To Whomsoever Remains

as I write this I am catching up on the news
and the news was about nothing at all, the usual
flames rising up from the cracks of everything we know, nothing special,
but randomly I noticed in the B-roll there was this little slice of a clip
of a soldier walking past a bakery in Jerusalem
with a rifle slung over one shoulder
and his girlfriend’s arm over the other; they were
grinning like they just came back from some gentle sunlit lunch
before going back to the tiring task of casting lots
on the cost of a human spirit

and sadly the hands have been turning here for some time,
and all the preachers on your bookshelves will not make it
to the mountaintop they imagined in their hardbacks,
even the pulp the pages were cast from won’t last long enough
to see us get there, so I am carving something out
to whomsoever remains before even the screen you’ve read this on
is cracked and fallow—thank you very much for still walking on,
and for not leaving this message behind.
I know this does not amount to much at the moment.

you may think you are reading the bitter reminder
that dozens of people one generation in your rearview
tried to plant some hopeful seeds and didn’t have a harvest.
and let’s be honest, that’s what happened:
we thought there was enough tomorrows to go around
and then one cold night we counted too few in our hands.
but we did grow something.
threads of it, barely a handful, but something.
in fact, out of all the dimmer things that we could make,
at least you’re here too.

at least you get to have what’s left,
and it’s a shame it’s the scraps, not the glassy one we wrote of,
all of the tinsel we imagined has gone rotten in the warm sun,
ansibles screaming curses every hour, our shiny robots
kicking the door in on your home and wagging their tails,
our cars voting among themselves on deadpools, every gun
in the dystopia getting their own pair of red and blue lights,
and I am sorry that you have to read this while the clouds get dark.
but—and reread this whenever the stars cannot be found—
at the very least, in the very worst, we made you, and you are still here.

you. a seed. surviving in this tragic soil.
and mustn’t that be enough?


Brandon O’Brien

Brandon O’Brien is a writer, performance poet, teaching artist, and game designer from Trinidad and Tobago. His work has been shortlisted for the 2014 and 2015 Small Axe Literary Competitions and the 2020 Ignyte Award for Best in Speculative Poetry, and is published in Uncanny Magazine, Fireside Magazine, Strange Horizons, and New Worlds, Old Ways: Speculative Tales from the Caribbean, among others. He is the former Poetry editor of FIYAH: A Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction. His debut poetry collection, Can You Sign My Tentacle?, available from Interstellar Flight Press, is the winner of the 2022 Elgin Award.

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