they are hurrying along, panting
these of the sort that for three thousand years have not imagined Isis Floating on a Stillstream, Isis in her exhaustion and despair, Isis deep in the seasons, regathering the pieces, mending, loving. Only a few years ago they spoke so often of what is still to come from “man,” “becomingly to be going to become”— 
                                                           watch this space
as if they had as yet no prescience of their doom. Behind them now are seas in tears, seas in flame. Barren ground belching gas. Rat droppings on a strawberry bedspread in a house with one wall. Not a soul in sight in any direction. No wonder they weep,
                                                 there falls some feel on them 
remembering the lethal smugness of being a corporatized subject before the punk opening of disaster, before they became wayweeds
                                                         objects before death 
with rictus smiles, viral hatreds, larvae on their tongues, phantom limbs climbing the rotten ladders of old hierarchies. They pass now, the open-carry let-freedom-hang-a-leftie swaggerers among them, rags of the Logos pulled down over their heads, having sawed through the green of the Islands of Breath,
                                        Dawn squatting to urinate on the grass
Listen, they are calling to God to save their souls, screaming for His intervention, weeping. But no ideal being of ardor order grace fairness would miss their species were it to vanish—and, for all its obscene clinging to itself, it will vanish. Like Agamemnon, these minuses—always at war and jealous of their property—“eat ruin.” Perhaps after a chastening apocalypse like this one, someone brandishing an LED torch (lol) may lead them to a spiritual disarmament. A spark, a rain cloud approaching, suspicions, theories—no, it wouldn’t last.


Copyright © 2023 by Cal Bedient. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 29, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets. 

About this Poem

“My prose poem ‘Expulsion’ hurries along with its panicked protagonists. It implies that the exodus of humanity from a no longer hospitable earth was brought about by, for instance, corporate mania and its discard of sympathy, most of all by its disregard of what Michel Serres called the natural contract with things ‘that would set aside mastery and possession in favor of admiring attention, reciprocity, contemplation, and respect.’ By now, of course, this scenario is familiar. The poem means to make it concrete and vivid.”
—Cal Bedient