The Sunday Poem: Gary Brower... Escaping the End of the World

Did you see the news story? Two asteroids, each one big as a house, zipped between earth and the moon last Wednesday. Talk about coincidence! Just read today's poem. There are three epigraphs that preface this remarkable look at the future, but the title really says it all.

Gary Brower is one of the Directors for the Duende Poetry Series in Placitas, which this afternoon will feature DCF favorite Margaret Randall as well as California poet Suzanne Lummis.

Brower is also the editor of the Malpais Review. The premier issue just came out. A "joint" launch party for the Malpais Review and Richard Vargas' Mas Tequila Review is scheduled for next week, September 19th. "The launch party will be on Sept. 19 from 2-5pm at Alamosa Books (8810 Holly Ave.) in the NE heights. There will be poetry & music. Mitch Rayes will be there with his guitar."


“The survival of the human race depends on
its ability to find new homes elsewhere in the
universe because there’s an increasing risk
that a disaster will destroy the Earth.”—AP
news conference (6/13/06), Stephen Hawking.

“Rocket Summer , the words passed among
the people...Rocket Summer.”—Ray Bradbury,
The Martian Chronicles.

“When everyone goes to other planets, I will
stay in the abandoned city...walk the rusted rails,
...listen to records of 1930s songs, never caring
to look at the infinite roads traced by rockets in
space.”--Jorge Teillier, When Everyone goes.

I opened the car door of memory,
traveled roads even ghosts
no longer haunt.

As I drove back from
the precipice called Omega,
in a turquoise blue and white,
1956 Chevy sedan from my past
seeing no one,
I realized our continual
non-stop wars and ecocide
might have finally brought us
to the end we thought would never come.

We’ve become too reptilian,
I thought,
scales on our eyes,
like humanosaurs,
clawing our way
to oblivion.

I pulled up to an old railroad crossing,
realized there was no reason to stop,
even though red lights were flashing
from an ancient warning signal, its bell clanging
as if calling machines to prayer.

I started to cross the rusted rails,
but out of nowhere,
a train with no engineer suddenly roared by,
the whoosh of its wake moving toward blinding light,
till the caboose faded from view,
a ghost named Future in the empty bar-car
ordering drinks of dust,
as the machine plunged over a broken tressel
in the planet of my head.

Links of the Great Chain of Being
were melting down, like borders of real and unreal,
the mirage of current history a Daliesque landscape
fading into impossible incarnations of deja vu
we had never seen before.

I missed the emotional part of Armageddon,
the erasure of cartoon religions
that couldn’t produce a messiah to save the world
after the public was told the “nuclear option” that was used
would bring deathly drops of radiation rain
while at the same time,
there was no doubt a meteor
would kiss the earth with its apocalips.

As the Great Circle of Death moved closer,
panicked crowds locked
into the last dome of the take-off area
heard those left outside
invoking names of Rodan and Megalon or Godzilla
referred to in the chapter of New Revelations
from the Revised Book of the Good Life.

I looked down from the cockpit
like a stuffed animal in my ill-fitting spacesuit,
flashed on the kaleidoscope of my past
which recreated fragments of dreams
that continually changed into nightmares
as I heard an ethereal voice say:
“two minutes to lift-off,”
the end of the countdown echoing
in my helmet: “zero, zero, zero, zero.”

I shook off the calming injection,
kept talking into my memo-pod,
as the rocket suddenly exploded
toward a distant orbit-road,
moved to puncture gravity before the death-rain,
ahead of the meteor’s arrival,
escape the final impact that would pull us back
to the end of the world,
as we tried to outrun our own stupidity
leave behind our soon-to-be cinder of galactic garbage,
head for a planet-colony we hoped still there,
swinging on our airship trapeze
in the big-tent circus of constellations,
looking for a moon of Jupiter named Mozart,
listening to Holtz’s “The Planets,”
the shining Music of the Spheres,
down to the Zodiac’s last desperate notes,
waiting for the future of History
to explode like a train
colliding with light
at the end
of the world.

--Gary Brower

Poetry submissions are encouraged. Email

Views: 49

Comment by Margaret Randall on September 12, 2010 at 8:25am
Strong poem, Gary, and so relevant to what we are all living now. Even that old blue and white 1956 chevy sedan seems like a relic with something to say to us today... and I love those apocalips!
Comment by Barelas Babe on September 12, 2010 at 12:08pm
The sci-fi tone of this poem coupled with descriptions of Doomsday really grabbed me, Gary. There's a lyricism that fits the soundtrack you evoke - the powerful, yet human notes of Mozart and Holst, coupled with the fixed (and untouchable?) Pythagorean music of the spheres is a contrast I shall mull over today.
Comment by Immanuel Presbyterian Church on September 13, 2010 at 8:32pm
...its bells clanging as if calling machines to prayer.

Comment by Richard V on September 15, 2010 at 8:22am
whoa. you nailed it with this one.


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