Suppose some promised catastrophe you seldom succumb to imagining
has, just now, stopped still not happening.
Suppose that last stark threshold, the one they’ve said all along (OK but for real this
time) we must never blunder beyond,
is already joining all those others we’ve left behind.
Suppose, were this a movie (which don’t worry it won’t be), this moment’d be that cut
the taut close-up on a bright zero closing out the countdown
and a silent wide shot across the impact zone.
Suppose that whether this news leaves you resigned or frantic, complicit or confessed,
distraught, defiant, or bitter,
does not (and not once did and now as it has turned out never will) matter.
Suppose the coming days will make our folly’s (though that won’t be the name they use
for it) inheritors envious
of (and this should really tell you something) us.
Suppose venality plus inertia. Suppose we’ll worry about it then, or we’ve made mistakes before.
Then suppose terror and remorse. Suppose the anguish of irredeemable loss. Suppose
blame. Suppose despair.
You can also suppose (though I don’t recommend it) how we just missed (so close!)
some nicer, non-nemesis-ridden, future.
Now suppose, as a kind of relief though not really but whatever,
how there won’t be time for all that once it (i.e. catastrophe) gets here.
Suppose at least we won’t have to talk about it ever again. That’s something.
Suppose they’re all wrong. (Told you so!) But they’re not all wrong.
And finally, yes finally, suppose (if you dare) what it’ll feel like then
to know how they (meaning we) knew now that, even as their (our) last chance to
it (i.e. catastrophe) is juuuust about gone,
they (we) are too busy to do more than wait for someone to hurry up already and find a
entertaining them(our)selves meanwhile with enough post-apocalyptic bullshit (but isn’t
some of it pretty cool?) to obscure how they (we) will surely deserve the curses of
every coming generation,
which will not, however, reverberate all that long
because of, you know, oblivion.
James McKee enjoys failing in his dogged attempts to keep pace with the unrelenting cultural onslaught of late-imperial Gotham. After college he held a number of ludicrously unsuitable jobs before spending over a decade as a teacher and administrator at a small special-needs high school. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Acumen, The Raintown Review, Saranac Review, The South Carolina Review, THINK, The Midwest Quarterly, Xavier Review, and elsewhere.