Darrell Petska

Foundations of Understanding: Exercise #1

As directed, I deconstructed myself methodically, each piece labeled and considered, then set the timer and withdrew. Upon resuming, I replaced each piece in its appropriate place, cognizant, as instructed, of their interworkings—the purported goal being greater understanding of the whole and, assumedly, a more smoothly operating mechanism. The latter I failed to achieve, for I neither hum nor whir. My clunk has remained and now occurs in conjunction with a clink heretofore unknown, possibly the result of a piece left over I’d labeled “ZX3”. I operate without it, and the noise I make, though different, is not unpleasant to my ears. I feared my mentor would fault me and insist I try once more to calibrate myself. Only as she returned to reclaim her timer did I notice, and find quite appealing, the spring-sproing lilt betraying her measured academician’s voice.

love alone

love alone makes sense, political word-mongering a weapon of mass destruction, can you deny that small child wrapping your arms around her future as wolves stalk corporate dens shooting out the lights, the timid fearful for their lives, seeing towers toppling, institutions imploding, songs tending to sadness or cocaine, our tears burn like acid as we heap shame upon our common histories in lieu of seeking justice in the killing fields of greed where firing squads rake the crowds, how can we not afford taking a bullet or two to reach our only chance at redemption

no indictments

no indictments atone the landscape pocked with mounded graves of pain as mass murderers draw cheers in the streets, proclaiming their advanced states of being while innocents flounder in sargasso seas far from land, their stunted legs failing to propel them, the architects of evolution abridging humanity to forestall harm’s advance, reeling Earth lamenting how we talked our way past caring, until peace like a dark pall descends upon this wasteland, the noble experiment curtailed, evaporating with the waves, mere space flotsam, another dead planet falling into line


anachronisms like quiet space, like the fluid rhyme of rivers before they turned to sludge, now mindless bullhorns parrot it’s the world we live in, holy batshit, that’s Satan speaking to the doomed though he knows where the culpable power lies, layered with concrete, encircled with IEDs made to look like flowers singing Disney songs, oh it's a dandy world we live in, exterminators spraying the termites of change gnawing at the pillars of currencies buttressing Ozymandian collapse—anachronisms like the cooling mercy of cloud-borne animals prior to volleying smokestacks or the heart's deep solace before bulldozers pared away Earth's green peel, baring greed and poverty at the core

in godly fashion

in godly fashion, Mars proved no boon for his people, burying their history beneath dust reddened by rancor and blood, leveling their cities, dashing all dreams, his lust for personal amusement a millstone weighing down their advancement as he played their lives like marionettes, making them writhe, clash, tear at each other and themselves, ragged flesh becoming their soil and pain their atmosphere until, his hand overplayed, he set out to discover a new world to populate and provoke—a distant blue speck, glittering in a sunbeam, upon which he settled, finding all he required to raise and subjugate a people who at first cried father, father, learning only too late his godly intentions

Softly, Efficiently, the Machine Hums

The ones in the boardroom believe the machine arose through their initiative. The ones in the offices believe the machine survives through their expert oversight. The ones on the plant floor believe they are the machine’s essential cogs. The machine spits out boardrooms, offices, and plant floors. Believing nothing, the machine coolly hums as its great dynamo spins in concord with the vast Milky Way. It has no brakes. It steers and feeds itself, reproduces itself again and again while imprinting bodies to serve it. Only those passing bodiless through ethers of utility can creep into its works—unseen viruses to forever change their host.

Darrell Petska is a writer from Madison, Wisconsin. Recent publications can be found at Buddhist Poetry Review, Nixes Mate Review, Bluepepper, Boston Literary Magazine, Flash Frontier and Loch Raven Review. See his published work at conservancies.wordpress.com.
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