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The national anthem is sung with the low murmur of extra-terrestrial beetles, I feel my head spin. We are explorers on Mars; proud solid men cloud-bursting, wandering and confused by the spin of gravitational waves. A group of kids scurrying in the canyons; here and there we rush into a little skirmish with the local tribes. Five hundred years ago, a Conquistador explorer came here, looking for lost cities. He left a trail of little trinkets. Finders, keepers; losers, weepers. I guess that’s why we are here, really. Treasure.

My father entrusted me with the fate of the nation, as well as sperming-on the dynasty. I am a good soldier, I am. He was an archaeologist, in search of a Faith. He found a silver coin in a needle-cave on a spear-shaped island, and I have admired him ever since for his bravery, tomfoolery and audacity. I have been educated with she-books carrying images of Byronic scenes of battle: the losers and the lost, the Turkish and the Russian, the Persian and the Greek.

The traitorous Alp, a long way away from the twisted city surrounded by walls of water, Herodotus at Thermopylae, and all the rest. In victory, I have found that coal is a long-lost commodity on this side of the diamond-studded sky. In defeat, we empirical soldiers have followed the way of the Little Bighorn. But now I am a winner, a gold-showered recruit in the imperial troops, fresh from days of jubilant massacre.

The undead rebels may be wallowing in the basalt marshes, or rising in the wasteland, weathered in the alkaline dust of native tribes. The curse of the living carries on. I am as tense as violin string, that’s why in fifth grade my school-teacher chose yours truly as an ambassador of the Truth-nation. The eternal monkey stares at me through this thin carbon dioxide atmosphere (sprinkled with argon), and as we trek across the wide craters, the long valleys, the ginormous volcanoes towering, full many an imaginary gem bursts from the crust’s dread mouth.

As recruits, we walk in pairs, in utter silence, almost tip-toeing hand in hand. I am a sailor of the Empire’s Class-Xenophon Frigate, driven by guilt, fear and worthlessness. These are my favorite emotions. Everything I do, everything I own is tinged by the colour of these thinly scraped emotions. My space suit is replete with shame to the brim, my cosmic gait is somewhat slow and immodest at the same time as being irrelevant. Our black uniforms absorb the light of the not-so-distant star; inwardly we decry imperial meritocracy and corruption. But then we slither on, lacking the humour to complete this morning’s walkies, an unremarkable task unsuited for us superior centaurs of unremarkable prowess.

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We had provisions enough to last a few days. We were boarded by a
clumsy deep-space galleon of some Galactic Conquistadores, needing
a fix of murder. The night of dark space was more loving than any
rising star. I was a young man, stupid and in awe of the multiverse.
Everything was so fresh, so surprising, so venturesome, so interesting.
After being captured, my consolation was that I formed ideas about
evil and wealth, and these will tell you everything you need to know
about what it means to be involved in imperial politics. But our ideal,
the revolutionary man, does not aspire to be a leader in a perished search.

The story goes also that within echo-memory, in my early days as a “Caelum
nostrum” sailor, I fought bravely. Those who have read any account of my
buccaneering this side of the Sulaco federation, will know that the
prevailing tone of those stories is far from calm, and that a vast gulf
was formed in my chest where once my heart might have been. Autres
gentilhommes! In a caustic tone my guilt hangs over my head, still.
All of what you think is made possible by class-conventions and settled
modes of thinking. When captured, we sailed past the Azuera belt,
a wild chaos of sharp asteroids and stony moons which were cut about
the time of the Carrero Blanco rule, and now, many years afterwards,
the ecological destruction of that part of the galaxy lingers on.

The Conquistadores had particle revolvers at their belts. They had started
to chop their way through strange gaseous self-energy coasts by the stars.
Ominous shadows lay in the sunken rocks and galactic particle tempests
seemed to assemble in the distance. On the quantumeous shores, the Sulaco
federation had found an artistic mine. They were digging for a bit of Anglo-Saxon
spirit, which would have allowed them to hang on their Conquistador dream.

But this is the idlest of dreams; for already then I understood perfectly well
that imperialists are just buccaneers in disguise, with an added touch
of Scalping philosophy, the latest stage of multiversal Capital worship,
which was taking shape across galaxies as ethnic cleansing of the Ute,
and many other outer frontier tribes.

A long becalmed photonic gale made us unable to move at all, and our galleon
would lie becalmed, where your modern ship built on gravitons would exploit
the curvature of space-time and sail on. As a young man looking ahead in anger
I understood perfectly, if scornfully, the fate of rebels such as we were.

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planets are wanderers in space, bright matter-wave
soliton trains whose long-standing question is
whether to tilt, elongate, compress, vacillate,
run out of course, spontaneously form or dissolve.

my job is to rapidly harness repulsive to attractive
quenched interactions from ultra-cold atomic gases,
grow a Rotifer farm, crystal vases from another sea,
transparently gliding, Leviathans from the deep.

I am a Leviathan farmer on Triton; we have been
captured by Poseidon in our quest for a better
ecology. My husband died while working the
cryovolcanic vents, sublimated nitrogen had him.

Like Io and Europa, Triton has an inner life, and
while we dream on a surface of frozen nitrogen,
sipping water-ice cocktails from ice-seven,
ice-eight and ice-ten crystalline forms, our

disordered hydrogen bonding has led our
Conochilus colonies to be to be ripe and
supple, and metastable ices made our
eco-farming techniques very sophisticated.

Kyniska and her solitary cosmographical
boy-friend are often far and away on their
Mount Meru metaphysical searches, or
relieving imperial ships of their dark matter.

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Arion
Look up in perfect silence at the intergalactic medium: dark matter, energy bundles, dust and gas scattered by the rocking and rolling of cosmic rays, stellar winds, gravitational fields. If you have the inclinations of a poet, you may be able to trace the flow of baryons in Zeus’s vomit. Sailing across the hydrogen and helium persisting from the fall of the Titans, we navigate various oceanic energy densities.
Our ship feeds on lapping thermal ocean waves, bulk kinetic space testosterone, cosmic ray beauty, magnetic devotion, and photonic energy.  That is what divides us from the brutes of the colonising empire, the jokes of the salesmen of the corporation, the plethora of advertising leer-seers and the marketeering agents. We space buccaneers bounce off the thin galaxy oscillating, scintillating at some indiscriminate speed across the shimmering kiloparsec distance. As I sit here at the intergalactic window and watch the cosmic microwave background, the far-infrared emission from dust, as I watch the starlight, I know every reflection bobs and ebbs toward the red, and I shift the ship’s cosmic gear to chase a thermodynamic nonequilibrium. Our efforts are not in vain, we like to think. In zero gravity flight, our candles burn all across, a hazy halo of fire. My love for Kyniska is undiminished. The ocean waves, the rain, and many earth days have lapped by and gone. We are still here. As the engine maintains a steady input of free energy from ultraviolet radiation emitted by naughty stars, there is a hefty contribution of kinetic energy from high velocity gas ejecta straight from supernovae’s mouths. I fight for a living, and anger is what drives me. I have been betrayed by comets and by aliens, by humans and by spacetime. A small telescope is not enough to chart my eroticosm. A black spot is upon me, I fret at the myriad ways we could shipwreck. Old songs waken from enclouded nebulae, tunes of death and defiance. Rich entanglements. Particle by particle, we are leaking freedom all over the multiverse. Stuck in my piratical ear, a tune most ominous and drear. Examining memory is the most critical skill for any Buccaneer hacking through space. Rare dreams beyond dreams. Empty space is hypnotic, a metaphysical hyperspace. The rare cosmos of our knowledge is routinely sucked back into the original jester’s bubble along with hydrogen, helium and the whole abundance of heavy elements in the interstellar medium: C, O, Mg, Si, and Fe. There is a declining function of distance from the Galactic Center, or God’s arsehole. The abundance of imperial and East India corporate twerps near the Sun (galactocentric radius R ≈ 8.5 kpc) being about half their foresaken abundance in the Galactic Center region. And of course, all is sucked back into the original jester’s bubble. That is what God is to me.

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the corporation’s interrogator

aboard this keepsake ship, torn between death and life you stand naked before the Emperor’s Truth. your rebel assault has failed, Xin. that was your name, was it not? i have been instructed to break you, and to give you a new name. i may choose to throw you overboard into the zero kelvin unknown. the cosmic freeze may yet force your tighest door. trust me, your perceptions are false. as your interrogator, i have a right to your requiem. for your transgendery, you will be punished with chechen relish – but the empire is merciful, and the corporation is only interested in your likes and dislikes. we have great use for people such as yourself. you may yet choose to join our chase, and aboard this ship complete the revelation. here are your ghosts, a flurry of hunger-like illusions. to begin with, all the relations between your particles, and your emotional ancestry. we shall carry out the test for you to join the corporation’s workforce: you may yet ascend to pinnacles of salesmanship still unknown. you do want to become successful,  do you not? my understading is that that is what drives you. you no longer wish to be a servant. but why, I wonder… this choice of transgendery? it does not seem to harmonize with your goals. something other than yourself is what gets in the way of getting what you want. you do want to be accepted, to be liked even. to be worshipped, perhaps?

Xin

The conqueror worm has you. Suffocate me, or force me to imitate the bear. I find comfort in my bad luck with the dice, with love, with my miserly parents. There’s nothing that you can witty out of me with your creative multi-screen, I have built the damn things. I know every withering silicate memory in the cycle, there are no tricks left that you can play on me.

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Sunsets are blue on Ἄρης. Then Εὐρώπη
spouts bright water plumes, fountains
of ice from cracks in the shell, tidal
flexion from her daddy’s massive gravity field.

Ποσειδῶν has a dark cyclone, and bright
sister clouds, while Κρόνος sports
a shrinking superstorm spot. Hydrogen
nitride, not water. Oscillations, dissipating.

Jetting water 200 kilometers above its
surface, the icy moon probes the passing
space, while circling the castrating giant,
its silhouette squeezing past the bright light.

Astrophysical reflections on the broad-eyed
goddess from the perspective of a star-gazer.

She was the daughter of Agenor, a bull carried her
off into Crete to a cave on Mount Ida. And on her
disappearance from Earth, the Phœnicians

honoured her. She is a broad-faced Jovian moon. Some claim her sister Io is her
ancestor, a volcanic heifer, mythically hot.
Τηλέφασσα was her mother, herself daughter

of a sea-nymph, a soft cloud, a Nereid in the
sky. There are three thousand such daughters
in the sky; for every spring, river, sea, lake
pond, pasture, flower or cloud on mother Crete.

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A 500 km diameter moon of Saturn, covered in fresh, clean ice. It shines, it sparkles. I’ve trained my algorithm by assaying pure, and mixtures of dehumanized cells. As an assassin, I’ve been trained to detect specific signatures, estimate them from unknown samples. Consequently, I wasted my youth as a soldier on Enceladus, its surface temperature at noon – an average fucking extra-cold. Terrorism is a cancer, and I am a terrorist, formerly working for the Empire. Now I don’t fucking know what I am doing, anymore. Immune signatures from diverse cell types. B cells, CD4+ T cells, CD8+ T cells, neutrophils, macrophages, dendritic cells, I’ve identified weaknesses in the rebels’ immune system. I’ve been a foot soldier in the Empire cancer immunotherapy, targeting infiltrating fractions of rebellious blood. Deconvolving their Oscar Wildish subversion from apparently innocuous computational algorithms, I have frozen my butt off watching whiffs of molecular hydrogen fly off into space and joining the rings of Saturn. I’ve selected markers in space positively correlated with tumour purity, overlapping the rebels’ signature. An ingrate job. It was Earth evening when I arrived. The linearity of the plume in the sky watched me with an intensity of a fly-by as I disembarked the space-craft. The hamlet lay deep in the ice shell. The global ocean of Encelandus babbled, a lurking variable underneath. Gravitational capture of nebular gas was nil because of low gravity, yet nothing was to be seen of Castle Mount. Deep down, large hydrothermal vents, processing the rock core by tidal dissipation drove molecular hydrogen upwards and outwards: mist and brilliance surrounded me, and a blinding dazzle of light prevented my eyes from seeing where the castle lay. I stood on the path leading to the hamlet for what seemed Earth ages, and I looked up at my blindness, seeing the void, and its implications.