Entry - MAG Poetry Prize 2011

The Bug-eyed Commemoration Society

by Lindsay Fursland

 As the day’s hot, my peepers droop and I dream,
or dream I do... I’m in a wakey wood,
burgeoning trees like buddy, young lungs –
unjadedness – like it’s all to play for. 
Cut to HQ: we watch 3000 of their ships
snowing our radar, entering orbit,
drawn by our greenhouse planet.
Then I’m with the assault team, ignored
by the ETs which are  tentacled hippos
with hundreds of shrewd eyes
poxing their fat flanks like ulcers;
but their wallowing is foullest –
their own turds enrapture them,
as if they’ve shit rubies and emeralds.
It’s boring wasting them: fish in a barrel –
they don’t run or fight back, or even scream.
At least our napalm gets them whistling
like kettles; but when it’s over, we’re chagrined –
as if we’ve only burned a load of books...
but later, the beer laughs in our bellies.
And then, I’m in the lab recording
the only survivor’s grunts and squeaks and farts
to see if this noise has meaning.
It’s not allowed sleep – the eyes stare 24/7 –
we’re clueless as to what’s behind them,
as innocence and insolence
can be so alike. Forty days we keep it alive –
nothing: the sounds are patternless, grammarless,
no key phrases. Nonsense. It’s got no “language”.
So, we close the eyes. We let it go.
But I cannot sleep – the night the genocide
became perfect, I’m back with the lab assistant
who’s on the autistic spectrum and understands
it’s what you can’t hear that’s crucial. He slows it,
reels it back down to audible code
which he cracks by instinct. “Tell no-one!”
I say to him. We wipe the tapes, but our dreams
keep playing them, like a shared tinnitus.
I tell him it’ll be our secret commemoration society –
 “Cremation” he keeps saying – “No, no, no...”
and then I’m back in the wood again, and it’s night,
and then I woke, and woke, and woke, and woke again...

Added: 22.04.2011