End times

I was one of fourteen authors who took part in the writing of a chain poem at the poetry collaborative. Like the other participants, I only wrote a single line, but apparently that gives me the right to revise it however I want and post the results here. I hope I don’t ruffle any feathers with the extent of my revision. Read the original to see how much I’ve altered, and who contributed which words and images.

Quite by coincidence, qarrtsiluni announced a new theme on Monday: Journaling the Apocalypse. Beth Adams and I are taking a turn as issue editors. Submit!

We thought it was a sign, the imminent
undoing of the sky. Canting prophets
consulted the lint balls in their navels.
We thought it a sign, the flying
out of orbit of the world — but what
to make of the coffee becalmed
in its cup, the street’s slow traffic
gangling past our doors and windows,
all bolted against the loud flocks
of grackles? An iridescent sea
broke across our lawns. Black
rainbows of wings blocked the sun.
But an old woman, bent over her stick,
warned it wasn’t the sky we should fear
but ourselves, how we fail to bear witness
to whatever happens in each & every
holy, unstable moment.

11 Comments


  1. Hey there, Mr. Adder-o-Flourish. You butchered yours far less than I butchered mine. I brought children into mine. We *must* have family values represented in our poems, after all.

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  2. Journaling the Apocalypse…

    Great timing now that the Large Hadron Collider has been turned on and will soon create a universe-wide black hole of death, instead of the negative-gravity cultural vacuum that’s been restricted to parts of central Pa and most of Los Angeles.

    Such a fine line between poets and prophets.

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  3. Nice revision. I like the way you make the prophets navel gazers and “black rainbows” is great.

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  4. (o)

    Now these, the revisions of the collaborations, are fascinating, though in a slightly unholy way. :-)

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  5. Wow! This is another keeper among many. To me, the ending bears both a warning to keep an eye out for the bad stuff coming (or that we create) and forgodsakes do something about it when we can and an exhortation to stop and smell all the daisies right now even if it’s might already be too late. Would that there were a space capsule to hold some large remnant of earth’s wonders. A cornerstone to be opened by whoever hopefully succeeds us. Echoes of the movie “Silent Running” keep wafting uncomfortably back to memory.

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  6. You did good, Dave. Really enjoyed this. It flows beautifully.

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  7. This is a great poem for heralding your new theme at qarrtsiluni.

    The lint balls in the navels made me laugh. I also love what you did with the birds, how you changed the words around to give a more surreal image of the lawn. I also like the description of the old woman with her stick, it made the whole scene come alive.

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  8. Dana – You know I am all about family values. Look at the way I love writing about other people’s children.

    SvenWaring – Not to be confused, of course, with the Large Hardon Collider. Yeah, I made sure to mention that in the call for submissions. Literary magazines have precious few ways to be timely and relevant.

    Nathan – Thanks. I was plagiarizing from one of my old poems there with “black rainbows,” though. (I think last time I was writing about starlings.)

    dale – Unholiness is my favorite kind of holiness.

    Joan – Glad you liked that. I always try to make my poems end with a bit of a bang – if nothing else, it makes readers forget any infelicities earlier on.

    Jo and Christine – Thanks. I don’t know that I can take full credit for the flow, but I was uncomfortable with the unspecificity of “crones” in the original (with all due apologies to W.D.). Especially for a poem in the past tense, it felt as if I had to keep the poem as concrete and specific as possible… even though I ended with an abstraction. Well, whatever.

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  9. Very nice (I didn’t see the original, so can’t comment or complain!).

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