Keith Brighouse

in the future when the electricity stops
and the electronic screens into the world have shutdown,
in a darkened room, which is sauna hot,
where candlelight casts dancing shadows about the wall,
I will take my old Olivetti from the cupboard
its old ribbon re-inked with a home-made concoction
and I will type a poem like this, about the end of civilization

my window will be my last remaining screen
looking out over the encroaching salt marshes
the snaking sea grasses and rushes that rise like spears
the sun, red as a blood orange, will float on the horizon
menacing, as the mouth of a smelter, from my days in the foundry
the reds, oranges, and whites of liquid metal
poured, spitting anger and fury into a crucible

I will wonder what creature will dominate after man:
a quivering biological blob, resembling a children’s toy
or some dextrous anthropoidal crustacean of sharp intelligence,
either will do better than man, whose intelligence
became peacock feathers for decorative display, who
unable to adapt, tried to adapt the world to his needs
and is now victim of his own evolutionary flaws

my poem in a bottle, I will cast it into the marshes
where it will survive for countless aeons
until a spidery hand plucks it from the marsh
or maybe digs it up while foraging, eyeballs it in wonder
that what the creature had discovered
looked like the work of some primitive intelligence
a message or maybe a warning, out of the distant past

I will sigh and look up at the seemingly permanent stars,
which once had a beauty that filled a man with awe,
now mock him with their indifference
as the tide begins to lap about my feet
the end is no biblical revelation, no indignant god
smiting sinners and sparing the righteous
just incremental disintegration and decay

my poem already on its journey into the future
I will open my last bottle of whisky and watch
silver clouds frothing up like boiling mercury
billowing and belching from the underworld
orange-red flames fanned across the swamps and marshes
as a new and yet unknown creature scurries
comfortable in its habitat, across the swamp