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 christopher cokinos 


After some shredding, you wake at IKEA.

Eschatology continues to be pleasant, if confusing.

You spread instructions on the floor. It doesn’t matter

if it’s this year or the next, the blue sky

is full of virus. Thought,

Wendell Berry once said, has

no material existence. But here’s a thought

that lifts the arm. Here’s a thought

that rotates the hand entirely like a screw.

Breathing Speer and sauroids, da Vinci, someone’s

coding on water. The cloud’s a server

near Ganga Vertica, bright umbrellas of a shop.

At the strip club, the Turing test baby-talks a turbine

into spinning up again. So, for awhile, it’s better.

Then, not so much. There are no ethics,

only aesthetic choices, long

-duration accidents : basin

and range, democracy, Pantone’s

color of the year : Living coral.

When Accelerando hands skinny jeans an 8-track

of Tangerine Dream for the office gift exchange,

everyone laughs but it’s kind of nervous.

Mountains stand there. The Allen wrenches!

You put them in a bag the Singularity will covet

because it’s the nature of the mutopian

that there are too many tools to actually care.

But there they are, like phosphorescent phage

blinking en masse though failing

to confuse the predator.

Vacant Wing

What becomes a symbol begins a thing : baleen

harpooned, hauled and guttered, drained

to wet this wick he burned to paint this lamp.

Nightsoil heaped about the thorny bushes of some patron,

some gouty merchant by the sea, whose mistress

knifed a rose to droop along the table’s edge, slabbed ledger

of seasons, harbor, former oak, her lips and hips sweet-thick with trade.

The lemon bartered for a bolt, it glows too, peel

a bitter spiral dolloped with some lensy drops, theaters of tiny bent light.

You, beside this scene and the older crucifix, think

another spiky Christ pretty much nails it :

The Dark Ages sucked, their epilogue too : lice

and shitty teeth, clocks in squares, plague, stained

glass instead of science, no bikes. But they knew

better at least one technic : how to stroke

some shine from those empty skulls, how to let black

holes pop like grottos to stop you.


christopher cokinos

Christopher Cokinos's poetry collection The Underneath won the New American Press Poetry Prize and was published last year. With Julie Swarstad Johnson, he is co-editor of Beyond Earth's Edge: The Poetry of Spaceflight, forthcoming from the University of Arizona Press in October 2020. He's had recent prose and poetry in Dark Mountain and Scientific American. He's happily observing the Moon through his telescope and writing about it in a nonfiction manuscript. His article on the science and exploration of lunar ice is forthcoming in Sky & Telescope. He's not on social media so he can't tweet this, but he encourages readers to support 8can'twait and the National Association of Black Journalists.

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