Archive for March, 2013

Abandonment

The door swung open and Julianne looked up at Cheryl’s blanched face.

“Did you hear?” Cheryl asked, nearly breathless.

“Hear what?”

“It’s gone!”

“What’s gone?”

“The ship…” Cheryl grabbed the remote from the armrest of the couch and clicked on the television.

“Since its first arrival in Newport, Rhode Island seven months ago, the spherical object that most believed to be some kind of space ship from an alien civilization has defied all attempts at communication, despite collaboration from the world’s top scientists. Now, without any warning, it has departed our world as inexplicably as it came.”

“Frickin BBC,” Julianne replied. “Who says ‘inexplicably’ on the news?”

“But it’s gone!”

“Yeah, imagine that,” she agreed, then shrugged. “Well, at least we know we’re not alone and all.” She reached out and snatched the remote.

“But…but…why did they leave?”

“We don’t know there was any ‘they’ at all,” Julianne countered. “It could’ve just been like a robot probe or something. You know they were always saying that on the news. God, this means we may actually hear about something else on TV for once. I mean I have no idea what Justin Bieber’s up to because all that’s been on TV is ‘the ship this’ and ‘the ship that.’ I mean, Jesus, it’s only one space ship. If they were blowing up stuff, maybe I could see this kind of coverage.”

“But…” Cheryl continued to stammer.

“I mean, CNN, sure. But E? E is wall-to-wall spaceship coverage. Come on, that’s just stupid. This is why we have different cable channels after all.”

“I just don’t understand. Why did they come? Why did they never talk to us? Will they ever come back?”

Julianne shrugged again, flipping channels. “Jesus, I’m wrong. Look, all they’re going to talk about now is ‘why did they leave.’ It’s like a nightmare.”

“I want to know. I want to know why they left!” she shouted. Julianne fell silent for a moment and raised her eyebrows. Cheryl flopped down on the sofa and looked toward the floor.

“Ask them, geesh.”

“We did, didn’t we? We asked them all the ways we could think of. Do you think…do you think they’ve judged us unworthy? Did we do something wrong?”

“There was that guy who tried to throw a tomato at it,” Julianne responded with a snorting laugh. “Imagine that. He goes to all the trouble of breaking through security and all he can think to do is throw a tomato.”

“What did we do wrong?” Cheryl repeated, staring into her own hands. “They were here. They were real. And now…now they want nothing to do with us?”

“Oh, get over it! Ships go bump in the night. Maybe they just had engine trouble and they never wanted to be here at all. Maybe it’s a hoax. Who knows. What do you care so much for anyway?”

“It’s like they said on the news. It’s the biggest thing that ever happened in human history. How can the biggest thing that’s ever happened–”

“Mean nothing?” Julianne finished. “I guess you decide the answer to that,” she added. “Oh!” she exclaimed suddenly as she clicked the remote. “Walking Dead marathon! I love this show.”

 

Drop

It’s a wet rag,
inspiration
There always seems to be another
bit of moisture
one can wring out
Yet each little splash
though unquantifiable
is melancholy
Because you know
You have to know
It cannot last forever

The Moon in Morning

You hang between them
stay in their thoughts
A brickwork phantom between this
and what was before
An artifact of things that should not have happened
A discordant note in the symphony
A glitch in nature’s rhythm
A frailty, an itch
that becomes a sore,
that festers,
that contaminates
An anomaly that always seems novel
But has really always been there
like the moon in morning

Sisyphus Revisited

Did it need doing?
Would one notice if it was left undone?
Irrelevant
His pride is in
The honest labor of it
The sweaty brow of it
The simple fact of
The rock
From here to there
And back again

Generational Theft

It’s so easy to lose the fine print.

In a recent editorial, Geoffrey Canada, Stanley Druckenmiller and Kevin Warsh warn about the consequences of “generational theft.” The authors, claiming diverse backgrounds, nevertheless pick up one of the favorite memes of the Tea Party budget hawks and deficit wonks. Citing simple arithmetic, these men paint a stark picture of the need to cut spending to prevent what I will term an “entitlement implosion apocalypse.”

Hey, if everyone else can use loaded language, why not me?

Nevermind that the arithmetic is not simple at all and that budget projections are based on enough assumptions to make asses out of you’s and me’s from now until Judgement Day.

The budgets must be cut!

And, of course, now they have been.

In their defense, these authors do acknowledge the problems with crony capitalism that only drives greater and greater concentration of wealth. And they make one of the most important parenthetical imaginable when they say that undoing this “generational theft” must be accomplished without “sacrificing future growth (e.g., research and education).”

But that’s just it: When you make “generational theft” the headline and make research and education the parenthetical as these men have done literally and which the various politicos have done figuratively, you have set the stage backwards. The scenery’s up front and the actors are hidden from view. Enjoy the show.

The sequester, if not promptly reversed, is stealing a lot more from our progeny than most people are admitting. Without investments in tomorrow’s science and tomorrow’s citizens, our economy will stagnate. Eventually the foundation will rot away enough that even the stock vultures and their massive fortunes will waste away.

The sequester’s real casualty won’t be air traffic towers in Podunk, Idaho or casual Fridays for military contractors; it will be American competitiveness.

It really is just that simple. Just as it would be completely simple to reverse this idiotic sequester. Congress can undo the damage it has done with a single vote. Just say “oops” and buy back our future, because without the investment in research and education, we will not rise to the challenges of the 21st century.

Someone else will.

 

Culmination

The skinny faux-pines across the street bend their hungry waif tips eastward, shoved down by the wind.

I am sheltered, though, by the patio’s stucco walls–painted a color I think was called honey-dew–and the hidden structure of two-by-fours and drywall plaster. Short of a tornado, the structure will hold.

The little black dog peers off with me, just at the edge of the porch’s shadow, and wags her tail at the weather. Is she conscious of it, too? Does she feel some satisfaction at having beaten the elements? For eleven thousand years her ancestors have coddled up to ungainly naked apes for this. She’s won a great gamble.

Our tree, too, is partly protected by the bulwark of the house. The white blossoms against the purple leaves shake, but hold fast.

A dozen dead worlds look down from their orbits, surfaces scarred and pitted by meteoric calamity and geological upheaval and lit–but not well enough (or too well, I suppose)–by the same broiling cauldron of hydrogen and helium and hellish fusion.

Here, though, this has happened. So much has conspired to create this moment. Whole empires and the toil of generations. The operatic ceilings of cathedrals and the miasmatic crucibles of war after atrocity after war after armistice after collapse after renaissance. A shuffling of dominoes and a falling of cards. Toward what end?

Me, sitting placidly on the new bench seat–a steal at the warehouse store down the road for a hundred less than the others we’d looked at–and the dog’s delicate little feet on the cement, both of us staring out, watching the wind do its work in the plum leaves.

No Currents Anywhere

hovering in the center
two inches off the bottom
bordered by the white, white, too-white walls
in another reality
defined by the quicksilver film of the surface
a boundary of refraction
to a blue world
of acrid chemical tinge
and tiny bits of human detritus

This is the ocean we make
when you give us a chance