I will be closer to Bingo age than hopscotch.
Parts will harden, parts will soften.
They will burn in outrage over the latest
unjust deaths, a fresh but familiar two weeks
of fuel for the twenty-four-hour news cycle.
Pundits will still debate whether the social contract
is a white horse with black stripes
or a black horse with angry red welts.
I won’t miss the acuteness as much as I thought,
but I’ll stay hungry for what it used to mean.
Things will improve except where they worsen.
The Koch brothers will personally tattoo
QR codes on welfare recipients, one by one.
The circumference and the center will disagree
over the diameter’s length, the optimal span
of an open embrace. My wife and I,
in the face of menopause, miscarriage,
and perpetual emotion machines,
will quietly repaint the proposed nursery,
walls changing from baby blue to cinereous.
The sun will glow in the east over ruins
and glory alike. The whale on the beach
will alarm residents and tourists of Traverse City.
The bitterest broth will come from your foe’s
pozole so clearly surpassing your mother’s.
More stains on the tissue will mean
return visits to the doctor. There’s a Venn diagram
of what we want and what we have;
we will keep fussing with the circles
like birdwatchers focusing binoculars.
Georgette W. Coulter will seize the nomination
almost bloodlessly. Crack the new bezoar,
find soap producing thin red froth. I’ve got to
get out of the house, start moving again, get
that heart pumping, or there’ll be another scare.
People with guns will kill other people
with or without guns. With the shriek
of a cockatrice, foul breath on the wind,
and a silhouette high upon the mountain,
Yosemite fracking operations commence.
Scrub all you want at the tarry marks
on your palms; maybe detergent and
a scalpel will help. Although I was fed
on formula, I will be haunted at night
by dreams of the taste of my mother’s milk.
Altruism will be a process more than a product.
The Dow and NASDAQ will begin tracking
MFA programs. Kittens fed into a windstorm
will fail to soothe weedy minds. We will cook
more recipes for each other, until our bellies
distend with food babies. Some will agree
that others may have a valid point, though they
hew even more closely to what they themselves
find familiar. The CIA-instigated fighting
between the Popular Front of PepsiCo
and the Coca-Cola Collectivists will spill out of
Caracas, across international borders.
The three hearts of the octopus will lead it
to seek its partner in disparate places.
After six moves in ten years, Nebraska will seem
a logical compromise, not a surrender.
While the world is a necessity, humanity
is a contingency. The debate over GMOs
will grow more complicated after Monsanto
headquarters its national network of sperm banks
in Detroit, resurrecting the city’s economy.
Wu-Tang Clan will still not be anything
with which to fuck. Too late, I will learn
the importance of dancing. The crucial
overlap between “Fake it until you make it”
and “Have the courage of your convictions,”
will always be hard to discern in the darkness.
Justine Bieber will speak out against transphobia
from the main stage of Burning Man. What
we feared would happen once will have already
happened again, the sounds of our anxious
breaths distracting us from noticing the event,
which we’ll survive. Again. As ever.
My consciousness will evolve from
an individual subject with an appreciation
for marketing to a self-aware brand
for a dwindling niche; I will insist this
has always been the case, has never
not been the case. Sustaining a web
of tolerable but considerable debts
is the best way to sustain a relationship.
They will absolve Pope Francis’s assassin,
who will be diagnosed with chronic affluenza.
Going into battle will destroy a great army.
Not going into battle will destroy a great army.
My romance with creature comfort will continue,
though that hot, hip, unhinged ex-lover,
abjectness, will keep trying to hook up
one last time, “just for closure.” Anticipation
is both punishment and reward. Watch
Joshua Tree drown in a sea of overdevelopment
as rising ocean levels drive people inward.
Nobody will blame you if you leave your shame
hanging from a nail in the kitchen wall.
I’ll never get over my father’s leaving
the bulk of his estate to the NRA, the Knights
of Columbus, and his alma mater, despite
my brother, the executor, having warned me
years ago. Some things are better seen than tasted.
Posthumous Nobel laureates, the fishing martyrs
of Fukushima Daiichi will never be forgotten.
The marriage of cynical convenience and
surprising compatibility gives birth to
an abortive quest for primogeniture. Raquel and I
will sometimes spot a new look in each other’s eyes,
causing us to become even more polite,
even more determined to—what?
The universe is a hologram masquerading
as a kaleidoscope. The Lions will again
win the Super Bowl versus the Saints,
while classical scholars will nod knowingly.
Only the youngest children will know why
they weep during warm summer rains.
John, James, and Eric. James, Eric, and John.
Eric, John, and James. Never talking. Always close.
Information, being energy, can be neither
created nor destroyed. They will claim electing
a President made of the wrong parts and color
will trigger the Second Civil War, until others
find the decades of documents that planned
the secession. Everyone applauds the role
of watchmakers, but few endeavor to
become one. I will lose that available job
to my friend’s child, a vibrant young adult
who once wanted to turn out like me,
who now has seized the opportunity
for which I’d been waiting. Gamblers,
entropy is the universal house. The system
having shifted for good, soft, white flakes
will cover the lands in snow or ash.
They will call it poignancy because
responsibility has too many letters
for the marquee above the tomb.
John F. Buckley lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His publications include various poems, two chapbooks, the collection Sky Sandwiches, and with Martin Ott, Poets’ Guide to America and Yankee Broadcast Network. He’s the fiction editor for the journal Third Wednesday.2