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The End of Science Fiction by Lisel Mueller

This is not fantasy, this is our life.
We are the characters
who have invaded the moon,
who cannot stop their computers.
We are the gods who can unmake
the world in seven days.

Both hands are stopped at noon.
We are beginning to live forever,
in lightweight, aluminum bodies
with numbers stamped on our backs.
We dial our words like Muzak.
We hear each other through water.

The genre is dead. Invent something new.
Invent a man and a woman
naked in a garden,
invent a child that will save the world,
a man who carries his father
out of a burning city.
Invent a spool of thread
that leads a hero to safety,
invent an island on which he abandons
the woman who saved his life
with no loss of sleep over his betrayal.

Invent us as we were
before our bodies glittered
and we stopped bleeding:
invent a shepherd who kills a giant,
a girl who grows into a tree,
a woman who refuses to turn
her back on the past and is changed to salt,
a boy who steals his brother’s birthright
and becomes the head of a nation.
Invent real tears, hard love,
slow-spoken, ancient words,
difficult as a child’s
first steps across a room.

Lisel Mueller

HT whiskey rivers commonplace book: the school of pure conversation

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Terry August 15, 2019, 11:42 AM

    “A man is not old ’till regrets take the place of dreams” John Barrymore, actor

    I believe I am at this cross road. And possibly our entire Nation is as well.

  • jwm August 15, 2019, 5:27 PM

    Who needs Christ, Aeneas, or Theseus, or Ariadne? We got Lady Thor, and Captain Marvel. They’re woke!

    JW (feelin’ sarcastic) M

  • jwm August 15, 2019, 5:39 PM

    Second thought.
    All goofing aside, here.
    This poem puts a lump in my throat. And part of the impact, is the sad knowledge that vast numbers of people in current year America wouldn’t get any of the allusions. I ran into this years ago in another life when I taught in an inner city high school. Kids knew no mythology except maybe Hercules. No Old Testament at all. Maybe David & Goliath. Maybe…


  • Sam L. August 16, 2019, 10:10 AM

    Well, I’ve been reading science fiction for 60+ years, and I ain’t agonna stop till I’m dead.

  • James ONeil August 16, 2019, 10:15 AM

    & then there’s Fred Brown’s 1955 short short story:

    Imagine ghosts, gods and devils.

    Imagine hells and heavens, cities floating in the sky and cities sunken in the sea

    Unicorns and centaurs. Witches, warlocks, jinns and banshees.

    Angels and harpies. Charms and incantations. Elementals, farmiliars, demons.

    Easy to imagine all of those things: mankind has been imagining them for thousands of years.

    Imagine spaceships and the future.

    Easy to imagine; the future is really coming and there’ll be spaceships in it.

    Is there then anything that’s really hard to imagine?

    Of course there is.

    Imagine a piece of matter and yourself inside it, yourself, aware, thinking and therefore knowing you exist, able to move that piece of matter that you’re in,” to make it sleep or wake, make love or walk uphill.

    Imagine a universe-infinite or not, as you wish to picture it- with a billion, billion, billion suns in it.

    Imagine a blob of mud whirling madly around one of those suns.

    Imagine yourself standing on that blob of mud, whirling with it, whirling through time and space to an unknown destination.