Size / / /

I wonder about them, those brave explorers,
Cocooned in their antiseptic habitats,
Sexually and temperamentally paired to a nicety,
With all the amenities the late 21st C has to offer.
When they return, eyes blazing with alien worlds
(The cities, the domed necropoli, wheeled plants and
Mile-long insects, weird new minerals and
Precisely measured constants),
When they return from their far adventuring,
What will they think, poking through the pestilential ash
Of our last and truly final war,
In which even the bones of the slain were devoured
In jig time by the worst the late 21st had to deploy?
And I write them notes, preserved in a wide variety of media,
And hide them in obscure places on several continents.
I try to tell them: don't grieve, don't feel guilt,
Turn away from this stupid dead thing and go back to the stars,
So that our suicide will not quite have been in vain.


Copyright © 2001 David C. Kopaska-Merkel

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David C. Kopaska-Merkel spent his formative years north of the Arctic Circle, where he spent his time counting polar bears. Chapped skin forced a return to warmer climes, and he now resides in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where he studies rocks for the state and writes poetry for himself. David's previous poem in Strange Horizons can be found in our Archive. Visit his Web site for more about him.

David C. Kopaska-Merkel won the 2006 Rhysling Award for a collaboration with Kendall Evans, edits Dreams & Nightmares magazine, and has edited Star*Line and several Rhysling anthologies. His poems have appeared in Asimov’s, Strange Horizons, and elsewhere. A collection, Some Disassembly Required, winner of the 2023 Elgin Award, is available from him at
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