The rate of decay of his cells was a clock.
A sub-atomic timepiece that measured his
lifespan & how fast his body was dying. People
are so many small mechanisms all ticking away.
His heart was a carriage clock & had the loudest
chime. His thoughts were Roman numerals that
gave time its logic. His tongue was a pendulum
that beat out the rhythm of his hours. A tumour
grew on his father’s bowel & accelerated his cells
past his body’s limit, slowing the aging process by
entropy. Death was a grandfather clock that fell
over & could not climb back up. In that moment,
the light-clock he carried in his head stopped.
In dying he travelled faster than light.
If she feared for his future, she didn’t show it.
She spoke in platitudes when she heard the news
of his separation; what will happen will happen. Their
relationship stalled by cliché’s ubiquitous codex.
His mother had become fatalistic in her old age,
as the ten year old curtains shredded in the washing
machine. She blamed the sun. Her coastal woodland
was being chopped back, but she didn’t comment on
the loss of the delicate balance. Palm trees used their
physicality to intimidate. There wasn’t a weed anywhere.
That night, the front door’s automatic light triggered.
Dogs? Roos? Only his mother checking the locks again.
As he pulled up, a fresh lace drape fell back into place.
Oddly she said to him, her door was always open.
The dogs disturbed the early morning air molecules
with their fear. A muzzle combed under a wooden
fence sensing him for threats; a mirror under a car.
The American Staffordshire kept on looking back
as if he was out of place here. His owners had spray-
painted a gothic crypt scene on their shed wall; a
Vampira to frighten off the self-funded retirees.
Coiled dragons guarded their front steps. Street
names mocked the demolished bush. On Heathland
Avenue a concrete slab, Dead Sea flat, waited to be
raised. It was Christmas. Cicadas simmered on frayed
tea-trees as the sun’s pan heated up. They wanted sex
before their paperbark bordello was torn down. The
staffy licked its crotch; indicated it would be alright.
(iv) Cosmic Speed Limit
It’s a waste of time, the middle-aged man bawled
squeezing water particles over his parched lawn.
There’s a natural poetry to mathematics. He was
ruled by equations he would never solve. Choice,
theoretical until he experimented with it. Weeds
relative to the distance from his grass. He saw an
absolute universe of green matter beset by chaos.
A teacher orbited his daughter with a blow up Earth.
Four seasons were punctuated by raised arms, every
calendar month radiated from a classmate’s mouth.
Then her teacher spun the planet on a fingertip like
a basketball trick, turning night into day; the future
fast forwarded like pages in a mutoscope. After school,
she cartwheeled across her father’s dying turf.
(v) Higgs Boson
There was a particle so small that it was
unaware of its own existence. It was a sleeper
cell in his marriage’s back country. It awaited
activation. Its awakening needed an equation
that would give it instructions, then disappear.
It had a cold war operation that required the
passports of several powerful emotions. It was
a parasitic wasp’s egg that hatches in a tarantula’s
back & devours the body of scientific knowledge.
His flesh was its exoskeleton. It was the cause of
his fall, insubstantial in its substance. It was born
nanoseconds after the Big Bang, erupting like snot
thrown out from a sneeze. It didn’t have a name
until he came along. It succeeded in its mission.
(vi) Hydrogen Cell
She revealed she created one in her spare time,
this female variant of Tesla, in her garage, in
a titanium case filled with water, inside another
titanium case filled with sand. EBay is great for
resources she said. All of her friends had built
their own using CNC machines; she didn’t want
to be left out. She wanted to be off the grid. To
be self-sufficient in her needs, no longer rely on
any man. This was just her hobby after all. She
dealt with cells that no longer supplied energy to
their bodies. These she eased gently into the sand
inside their wooden boxes, to be the fuel for new
revenant colonies. It’s so simple she texted:
Energy goes in, energy goes out & we are between.
(vii) The Surface of Last Scattering
She was a beautiful theory that had to be discounted.
What was translucent had returned to being opaque.
The signals in their faces were too strong for the receiver.
Now she was coming in faint, a pulse from a far galaxy.
He strained to detect what was left of their violent birth.
As the gases cooled, their cheeks grew hot with plasma.
There was an old light in their background that radiated.
There was no darkness between their points, only haze.
They were subject to new feelings of forgotten gravity.
One of them would slow, the other would bounce along.
He failed to think in four dimensions, that much was true.
And he only acted in two. He was pierced by time’s arrow.
After years of looking, they were their greatest discovery.
Yet distances were too far from the surface of last scattering.
- 109: NO THEME 12with C Maling & N Rhook 108: DEDICATIONwith L Patterson & L Garcia-Dolnik 107: LIMINALwith B Li 106: OPENwith C Lowe & J Langdon 105: NO THEME 11with E Grills & E Stewart 104: KINwith E Shiosaki 103: AMBLEwith E Gomez and S Gory 102: GAMEwith R Green and J Maxwell 101: NO THEME 10with J Kinsella and J Leanne 100: BROWNFACE with W S Dunn 99: SINGAPOREwith J Ip and A Pang 97 & 98: PROPAGANDAwith M Breeze and S Groth 96: NO THEME IXwith M Gill and J Thayil 95: EARTHwith M Takolander 94: BAYTwith Z Hashem Beck 93: PEACHwith L Van, G Mouratidis, L Toong 92: NO THEME VIIIwith C Gaskin 91: MONSTERwith N Curnow 90: AFRICAN DIASPORAwith S Umar 89: DOMESTICwith N Harkin 88: TRANSQUEERwith S Barnes and Q Eades 87: DIFFICULTwith O Schwartz & H Isemonger 86: NO THEME VIIwith L Gorton 85: PHILIPPINESwith Mookie L and S Lua 84: SUBURBIAwith L Brown and N O'Reilly 83: MATHEMATICSwith F Hile 82: LANDwith J Stuart and J Gibian 81: NEW CARIBBEANwith V Lucien 80: NO THEME VIwith J Beveridge 57.1: EKPHRASTICwith C Atherton and P Hetherington 57: CONFESSIONwith K Glastonbury 56: EXPLODE with D Disney 55.1: DALIT / INDIGENOUSwith M Chakraborty and K MacCarter 55: FUTURE MACHINES with Bella Li 54: NO THEME V with F Wright and O Sakr 53.0: THE END with P Brown 52.0: TOIL with C Jenkins 51.1: UMAMI with L Davies and Lifted Brow 51.0: TRANSTASMAN with B Cassidy 50.0: NO THEME IV with J Tranter 49.1: A BRITISH / IRISH with M Hall and S Seita 49.0: OBSOLETE with T Ryan 48.1: CANADA with K MacCarter and S Rhodes 48.0: CONSTRAINT with C Wakeling 47.0: COLLABORATION with L Armand and H Lambert 46.1: MELBOURNE with M Farrell 46.0: NO THEME III with F Plunkett 45.0: SILENCE with J Owen 44.0: GONDWANALAND with D Motion 43.1: PUMPKIN with K MacCarter 43.0: MASQUE with A Vickery 42.0: NO THEME II with G Ryan 41.1: RATBAGGERY with D Hose 41.0: TRANSPACIFIC with J Rowe and M Nardone 40.1: INDONESIA with K MacCarter 40.0: INTERLOCUTOR with L Hart 39.1: GIBBERBIRD with S Gory 39.0: JACKPOT! with S Wagan Watson 38.0: SYDNEY with A Lorange 37.1: NEBRASKA with S Whalen 37.0: NO THEME! with A Wearne 36.0: ELECTRONICA with J Jones