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.
A childhood reconfigured, a child who could never be,
with cardboard carts of stones and stamps,
bundled with a string, with wooden wired
contrivances hidden from the world,
and yet the others whispered in his ears.
They told him of a place where wild basalt seas
crashed down upon the shattered mirror beaches,
and sleepless carriages fled the stations of existence.
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 Respondent’s names have been replaced by pseudonyms to preserve inmate anonymity.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.
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.
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.
Millie, a librarian, has been revealing aspects of her life to an employee. Soon he is going to have to earn the salary that he isn’t being paid. Part 1 is here.
Now we’ve covered everything
I care about, it’s time for you
to write your heart out on these
pillowslips and handkerchiefs.
Use this fabric pen, fill it with a dramatic color,
and let me know your chosen subject,
for shelving later on.
I needed a distraction.
Do you hear the distant screams, the sirens and the like?
Beyond the tinted windows of our bibliographic haven,
passers-by are shouting at the starblown sky,
kneeled in prayer, or searching for
a mortal remnant
that they might have dropped.
Classrooms buried underground,
a breath, a cough, a teacher,
where every window was a riddle
and we were mute behind the glass,
where the chord of chords still sounded
from each bell to the last.
I was frail paper with pencilled veins,
a helpless diorama, a divide by zero,
an overflow and underflow,
a distillation of reticence and fear,
listening for the silent voice.
A traveler is dawdling on the way to Port Botany. He’s been guided by the polar spirits, crossed paths with the alchemist Alcione, and passed through a portal into an alternate, but equally dull, reality where he had a therapy session with the Medusa, who recommended he wear a tomato. Part one is here.
I missed the world I’d left behind,
and through a day and night,
I sought another path between realities.
I opened doors and gates,
climbed over fences, in and out
of windows, all to no avail.
Late Friday coffee.
It’s time for me to go.
Haven’t you seen the news?
The Venusians are invading.
They’ve been studying us for years,
collecting all our confidential thoughts.
Their conquest of the earth is under way,
with their gaudy starlit tentacles,
their stellarators and imitation science.
Lately yesterday, lost in thoughts
of solar unattainment, I met the windwalkers,
copper blood and lightning’s megahertz whispers.
An intergalactic basket, delivered to the wrong address,
a three much like an eight,
turned out to be a hamster who used to be a synonym,
five parts fantasy, each alone and falling.
Night and day were mid-grey corridors
and everyone was bees and ants,
exchanges without and never within,
until people started vanishing in pairs,
a magician’s trick without a trapdoor.
Nominal leaders declared there was no need to worry:
statistically, you might be fine;
and hermits were in the headlines,
flashlit in their sorry caves.
Imagine meeting you here, it’s been forever,
and never in this reality.
Do you still have that sinusoidal staircase,
with beds beneath the maxima?
Let’s dispense with arbitrary greetings,
the usual meteorology and meander.
I’m marketing linoleum, perhaps you might
be interested in purchasing a tessellation?
And yet you’re glowing, sunlit gold,
photoshopped and pasted by the seaside
for our chance encounter.
A detective and his client are seeking what lies beyond the obvious sea. The detective is in a supermarket, the usual refuge in case of an apocalypse, and his client has wisely left the building. (The detective sequence starts here.)
The ceiling and the roof have vanished,
breakfast for a bivalve, and a curling snake
of sulphurous vapor scorches my eyes,
runs bitter in my nose, my throat,
like the small red chillies
one should never purchase.
A detective and his client journey through the post-apocalypse, seeking what lies beyond the obvious sea. Here is part 1.
We walk for hours towards a hidden horizon
where the distant bivalves are silvery phantoms,
in the darkness.
My client has her axolotl armaments,
and I might be brave, but I’m myself—
a frightened woodland creature
seeking refuge from the restless night.
She makes a stop sign with her hand,
although it’s not hexagonal.
Over there a building stands.
We’ll rest until the daylight.
In a post-apocalyptic world, a detective and his client seek to discover what lies beyond the obvious sea. Part 1 and part 2 already happened.
I follow her, wander through
the ravaged landscape
searching for her dream, a fantasy
from long ago.
At dusk, we reach a silent square
of broken swings and slippery dips,
of roundabouts and culs-de-sac,
where all the fallen houses
are numbered zero.
A detective, his client, the mystery of what lies beyond the quotidian sea, and a marginally relevant precedent.
The sunlight hurts my eyes,
I’m unaccustomed to the lack of walls,
and I miss the certainties
my office prison offered me.
My client gives me glasses, dark,
and thoughtfully plasters zinc cream
on my nose,
but the world is not as I expected.