07 September, 2012

A Poem I Didn’t Write but Wish I Had

Science Fiction
By Les Murray

I can travel
faster than light
so can you
the speed of thought
the only trouble
is at destinations
our thought balloons
are coated invisible
no one there sees us
and we can’t get out
to be real or present
phone and videophone
are almost worse
we don’t see a journey
but stay in our space
just talking and joking
with those we reach
but can never touch
the nothing that can hurt us
how lovely and terrible
and lonely is this

* * * * *

This poem is one of the 150 or so that I keep filed away in a folder of my favorites. Every week or so, when I return for one reason or another to the folder, I never fail to reread “Science Fiction” — it resonates with me that much. Its message about the singularity inherent to human existence, particularly in our wired Western culture, is one thing, but these lines of Murray’s have another layer of meaning for me, which comes with the limited meaningful contact I have with the world outside these prison walls. I know more, perhaps, than Murray intended to convey about “how lovely and terrible / and lonely” it is to literally stay in my space while reaching out. I try to express this as succinctly in some of my own poetry. Whether or not I succeed isn’t this post’s subject, though. I just want to share with you what I think is a very good poem.

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