2016-06-03

Death and the maybe


In the words Terry Pratchett gave to Sergeant Colon and Nobby Nobbs, as they balanced on the roof of the distillery with the dragon bearing down upon them:


What's up, Sarge? Do you want to live for ever?
 
Dunno. Ask me again in five hundred years.
 
 
And there is a fundamental point at work here, we live longer and longer, but we aren't 'designed' to live forever.

That said, Death is dying.  Very slowly and with, I am sure, a couple more twisty scythe-based manoeuvres up his sleeve, but we are slowly grinding away at all the things that can make a person not last forever.  There will come a last mortal generation and possibly we are it...

...although, actually, I doubt that, it takes surprisingly long to pull a fully fledged and medically-approved nano-technological body repair system out of your hat, or mind upload technology, or even body-part-on-demand cloning.  But even although it's going to take longer than we like, there is going to come a time when people become essentially undying and we have to face the ultimate socially awkward questions:

How long do you want to live?

How long to you want to live with me?

How long do we both want to live, if the kids have emigrated to
Alpha Centauri, and idea of eternity with nothing on the TV is driving us nuts? 

But never mind, we may get hit by a comet...








Naked celebrity photographs



There is no real connection
between the beautiful and the vertical;
it is only a rule of thumb
but it has held so far,

she thinks,

photographing another letter-Y incision
against the steel table.
It always seems wrong
for the roughly stitched flesh not to swell redly,

but it's not.

This one had a crucifix
it's in an envelope upstairs
and a PR agency
who do not now know what to do.

She examines the photo
crosses it off her todo list.



To wish upon


If a comet comes
perhaps by night
wandering through our atmosphere
at a thousand times the speed
of bullets from a gun

the air compressed and burning
a transient and bale-filled sun
that flash-fries everything along its drift
before stepping firmly down to lift
some small Midwestern town

from the planet's surface
like a stamp loosened
in warm water and floated free if badly torn
with a thousand cubic kilometres
of the rocky envelope beneath.

If you are not burned
as you stand wondering or smashed
by falling secondary ejecta
if you are lucky and if, in short,
you are far enough away

then you can flee
the monument
of swelling black
that's eerily silent
coming at you faster than sound.

There is no way to turn
but you could flee choosing
as the commentator put it
a slow death over a fast one but, foolish, I
choose the slow death every time.



Magic


An empty box, a glass of milk,
two table tennis balls, a silken scarf,
no doves in my waistcoat, and no rabbits
or other small mammals
concealed anywhere about my person

but enough of this penny ante stuff.  Let's do magic!
Observe this wand, which came to me from an old,
old magician.  Now,

does any member of the audience have
a recently deceased body, ideally someone dear to you?
A mother?  A son?
A close friend will do...
You Sir?  Your daughter?

Let's give him a big hand!
If you'll just wheel the trolley onto the stage...
Thank you!
I cover her with this cloth
and if I could have total silence
as I wave the wand and rip apart the borders
of the undiscovered country.

I like to call this trick
"And death shall have no dominion."




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