A collaboration with Kendall Evans, published in a new chapbook from Sam's Dot.
The Grand Experiment
The alchemist leaned back and smiled
The elixir was complete;
It was time for his initial trial.
If his calculations were correct,
He would soon be able to witness the Sphinx being built
The early indo-european migrations
The razing of the great library in Alexandria
As he brought the cup to his lips
An intense peppermint flavor burst upon his tongue.
He looked out the window
Just as a shadow passed across it
He picked up the phone
"Did it work?"
He slammed down the phone;
He hurried out of the room
And down to the front door
He reached for the knob, hesitated,
Then stepped back:
Just as he finally reached for the knob once again,
The door was flung open.
Nursing his jammed fingers he stared at Carson:
"It's only getting worse!" he said,
With a groan or maybe a whine in his voice.
He ran outside, fell,
And climbed back to his feet.
The earth rolled unsteadily
And he heard the sound of breaking glass
From inside the house;
A new explosion in his upstairs lab?
Or the one four months ago?
* * * * *
A biplane and a pterodactyl
Loop-de-loop in the sky above
An intricate parody of WWI aerial combat;
Would the others in the street,
Looking up, see both, or one?
Encountering a sudden forest
Dense with undergrowth and trees
He pushes through to an overgrown ruin
And shoves back shrubs from cuneiform words
Carved into weathered stone
An ancient Sumerian engraving
Which he methodically translates:
"If a piece of felt cloth
Is abandoned in the forest
With no one to touch or feel it,
Can it really be felt at all?
Or is it something else entirely?"
Surely he has erred; this can't be right
Ancient Sumerican is tricky.
He retranslates more cautiously,
A text telling of shell-necklaces,
Tax levy increases, due and payable
To the local chieftain--
Or maybe not; the ambiguity of it all
Makes him want to weep.
He's stuck with an image from his departure,
His friend Carson talking to the empty space
In the doorway he had occupied moments before.
One other miscalculation,
He cannot argue with himself:
Better if he had brought along
At least one someone else
As a traveling compantion.
Too disorienting, the way the dimension of time
Seems to be slowly unraveling
Beyond the forest a tall fence looms
Barbed-wire capped, posted with signs
Reading "RESTRICTED AREA"
At this rate, he reflects, it will take me forever
Or at least far too long
To reach Egypt or old Alexandria
The Sphinx will be completed,
The library will be burned.
If only there were a trans-time hotel
Or a genuine signpost
Somewhere along the way