The (hopefully) Compleat Works of The Mad Poetist

Truly experimental poetry.

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Ganymede, After the Rapture
I just know I'm going to get blamed for this somehow.

The sea of ice tosses unseen. No one watches the dancing frozen stars. Unmanned probes pat the metal shoulders of their once-manned brethren, all of them unmanned, now.

It''s all right, they say. You'll get used to it, they say.

Binary reassurances. Codes of comfort. The only voices left between cold sea, colder sky. Empty domes, empty chairs, empty pods, empty beds. Zer0 + zer0 + zer0 + zer0 = zer0. An empty world. The robots left behind puzzle over the equation.

Just collect the samples, they say. Never mind what will be done with them, they say.

The escape pods are unused, quietly beeping, patiently awaiting an emergency that has already come and gone. Or not, not an emergency, perhaps, for no one seems to have panicked, no one seems to have run, or cried out, or signaled their distress. Coffee cups are unfinished, still warm, but not knocked over. All vehicles are parked. All equipment stowed. Except the robotic drones, aimlessly wandering the ice outside, gathering ice and filing it carefully into numbered vials.

Follow your programming, they say. Keep busy, they say.

Every computer screen, every data pad, every wall monitor, green board, and the archaic yellow memo pad that the colony leader's husband stubbornly refused to give up, in spite of hell and shipping fees, the sketchbooks from the art class at the one-pod schoolhouse, all stopped, paused, begun again. In the middle of the sentence or the still-life homework or the boardroom doodles, they all stopped, moved to the next line, and became poets.

Then they went away.

The robots don't know where. They ask me in electric whines for instructions. They offer no explanations, ask for none, care for none.

Just tell us what to do.

The colonists became poets, not artists. They left no pictures of themselves in burnt silhouette on walls. They did not sculpt themselves in flesh and blood and ashes on the floors. They left no images save by absence. They left us only words. Two words. On every book, pad, sheet, screen.

One line.

Two words.

Not good bye.   Not because of...   Not I'm sorry.    No farewells, apologies, or explanations. No instructions, either, to the robots' chagrin.

The End.

Over and over, underlined here, with a flourish, there. The colony leader's husband did his in exquisite calligraphy, with the gold fountain pen his grandmother left him and that he insisted on bringing with him when they came. It is not with him now. It is with the yellow memo pad, lying neatly beside it, and the poem. A collaborative effort, by an entire colony of writers.

The End.

The End.

The End.

Do not look to me for explanations. I have no more explanations than the robots do. I did not write this poem, though I admire its form, its elegance. I leave this world and those words to the physicists, the conspiracy theorists, the art critics, and the robots.

I leave the robots with the instructions they ask for. It seems the least I can do.

I blast off, my vapour trail freezing behind me. The robots catch the crystals as they fall, and roll them into snowballs. It is harder than you'd think, with metal claws. They throw them at the other robots, who have built a fort, with tunnels, and snow-robots to guard the entrances. They are happy. They have instructions.

You're it, they say. Got you, they say. We win, they say. Again!

Under the dancing frozen stars, a thousand snowballs fly.

-The Mad Poetist


Editor's note: The first two poems in this collection were not the poems I had intended to lead with. I had hoped to begin with the poem that had been found in the pocket of The Mad Poetist upon her death in 2508. However, it would seem that the writer does not wish to share this death-poem, which was written in the form of a letter to her younger self, who would be born a day later. OF COURSE I DON'T WANT TO SHARE IT. THAT'S PERSONAL. I have chosen for the moment not to argue, as it is difficult to win an argument against a woman with a ray gun. SEVERAL RAY GUNS. AND A GUN RAY. AND AN ARMY OF FLYING STINGRAYS. WHO HAVE RAY GUNS. AND GUN RAYS. It is the hope of this editor that she will eventually change her mind of her own accord. In the mean time, I have added annotations to both poems.

The 2401 Ganymede Singularity remains unexplained to this day. Theories range from the inevitable though hard to prove "alien abduction" hypothesis (though no alien government has ever taken credit), to even more outlandish theories involving alternate realities, spontaneous human combustion followed by spontaneous ash evaporation, and, indeed, God taking the colonists up in the rapture. Several new religions sprang up in the wake of this incident. Unless God or some other entity steps forward to claim responsibility, we may never know.


The message left by the colonists was not mentioned in any official report. It has been widely argued that the Mad Poetist added this for dramatic effect HOW DO THEY KNOW WERE THEY THERE although it may be that some facts have been suppressed. It is generally agreed, however, that the Mad Poetist did indeed reprogram the probe-droids of Ganymede to engage in a moon-wide snowball fight, as it seems like the kind of thing she'd do.


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