Tuesday poem: Pod, cast

April 29, 2014

Pod, cast

Cradled in my pod, my body shut up like a bedside book, with a bookmark of drugs inserted to continue me some day, I had a nightmare. It was an old fear for the fourth millennium, that of being buried alive. And it came to whisper panic in my ear; you are forgotten. They have entombed you in speed. No-one will be there, at journey’s end, to dig you out, little podded pea. Fool, to accept this alien life, to dream in airless space, a ghost not dead, a man suspended beyond hope. Hanging in time, rope of frayed expectations slipped around your neck, tightening. And still you fly stupefied, dumb, trusting those not yet born to release you. Listen to your heart beat the retreat, a jerking jazz rhythm of fear.

The living dead, that shady cast of zombie, of vampire, flickered like ancient film shadows through my mind, a hazy cloud of horror where no cloud ever forms, out here between one star and the next. Feeble belief of resurrection somewhere, beyond the years.

Sleep left me. Gulping, choking, drowning in doubt, my eyes scanned the dark inside of the pod, looking for escape, for any feature to tell me that I was, in fact, awake. That I was, in fact, alive. But the pod was like a closed eye, and I was trapped inside its blindness. How could I know? Was this lulling pod a grave? I fought to feel the walls of the capsule, read their enclosing story in Braille, but my arms were pinioned, would not shift. I was wrapped in spider’s silk, a stupefied unbreakable embrace. My disquiet lead me further inside myself, with no twine of reason to bring me out. Knotted in a strait-jacket, tangled in progress, I sped on into darkness.

Machines detected, read the chemicals, adjusted. Put me back to sleep, rocked a thousand years. But now I dream only of death, and the heavy years and the speed of light smother me. I staked my life on stability, that there will be no upheaval in which I will be swept away, an insect unmourned, amongst the crumbs of swarming stars. I am the unborn, dreaming in the womb, this metal womb, quickening towards my second birth, but bracketed in iron ifs and buts. Icarus with untried wings of steel. Hiatus, hubris and hell here, inside me, inside the pod, cast away.

P.S. Cottier
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I wrote that piece of prose/prose poem for a competition in the United States way back in 2008. I was lucky enough to win, and actually went to the convention which had organised the competition in Wisconsin. (The Odyssey Convention.) This was a turning point in my writing, and although I had been exploring the speculative in my work, it certainly helped to strengthen that element.

Since then, ‘Pod, cast’ was republished in the Indigo Book of Australian Prose Poems, edited by Michael Byrne.

Currently, I have a poem up at Eye to the Telescope, the online journal of the Science Fiction Poetry Association based in the United States. This one is edited by Robert Dutcher, and is one the interesting topic of ‘mundane’ science fiction, that is, the idea that we are basically stuck in our solar system with no aliens and no journeys to other galaxies, as undertaken by a million travellers in a million science fiction novels and films. And by my nameless traveller in the prose poem above.

Speaking of speculative poetry, here are the launch details for The Stars Like Sand: Australian Speculative Poetry, which I have been editing with Tim Jones for several light years:

Melbourne, 6pm for a 6.30pm start, Friday 6th June, Collected Works Bookshop, 1/37 Swanston St, Melbourne. To be launched by renowned poet Philip Salom. This is to be a joint launch with Gemma White’s new collection, which is also being published by IP.

Canberra 6.30 for a 7pm start on Thursday 12th June at Manning Clark House, 11 Tasmania Circle, Forrest, ACT 2603. To be launched by the multi-award winning novelist Kaaron Warren.

There has been a wonderful response from poets to our request that they read poems from the anthology at the launches. I am looking forward to the two launches so much. Anyone reading this is most welcome to attend.

I’ll post the proper invitations here, and of course, sent them out (by email) to lotsa persons.

Click this feather for further poesie:

Tuesday Poem

4 Responses to “Tuesday poem: Pod, cast”

  1. I can see why it did so well. it’s incredibly atmospheric and I rather hope you didn’t dream it …not at night that is. And I can see a hope for the future in it too. But not for me this pod.

  2. Norah said

    I love it. It is such a powerful piece and so atmospheric. I would not choose to be that pea in a pod travelling, entombed-like, throughout space and time waiting for a rebirth. But I wonder how similar is this to our own birth, and our own death?

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