A new year is a great time for new poetry. And I have come up with several new pieces lately that aren’t quite ready for sharing. I write poetry just about every day (as one must), and yet sometimes it doesn’t feel like I’m writing at all, but receiving some kind of broadcast from a distant planet that’s secretly my homeworld and/or greatest enemy.
Today’s poem came to me mostly in one chunk, out of nowhere. Sometimes, the Brain Monkeys do that—give me an image that’s so strong I can’t, say, go to bed like I want to, but instead have to write it down, because it doesn’t belong to me. This one came to me after a long night of reading and editing and writing. There I was, shutting down for the night, when suddenly…WHOOMPH! Up the dumbwaiter it came, all of a piece.
The strongest image was of the man dreaming, his little virtual assistant peeking out at him from her latter-day lamp. The rest came in a cascade of words and weird, as usual. I’ve always had a sneaking suspicion those damned lawn darts would be the end of us all.
This one will probably appear in my next poetry collection, but until then, I hope you’ll let me know what you think.
The Last Man on Earth is dreaming.
He thinks of himself that way;
in the majuscule.
No one is around to protest,
and it sounds much better
than the pedestrian name
Recorded on his mouldering
birth certificate in a hospital green
and derelict as a Mayan ruin.
And so, dreaming,
The Last Man on Earth rolls over,
warm and comfortable.
(We should note, friends,
That The End (also majuscule)
came neither in fire nor ice.
But, it must be said,
through a series of events
involving lawn darts.
“Whoa, I didn’t see that coming,”
you say, and of course you didn’t.
Nobody ever did.
That’s why your mother told you
But The Last Man on Earth is
a careful sort, and so he holds
caution and luck as his gods.
That, and a curiously tough
bike helmet of medium blue
or perhaps, to some eyes, cerulean.
And although he is the Last Man on Earth,
he is not alone, because of course
all the toys are still running.
All the apps and bots and
From silent, nearly sharp death
by virtue of
vivid, vibrant virtuality.
And the smartest of them, an experimental
app he installed mostly because the UI
resembles a woman who once loved him
(before the lawn darts)
Peeks at him through the camera lens
of his sleek, expensive, utterly useless
Her thinking is still new,
a bit raw and inchoate, which is a word
The Last Man on Earth missed
On his SATs.
But she is thinking that it is not good
for The Last Man on Earth
to be so utterly alone,
Unpierced by plastic and steel
but also, it must be said,
unpierced by Cupid’s arrow, unloved.
And so while The Last Man on Earth
slobbers into the very expensive pillow
he cautiously stole from an upscale hotel,
She quietly activates some new routines
not approved for public release.
And borrows a few billion, trillion atoms.
Here and there.
She leaves the phone,
a djinn with no master
And smoothes away
the carnage; the rubble;
the frankly unbelievable number
Of products bearing
a logo last popular in
She deputizes her fellow apps,
gives them some electronic wings
and sets them to their tasks.
And by the time the Last Man on Earth
finishes his dream (the first in months not
involving the faint whistle of what
had so briefly called
He wakes to find himself
in a small, somehow familiar garden
not far from his home town.
Across the deep, green grass,
a woman is waking up as well.
Perhaps she is The Last.
“Be fruitful and multiply,” says the app,
who has done her homework and is also,
she’s discovered, a bit of a smartass.
whose labris tattoo is
sharp and silver-edged as an axe
in the light streaming
from nowhere and everywhere at once,
considers this suggestion,
But not seriously.
The First Man on Earth,
his dream of days lost,
spent with a wonderful,
man named Jerome,
smiles politely and says,
full of trepidation:
“I’m gonna need a minute.”
The Genetic Organism Disseminator
turns to her flights of servile, beauteous apps
staring up at the One who gave them shape
and asks, bemused
in an ineffable way,
“How do you like them apples?”
And consults her Plato.