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Until I received one night\nA letter from my grandfather
And the letter read:\n
I send this by the cracked moon's light,\n
I'll take soon flight\n
Remember me as I will you,\nAll tree houses and untied shoe
In hope someday we meet again,\nYour distant kin, Sebastian.
But a farewell by letter is little better\n
For my grandfather, I set off in search of him...
I left by quiet my stately keep
The escape was easy, guards asleep
And wandered 'bout on tiptoe feet,\n
But for love or none\nCould find no life suit or aqualung.
Then airlock open,\n
And struggling up, heart kicking like a drum then,\n
And the next thing I knew, I woke again.
All gasping and flail, and wet as whales, \n
Hell's teeth, and I at the center.
And I, swimming as though possessed,\n
And knew no north from south or my mouth from my arse, as I rolled
But God, air, and true wind on my face
For I had not known such a thing\nIn all my remembering
And though I might well drown and sink true down to the ocean
For this moment, swirling in those salt eddies, I was a boy
And stormy though the night was hung,\n
Nay, but I was still at fate's behest, and had no interest in the
And by width and breadth did trial about a long while
And the water did carry me along and put my soul and breath
So this is how it ends, the long going under.
And with water in my mouth, goodnight.\n
Yes, goodnight. I go to seek a water sleep.
But fate was hard at play\nAnd I woke again, this time day
The storm a year away\nSo far as the sky told that story
A beach whereupon the sea had spat me out like some dislikeable
And I alive and washed ashore with bones and balls all sore,\n
Was the moon in cracked spoils of dead rock
As though God Himself had struck it with his mighty Galactic co-
But nay, there a man approached along the sand and called to see
And his face became familiar of a sudden.
Err, no?" replied he with concerned eyes on me and continued
Sir, whatever ordeal you\'ve just been through\n
And though I did my best not to show it –\n
And my companion helped me to my feet, led me down the beach
And I walked bent double,\n
Then said he, checking my memory
And how old is your grandfather?
Said I, "I don\'t recall at all. Perhaps you\'re right, I\'m
Okay," he said, "then which island is it you\'re from?
I\'m not from an island," I said.
I hail from beneath the sea and that great aquatic nursery.
For I am but twenty-one years old,\n
And slow he said, "But you are too young. You shouldn\'t be above
Not until their one-hundredth year\n
I only avoided his chiding stare\n
Finally he said, "I think it best we find this grandfather of
No isle is distant, mind,\nAnd I've a vehicle of my own design.
Come along. We\'ll make it wherever together.
And he led me to some great balloon whereupon we got in
And though he touched no gauge or board,\n
We were out over the water then, and I saw the stories were true,
many islands scattered higgledy here and there, and I shouted to
Nay," said he, "each is its own little principality
And just like your nursery, one lives on the isle fitting of their
As you were too, if the rules you actually obeyed.
And pointing then he shouted:\n
And there that land with beach and pier\n
The three hundreders are to the west,\n
And so on, I shan't recount them all,\n
Sir," I said, "with all these folk living so high on time\'s
I wonder if I might ask you how old you are yourself?
And he replied, "Let\'s say if there be a tree\n
Then I have filled my watering can eight times so far.
I could not help but stare at this man who, ignoring his
And in perfect health, but had somehow, eventually, aged eight
And before I could comment there appeared, upon the horizon,\n
Some needle wound\nAt least ten thousand feet 'bove ground.
Vishnu\'s arse!" I cried, "What is that?
A tower, whereby," he did reply,\n
And if you were to reach its spire,\n
It proves most convenient for ascending objects into orbit without
And though keep your eyes open yet," he mumbled slight,\n
For overhead and yonder yet\n
Seemingly sitting there in the air by dare of whim.
Oh gods, you\'re all so clever!" I cried. "You built all of
Aye," he said. "Year to year ascended each\n
And quite a while we watched the scene,\n
be honest, What is it you want with your grandfather? Really?
Are you so bold, you can\'t just let the old be old?
Nay," I said, "I wish to talk with he who by longevitys, like
Besides he says he's going elsewhere and I'd like to follow him
His letter said the Isle of nines If that's his ground That's
Actually, I wonder if I asked, dare you to get me there.
He was quiet a while, pokered face No smiles, and said
so you think age leads to becoming some Great Sage do you?
Yes, I'll get you to your grandfather
But we'll take the scenic route on our way to the Isle of the
our bearing changed then South was bound for some small spit of
I think," said he, "we\'ll search about and see if we can\'t out
and before I could protest we'd set down and come ashore and were
and up then sand and jungle thick and Cut our way with will and
in the suburbs folk were felling trees and hauling Shore great
then further in were folk who looked as young as I and dancing
all necking bottles gin and beer then coupling up to disappear
which Isle is this, I asked my Friend. I'm barely two decades old
The Isle of ones said he all here have aged at least one century
He left me down the winding paths of open debauchery and open
and folk who clear appeared They slept perhaps three days a year
and we came upon a woman bare, all dancing legs and wild blonde
My friend proclaimed "Oh Lady mayor I\'ve brought for thee one cub
and he has questions for his elders
She regarded me with red eyes and regard tireder yet and said
Why here we've ditched the milk, but kept the bottle, ask away
and the music did stop and all folk turned about with their drunk
and the lady mayor of the Isle of ones did close her eyes in great
I murmured "why, I am young and confused about everything and sure
but above all I should like to know how does one live well?
and how does one want for nothing and still acquire everything?
I leant sure close and cupped my ear, the wisdom of one in her 100
whereby she replied, "the secret to acquiring everything? Buy it
I'd suggest you found your answer here for we've loads of drugs
and though I cried out for Clarification it was surely the end of
and my new companion led me back past trees and Lagoon to our
What," I said, with confusion fat, "the holy
and off we left it over the beach up Once again into the wind's
Look," he said, "True they\'re all one century
But since we live at least nine in these enlightened times they
It wasn't long after life extension was perfected
We noticed that the older one dares to grow the more they prefer
that is why each age lives on its own isle. You would have little
such is the gap ten times wider with us. So there it is.
I said, "\'So there it is.\' Why, my grandfather liked that phrase
That may be," said he, "and yet your grandfather is not me.
And following his dead-end boon, I set eyes upon the fractured
I said, "Our pale lady of the night is not looking quite right
what happened to her?" "The Fall," he called. "Why, the world
We once used to play war to keep score.
How does one blow up a moon?" "By being smart enough to build
simultaneously stupid enough to use it.
Not too long from now, pieces of her will fall to the ground
and if any of us are still around by then, the air will turn
and for sure no living thing will endure.
Save for those living beneath the sea." "Like me," I said
and what will everyone still above the sea do instead?
He said "We\'ve another destination in mind, where we might start
With a squint I call sight just slight of rising constructs in the
spires and towers for a crown, sure the mark of a city or town.
Said I, "Start over where? Over there?
Said he, "Nay that is but the remains of nations
why sometimes on a new morning one can still make out the old
Said I "Well, who lives there?" "No one," he said, "Or the remains
the legacy of our forefathers, who'd rather blow up a moon than
they might both peaceably dance to. To hell with them. For all our
And from the smallest of corners of my mind's eye
I Saw and heard the bright sounds of those dead towns
the blaring horns and thousand forms of life to those days prior
fire they cast on themselves. Back before science had learned to
My old companion said, "The cruel irony is that many folk from
yet the human brain can only contain so many memories and so as
of what they did to our planet and moon in their youth
and though the Catastrophes live on in their name they have by
I said, "But you assume from the ruins that they knew what they
Maybe they meant well with their inventions and broke the world in
Right," he said, "I\'m sure in their empty heads when they
And he looked off from our basket a moment and said
Sorry." Said I, "Don\'t apologize, why, all that anger in your
makes me just then remember my grandfather's temper you so
That may be," said he, "and yet your grandfather is not me.
And I glanced ahead to find we were coming down again, not in a
Stark marble pillars and great mansions and villas and when we sat
Welcome friends, why, please enjoy your stay- if you\'re going to
that\'ll be 20,000 shells." "Oh, add it to my tab," my companion
and with my confusion stark, we pushed on into a park
at the base of each tree, a sign declared a fee of 10,000 shells
Likewise looking at the birds would cost the third of what one in
So too were their charges for drinking from the water fountains or
and we wandered down ostentatious and spacious streets
and found we'd meet with folk tired and thin walking hurried
Then pass piles of shells in little Laos and even the dirt and
And we found a great conch shell a man waited outside so thin I
My companion said sir, Mayor Hello. The mayor replied. Yes. Have
Ah, no, this is my friend from beneath the sea and if you've a
I said I'd like to know of you. How does one live well, and how
And how does one the mayor interrupted and how many shells will
none admittedly I said but you do look a little hungry and if you
he snatched it from Me at once and said, ah I see this will
I said they literally grow on trees for free
but he was already off on some tirade about the banana trade
He yelled. Why by this time next week? I'll be a banana coin
My companion led me away said perhaps that's enough economics for
And we fled the commotion past the starving, Rich masses to our
My companion said when the ones twos and threes are bored of their
They move for a while to the aisles of the fours fives and sixes
I said But they're all starving themselves. Yes. He said but look
by the time they reach their 7th century. It becomes pretty
There's more to the world than just wealth said I but what's the
undying populations on little island nations Hosting parties
while above each day The moon sidles closer to come crashing down
though It's easy to miss there is a point to all this
The ones twos and threes they party nightly Yes
but by day they mind the metal and fell the trees we need for new
then the fours fives and sixes why they don't just pursue riches
by evening They take the felled trees and ore and ensure by the
It is the most ambitious thing ever built from man's imagining
and not a few weeks from now 10 million of us
Will empty our drawers and lock our doors and kiss. Goodbye the
and once boarded each find ourselves afforded Four-poster
and then in liquid nitrogen 10 liters deep 10 million souls in no
and each space support that isn't there to accommodate our frozen
will carry instead What's left of the past each species will ride
from cabbage tree to New zealand kauri every Evergreen and
kept maintained by clockwork brains
And what's more pig, donkey, boar, fly, swan, Crustacean,
hell Neanderthals and early man too
and we fly. out beyond the broken moon a hard left past Jupiter.
passing straight through the Oort cloud Turning about to enjoy the
then setting sail on physics not so much in numbers indenture
But stolen from one of God's more surreal magic mushroom
contracting space before our noses Expanding it beyond our asses
will show time and Einstein a thing or two
until we fly faster than Zeno's racing tortoise
or poor Swift Achilles who trailed then after and
and Roused again we'll find we have arrived on the doorstep of a
Gravity that of earth and with an Earth's worth already of
and in the midday sky We'll find not one Sun as we had before
and though we'll bring food and clothes and build schools and
and paint our mark on every damage of the thing So it one great
not a gram of our stupid past and smuggle itself down onto the
No Denial of what is in favor of what one wishes
no slinking off to watch TV and leaving some other poor bastard to
science, truth, art, objectivity, universal human regard
then finally the death of war and ignorance
and that Infernal library of excuses for I, me, my while you still
We will build a world untainted by selfish bastards where we'll be
and do whatever we fucking like all day and lay great brilliant
and live under two suns at The expense of no one
finally out under the above for love for love
That is the night Isle and we set off and not a week's while
for our species. Try a one last. Pardon
Ah Said me, sounds swell and what about those of us in the nursery
we approached at last over a new isle of yet another style
My companion said to me why it seems you and I are at the end of
the Isle of the eights For almost the century that has been the
Over we passed I peeked in through the glass of the windows all
What do they do? I said they and you
Said he I told you of the soon trip to our new home
and though we have solved much of the perils of travels in Space
there is but one more problem we faced on
our journey We want to take with us every film and thesis every
But not even the moon would have enough room to store those works
and digitally If we were to store it That way
cosmic rays would see wipe it right out in but a few hundred days
and so we found a method Yes a fur
each seven and eight like me commits to their memory some chosen
We learn to remember to not forget I said and which work lives in
said he prose and poetry Eighteenth to 23rd century
for like you I once had a grandfather who showed me the world in a
Back when the old world was still new and so was I I'd sit on his
of fiction and farce or whatever I asked and for all those stories
That's how I knew what it was. I'd remember
I said and your grandfather now is he Yet still alive?
but our basket sat down then at last we'd arrived.
we Disembarked single file on another new Beach on another new
nay. I said wait, I remember this land aye, he said it's the same
and then standing not feet from our great steed balloon was a
the woman called out why what a fair moon this evening aged So
she turned on me said though true the same cannot be said for you
Well, no I said since I am not aged so
my companion bowed his head said nothing Oh ye
she said what the centuries have done to your memory.
I replied you must be mistaken I am from the nursery
said she there is nursing there certainly, but for those so aged
I am the matron of the nursing dome and I am here to take you
by choice Will you come back with me or need I summon armed
now Look I said I am 20 or 21 rather and I have come to find my
So why she said yet? You walk hunched and move slow such would we
What said I and raised a hand to my eyes and found the skin was
She said how to put it Well, oh, yes Your generation is the reason
all greed and in need of speed and more patting yourselves on the
Meanwhile, leaving every garden unweeded and all who fell behind
You have been honorably discharged of being dishonorably in
and while we aren't as cruel as to have you all put down We sure
and so you are most welcome to the ocean floor where you shan't
Yeh beneath the sea there are jigsaw puzzles and rocking chairs
We'll be sure to lock the doors. I am taking you back to the
to the matron My companion said why I'm sorry. I took him on a
but before you bring him home might for five minutes you leave us
Rose a skeptical eyebrow on her skeptical face though. She nodded
Oh gods, I cried and closed my eyes to my companion I said this is
Yes he said I thought maybe with an hour or two it would come back
Own it's time for you to go home if there's anything I can do for
Yes You can said I let me lie here for the rest of my days
above the water in some semblance of a dignified way
I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. He said I wish you luck in all hence.
I said don't apologize There's no taken offense
Why in a day or two I suppose I'll remember neither the beach nor
We hugged them in the awkward male fashion two loose grips and a
He turned about bound inland bound starwort.
No great elation. No great despair I simply gulped the salt sea
and wondered then if I would ever breathe it again
My companion paused and turned about let out they gave me an early
the nursing dome I mean when you made your great escape
Gave me time to reach the beach and wait in hope you'd rise alive
And so you did and so I found you
Early warning why I said What're you to me or I to thee
he said my grandfather was never the sort to go quietly Once
said I that may be and yet your grandfather is not me
Have you been so by time defiled? You don't recall your own
It was I who sent a letter hoping for the better you'd recall who
and though you remembered me fine You mixed me up in time. I did
I didn't know for my sake you'd stage a fucking Prison Break. I
between the fields and owls and Shrike long hours teaching you how
I remember year upon my knee and from the elm tree sat ten
and the alphabet and cigarettes and Ethernet and tape cassettes
it was the old world and I think of it every day and I think of
and because Ruin the world or not You are my grandfather and I am
and while you may not remember those Kindnesses you did me when I
And if one day I have children, I will tell them of you
So they even when I am gone your kindnesses will thread on down
And then your kindnesses will never die
And when both of us are gone when we're only stories it will still
until there and all the time and space snuff To dust and dust
that You are my grandfather and I loved you
and I cannot spend another week worrying that alone and decrepit
even if I make it to the edge of space over the threshold We'll
I said yet all the while you are still bound for the ninth Isle
I just hope you recall me in good stead
he replied then you may wish of me the same tomorrow for I am
and I Protested but you set off for the Stars in not a week You
Rockets be damned said my grandson one day they'll build another.
but grandfathers are a one-time Construction and these may be my
Let's run back to the old world. Let's find the tree ten starlings
and if little pieces of yesterday come back to you Whenever
then tell me and we'll remember them together
and back down the beach back to the balloon We're off on the wind
at lasts borne back ceaselessly into the past
And from our basket Sebastian yelled with all his might.
Hey matron go fuck yourself big kiss. Good night
The new world pulled away behind and on some perfect fever dreams
something Waited and though dead for sure it waited to receive us
and my grandson began to shout the poems would known from the
We remembered we remembered together.
Let us go then you and I he yelled when the evening is spread out
like a patient etherized upon a table Let us go through certain
of restless nights and one night cheap hotels and Sawdust
about about in reel and route the deaf fires Danced at night the
and summoned dreams Assured world the spirit that plagued us so
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure-dome decree where alph
So twice five miles of fertile ground with walls and towers were