Poetry — June 21, 2016 10:33 — 1 Comment

At the End of Time (Wish You Were Here) – Jeannine Hall Gailey

I tried to call you one night but you were in Thailand.
I was listening to Tool’s “Opiate” and reading about the particulate
levels in China and the meteor that had narrowly missed us yesterday
and realized I’d missed the recent eclipse and also missed you.

I realized 40 years of learning were leaking through the lesions in my brain,
names and faces and memories of us and I wanted to reassure you
that I would still remember you but then maybe I won’t – like the radioactive
water leaking from Fukushima burning the algae and sea lions –

nature takes what it wants from us. And what have we learned
that will do us any good, standing here on the brink of fire and flame,
of disaster, of zombie movie dystopia and plague and final girls:
what will we hold onto? At the end all we have is ourselves

and sometimes not even that. We must be our own saviors.
We must wield the axe against the assassin that is death and time,
that is endings and goodbyes, chop down the difficulties
and the disappointments until the wall is gone, until we are back

in the sunlit yards of our childhoods, when we could still cry
without irony and sweet things still tasted sweet and my limbs
didn’t end in numbness, remember that? If we can still remember,
then somewhere things must be better than here.


Jeannine Hall Gailey recently served as the second Poet Laureate of Redmond, Washington. She’s the author of five books of poetry: Becoming the Villainess, She Returns to the Floating World, Unexplained Fevers, The Robot Scientist’s Daughter, and Field Guide to the End of the World, coming from Moon City Press in 2016. Her work has been featured on NPR’s The Writer’s Almanac, Verse Daily, and in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. Her poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review and Prairie Schooner. Her web site is www.webbish6.com.

One Comment

  1. Alison Hedlund says:

    “We must be our own saviors” and “wield the axe” against the things that bring us down…and the knowledge bringing the world down…beautiful. This poem gives us hope that despite all the adversity of our lives, we can still fight our way forward and through and regain (or retain) the innocence and joy of our beginnings, through our memories of those days. We must fight our own battles….and make our own peace. I do believe there is new consciousness rising against all these abuses….though the power base is strong…..

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What am I?

Bioluminescent eye
That sees by the shine
Of its own light. Lies

Blind me. I am the seventh human sense
And my stepchild,

Scientists can't find me.

Januswise I make us men;
Was my image then—

Remind me:

The awful fall up off all fours
From the forest
To the hours…

Tick, Tock: Divine me.

-- Richard Kenney