The End of the End of the World

by Dean Blehert

I can imagine the cataclysm — explosion,
flood, asteroid collision, implosion of the sun…
I can envision billions of bodies or no bodies,
an ashen globe or its ashen quadrillion fragments —
all that I can imagine.

What I cannot conceive of, in all that silence
(and any silence is an opportunity,
so this final silence would be the opportunity
to end all opportunities) — what I cannot conceive of
is the absence of 10,000,000 poets — the absence
of even a single poet — to tell the absent us
in trillions of words (collectively), how hard it is
to speak at such a time, but that now,
after the end of the world, more than ever
we must speak out;

no 10,000 or 10 billion
e-mail messages about gatherings of poets
live (remember life?) and on the web
to mourn, to share, to celebrate our (we poets’,
humanity’s) renewed commitment to survive,
if only as dispersed atoms and exotic rays
dusty whirls of cosmic gas;

I can’t conceive of no lyrical affirmations,
no acid condemnations of those to blame
(The System, corporate greed, philistines,
Arabs, Jews, Communists, Blacks, the press,
the administration, right-wing extremists,
liberals, environmentalists, men, etc.);

the fresh and powerful new voices joining in,
the performance poets rapping out their rages,
brags and politically correct empathies,
the brilliant poems that make us so keenly aware
that we are all, everyone of us, cinders —
and perhaps that most of us deserve it,
and certainly only the poet could feel
the death of a whole world
in the crushing of an ant
or the shadow of a falling leaf — if only
there were still ants and leaves and sensitivity.

No, this is inconceivable, beyond silence;
it cannot be, this oxymoron: A catastrophe
without poets, the greatest conceivable catastrophe
without the greatest flowering or at least vegetating
of poets. It is inconceivable, like a perfect God
with zits, and therefore impossible. Yes,
thanks to our poets, the end of the world
is impossible.