" . . .
the diaspora of human civilization is bound to go on
and out, as it always has done in the process of setting new
--Gerald K. O'Neill
The sky buzzed as always with its crossing traffic.
Then came the flash, a last photograph
before we disappeared, in negative color:
red trees reflected
in the orange pond,
the roses cool blue holes
in the garden's fire,
and the cloud, blossoming chastely
like an unused sun coming up.
This quiet. This
It was a dream stolen from a movie.
Even in sleep I had no other language
for it but film,
the art of light, light's preservation,
and broken from sleep I am
crazy with this fiction.
This morning the world has not ended,
is not transfigured.
Streetlights dim in the gray sky. The garish
dream lights blink out, in room after room
of this city block.
2. Off-planet: Mars
The horizon-line clear and arched as an orange.
Above it, blackness with stars, the faint
enormous corkscrew of the galaxy. Below it,
all ground is foreground. Every lazy step
reels more of the world in. Think of
Nijinsky, who told the reporter, Just leap
into the air, and pause a little.
Our heads are heavier than our hearts,
as we'd always suspected.
The two moons cross in the sky,
and the doubled shadows merge:
at my feet, then trailing
my drifting body, the black
body of a woman, foreshortened
and sexless in her bulky suit.
My breath is a storm in my helmet, and what
I see, I see through it.
3. Earth: Night Fallen
Through my window, with its glass
flowing year after year
into the base of its frame,
Mars is a dull red spot hanging over the warehouse,
and all I imagine about it begins
it is not like this: no rain trapping
the light on the surface of the black street;
no street. The movie must have ended
with the good people helping each other, the bad
looting and double-crossing and dying badly.
The good die well, or stand
brave and elegiac against the ruined backdrop.
(published in Little Apocalypse Ashland, Ohio:
The Ashland Poetry Press, 1997)
by Gene Frumkin
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