Saturday, April 2, 2011

Suppose -

(based on suggestions from @facelikethunder, @anthonyeaton, @matchtrick and @ernmalleyscat)

Suppose tomorrow is here.

Morning is not a test in

foreshadowing shades of grey.

We comfort weaning reflexes,

self-soothe with portents

of hot tea, morning toasties.

Black and white trickster fish

foretell our earliest Venus days,

poison sense and humours.

April pranks us jet packs,

robots and dinner in pill form.

Where is our cure for potential?

Our inertia changes direction,

edges towards a new mouth.

Diverts expectation by inches.

We defy augury. Step into

similar rivers twice, fight the

future water over our ankles.

No one presages sparrows.

We make our own sight lines,

it will come it will be divine.


Today’s poem is based on suggestions from four peeps:

  • @facelikethunder: “The fish of April”
  • @matchtrick: “The subjunctive. How past sci-fi gets the future wrong. Augury. Toasties. Please.”
  • @anthonyeaton: ” how about something on weaning off dummies. Not going well at this point...”
  • @ernmalleyscat: “a river changing course over time”

A few notes on all the stuff I’ve crammed into these lines today:

The reference to Venus is after the etymological history of the word April (which comes from ‘month of Venus’).

The fourth stanza refers to an excellent Threadless tshirt called 'Damn Scientists' that reads:

"They lied to us
This was supposed to be the future
Where is my jetpack
Where is my robotic companion
Where is my dinner in pill form
Where is my hydrogen fueled automobile
Where is my nuclear-powered levitating house
Where is my cure for this disease"

The last two stanzas refer to and quote a passage from Hamlet I’ve always loved:

“Not a whit, we defy augury: there's a special
providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now,
'tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be
now; if it be not now, yet it will come: the
readiness is all: since no man has aught of what he
leaves, what is't to leave betimes?

In other words: don’t look for omens. Whatever happens will happen, whatever doesn’t happen won’t. Just try to be ready for what tomorrow chucks at you. (Yes, well, I was never going to say it better than Shakespeare was I?) Harold Bloom said Hamlet represented the “invention of the human” and I think he was pretty spot-on there. Go Harold.

Finally, I’ve attempted to write this poem in the subjunctive mood, but I ended up tying myself in confusing knots around verbs so let me know if I’ve mucked it up.

And of course there’s an X Files reference in there too.

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