A lad at a fair who was lacking directions,
found a booth which was offering temp’ral projections.
“We’ll show you the future, we’ll show you the past,
you’ll gape at the first and you’ll gasp at the last.”
Being fond of projections, and not short of time,
he sat in the chamber and paid in the dime.
There were buttons for films of both pre- and post-diction
in all sorts of genres; he chose science fiction.
Way out behind the shroud of night,
beyond the Milky Way
the sothnax live in perfect time,
not slaves of night or day.
They see the world through two stalked eyes
one each of time and space.
What humans see as future time
is just a further place.
In such a world it’s rather hard
to pull off any capers,
a fresh-made scheme is by that time
already in the papers.
But one mad sothnax killed and fled
without the slightest plan
without the slightest thought that time
flew faster than he ran.
For since a lengthy moment he
was blinded in one eye,
the police approached, and just in time,
the killer found out why.
For all the speed a photon has,
it’s far outpaced by souls.
For all their pow’rs to see through time,
they can’t see through black holes.
And so the killer’s soul escaped
and made its way toward Earth,
to steal a dying egg in time
to steer it back toward birth.
Their unforeseen collision forced
the dying human soul
to think it was not yet its time.
They fused to make a whole.
But enough with this fiction of tempo-transmography,
Our fact-hungry viewer went next to biography.
Lived a life of greed and killing
then he got in a mother
and started another.
And with that our young lad was left thirsting for more
so he pressed on the button that said ‘film d’amour’.
roses are red,
One soul mates a sothnax,
two soulmates arose.
Such soulful emotion was too strong a homily,
So to lighten things up he selected a comedy
An alien thought he was winning
till he got into trouble for sinning
So he came down to Earth
underwent a new birth
and completely forgot his beginning.
Just for fun our lad moved to the edge of his chair
then selected a horror and braced for a scare.
She screamed bloody murder
as the monster interred her
and without an escape route
she was juiced like a grapefruit
but the killer’s black soul
sped to make a black hole
to escape being observed
an escape undeserved.
And he grew as a boy
with no thoughts of the ploy
till the day he was found
by a bloodless bloodhound
And our hero could see that in fact it was he,
and they came in the stall
and forced his downfall
he screamed a waul
lost the brawl
Every time I go past the large photo of a Time Projection Chamber in one of CERN’s hallways, I think about how it must be some kind of time machine. Finally I had the impetus to write about it. When I came up with this idea, I was convinced that this story would never work as anything but a screenplay. Unfortunately, I know nothing about writing, or even reading, screenplays. If I’d had all the time in the world, I might have seen that as a challenge, and learnt how to write a screenplay. Writing it in prose just made it obvious how much it needed to be a screenplay, so I decided it would be fun to tell the story in various styles of poetry suited to the different genres.
The science fiction poem is written in ballad metre, since this is common for telling any kind of story, and is easy to write. This was the second to last poem I wrote so I was running low on time. I tried to remedy that problem by injecting time into the third line of each stanza, but it didn’t work.
The biography is of course a clerihew, which I remembered Audrey C. Luckens referring to as ‘potted biography’.
Then there’s the love story… and for love poems, you can’t get more clichéd than roses are red. I’m particularly happy with the way that one turned out. I was originally planning to write a real love story about a couple who have been trying to have a baby for years and keep miscarrying, and then eventually succeed in giving birth to a baby, which they correctly consider to be a gift from above. The experience cements their relationship, and then, in the ‘roses are red’ poem (rebranded as a romantic comedy) it would be their two souls referred to in the last line. But I didn’t have time, and I realised that the human and alien souls could equally be soulmates, and that makes the poem more self-contained.
For the comedy, the idea of a limerick came to mind immediately, and stayed there, mainly due to its shortness. I don’t think this one ended up being very funny though.
I had no particular form in mind for the horror, only the constraint that it fit in seamlessly with the switch back to the viewer’s point of view halfway through. Then I figured that removing a syllable from each line would increase the tension, or make people breathless. However, this made it difficult to make the words themselves very scary. I’m not sure if I want to keep the last line. When I thought of the escape route/grapefruit rhyme I knew that either I could not possibly use such a silly rhyme in the poem, or I absolutely had to use it. The latter won because it was quicker than finding another line.
For anyone confused by the black hole references, well, maybe I’m confused too. I’m referring to the event horizon seen by an accelerating observer. This may or may not be considered to be an actual black hole, my knowledge of general relativity is really not up to scratch. I suspect it’s related to the Umruh effect and Rindler horizons. In any case, it would stop a sothnax from seeing what you did, are doing, or are about to do. Going faster than light heals all plotholes.