Friday, April 19, 2024

Only Yesterday

End stories concentrate
On the few survivors,
Since that’s where stories thrive,

And, however many
Deaths a story tots up,
Who wants a tale that’s died?

Nonetheless, a bent mind
Imagines a novel
Made udystopian,

Blank of all characters—
Say a huge solar flare
Or nuclear warfare

Did just as you’d expect,
But you focused tightly
On, let’s say, a prison,

Deep in the Midwestern
US, some maximum
Security fortress,

Completely dependent,
Of course, on its systems
And global supply chains.

Inside, emergency
Generators held up
A while, but the guards ran

And/or supplies ran out,
And the radiation
Drifted steadily in.

For a brief while, maybe,
Days or weeks, you’d get some
Trapped survivor drama,

But once everyone died,
Most still locked in their cells,
Your novel settled in,

Not searching for stories
Of horror and tension
Where there were revenants,

Just sticking with the prison
Through nuclear winter
As the bodies decayed,

Writing how bugs wandered
Through each widening crack.
Recalling deaths as deaths—

Suffering, horrific
Deaths, as deaths tend to be—
But just deaths. Just the past.

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