And Then the Darkness Talks Back
Six feet, apart or under: pick your preposition. Death is grinning out of breath, cozying up to chalk circles and ringing bells in parks. A locust cloud interrupts your picnic; a spider, unseen, devours a cricket. Rain is on the event horizon — will it come before evening, will it come as frogs? The glaring sun says nothing one too many times. A man falls in front of you, not quite six feet away. He is a ruler that you will measure as you step back, yielding to outbreak data. Swiss misanthropist now, violent science is a neutral border; try to never get involved. At home you see the man fall over and over again, a dusty film reel that won’t stop spinning. You are willing to become the receiver for a friend with too much to spill. Safety is mediated by distance, plastic, and words that are not your own. When the voice on the telephone clicks silent, you hear the night and cough up a cobweb into your hand.
Who Will Save Us
Dogs? Our friends know the notes of each of Death’s perfumes: cancers, bombs, a virus in the lungs. We listen, but still miss the point. AI? Intelligent agents can teach themselves to write prescient prescriptions. They assist, waiting for doctors to prove them right. Circles? Shapes have shifted from geometric subjects to arithmetic lecturers, conducting mass classes in pandemic math. We add or subtract, circle back. Mannequins? They stand stiff, checkerboarded between us and our hungry, exhaling enemies, like mediators or crossing guards. Seating has never been more limited. Horseshoe Crabs? Canaries of the sea have blood of blue milk that is more delicate than human plasma, a perfect laboratory for testing purity. If they live, we live. Holy Water? Sometimes a gun is a blessing that will keep you breathing. Sunday’s mass delusion blooms. Our rituals will not be diluted. Ghosts? Up and down village streets go those bones made of smoke, those scythes cut from silk, speaking to us in Latin alliteration. Memento mori. We don’t know why but we run. --------------------
MA|DE (est. 2018) is a collaborative writing entity, comprising multidisciplinary artist Mark Laliberte and writer Jade Wallace, whose poetry has appeared in Vallum, PRISM International, Poetry Is Dead, and elsewhere. MA|DE’s most recent chapbooks are A Trip to the ZZOO (Collusion Books, 2020) and A Barely Concealed Design (Puddles of Sky Press, 2020). [ www.ma-de.ca ]