You had to be quick of course, to see the photos
the cities that became just place names overnight
A rescued laptop hooked to a generator with a minute and a half of charge left
one minute on a rogue site
thirty seconds before the corporation shut it down.
It’s not true that we all died.
She met him right after.
Her parents stayed dead in the back of the dank theater
she was too slow when the carts came by
Bring out your dead.
Tired of rat
she dressed in leg warmers and a top hat
picked her way to the Last Cafe In The City
Call me Sam
he huddled over a beer
smoked his last.
Alone? Worried about the Goblins?
It was always so dark in the alley behind the theater where her mother worked.
It was difficult to imagine how that hard light
penetrated so deep between the V of black vertiginous buildings
the flash of white puncturing the small TV
the children stopped chanting
Eat your Rat
It’s Low in Fat
the terror gangs stopped shooting
didn’t want to do the other side any favors.
She knew she couldn’t stay another day.
Sam finished his beer. How old?
Shit, thought you were 18
They all want me to be 18
We do he agreed.
He helped her order everything that was left.
California, he announced to her and the empty dishes
Sam unfolded a large map, a complex origami project.
This goes back to when it was terribly normal
to drive forever, cars blackened the country
Like buffalo –
It will take a few seasons, he cautioned
Gold Coast, Swimming Pools, Movie Stars
South is faster, you sure?
She knew about seasons – swimsuit season, flu season
He scooped up a computer, three loaves of hard bread
and the girl: top hat, leg warmers and a pink tutu
Once they cleared the domino buildings
the sun, a basketball orange suspended mid-dribble
on an intractable asphalt sky
motioned them to follow its everyday death.
They encountered others – anyone with only a few things
to carry, escaped the quickest
some survived, although they didn’t know it at the time
traveling west served as a last act of defiance.
She told Sam stories
to fill in the silent trudging towards the flaming sun
how she felt trapped between buildings
that squeezed daylight into switch blades of light
the Goblins yelled from the shadows
back and forth, trading a persimmon for an apple
Buy, buy, buy
Don’t be afraid her mother ordered
but don’t eat.
hand size strawberries,
cantaloupes the size of her head
buy buy buy the Goblins
dressed in same kind of clothes and shoes
as she –
wore fantastically high platform boots
swayed from booth to booth in her short dress
An uncertain tulip, the stalk too weak to hold up the head
buy buy buy.
Computers glowed at the stalls; displaying web sites with stories,
tiny children held up gigantic strawberries
grapes, bananas, it’s all good, grinned the Goblins,
all organic. Natural. Certified.
No, no we will find the cans. Her mother said
dragging the girl from the fruit.
We’ll find the kind already
chopped up into bite size
bits and pieces, stored in aluminum recycle, reuse, reduce
they pushed the cans home in metal carts with broken wheels.
now the metal carts are filled with bodies.
Bring out your dead.
Did they eat the fruit, the dead?
By the time she knew, it didn’t matter
and the Goblin market was gone.
Blast Away Fat
Her mother read the article out loud every night.
Her mother’s arms
were held together in the middle
by a knob of bone.
The camera adds ten pounds; she tapped at the cover of Glamour
The girl wondered if mother would look better
if she held a camera up between them.
Burnt out days. Sam muttered.
the poets are always right.
It just takes time.
Continued next week. Subscribe!