‘Everyone’s old as the cold sun’: Two poems


He lifted the oceans into stationary orbit over the earth.” Nashville poet Tom Holmes explores apocalypse, evolution and the epochal transformation of daily life in verse that vaults time and the space between stars.

Transit Plans

Night panthers and gazelles
patrol hamlet streets.
In the night sky, satellites

orbit, look inward and outward
through the intergalactic
computer network.


Somewhere in the prairies
or a meteor belt, Bluegills
with triple-redundant laser
eyes plan Project Emote.


Citizens eat, sleep, have sex
alone, and watch cable tv.
When they wake, they bathe

in the dew. Everyone’s old
as the cold sun. The strive
on hesitancy.


Bluegills strive on weather
reports and firestorms and abhor
still water. They desire to boil
all waters, evaporate them

into the atmosphere. They want
to swim in clouds and sterile
the lands. They look inward
and out, both appear as now.


In the old days, bluegills walked
on their fins and carried brief-
cases. They liked to make plans.
And then came the ICBMs

and the mutations. People
as ungulates. People as felines.
Then the birth of Atlantis
and space ships and the time to flee.


And now the time is now. A time
to reinvent DNA. A time of hot

passion, a time to combust
the earth and holy seas. A new

time for fish to evolve
organisms all over again.


The future arrives.
Whatever’s alive

breathes through
tiny blue gills.

Atoms don’t split.
There is no word for plan.

Colonization Treatise: Updated

– after Michael Waters’ “Duchamp”
– for Angela Ball

He lifted the oceans into stationary
orbit over the earth. He wanted
to get to the bottom of things.

A frozen sea is a stable model
to polish or drill. He wanted
a frozen moment of time

to capture dolphins making love,
to capture what’s eating what,
what looks frozen in any stage,

to know how it’s like a tooth
and its root structure, to remove
the nuclear submarines

and the oil liners. His lifting
created a great suction,
and it rained for days.

He studied for years. Saw how
life evolved but not from what.
The world slowly warmed

and cracked. From billions
of years ago, gray skinned
aliens thawed and took to earth.

They studied what had become.
They liked the music and cave art.
They didn’t like underwater

atomic bomb testings
that boomed, that burnt
and melted their spaceships,

that interrupted their hibernation.
They tried to launch skyscrapers
to space on a course home.

The buildings toppled.
The gray skins panicked.
They calculated they were here

indefinitely without their descendants,
who transcended to the heavens.
“If only,” they thought, “it could melt

or fall, we could relaunch
the whole thing and teach fish
to walk again like prophets

of evolution and our ancient science
of observation and ‘Do no harm.’”
The earth, however, was tugged in two

by moon and oceans. The tides
of change moved no more
the rhythms of time, which flatlined.

“The opportunity for renewal is not
extraterrestrial,” they broadcasted home,
“It’s been appropriated by Him.

Please advise. We await your reply,
and hope you are well and alive.”

Tom Holmes is the editor of Redactions: Poetry & Poetics and the author of three full-length collections of poetry, most recently The Cave (winner of The Bitter Oleander Press Library of Poetry Book Award for 2013), as well as four chapbooks. He teaches at Nashville State Community College, Clarksville. His writings about wine, poetry book reviews, and poetry can be found at his blog, The Line Break: thelinebreak.wordpress.com/. Twitter: @TheLineBreak

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