F. J. Bergmann

With Reservation

my name is great citizen.
I believe in me usually if
propelled by unseen forces
maybe a copy of my person
must have you nevertheless

I would not hesitate to
sorry necessity and become
exclusive partner to you
maybe bothersome rather
benevolent in the search

I would like to know you
to furnish authenticity
with deceptive intention
would be willing to elucidate
if personal need arises

I would be very grateful
truly hearing from you
soonest before the contact
give this my proposal to your
I came across consideration

note that this is not connected
to the possibility of looking for
data whom it may concern
forward for mutual benefit
you may imagine my disbelief

dear sir

Weathering the Storm

                from a TV station weather instruction guide

Weather never leaves. Keep your eyes flat
on the ground If you see these symbols
keep calm; information can be handled
safely and will appear around you. Pull
out the map and take cover immediately.
To keep safe, avoid expiration. Recover
spontaneously. Do not take refuge; seek
shelter. Keep in touch, even if it isn’t
raining. General safety tips to follow
if your hair stands or your skin tingles.
Don’t waste time trying to attract and
concentrate; other depressions may sweep
you off. Avoid being frightening. With
other people: severe, dark, turbulent-
looking, headed your way, spread away
from each other if there is any doubt. Plan
an escape. You are in immediate danger.
Get off. Get out. Stay away. In a group,
those who appear dead should be first.
Those who show signs will probably
require other injuries. You need victims.
Go about your normal activities.


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* Now is the time for another digression into the Free Cognitive Republic. The inhabitants look much like the ones here, but with pinker teeth and pleasanter expressions. They all have jobs they like, that pay extremely well—they all do each other’s money-laundering. At first I felt ill at ease, because I spoke the language with a slight accent and only the vaguest idea of what I was saying, but after a few minor setbacks, once they decided I could not possibly have garlanded the wrought-iron fence surrounding two different parks at opposite ends of the city with the livers of two nocturnal young ladies simultaneously, I installed myself at one of the better bed-and-breakfasts (two eggs every morning!) and set out to ingratiate myself with the local academics, pursuant to embarkation upon a career in creative grant-writing. Initially, I loitered in the shiny new bookstores of the city, but their clientele always seemed to be in a hurry, and my fawning overtures toward likely prey were met with brusque rebuffery. But then I started going to used bookstores.

Whoa Nelly

Are we there yet? It was a nice
place to fizzle, but I wouldn’t
want to live. To be from there,
OK. We were poor but dishonest.
A structure of reckless optimism
and other past mistakes. Take it
from me, not a likely basis for
comparison. What we gave up
that others might suffer too.
Nobody asked you to live
downstairs from a tuba player.
Nobody asked you to dance,
either, but there you were in
the middle of the floor, spinning
in slo-mo like a scale model
of the galaxy or something
equally important. I was beside
myself; not a good combination,
considering our taste in lingerie.
Soonest mended. Yeah, right.
And there you are.

Long Haul

I was carrying an old peninsula
in ruins on the back of the truck,
heading out on the road again
to punch through the change
of seasons—we have our own
special version of that boundary,

which clusters like a cloud pearled
about one hard core both
ghost and human. That’s what
I named my truck, “Hardcore”
—get it? It’s painted in fancy
script on both sides of the hood.

A force invoked under the full
of the moon stood shivering
in the chilly dawn, rapt in the damp
fabric of its nature. Some mornings
it’s hard to get going early
but it beats driving in the dark.

It superimposed magic
upon the other world like
a tour guide pointing out marvels:
                here, a statue is brought to life;
                there, the spirit and body reunite in flame;
                yonder a plum tree blooms and withers

and blooms and dies again and repeats
until no more blossoms come. You’d
be amazed at the weird shit I’ve
seen, driving down the road.

Quiet, please; only look,
do not participate: these rituals
require years of loyal service and
even then they are usually performed
inadequately. These days, there just aren’t
any more reliable mechanics. Even gods fall
apart under the relentless weight
of their unending memories.

F. J. Bergmann edits poetry for Mobius: The Journal of Social Change (mobiusmagazine.com), and imagines tragedies on or near exoplanets. She has competed at National Poetry Slam as a member of the Madison, WI, Urban Spoken Word team. Her work appears irregularly in Abyss & Apex, Analog, Asimov's SF, and elsewhere in the alphabet. A Catalogue of the Further Suns won the 2017 Gold Line Press poetry chapbook contest.
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