Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The End of the World, Again

Some said the world would end with fire,
an incandescent cook-out to which all were invited.
Churchmen in waking dreams and night sweats
felt the flames licking their toes and knew
themselves marked for a toasting.
To the medieval mind, floods were another option
(myth offered a precedent), not so showy as combustion
yet they saw the hovel overtop the king’s towers and
rats in velvet breeches vainly bite for the highest place.
Apt too, that, guilt-ridden, they should choke - prince,
bishop and country clown - on their own slops.
Then, when the crystalline firmament was no longer lit
by gods’ or demons’ candles, and fear was not fixed
by the curve of the sky, a fresh fascination.
From the other side of heaven, mountains bowled
like monstrous googlies, gravity’s wrecking balls
swinging round to pulverize and eclipse.
This one would run and run, a lucky bag
for film makers and a truly poncy post-modern terror.
Not divine justice grinding out calamity’s small
change but random and indifferent, humanity
a cosmic road kill, pancaked on the galactic
highway, not noticed therefore not remembered.
But somehow such catastrophe does not satisfy
there is too much scope for panic.
We shall not see the plasma screen readout
(supplied at public expense) counting us down
to chaos, nor the victims of celebrity hurried
underground, tragic pose rehearsed and intact.
Perhaps some silent technology few understand, with
particles invisible, will work up our finale.
A misplaced number in a lab, an enthusiast’s
oversight will calculate our sum and rule it under.
When we all blink out or gurgle down a black
hole what we shall hear last will not be sermons,
threats or maledictions but the soothing
sound of official blandishments, ‘there’s
really no reason for concern,’ a nano
second before unknowable vacuity.
Simon Peter Iredale
Copyright: Simon Peter Iredale

Last poem by this author

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