PoetryIssue 16 | October 2012

Elsewhere

by Michael Bazzett

There they are, sitting patiently in canvas tents,
playing cards at makeshift tables, eating adequate
food distributed from the mouths of semi-trailers,
including twenty pound blocks of government cheese
and potatoes on the verge of going round the bend,
wondering aloud why they have been brought here,
about the invisible thread that must connect them all.

The internment is not voluntary and yet it is not
wholly unpleasant. Not yet, at least. The internees
seem to acknowledge the temporary nature of their
circumstances by addressing one another with almost
comical politeness, accompanied by raised eyebrows
and wary glances. The room holds the air of truce. 

A memo was circulated among them at arrival,
stating that this camp could be considered the
opposite of entropy and that once they discover
the common strand upon which they’re all strung,
they will be free to return to their respective homes.

It turns out the current ruling party is conducting
research into the engines that search the world
and why human memory was once placed in the care
of algorithms. They wonder to what extent a pattern
can remain unknown. The connecting thread is
arbitrary but simple: each of these people uttered
seven words in the English language on the preceding
Tuesday: Hootenanny, Yokel, Deadpan, Hallucinatory,

Fork and Smoldering Glance. The final two words
had to be uttered as a phrase, a rather whimsical
touch proposed by a junior staffer who was charged
with keeping the study within certain parameters. 
The result was one hundred and three eclectic souls
ranging from seventeen to sixty-eight years of age,
where males outnumbered females nearly two to one.

There has been plenty of musing aloud in the camp
but little conversation. No one has ever accused
a gymnasium of ambiance. When the final report
is drafted two years hence, the results
will be unanimously inconclusive: one hundred
and two internees will remain – the sole escapee
liberated by a heart that grew tired of waiting
for its fellow brain to realize it is simply a tool
yearning to explain the hand that holds it.

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About the author

Michael Bazzett’s favorite mode of transportation is reading a book in his hammock. He has new work forthcoming in Cream City Review, Literary Imagination, Massachusetts Review, Pleiades, and Prairie Schooner. Read his chapbook, The Imaginary City.

Read our current issue:

Poetry

Two poems by Anne Babson
Vignette, Townhouse, 9 a.m. by Troy Cunio
Night Becomes Day Over the West by Megan Foley
Yukon River Aurora by D. B. Goman
Two Poems by David Havird
Cretan Love Letter by Emily Linstrom
Holland by Rick Mullin
Fear in Kenya by Kristina Pfleegor
The Lounge Lizard by Ed Shacklee
Two Poems by Sarah J. Sloat
Night Flight by Vicki Stannard
Koinonia Farms by Alina Stefanescu
Thessaloniki, Four a.m. by Anastasia Vassos
Imaginary Oceans by Jason Warren
Two Poems by F. J. Williams

Postcard prose

It’s Salty by Kelly Hill

Travel notes

Anchorage in the Great Land by Karen Benning
The Value of Small Money by Megan Hallinan
Screensaver by Sandra Larson
Thirty Cents by Tommy McAree
Gokarna by Kate McCahill
Going Places by Rachel Miller-Howard
Susanville CA: Notes From The Road by Susan Volchok