The bottom


We have complained of various things

Difficult to conceptualize

In fact, there is no bottom to anything

That is what the mind cannot accept

Not relativity or infinity

Not birth or death

But the fantasy that a drawer

Holds forks despite gravity

There is no bottom to anything

A vase, a finer illusion than a soul

And your bowl will never empty

Just the same as it began

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Origins


“No, I don’t believe in our having been chimpanzees, or cavemen, or peasants without indoor plumbing, or the like. Don’t go calling me a creationist, though – I can see it in your face. I think the creationists have it wrong, too.

“I’ll allow for the possibility of dinosaurs and the planet being however many eons old. But I’m not going to be suckered in by the theory that our ancestors ran around for millennia without cotton underwear, Advil, or knowing to boil their water.

“You’ll see why, if you think about it. So many untreatable itches and infections would have gotten us. No black pants or clean pads – if the predators didn’t get you, the vaginosis would have. No oatmeal baths or baby-grade laundry detergent. No cranberry juice, probiotics, antibiotics, acid capsules, or surgeons to pick out stray bits of uterus.

“No. We all had to be born somehow, and there’s just no way that vaginas could have survived in the wild.”

Walk 3.01


Alone, she would be three lights ahead and going sideways between a lamppost and a garbage bin to get ahead of that slow-moving family.

Instead his arm is a leash and when she tries to hurry at the end of the walk signals his disparagement has her ashamed at scurrying out of consideration for others. Never mind personal safety, or respect for the rules of the road.

She should not be so proactive about trying to move the two of them out of the way of people’s pictures. She should not try to pull him back from a map when others are trying to look too.

This way he sees her half-assed, and cringing against her own instinct for speed, for politeness.

He isn’t there when her quick, slender ankles are flashing, her chin up and eyes scanning. Anticipating when the lights will turn. He doesn’t see her turning adroitly to get through a crowd, or skirting two girls taking pictures on the bridge, without breaking stride. Zipping down the stairs into the park.

He doesn’t know what she is like when she is walking without him.

Gastropod FTL transmission


He eats only from 600 terahertz bowls to skirt

Transmitters in cartons and plastics

Swapping shoes, swabbing doorjams

And cultivating a queue of nervous ticks

That he sets on aleatory

Mountains out of radula; he has no idea

How we function, after all

He thinks sand can run backward

If we decide or fail to decide

Either way, he keeps unearthing packets

And he is eroding precious coastlines

With his paranoia

Maybe the worst thing we could do

Is to address the problem

Agreed. If nothing were to change

His fellows still would not take him seriously

And our C-Class Conservation Programme

Would maintain net welfare gains so tiny

That no one would take notice

In the Plenary Budget

Let’s go with that, but tell me again

Why we bother with hominids

Cocktail calculus


“What have you got there?”
It was too early in the night for him to be surprised that she was leaning on the end of the counter, chin in her hands, watching avidly as he poured the contents of the shaker into his glass. Her fingers tapped out a message, the contents of which he’d be wondering about for days.
He tried to concentrate on the canary-coloured half-rainbow spilling into his tumbler, a parabola restricted before its peak.
“Whiskey sour. Want to try it?” By habit, he offered it to her before taking a drink himself.
The dimple at the center of her upper lip, a local minimum, quirked delightfully as she mulled it over. He could make cocktail after cocktail to watch her mouth do that.
After a long moment she made her approval known through the shifting xyz coordinates of her body shifting towards his, a nod and a flash of teeth. She deposited the glass back on the counter before him, remarking, “I didn’t know that you could make cocktails.”
“I can make you one.”
“Thanks, but I’m already double-fisting.” Droll, she pulled, from somewhere, a half-full bottle of beer and a glass of water topped with ice. The ice cubes, perfectly square, rattled against the sides.
There was a derivative to be taken somewhere in her words, but he was struck by the familiar sense that he’d be the only one doing any math.
He would have liked to make her a cocktail. He drank his whiskey sour from where her lip chap had left nigh-invisible smudges on the rim.

Beer matrices


She rolled a 5×5 matrix around on her tongue, and it was harder than watching her with a lollipop.

Is your boyfriend picking you up? It was unnecessary, so he didn’t say it.

Instead, “You’re drunk,” he pointed out, not un-humorously.

She leaned back into the couch, and stretched her arms upward with a wince, with evident satisfaction. The matrix glimmered on her tongue as she laughed. Her eyes were sleepy and contented, like a cat’s.

He imagined that she was imagining the arc of a satellite launched up and out into orbit.

“Not really!” she retorted. But she had water rather than beer now, and while she looked faraway in that sleepy, contented way, her expressions also made the two of them closer than they appeared. There was a half-cushion’s worth of couch between them. Rows and columns rattled against the edge of her glass as she drank, the sound like an ice cube.

“You can always stay here, if you want. We have room.” The couch. His bedroom.

The party had died down too much for anything they said to be confidential. Her gamine smile hid the numbers in her mouth, and her utter comfort in the curves of the couch was evident even as she put her glass down on the coffee table, and stood up.

Ksarveel


Ksarveel, splayed fingers,

and breath arrested, staring

through the void both near and far,

in alien lights yet glistening

she recalls the warmth of a star

But there Earth’s detritus spinning

about a whorl of Lethe’s conception

rocks and silky gravel hissing

without sound upon the Sun’s extinction

all about its inky heart and rim

She, naught but ambient life

in food plucked and flesh contrived

knows death by nanoseconds of non-light

bursting lungs through photons sinking

from star to maw, from day to night