Coiled Rope Haikus

inspired by Ursula K. Le Guin's "Newton's Sleep"


Fifth Estate # 385, Fall, 2011

Coiled Rope HaikusI.

flat gray surfaces
curved metal architecture a cold sphere in space

the earth died screaming
epidemics, plagues
starvation, dead ground

above, we orbit
clean children, good water
Caucasian intellectuals

the holograms of
vermont skies or florida
glades o’er white steeples

til one day the burned
wretched woman, with long fits
on her charred african body

the children saw her
first. for a moment, she slipped
into sight, then away.

soon we all saw them:
the dark sick masses, innocent
in their moribund ghosthood.


then more: bison & rocks,
mountains & mud, tribes from before
the industrial age, sleek and strange

the children accepted it, then the women and some men
and the scientists, and the psychologists last of all.
still the chief architect would not see

when the architect’s blind daughter went up
in the mountain, he found her: first a rock, then nothing.
when he reached the summit, the wind blew fresh and cool
among wild spruce and hemlock and fir.

she sat with her dead grandmother, then took his hand
and walked down the mountain, & he knew
the dream and life were the same, each
as inescapable as the other.