The Poem from the Future

(1) Purity of Purpose


At the Ministry of Offence the brains are fermenting in their bottles. War is being thought. On the other side of the world thousands of people fall to the ground. Thought cannot be stopped or detected. Thinking levels the Enemies of Right.

6 Sexton_Poem FutureThe Rhyme Sinister looks out from his window high in the Ministry of Culture. The black towers of the Ministry of Offence loom in the fog. He knows that freedom of thought must prevail. Only when thought leaves the mind is there purity of purpose. He turns from the window and faces the prisoner nailed in the kind seat. There are three other kind seats in the room but they are empty. Only the blood and feces smeared on them suggests any past occupancy. The prisoner has his mouth sewn shut. The Prime Sinister thinks at him.

You have been speaking poetry. Poetry is forbidden.

The Rhyme Sinister has a poem written by the prisoner lying face-up on his desk. Going over to the desk he lifts it and reads it in his mind.

Hellebore rips its head through the ground.
All hellebore uprisen in its flourish. All hellebore.

What is the meaning of this? Thinks the Rhyme Sinister out loud.

The prisoner refuses to think, but instead tries to force his mouth open to form spoken words. His tongue has been rolled and pinned in place. No sound could possibly come from his mouth. The thick thread that binds his lips is dull with blood.

The Rhyme Sinister presses a button on his desk and the kind seat containing the prisoner begins to pamper. The prisoner oozes in the kindness of the seat.


(2) Skin of the Rhyme Sinister

The Rhyme Sinister sleeps soundly in his bed. Today the last of the week’s prisoners was sent to the composting pits. The latest poem to be confiscated by the Ministry of Culture has been destroyed. But poetry cannot be destroyed. It remains in the Rhyme Sinister’s sleeping mind. In the Rhyme Sinister’s memory the poem begins to leak through his thoughts. The Rhyme Sinister dreams of hellebore.

The poem is thought out loud and enters the room. The poem enters the carpets and the curtains and the bedding and the clothes. It enters into the skin of the Rhyme Sinister. The poem poisons everything with its innocent pervasiveness. Once the room is saturated with it the poem leaves by an open window. It penetrates air. Entering starlight it becomes manifold as direction. It travels into the future but the future is unoccuring and therefore impervious.

The poem travels into the past.

The poem arrives here. Here is anywhere. Anywhere you might happen to be.

Hellebore rips its head through the ground.
All hellebore uprisen in its flourish. All hellebore.

The poem becomes yours. You have no idea what it means, but suddenly the present is transcendent. All hellebore.

— John Sexton


John W. Sexton was born in 1958 and lives in the Republic of Ireland. His fifth poetry collection, The Offspring of the Moon, was published by Salmon Poetry in 2013. His poem, “The Green Owl,” was awarded the Listowel Poetry Prize 2007 for best single poem, and in that same year he was awarded a Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh Fellowship in Poetry. His speculative poems are widely published and some have appeared in Apex, The Edinburgh Review, The Irish Times, Mirror Dance, The Pedestal Magazine, Rose Red Review, Silver Blade, Star*Line and Strange Horizons.

Editor’s Notes: This experimental narrative flash poem is very imaginative. The artwork is a juxtaposition of two images: an abstraction of self-destruction, presumably from due to “bad thoughts” (by Kom!sh/deviantart) and that of a torture chamber (taken from a kinky B&B advertisement).

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