Troubled Times are Turning


We follow footprints disappearing
Into the wet alien sand
That shimmers beneath three moons’ sheen

One of our party wonders
Where the owner of these feet is running
Except slowly but surely out of time

We all look off at the ragged horizon
As the sea writhes beside us
Like leviathan’s ink

Our robot leader crouches
Dips a circuit in a footprint
Says this is the one we’re looking for

Then it lifts the dipped circuit
To its permanent smile
And says quietly it smells like desperation

‘Don’t we all?’ mutters a man at the back
In a voice coming out of the shadow
That has stolen his face away

It’s a darkness thrown down by the huge black hat
That’s the only thing left of his old life
He told us over shivering breakfast

But we can’t waste time thinking about someone
Who smells like us, who is running from us
Not if we ever want to get paid


— J.E.A. Wallace



J.E.A. Wallace has been a hotel night porter, an abattoir security guard, and a barman in The House of Lords. Born and raised in England, he now lives and writes in America. His debut full-length poetry collection Are You Hurtling Towards God Knows What? is available from Unsolicited Press.


Editor’s Note: Human footprints (kisspng) are colorized black and superimposed on an alien landscape with 3 moons (Amazon: azutura Alien Landscape Wall Mural Planets Space Photo) was chosen to echo the opening verse and capture its tension.

Tags: ,