Stars Will Crunch Underfoot Like Autumn Leaves

By Justin Hamm

This is the way of things. As soon as you accept this is the way of things, we can make some progress. We won’t make any progress. History proves that. But progress will be a possibility, at least, which is a small something. First, there will be snow. The inevitability of snow is one of its principal charms. Another is its unpredictability, the anticipation it causes, the possibility of inaccurate forecasts, of accurate forecasts. The snow will pile up against your door, but you will not be able to swim in it. This is one of its principal annoyances. Perhaps from out of the snow a father will cross the threshold, returned from the land of disappeared fathers, open-armed, loving, happily bearded. Perhaps the snow will keep him away. Or perhaps it will be his other family. Does what I have said frighten you? Why? In time science will disprove its own existence anyway. Oceans will climb the atmosphere and hover overhead like stormclouds. The sun will melt itself into canyons and cracked river beds and the glowing stars will crunch underfoot like autumn leaves. Beasts will be forced to take out second mortgages on various expanses of the jungle. Nothing you say will be taken seriously unless it can be immediately interpreted to your detriment. But it does appear that it will be spiritually profitable to make claims about chimneys, crawlspaces, counter-terrorism. Are you opposed to the snow in any significant way? A worthy question to ponder as we move forward. It is coming, fat, white, smothering, sinister. This is simply the way. Mothers are not permitted to feed their children. Hunger abounds. The vernacular is slowly shifting. The welcome sign is becoming an archaic symbol, Freudian. You can walk your dog in the park but your dog, you yourself, will get no joy out of the act. The park, too, is shifting. Dogs are becoming archaic symbols. Once patient zero is identified it only makes sense to bring along puzzles, games, myriad other distractions. Distraction is paramount. Survival is impossible without it.

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Originally from the flatlands of central Illinois, Justin Hamm now lives and writes in Missouri. He earned his MFA from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and his work has appeared or is forthcoming in a number of publications, including Cream City Review, New York Quarterly, Spoon River Poetry Review, Red Rock Review, and The Brooklyn Review. He recently completed his first collection of poems, Illinois, My Apologies, for which he’s currently seeking a publisher.


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