Our prompt today is based on Jim Simmerman’s “Twenty Little Poetry Projects,” a set of twenty instructions to construct a fantastic poem. I’m not sure this poem is all that fantastic, but it was interesting to write. It reflects my current dystopian view of the world. Every day, I read the news and feel as though I am watching a poorly directed sci-fi movie, in which the starring actors are untalented amateurs. I wonder what the future holds.
by Jan Brown
The cool streets of Chicago are as quiet as an old English village.
No offense to English villages. I love England. Except that my ancestors emigrated to the colonies 300 years ago to get as far away from England as they could.
Except for that, I love England. Nuthin’ but love for ya, Your Majesty.
On Michigan Avenue at Adams Street, the listless lions that guard the Art Institute are silent at night. Black wreaths surround their majestic necks in memoriam to the fallen.
In the heat of summer days, they prowl Grant Park to keep the baseball diamond empty and the band shell silent.
The lions are not enough.
Restless suburbanites drive to the city. They take family photos in Millennium Park to share with envious followers on Instagram. They stand in front of The Bean and snap each other’s reflections.
They stand only three feet away from the next clump of tourists. Chacun a son gou. Whatever floats your boat.
They’ve heard the stories. They don’t believe.
The Bean bends down and envelops them, gobbles them up.
Tourists and teenagers. Men and women. The Bean doesn’t discriminate.
Is it genetic engineering? Or just natural selection? Okay, artificial selection. Either way, the human race will improve if stupid people don’t wander among us, reproducing at will.
But…this is not how we imagined our species would evolve.
We are told to go nowhere. But fit humans are everywhere, walking, jogging, biking, skateboarding.
The joggers are persistent. They run half the length of the city, through once-busy streets and officially-closed walking paths. Once they run through “the wall,” they taste the sweetness of success, the saltiness of their sweat. They feel invincible.
Until they feel the sweat of the next jogger spray their bare skin. Their maskless face.
The Bowman and The Spearman come down from their granite pedestals at the entrance to Grant Park and gallop along the paths packed with walkers and joggers and bikers and skateboarders.
Their majestic horses rear up on back legs, challenging the nearness of invading humans.
The Bowman and The Spearman lived here long before the colonists. They lived in harmony with the land, cultivating and caring for it without need of ownership.
The colonists brought diseases, racism and cruelty. Centuries later, they are still bringing it.
Their horses don’t like to be crowded.
They will trample the dim-witted humans.
The cries of the fallen will pierce the silence. They will scream in electric colors that cover the jogging path in chaos.
Jan will perform triage, tagging each fallen jogger with plastic triangles: green, yellow or black.
She doesn’t like the black ones.
The ozone layer is melting over the city. If we venture out, we confront the smog, the plague or the angry icons of our disappearing culture.
Which will we choose?
Image by Jude Joshua from Pixabay