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Day Thirty: "Elegy"

Elegy-for Rod Serling

In the future on a planet
far from home, there is

a likeness of you, gesturing
in your suit and black tie.

A slight glint of humor softens
your worn face and rough

voice as you hover in mid-step
through a door or around

a corner, cigarette in hand,
to introduce every story

and provide a small homily
at its end, a wry reminder

of human depravity and a call
to be better, to learn. You

try to teach me not to forget
the horrors of my history.

And sometimes you simply
haunt me: with strange faces

hovering outside a plane window
or above an operating table,

fears of memory and the uncanny
waiting in the past and future, within

varied apocalypses and the unmarked ninth floor of a department store.

You have given me the uncanny,
the lonely made whole, the parables,

quests for youth both vain
and gentle, the acceptance of death.

And as you gesture onward endlessly
alongside the three astronauts

in this story, whose only wish
was to return to earth, I hope

you appreciate this last imagined
cameo in one o…

Day Twenty-Nine: "The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank"

The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank
But why should this man who has recently risen from the dead resolve himself into something we can comprehend? It is the 1920s in rural America and a man has died: this we can understand. But at the funeral, when the lanky arms begin to raise, followed almost awkwardly by a body fumbling its way out of the casket, we should certainly know better than to expect that this revivified man can now be anything like simple. In the story we are given clues: an altered personality, an odd work ethic, the air of the supernatural hanging, unsurprisingly, around this miracle man, and we can reasonably draw the conclusion that what we see is not what existed before, or what we could have ever expected to exist. And so we are left to seek out a motive, or a set of goals: what does this new man want? And when we return somewhat empty from this quest, what right do we have to be surprised when the story ends ragged and uninterpreted? Here the Other presents itself as…

Day Twenty-Eight: "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet"

Nightmare at 20,000 Feet

Plane’s wing is broken:
a flaw in the design? Or
something malicious?

Marks of an inhuman hand
mar the shining steel surface.

Days Twenty-Six and Twenty-Seven: "Execution" and "A Passage for Trumpet"

Execution

Condemned man escapes
into future, but justice
will take what is due:

hanging meted out by rope
or thin curtain cord—timeless.



A Passage for Trumpet

The man plays jazz, hates
his life. But he is given
a new chance to see

good in the music he makes, the world he had forsaken.

Day Twenty-Five: "A Penny for Your Thoughts"

A Penny for Your Thoughts

and surely the phrase came first,
idly flipped until the what if
it was more than figurative entered
the writer’s mind, and so we see
this timid office worker who buys
a newspaper and accidentally
pays with a coin that lands
on its edge, and this miracle
of probability grants him (somehow)
the ability to read minds. Most
insanely of all, the lesson learned
here is not one of human evil,
at least not entirely, but rather
the way we don’t do what we think,
the unreliability of mind as narrator.
And so, when these magical powers
are mysteriously revoked, we find
an uncommonly lucky, happy man
at the end of the story, he and we
the wiser for our small investment.

Day Twenty-Four: "The Midnight Sun"

The Midnight Sun

Bedridden woman
on a burning Earth; the sun
moves closer daily.

But all this is a fever
dream; outside, the frozen world.

Day Twenty-Three: "The Bewitchin’ Pool"

The Bewitchin’ Pool

The ignored children
sink beneath the pool-water,
and find love to breathe.