Size / / /

This thin layer

This film, oily and black

Flecked with mica

Locked in the ground

An estimated 6.2 million years

(+/- 1.7)

Their world-spanning culture

(We find the layer in 7 of 10 planetary domains)

Distilled.

Reading molecules

Plucked from nacreous spheres

We can build Them

In body and spirit

If not in memory

Our biochemical keys fit fossil locks

These ancient masters

Or maybe one of their pets

we will know when we give it

A Turing test

If it passes

We will really have something!

Oh yes,

A true alien intelligence

Rescued from the late Miocene

And educated

With all the care we can muster.


David Kopaska-Merkel describes rocks for the State of Alabama. He lives with artists and numerous chitin-clad hangers-on in an urban farmhouse with a yellow "tin" roof. He was born in Virginia, but has lived in the home of the crookneck as long as anywhere. David's poetry collections include The Egg Show, Separate Destinations, and underfoot. Flash fiction can be found at www.dailycabal.com; find more of David here and here. He may also be reached by email at jopnquog@gmail.com.



An aether compactor by trade, David Kopaska-Merkel began writing poetry after witnessing the Ascension of Tim. He won the Rhysling award for best long poem in 2006 for a collaboration with Kendall Evans. He has written 23 books, of which the latest is SETI Hits Paydirt  (Popcorn Press). Kopaska-Merkel has edited Dreams & Nightmares magazine since 1986.  You can reach him via email.
Current Issue
26 Jul 2021

mice not mouses, lice not louses
By: Mary Soon Lee
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Mary Soon Lee
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Ciro Faienza presents Mary Soon Lee's “What Cacti Read” with a reading by the poet.
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