Not quite the end we thought we’d get, is it?
Where is the monster rising from the sea?
Where the single earthquake that sucks Gomorrah into the earth’s bowels?
Where the finger-and-thumb of God that pinches the sun out like a candle-flame?
Is this all of it, this the end-time carnival, these rickety rides, the blarey music,
The paltry freaks barked up for all they’re worth and more? This too-slight sleight-of-hand?
Where is the burning wind from off the desert sand,
The trumpet blast that screams the Temple down?
They said that there’d be no stone left upon another stone,
That mountain ranges might just crack like skin and rivers run like blood,
And that we’d see the moon hatch like an egg and what’s inside unspool.
When will it come? And will it come? And when?
No, no, says the slim man selling candy floss,
You must have misunderstood the invitation you were given,
You must have read some inappropriate books as a child.
Let our instructors disabuse you, since
We have the finest educational system in the world.
Let’s all settle in for story-time now,
Mummy will give us a kiss when she gets home
And then we’re all for bed.
Listen to me, I will do the police in different voices
and the bankers in different voices
and the software developers telecommuting to Silicon Valley jobs and reading Ayn Rand in their spare time in different voices
and the day-care staffers in different voices
and the Live at Five reporters and the Eye in the Sky reporters and the political pundits in different voices
and the parish priests and Archbishop of Los Angeles in different voices
And when I do them, whenever I do them, and whoever is done,
They will all sound like the same voice, trying to sound different.
I will do them all, listen, listen—listen up! You! Yes!
And then the drawing for the after-hours show,
The first month free, after which you may cancel at any time.
Meanwhile we reserve all rights, meanwhile
We may employ tracking tools, we may
Combine your information with information from third parties.
Meanwhile the World-snake sleeps in the warm bathtub of the ocean;
Meanwhile the Horsemen, having abandoned their inefficient mounts,
Drive to work in fuel-efficient hybrid gas-electric cars,
Have their pay automatically deposited;
Meanwhile Ragnarok, having run over budget, having fallen behind schedule,
Is still in the works, will happen in due course, assuming the political will
To accomplish this great work does not falter.
Meanwhile Mephistopheles has taken to the airwaves mumbling,
Trust us, smiling, eating a candy bar, asking, want one? Have one,
And then for bed. Sleep tight, sleep tight,
After a story, before any dreams.
And if I die before I wake
Some shall cry, and some shall take
If I expire here in this cot
Who shall acquire what I have got?
I should have prayed not to be dead
Should not have strayed into this bed
Away from here I should have kept
Or better, dear, have never slept.
Meanwhile this is not the end we were promised, this
Is not the end we thought
We’d get, this is
Not the end we
This was written… well, finished … well, published… in response to an invitation to write a poem from the future. It is not really from the future, though, as far as I know.