If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.
But that gets old fast. How soon the pony
in every backyard becomes a barbecue
under every overpass. You tried wishing for
intangibles, but it didn’t work. Happiness
is a problem too. Sure, he loved you truly,
but he had a fetish you couldn’t deal with,
once it was way too fucking late. Mutual
incompatibilities, kinda thing. You want
and they want and what they want is not
to see you happy. The world-peace gig—
well, that was a disaster; it seems like
there were some different interpretations
of “lasting peace.” Turns out graveyards
are peaceful for everybody. And once we
have enough money, prices go up. And up.
You can’t keep ahead of inflation. Once
everyone has enough food, someone will
find a way to sequester it and dole it out
to the “deserving.” Don’t even get started
on the other stuff—you know how that
worked out. How it all backfired. Just
you, or some flaw inherent in humanity?
You wish for superpowers, but no way
to use those puppies for a common good.
It’s simpler to go in the other direction.
You turn toward your sidekicks, Famine,
War and Pestilence, and say, “Mount up.”
His favorite element is gold. He never
learned the rest of the periodic table.
Not his thing. Sad. He thinks those
Russians are pretty smart. Putting a dog
in space. Somebody the Terrible. Pretty
women you can just grab. Out to here.
The Chinese had a wall. Paid for it.
Not very smart. He wants a strong
military. Uniforms. Gold braid. Show
everybody he means business. Each
room turns gold as he walks through.
Or something like gold, that tarnishes
quickly. It’s going to be huge.
The hour is rising like the inversion of a sunset.
You skirt issues of importance, emerge from black
biosentimentality; you will rule over him who sought
to leash you and over those you are able to harm.
Your weapon is revelation: your enemies transform
into parasites, vermin at the taloned beck and call
of your disguised armies. Even innocent revelry
can be distorted to sin, ground beneath your wheels.
The sky is on fire, but that doesn’t mean anything
to you anymore. Your eyes are white-dwarf stars
immolating themselves, remote and malevolent.
Behind you, the glare of ever-more-distant galaxies.
You carefully ignore the portents in the blazing sky,
take up your masked scepters in one black-gloved fist.
F. J. Bergmann is the poetry editor of Mobius: The Journal of Social Change. She lives in Wisconsin and fantasizes about tragedies on or near exoplanets. She was a Writers of the Future winner. Her work has appeared in Abyss & Apex, Analog, Asimov’s SF, and elsewhere in the alphabet. She thinks imagination can compensate for anything. She recommends the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association.