glass bodies 241 250

the nun’s tale

She was a short, angry woman with a leaky voice. High morals were seeping through her constructed sentences, and a sense of resentment was evident in everything she did. At the table, she was sitting directly across me and her patience seemed to boil over when the astronomer began speaking. Shortly after our land-crash, we set out toward the moors, arriving early at the foot of the hill. It is said that Richard the Second had stayed at the castle on the hill, now in ruins. The wind was blazing strong, and this band of rebels was defeated, but not defiant. Only Arion seemed to want to put up a fight. Most of us had already given up.

The nun had something grandiose in her. Her short, fidgety fingers always seemed to linger as if on a button for Truth. It seemed, in youth, she had had a romantic relationship with the astronomer. It seemed ancient Egyptian history from that vantage point.

The evening was coming in, and the multiple stars in the sky seemed to burn a little less intensely, and the empty space above us was suddenly flooded with the most diverse range of hues. Murmuring softly, the wind was calling us to a rest. We wanted to reach the coast, but as we arrived at the hill’s foot everything seemed to make sense and we camped up. There was deep sadness in each and everyone of us. We were in mourning. We felt wronged by fate, and those of us that did not believe in fate felt wronged by the empire. I believed in fate, then.

The nun began talking, and we all went hush. She had been a beautiful petite child, but somehow she had stopped growing, she informed us. Digging deep into pockets of the soul, she was pouring forth years of resentment, and was letting go the image she had of herself. She had visited a monastery in her youth, and then she had been taken in by nuns, and then she had been constantly psychologically abused by them. Life had had to move on. We listened, without pity or any particular feeling, half bored with our own lives. There was not much else to do entertainment-wise.

Suddenly, she broke off, and almost in tears, she began reciting a poem, and she revealed to us that all of the young women she had been in charge of had been killed in a raid. I didn’t feel anything. I just looked at her, I could see her wrinkles wrinkling up evermore.

I stopped listening, because I had been reminded of my own life events,. It is odd how at times, when sharing life experiences, the flow of energy momentarily bursts through, and we are alive for a short moment, and all the meaningful moments in our existence become presently interconnected, and we are all-aware for that one short moment. And for a brief candle the soul feels light, and then it feels the chain anew. All those moments are inter-linked, and I like to think that somehow they constitute a hidden layer to the multiverse, and they give us purpose. Somehow, looking back, looking forward, it all makes sense, this ruse of a story, this poetic narrative with no end. Not a linear story, not a hyperbole, not a circular ploy.

The nun had been a steady force in our ranks, and her death marked a heavy loss on our side in the war. We did not know it then, but she would become quite the hero. We all thought better of her after the event, but even then we could sense that there was something special in that resentment, in that sense of injured, broken justice. Not the broken love of the astronomer’s selfishness, but the broken dream of a young child, who had seen God and had genuinely tried.

glass bodies 191 200

A rebel

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.

glass bodies 181 190

a farmer growing rotifers

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.

glass bodies 171 180

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.

glass bodies 151 160

The spirit of Europa

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.

glass bodies 141 150

A soldier

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.

glass bodies 101 110

Narrator, one foot away from Nostromo:

So,
what do they have in common?

Xin, a slave worker on an unnamed off-world colony,
a nameless soldier-terrorist in a castle on a mysterious planet,
a nun in a crowded monastery on a ravaged planet,
a rubbish collector on a dirty planet,
a day-dreaming astronomer on Europa,
an engineer, former war refugee on Europa,
a zen master on a Taoist planet,
an ecology student in roaming, free space,
the spirit of Europa, Jupiter’s satellite, and her volcanic sister Io,

And
Kyniska and Arion, space buccaneers…

Friend. If sailor tales to sailor tunes… quoting from Billy Bones:

“Th’ expense of spirit in a waste of shame
Is lust in action; and till action, lust
Is perjured, murd’rous, bloody, full of blame,
Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust,
Enjoyed no sooner but despisèd straight,
Past reason hunted; and, no sooner had
Past reason hated as a swallowed bait
On purpose laid to make the taker mad;
Mad in pursuit and in possession so,
Had, having, and in quest to have, extreme;
A bliss in proof and proved, a very woe;
Before, a joy proposed; behind, a dream.
All this the world well knows; yet none knows well
To shun the heaven that leads men to this hell.”