F.J. Bergmann edits poetry at Star*Line, the journal of the Science Fiction Poetry Association (sfpoetry.com) and Mobius: The Journal of Social Change (mobiusmagazine.com), and documents tragedies on exoplanets and elsewhere.
Break Glass In Emergency
……………..It was too dark to hear anything.
……………………—Edward Gorey, The Epiplectic Bicycle
Everything was green and purple then;
it was before the invention of wind. Twilight
fell in huge glossy chunks. Time was still
bumpy, not the smooth, creamy
conveyance we experience today.
We all sat expectantly in our assigned seats,
waiting for a raising of consciousnesses
and a lowering of standards. Illumination
is what we come for; we wouldn’t dream
of taking our own advice.
It’s a pleasure to be … [inaudible] … the dead
failed to comply with the program … [static]
… fussing over their friendly, prune-flavored
lives … [laughter] … to each and every one
his own … [muted applause].
Since then I have been in abeyance. I do
best stored upright in a cruel, dark place.
When the chronologists arrive, I will move
out into the light as if I had nothing,
[ominous pause] nothing to hide.
first appeared in Dreams and Nightmares
We killed the mother and father, but we didn’t mean to.
The father grew frightened (we inadvertently used
the linguistic paradigms of the wrong subcontinent)
and when he began emitting projectiles from a device,
we overreacted. The mother was standing right behind him.
We insisted on making amends personally, once
the diplomatic formalities were concluded. The children
seemed to find our furrier bodies and higher-pitched voices
comforting. We did our best to serve as surrogate parents.
However, the local customs were quite confusing:
bedtime stories, rectal thermometers, vaccination records,
rollerblades, noogies, snow days, sex education, s’mores, track.
The sustenance we extruded from our posterior glands
went unappreciated, and was difficult to pack for school lunch.
We were very good at helping with math homework, though.
When the eldest qualified for a temporary driving permit,
we assumed that she would like to learn to operate
our transporter as well as the vehicles of her own culture.
This assumption was correct, as far as it went, and we think
they went a long way. We are thinking of it as a field trip.
It is sure to be a learning experience. They have maps.
first appeared in nth position
Noon Blue Apples
In the morning we rose uneasily, when
the sun was a panther’s eye slitted gold,
in a sky spotted with clouds. Someone like
a milkman had left us four tetrahedral
cartons filled with an unattractive purple
fluid. We called fish from the river to swim
upstream through the plumbing and into
our sink. We fried them in goose-fat, breaded
in fine dust left over from the drug trade—
less nutritious than we would have liked.
We dawdled over the dishes, carefully broke
shards into ever-smaller fragments, until
time constraints unceremoniously flung us
into the garden. The hole we dug the night
before had filled itself with small black birds,
not all of them dead. I dropped in the seed
I held close to my heart in its red silk pouch.
We drank sparkling wine until we were able
to urinate profusely on the planted seed.
Eventually we watered it with the purple milk
as well. Night fell and it had done nothing
miraculous, but at moonrise a sprout pushed
through the stinking feathers. By midnight
it was a tree taller than any of us. The ground
was strewn with disappointed petals. Before
dawn pink peaches were ripening, followed
by orange pears; at noon blue apples.
first appeared in Helix
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