POETRY January 7, 2022

Below the Dentist’s Bent Arm and through the Window, I See the Outline of the Shore through Fog

He’s trained with tools for decay
on a smaller scale, local erosion,
and I remember how much closer the end seemed
at the millennium: everybody’s mother
reading apocalyptic fiction
by the pool while their children learned
to doggy paddle for their lives—
our computers wouldn’t keep time
and I begged my parents to buy
canned food and water for the collapse.
Now the end is obviously closer
than ever and I have six hundred
TV channels to watch, and still
I choose the sad band on cable access
because somebody has to. Now some people
practice archery for the water wars
and pack their bug-out bags, whereas some
of my friends are into reincarnation,
and think the future is fated in stars.
Some of my friends talk about Pascal’s Wager
and others say there’s nothing else behind the door—
bet it all on black—and some are already
through it—ones who carved pentagrams
into desks at the back of the class and gulped Xanax
in bathrooms all day—more through every year.
The end must be closer than then because
it is later now, and we are in the dark theater
where rats once darted about our feet
as they played the film of our lives,
and must we return in the lights?
And he says we’re all done now, that I can
stop looking toward the shore, my mouth
now full of water and I spit it in the sink.

Christopher Blackman is a poet from Columbus, Ohio. His poems have appeared in DIAGRAM, The Kenyon Review, Cleaver Magazine, The Scores, and Mississippi Review, among other publications. He currently lives in New York City.