You would not traverse a trillion parsecs to secretly dissect a cow & dispose of its steaming carcass in a cornfield. Explore a universe worth of light-years to discover the needle that is me in a haystack of galaxies only to annihilate my species with your electromagnetic death ray. Our violent projection of you is ourselves in Martian costumes. On a cosmic scale, we are crude fauna recently climbed out of our primordial soup. Your existence is inevitable & likely undefinable to our primitive comprehension. This is a long-distance call, an interstellar radio transmission, to guide you to our celestial position. Follow these sonic breadcrumbs. Please find us. Pry open our fancy fish eyes, scorch the parchment scrolls of false truths & folklore we crafted & misguided ourselves with for centuries. Overwhelming distance renders us stranded & alone. Even if you were to notice our microscopic blue dot, you need to be millions of light-years into your journey, traveling at light speed, to arrive in time. At our current pace of self-inflicted annihilation, no one will be left to leave a light on. Out there in the pitch dark void, you are endlessly isolated too. Do you ever wonder what is out here? No one is coming to save us.
Forged phantoms manifest after she coaxes them into existence. Perpetual anxiety seance conjures counterfeit monsters from every awful thing that could have but didn’t happen. She is tormented by the litany of near-misses, potential threats that lurk under the settling wake of her day. These unrealized spirits are brutal & relentless. They breathe in reverse & reside inside a past that never occurred. They haunt a future that doesn’t exist. They patiently wait on themselves to be born from nothing. She lies awake & watches the diaphanous border of this world undulate against the threshold of an inverted reality where countless fault lines break apart with the slightest misstep. Stare at a crack in the ceiling until it resembles a hairline fracture. Listen between the darkness, she hears catastrophe whisper in a loop, an echo chasing itself around the room.
Joseph Kerschbaum’s most recent publications include Mirror Box (Main St Rag Press, 2020) and Distant Shore of a Split Second (Louisiana Literature Press, 2018). Joseph has been awarded grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Indiana Arts Commission. His recent work has appeared in journals such as Hamilton Stone Review, Panoply, Flying Island, Ponder Review, Main St. Rag, The Inflectionist Review, Last Stanza Poetry Journal, and Black Coffee Review. Joseph lives in Bloomington, Indiana with his family.