Friday, April 29, 2022

Day 29 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2022


Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-a-Day prompt: "[T]ake the phrase "The Last (blank)," replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. Possible titles might include: 'The Last Word,' 'The Last Dance,' 'The Last Poem,' and/or 'The Last Time Was Better.'"

Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo prompt: “write a poem in which you muse on the gifts you received at birth — whether they are actual presents, like a teddy bear, or talents — like a good singing voice — or circumstances – like a kind older brother, as well as a 'curse' you’ve lived with (your grandmother’s insistence on giving you a new and completely creepy porcelain doll for every birthday, a bad singing voice, etc.).”

Melding today's prompts gives me an opportunity to write an entry for a call-for-poems by the science-fiction poetry magazine Eye to the Telescope on the topic "Veterans of Alien Wars." In fact my Brewer-style   “The Last ______”   title happens to use almost that exact phrase. With the Thorson prompt, I'm envisioning not gifts at birth but rather gifts at enlistment for a soldier in a hypertechnological society, the gifts being cyborg body modifications. The poem is an abecedarian — meaning each line in the poem begins with the letters of the alphabet in order — and the alien-wars topic allows me to do some interesting things with the letters X and Z.

The Last Veteran of the Alien Wars

Aliens! Fought them when I was younger.
Bug hunt . . . that’s what we used to say.
Carapace and stick legs, green ooze for blood.
Damned if they didn’t just swarm all over us,
Every man jack, sometimes, and we would
Fire the lasers imbedded in our arms, full auto.
Giant cockroaches, six feet tall, chittering and
Hissing. The cybernetic mechavision and radar
Implanted in our foreheads used to light up
Just like fireworks within our freakin brains.
Killing, killing, killing . . . no end to it, it felt
Like. The war ended, strangely enough, with
Men, women, and aliens in diplomatic councils.
Never thought the damn bugs could even talk!
Over time, we were brought back to Earth, the
Prosthetic armaments extracted. The weird
Quiet in my brain then was unnerving: empty
Reverberations and echoes. I went crazy for
Some time . . . could not interact or even just
Talk with anybody. Every civilian felt to me
Unfamiliar, unknowable. Like aliens! I was
Very much alone till I met an amazing, lovely
Woman. Well, not exactly. Not a human, a
Xenomorph. Like the enemy, back in the war!
You won’t believe how smart and cute she is.
Zukola[click]mia, she’s called. And I love her!

—Draft by Vince Gotera    [Do not copy or quote . . . thanks.]

            Image by anaterate on Pixabay.

This Pixabay image is reminiscent of the xenomorph character from the Alien motion-picture franchise but not an exactly similar rendition. Although I use the word xenomorph in the poem, the Alien movie xenomorph is not exactly how Zukola[click]lia probably looks, and this particular graphic may come somewhat closer, though missing two limbs, as an insectoid organism.

By the way, the phrase "bug hunt" is uttered, unforgettably, by Corporal Hicks (Bill Paxton) in the first Alien movie (1979). And the literary DNA for that particular use of the word bug for alien probably goes back to the 1959 novel Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein. Contemporary aficionados of the bug hunt undoubtedly know the 1997 Starship Troopers movie better than the novel.


Friends, won’t you comment, please? Love to know what you’re thinking. Thanks!

Ingat, everyone.   


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1 comment:

Bruce Niedt said...

Weren't the aliens in Ender's Game referred to as "bugs", too? I like this abecedarian - it's a seamlessly done narrative, and there's something about that ending that just gives me chills. Excellent.




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