Mettle (poem)

Posted by ractrose on 8 Jun 2021 in Art, Poems

Pastel and ink drawing of blue face and grey hand






“U,” she said. The captain watched.

Her complexion had grown icy blue,

a certain vibrancy of disintegration marred

his perception that she lived. She might have activated

her Afterglow, this conversation might be

the final testimony, brief window

of immortality, as technology afforded

“U,” she said.

“What, Riva,” he asked her. “Tell me what

I ought to have done.”

He had thought of his reading, a game he played

called Mettle, where hardihood was measured

by an old meme, of knights beset on a windswept

flight of endless steps, to a castle tower

that shot from the ruin of its walls, flames

white, then gold, then orange

a dragon chained by sacrifice after sacrifice

every man and woman of mettle having thrown themselves

climb after climb against the fire until the dragon slept

And that was when the links were locked, with curses,

amulets, stolen spells

but the crown and sword of the ash-rendered king

waited recovering

He or another would have to

“U,” she said.

“Riva, we don’t know any longer. All you say

is drawn into the Data Void, you have died an hour since.

My game I play remains as real, for all the mind I’m

left can understand.”

U     promise     progress     ogress     mise-en-scène

essence     energy     pretence

we are impersonators

“Here.” The utility released a shower of atoms

from each picture of a fingertip

The drain reduced.

What will you be, what pretty face will you play onscreen?

“U,” said Riva.





Oil painting of staring creature severed hand and horseRattus
















(2021, Stephanie Foster)




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