19 | Poetry by F. J. Bergmann, Winner of the SFPA Rhysling Award & Writers of the Future
The Return of the Sauceress
The ship was a sleek time-train of blips,
slipping back through its skulking recursion
of red shift, the AI’s dementia progressively
creating larger chrono-leaps—until it failed.
I made my way out past the paranoid
redundancies of the airlock, the blue glare
of my Cherenkov-adapted eye scanning
for hazard, my suit valves hissing gently.
I was glad to be home; no doubt whatever
decay had developed in my absence
would be soon rectified, as determinism
replaced the void of illusory freedom.
My familiar, a bioweaponized drone,
scurried about my ankles as I strode,
making progressively larger orbits,
analyzing and selecting matrix materials.
By sunset my new residence had
finished printing: a scaly disc crested
with a crenellated observation dome,
squatting on both of its clawed legs.
Watching the Skies
Now will they believe me?
I saw what I saw. Sometimes
in the morning or evening the sky
turns yellow as a disease, and then
anything could happen. In that
golden light it was hard to be
afraid. What I saw could have been
silver rain dripping down or a tear
ripping open a cloud, but I was
fully prepared to see anything
besides the shards of my own
life. A blue shining flooded
over me, and I waited, weeping,
for coming miracles, but those
slight revelations were coming
to an end. Oscillations formed
in the firmament, patterns whose
names I don’t know, messages
I couldn’t understand, from some
other rock suspended in the black.
I’d never seen before what I saw
then. Will they believe me?
When They Come to Take Me
Flying saucers have come to represent
the possibility of extraterrestrial visitors
zooming at seemingly impossible speed
from somewhere else in the universe.
The night sky, murmuring in its own dark
language, seems far less appalling now:
the moment we were all waiting for
in response to requests for information.
Exploring the unknown in space
will lead to a report that will be made,
and someday a construct that faithfully
duplicates all known appearances.
After concluding that recent incursions
exist among the trillions of planets,
other incidents still cannot be explained.
We’ll have to investigate further.
Science goes about the business of finding
glimpses of quick, silvery movement
that spirals out in all sorts of directions—
even interstellar objects have to obey laws.
Sometimes a silent, invisible structure
hovers above me, glowing in the infrared:
anomalous, unexplained occurrences.
A decaying black hole pulses inside me.