To begin ...

As the twentieth century fades out
the nineteenth begins
it is as if nothing happened
though those who lived it thought
that everything was happening
enough to name a world for & a time
to hold it in your hand
unlimited.......the last delusion
like the perfect mask of death

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Amish Trivedi: Excerpt of "Automata", from FuturePanic, with a note by the author

To keep waking up
missing the suns
beyond our own. The future
is a hard limit, the arc of history

long enough that no one here
will ever see enough of it.
Long after humans, maybe
two-hundred thousand years old,

would long have been buried

                        in the Earth’s graveyard,



Art is a kind of engagement
            with the future, depleting resources

so it can replicate itself. What art does in crisis,
machines do in space

over a few million years. Poems are fast enough
their language is not forgotten, buried.

Whatever you create
while reading this
is my intellectual property
and you creep me out.


By the time anyone looks us up, we’ll be dust,
void, ashes scattered into the galaxy’s ocean,

Wake up knowing
            there are only enough mornings. Wake
up knowing no one
knows we’re here. Wake up knowing
we won’t be missed. Lonely,
            alone enough out here.

I’m not worried about my future—
there’s a hard limit to it.

Worry without really meaning it. There’s a hard limit.


An egg hatched, an astrochicken— a machine
            that’s alive and giving birth
            to itself. Four million years
            of a future that’s not ours, of
            replicated mornings. Life

an infinite loop until it rebuilds itself.
Pre-history for future Earthlings. We are
relics, mythology.

Time is terrorism unstoppable, exiled. A refugee of time.
            I assemble you, call you into being, my baby universe.

A limited number of possibilities in an infinite universe:        
                        not everything is permissible.


I stood in a room
and looked at all the things in it—

            things that had been bought,
                        given, taken. I am

just as guilty. We are not guilty
because the house is divided—

we are guilty because
we are the ones

that divided it. Dying this way
may have been easy enough

but we’re living in a denial
that cannot hold itself together

forever, even if it can replicate itself
endlessly by draining us,

a planet, a star, a cow, a child, an Earth
of all resources, a parasite, our disease

spreading out across a galaxy for millions of years
after we’ve already killed ourselves

and left evidence in the only graveyard
no one can find.


Went into the river clean and came out with 
one eye damaged. Was told there was time now 

but heard it differently. I cannot hear 
any of you: 

            the screamings of the mind have made ears
of new ghosts. It's not the words that are hollow,

just the voice behind it. Ready to be something 
other than deceived.


A lotus wilting above an abyss: locked out of the
unisex bathroom, bleeding, right leg first. Beginnings

mean nothing without your head
in an oven. It’s the way it’s

said that gets one in trouble; it’s the way it
breathes that chokes. It’s afternoon:

sirens are heard as they pull through
the intersection.


Time now for the earth below
to stand open: bringing the mountain in

means hearing its cries
in the night. One seed buried below,

            one above.
One caught, strangled. About prayers

that settle into the room: I
set their skin on fire as the music stopped.

NOTE: FuturePanic encompasses macro and micro concerns to transform the reader’s sense of space and time and force them to engage with the present era’s perceptions of death, politics, and the border at which they meet. The opening (presented here) considers the Von Neumann Machine, an as-yet impossible organic machine designed to replicate itself across the galaxy over the next 400,000 years. Conceptual, expensive, and perplexing, the Von Neumann Machine raises questions present throughout FuturePanic – who benefits from the long reach of technology? How do the earth-bound conceive of transformation light years away? And how do mortals deign to simultaneously explore the potential for never ending life at the cost of killing death for machines, while grappling with their own limitations – corporeal death, political conceit, and economic destruction of the world around them? Is the quest for knowledge that may outlast us all worth stargazing above the screams of others in the here and now and the cries of our own limited bodies and minds?

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