National Poetry Writing Month 2018, Day 13

I have again managed a slight deviation from the prompt. For Day 13, the prompt is to:

write a poem in which the words or meaning of a familiar phrase get up-ended. For example, if you chose the phrase “A stitch in time saves nine,” you might reverse that into something like: “a broken thread; I’m late, so many lost.” Or “It’s raining cats and dogs” might prompt the phrase “Snakes and lizards evaporate into the sky.”

Somehow this got me thinking about the first Twilight Zone episode I mention in my poem. I couldn’t figure out how that had anything to do with the prompt, but I figured I’d follow it and see what happened. I think I sort-of figured out there towards the end. I even made up a word along the way (except it turns out it was already a real word, so never mind)…

Ways to escape fate using industrial-grade intangibles

In that episode of The Twilight Zone
a young woman dreams the sun is getting closer
to the earth each day
the heatwave is relentless
night no longer exists
the city has emptied
as people flee in search of cooler climes
for a small sliver of relief
before the fireball
consumes the planet.

This would no doubt be a relief
to the young woman
in that other episode of The Twilight Zone
who emerges from her bandages
to find that the doctors have again failed
to remake her face to fit the grotesqueries
she grew up believing represent beauty
and is now resigned to living
the rest of her days in exile
among people who look like her

Of course, what the first young woman doesn’t know
is that the sun is actually dying
so the earth is getting colder every day
meaning everyone will eventually freeze to death

This would probably be an even-worse hell
for the second young woman
who would be forced to huddle together for warmth
with people whose very looks made her skin crawl
and would not have even the comfort
of a possible future in which she was destined
to go out in a burst of flame

In a random, anyone-can-edit-this-page kind of universe
someone would likely remark at this point
that thousands of people spontaneously combust each year
(it’s just not widely reported)

I would have no such luck

No, I’d probably live in a universe
where people were deliberately formed out of ash
forcibly burst into existence
(a ‘person-level Big Bang’, the scientists would call it)
as fully formed adults with no memory of the event
but with a strange sense
that something terrible has just happened

I’d put out the match
ask where the gasoline smell was coming from
and break down
before going about my day

(12 April 2018—posted April 13th)

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