S. Asher Sund

The Terminal Situation (Elegy For a Nation Deplaned)

There is no end to what we can learn. The book out there
Tells us as much, and was never written with us in mind.
-- Mark Strand, from "The Night, the Porch"

Hanging on the high walls in the offices at the end
of the long halls, are their framed doctorate,
master's, and BS degrees from the University
of Outer Space. They tell us please have a seat
and then proceed, with their hands folded rather
precisely in front of themselves on their desks,
to give us two weeks, three months, half a year
at best. They offer us charts, satellite images,
pamphlets, various documentation, and just in case
we aren't yet convinced, they hire extras to stand
in the background and nod their heads, as experts
in their respective fields step out of the offstage dark
to argue for our preemptive unilateral attack--the only way,
they say, to remain forever great--followed by brief
cameo endorsements from Christ (played by Mel Gibson)
and Garth Brooks (played by Meryl Streep). After
this, even as we're placing our shimmering coins
in their outstretched alien palms, they ask if we
have any questions, and although we do--we do--
although we wonder if we might be allowed a second
opinion, we shake our heads, for we already know
what they will say: "Absolutely, for sure, be our guest,
as long as it conforms to one of the opinions on the list."
We know, too, how they'll smile at us then, on cue,
with grayish teeth, thinking by now that we have surely
forgotten. But for those who have ears, one nation still
indivisible, I tap the microphone: Can you hear me
out there? I have not forgotten and neither should you.

S. Asher Sund has been published in Margie, The Mississippi Review, The Briar Cliff Review, Juked and Fringe Magazine, among many others. In 2005, he won first place in the Margie Best Poem Contest, judged by Joyce Carol Oates, and in 2006, he was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He lives in Southern California, where he writes and produces music with Andi Starr (www.andistarr.com).

"My summer view from the front porch, British Columbia, circa late 20th century: a large field, a gravel road, a dock, and beyond the water of the Strait of Georgia, the Vancouver Island Mountain Ranges. Shadows there for sure, in this picture of mine, shadows all around me lengthening, but also something else--even if for flickering moments of time--call it sunlight, if you like, or even happiness."


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