Orson Scott Card
Published on: 4/3/2009
I used to think the little black parasites
Entered through my eyes
And burrowed into my brain
And there laid eggs;
That the larvae stirred and writhed
Scavenging among misconceptions
And memories and decaying dreams,
Old weathered nightmares
Leaving behind their own detritus,
Shed skin and excrement,
Rumor and scraps of tale;
And then formed their tiny
Changed clothes in the dark,
Then one day burst forth
Out of my fingers, full-grown letters
Lined up in rows on paper.
I would send them back into the world.
They reproduced there, spread,
Endemic in the population,
Renewed and reinvented
Just a little by every host,
No strain utterly lost,
Merely evolved, adapted,
A bit of everyone in every iteration.
But now I know
There is no sojourn in the brain,
No cocoon, no transformation.
They crawl the surface,
They hop on and off again like fleas,
Taking a little blood,
Leaving a little black death,
Jumping back to the rats,
Neither changed nor changing:
The public memory talking to itself
And they taught me nothing
That my DNA hadn't already
Poured into the marrow of my bones.
Published on: 5/2/2005
There are those who follow fires,
to put them out, or celebrate them,
to save people from them,
to see flames dance, to feel heat,
to hear the roar of power,
to watch tall things crumble,
to see bright things blacken into ash.
There are those who set fires
to cook food in the wilderness
or in an oven or on a stove,
or harden pottery in a kiln,
to get rid of leaves or block a brushfire,
to collect insurance by fraud,
to hide crimes, to get even, or to kill.
There are those who with their words and hands
waken bright fires that sleep in human hearts,
the warmth of comfort to the grieving,
the heat of shame at sins seen clear,
the flickering of knowledge long forgotten,
the lamp of vision in the dark of life,
the fire that melts and purifies the soul.
Father, source of light,
kindle me, refine me, so my
children can find me in the night.
Published on: 2/16/2005
Old man's belly,
Thou shadest my dong.
I lift thee up
To zip and snap,
To aim my whiz.
Cover my lap,
Stretch my shirt,
Pop buttons off.
On elevators, push.
Fill airplane seats,
Spread. Take root.
I planted thee,
Fed and sheltered thee,
Thou child of table-love.
Thou sharest my bed.
Thy grumble grieves me.
I hear thy prayer.
Published on: 10/5/2004
Don't You Remember the End of the World?
In 1965 the world ended.
Sudden fire, a dazzling light
on the horizon, a hot hammer of wind.
In that infinite moment
between the light and heat
there was time for a dream,
One dream that moved so quickly through the mind
that there were meals enough for Elvis to get fat,
to die in sequins on the john,
to give those sightings in the shopping malls.
Why a dream of Elvis?
"It's Now or Never" was the only song you knew.
Why a dream of Nixon?
Loser made winner, goes to Russia,
goes to China, gone gone gone.
Mom and Dad are growing old
in your dream, and in the dream
you met a girl and married her,
and look at all these children,
bright sparks in the shadow
of onrushing night.
It's your dream, all these years of it.
You turned fourteen in '65.
Surprise! You had the seeds inside you
of VCRs and cellphones and the worldwide web, you technophile;
and you made the Death Valley guy
be president, you wacky dreamer
who but a fourteen-year-old? Who but a boy?
Is the moment truly infinite?
If it can end, why didn't it
before your baby died, six hours old, in the hospital?
If it's your dream, why this crippled child of yours
who cannot walk or talk?
Are they but messages from yourself?
Your awareness of that flash of light,
made painful flesh, made beating heart, made dust?
They are not death's message, but the song of life,
of life worth living in this momentary dream.
You make them up for the love of them,
whether they love you back or not,
because such people ought to be alive,
even if they breathe your breath,
see nothing but the light inside your mind.
Nixon, you never knew me, but I gave you such a life.
Salman Rushdie, there in hiding,
you know you love the fame, your household name.
Saddam, damn you, troublemaker, scamp.
Don't thank me all at once you strutters, you fretters,
for giving you your hour upon the stage.
They don't notice you; they think they're real,
and if they think they are they are,
at least until the edges start to fray,
until the flesh begins to sear,
until the hot blast bucks you up.
Close your eyes as tight as you can
until your eyelids burn away.
Hold your breath and shut your mouth
until the wind bores another hole into your lungs.
One last question
as the dream ends
as the dream ends
Is it over now because you're starting to awake?
Or because at last you found a way to sleep?
And ah, love, was there not dream enough for one more kiss?