Showing posts with label Rapture. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rapture. Show all posts

Saturday, May 21, 2011

After the end of the world

I hope I wasn't the only one who thought they wouldn't have to go to work this morning because of the scheduled  Rapture, but here we all are, at our ritual stations, drinking coffee and scanning the  Internet and papers for clues about why we continue to arise each day, shrug off the sleep and commence toward a day of being productive. And self-supporting.  So what would it be like to wander the streets after all the good and righteous people have been raptured and taken to the righteous side of God's throne? This strays into Rod Serling territory; in  Twilight Zone the episode titled "Time Enough At Last" episode I found an especially pleasing, actor Burgess Meredith played a cranky, near-sighted misanthrope who would like nothing better than to have everyone on earth vanish as if into dust, so he can be left alone to read his stacks of beloved books. A bank employee, the diminutive grump, steals away into an unattended vault and, for reasons I can't recall right now, is rendered unconscious.

When he comes to, he is alone, the people of the city have disappeared, there is only him and the empty streets of what we presume to be New York City, no crying children, no loud teenagers, jackhammers, telephones, car horns, miserable bosses, whiny customers, it's just him and the unscathed material things of the city. The character is, of course, overjoyed, as he had no use for people anyway and wanted only to eat and sleep and read his precious books. He was, at face value, an unsympathetic goon, for what is the point of reading books if not to find some metaphorical context of yourself in the world full of other people. More simply, what is the point of reading if  it doesn't occur to you that what you've just read would be a more pleasurable experience by talking to others about it? The bookish troll played supremely well by Meredith, though, has no such inclination, his readings are only bricks in the wall he has constructed around the scant remains of his humanity; he wanders around the empty city, he finds a library, and we finally see him on the disheveled library steps with the tomes he has stacked high because now he has "all  the time in the world" to read without the annoying habits of people.

Tired from his gathering and stacking of books, he sits down, he takes off his thick -lensed glasses and  rests them precariously on one of his stacks so he may rub his  sore eyes. The  glasses, in turn, slip off the stack and onto the cement steps, where they shatter and otherwise slip from his grasp. The curmudgeon is finally viewed, as the camera pulls back, feeling about the steps amid his assumed bounty of books, looking for his glasses., doomed to a severely blurred world where there is no one to help him.

Sartre's play "No Exit" contains the famous line "Hell is other people".  Presented with the light irony of  Serling's scenario, I would venture that there's no greater hell than being a man who is fervidly creating the engine of his  own permanent unhappiness. Can any of us imagine having a grandly tragic tale to tell but without one receptive ear to tell it to?  Hell is a dead microphone in an empty theater. I will finish my coffee, turn off my computer and go to work, somewhat relieved that the Rapture has at last been delayed. It is of critical importance that I discuss all the unimportant things I've done and said in the last 24 hours with friends and associates who, as well, have their items of  trivial yet utterly crucial things to discuss over coffee, a cigarette, a burrito during a lunch break.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Notes on the Rapture, sort of

The world is supposed to come to a foretold end, or at least many of us who've been selected in secret on high are due to abruptly depart for Heaven's Gate Station, but my guess that most of us will still be here on the 21st,  our for casted day of divine interdiction, May 21st. Those who won't be here are the ones who leave via the standard methods, death by natural causes, horrible accident or suicide, or skull crushing boredom. I do have, though, a poem about the Rapture I wrote about five years ago, an extended musing on what it might be like in neighborhoods to have  people just vanish, leaving their material things, including their clothes, in a lifeless puddle behind them. 

I posted the poem soon afterward at supremely inbred poetry board referred to as The Gazebo, where a group of seemingly smirking sycophants followed the lead of the crotchety , fumble phrasing alpha dog and criticized me for writing a poem of such blind faith in Christian mythology; the fools hadn't a nickel's worth of irony amongst them and thought my poem was an profession of faith. 

I  quickly let them know what I thought of their summary skills and used words intended to give offense; I  used  the fact that I'd been banned by these nitwits as a something to brag about.  Should I mention that I am thin skinned above all else? On the subject, I used to work in downtown San Diego at a bookstore in Horton Plaza, and as I walked from the bus stop toward the mall I would pass a retail space that was being used by a store front church; in the window someone had placed their artwork of The Rapture in action,crude, blocky depictions of an urban landscape of those who had been summoned, post haste, by God. 

They were seen leaving their clothes on the streets and sidewalks and ascending toward Heaven in gleaming, garish swirls of bright colors,  genitals and female breasts obscured by convenient swirls of tri-colored mist. What was disturbing wasn't so much the idea of  an impending Final Judgement, but that the painting  , in it's minute detail, featured a bus driver being elevated from the vehicle he was driving; while he was being taken to join his Creator, the suddenly driverless bus was shown running a red light and crashing into oncoming traffic. If Heaven were a night club, the doorman would be performing summary executions on those who didn't look cool enough to get through the door.
Here's the poem:


The mailman drops his parcels and
falls to his knees in the middle of the street

as a light comes through the clouds and
makes the commotions of the city radiate

gold tones like the frozen poses
of ancient photographs

found under the stairs of every parent’s house
that aging children have to close.

You see the mailman on his knees and wonder
why he’s praying, hardly aware of the increase in light

or the music that blares all the big band music of
trumpets and saxophones that disguise the grind of

passing cars, it’s such a shame that religious fanatics
are hired to deliver the mail, you think, so much depends

on what comes through the System, envelopes full of
what’s owed and what’s not covered by any plan

that can be written down; you run the water in the sink,
you wonder where did the clouds go?

There is no rain anywhere,
says the radio announcer,
and the light is tremendous all over the globe,

there is not a dark corner
in any corner or nook on the earth,

And then the radio gives out to static, and the TV
releases itself to snow, the music in the street is very loud

and swinging hard to the left and the right and then right down the
middle as all the notes scurry brilliantly through the hedges

and up the driveways, into the homes with each reed instrument
improvising disembodied melodies that form their own sheet music,

That is a very loud set of speakers in that passing car, you think.
and the radio announcer cuts through the music and says something you

hear as that millions of people all over the world have just vanished in
plain site under bright light and big bang music, gone in a wisp and puff of smoke,

You look at your watch and note that it’s time for lunch,
the clouds have fallen over the city again, the sky darkens,

the shapes of the neighborhood take on their deep hues again, saddened
with history, dense in dumb witness to what never ends,

You stop, look out the window; you turn off the water you ran,
in the middle of the street, by itself, flat on the cement,

The mailman’s bag and his clothes,
topped by his hat, kissed by a cool breeze.