A 3-minute future: that’s all you get.
3 minutes to loop through your frozen brain,
winding it into the future.
3 minutes that you’ve got to choose
if you ever want to get better,
if you ever want to get out of here,
if you still have anything you want to live for.
They tell you it’s like a screensaver;
it keeps your brain from deteriorating
while you’re in cryosleep,
saving it for the future.
They tell you that you are helping everybody.
They tell you that someday mankind
will use this technology to go to the stars.
It seems like a no-brainer: just pick your favorite
orgasm, and go with that—
but you remember when you were a little kid,
and your dad, who didn’t know any better,
bought you a whole package of Oreos,
and you went through the whole thing
in one afternoon of pigged-out bliss …
and after that you didn’t like Oreos anymore.
Then you wonder if it might be a kind of practice,
if it would help your game. Coach said you have to
repeat a move a hundred thousand times
before it becomes an automatic muscle memory,
and you think of that one perfect slam dunk—
the jump, going airborne,
and sinking that sucker straight down,
nothing but net, the crowd on their feet, screaming.
3 good minutes, but …
there were a lot of things you were pretty good at,
and maybe you’ll still be good at someday
when they let you out.
They tell you they can’t fix what’s wrong with you,
that it would be cruel to let you suffer,
that you have become a danger to others.
That you use resources that could be better directed.
They don’t say “to the more deserving,”
but they don’t have to.
You’re going through the cryosleep prep now,
and the anesthesiologist is counting down,
your cell temperature dropping.
You have 3 minutes.
You have to pick
3 minutes 3 minutes 3 minutes
to live over and over until they wake you— if they wake you—and those 3 minutes
will seem like …
what might be forever.
So You Want to Be a Poet!
Many useful books are written to assist aspiring poets.
The most useful, of course, would be the complete works
of some little-known but quite talented minor poet
sufficiently out-of-date to be plagiarized with impunity,
but the librarian gave me a funny look and said she didn’t
think she could help me with that, so I get all my ideas
from Soldier of Fortune, which the neighbor two doors down
across the street, the one who keeps his blinds shut all the time,
puts out on the curb. Although violence may not solve anything,
when large-scale siege weaponry is involved it tends
to give minor problems added depth and gravitas,
which will someday come in handy for poem material.
Self-editing is another important skill for the budding poet,
mainly for its justification of the use of the editorial We.
The plural always seems more powerful than the singular,
giving the poem added weight and importance. Nothing
could be worse than to be considered a literary lightweight!
Just try substituting We for I in everyday conversation;
you’ll see what we mean. We don’t want any more rice pudding,
thank you. We are not musical. We thought our last poem
sucked, but we found a helpful book at the library.
F. J. Bergmann edits poetry for mobiusmagazine.com and imagines tragedies on or near exoplanets. Work appears irregularly in Abyss & Apex, Analog, Asimov's, and elsewhere in the alphabet. A Catalogue of the Further Suns won the 2017 Gold Line Press poetry chapbook contest and the 2018 SFPA Elgin Chapbook Award. She recommends the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association.