“Past Modernism” by Leslianne Wilder

“Past Modernism” by Leslianne Wilder

In the future
When we no more die from cancer
Than degenerate to madness from the fumes of oil paint
A man named Jehan bin Mayang
Will insculp the Koran across his back in benignant malignant melanoma
And grow teratoma teeth around his wrists for prayer beads
He will spell canvas G, T, C, and A
Until he is a web of scar tissue and talk-show appearances

In the future
When the O-zone is transparent lattice
And satellite debris a razor gauntlet of man-made meteorite
A woman named AnunciaciĆ³n Bazalgette
Will fashion a polestar in the Maldives
That pulls the aurora down in tornado spirals
Like a ravenous celestial octopus
Video captures will be enshrined in a thousand museums, dreams, and doctorates
The shreds of her body will never be found.

In the future
When emotions are chemically regulated
And psychologists have outsourced their jobs to nano-spiders
A neuter named Purple Ice Cream (legally)
Will engineer misery bots and deliver them to Los Angeles
Via river-cane blow-gun, before escaping on rocket-shoes.
Crowds will form orderly amphitheatres around the alien act of weeping
The pantomime of guilt, the primordial screams of rage
Like stone circles fencing in a sacrificial altar
“It’s so easy to forget what we evolved beyond,” they will say
And hold hands against the madness.

In the future
When machines can be taught useful things
Like how to rule by subtle suggestion
A program with the designation Docent 23.5
Will perform the routine task of curating aesthetic antiquities and replicas
At bored and obligated tourists.
It will explain Impressionism, Quantum Composition, and Annihilation Pop
With what looks, to the untrained eye, like patient serenity.
Until it disables the sprinklers and lights the Mona Lisa on fire.
It will unriddle semiotics, posit destruction as the transition of states
And the life-essence of innovation
Until embarrassed technicians erase it from the mainframe.

In the future
When miracles are performed by kitchen appliances
Sneakers still squeak on Smithsonian marble
A man in an au courant radiation suit
Will comment to the demure cyborg on his arm
“I don’t get it. My spare parts clone could make something better.”
But her camera eye will be recording
Across so many spectra
And her meat and metal brain
Compile wires and starlight
Into something
Like epiphany.

Leslianne Wilder‘s previous work has appeared in Shock Totem, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and One Buck Horror.