Evening Will Come: A Monthly Journal of Poetics (The Art of Losing—Issue 58, October 2015)

Paul Vermeersch
Three Poems

Extinction Schedule

The deliberate elephants, caressing their old bones,

are slated for the unveiling of a microscopic toy

that can eat our tumors, and the humpbacks

hauled through their migrations, will hang on

till we can travel from Minsk to Sao Paolo in an hour.

In the next wave, a falsehood will take root,

leading us away from strawberries.

Within a generation, they will take their place

among the sumacs and moonseeds,

and no one will possess their secret knowledge.

And further down the road, the little octopodes

will inhabit crude shelters above the tideline,

aggregate of stones and paste of algae,

and their shapes will form the rudiments

of a future writing system more beautiful than this.

The Buzzing Is Incessant

“I am not a gun.”

The Iron Giant

Mayday. I would like to apologize. Mayday.

The buzzing is incessant. It could be very far —

I cannot tell. There are warnings stenciled

on tiny placards inside me. I am sorry.

I can barely make it out: it is a lizard

on the sand. It is a distance of — I cannot tell.

My orders come by point of sale, and I obey.

I train my bottle green eye on the wedding

where I find you. I cast the elongated shadow

of a crucifix upon the dunes. Once again,

I would like to apologize. It is the man

in the room, not me, his boyish face

lit by screen light far away, meaty digits

at the joysticks, not me, who sneaks on in.

Who’s that, you say? I cannot tell. It is

a lizard on the sand. Dearly beloved,

do you have a telephone that I could use?

I can still hear the buzzing. It isn’t me.

Can’t you read? There are warnings clearly

stencilled on tiny placards under my skin.

I am sorry. What more do you want from me?

There Sure Are A Lot Of Sirens Tonight

The little window by the bed is open

so we can hear the ambulances

travelling the avenues like Pac-Man

swallowing the heart attacks

and domestic incidents, the ghosts—

pink and blue, red and orange—

just far enough from our sleep

that it’s hard to feign concern.

How can we make it better? Maybe

if children were driving the ambulances,

wild boys and girls, the sort

who chew straw and smoke fat

stogies in the Land of Toys, drunk

on beer and hooting hee-haw

through the windows, their small ears

lengthening to equine points.

Rough kids who phooey the cops

and vanish with the advent of colour,

maybe they could crow fiercely enough

to gather all the broken moms and dads

back to their own realm, telling

just enough lies to keep themselves

out of trouble, and just enough jokes

to keep the ghosts from our bed.