn hair was wound
with a golden asp, and she told me this:
Your mind’s your own, to do with as you will.
I saved mine for special occasions,
believed in pixels and maquillage,
bowed and chanted to great Osiris,
but I know better now.