They asked me to tell you what I saw: the White Horse galloping across a charred battlefield, its nostrils spewing sulphurous, pixelated flames, making hazily visible other worlds though the distortion of heat and unfurling ribbons of hyperbole. Its rider was all but invisible, and this despite his extreme and unmistakable ugliness, his malevolent, hostile-yet-empty eyes, his iron teeth clenched with the gravity of unquenchable hatred, his cold, dull skin. I didn’t see all this right away. His magick lies in the way in which those who would be his greatest foes tend to allow their gaze to slip off of him and onto the horse with its hypnotic, rhythmic hoof crashes, and from the horse to the smoke-filled static of the sky above.
There are algorithms that explain his cloak of invisibility. In truth, even when seen, the rider never appears as the same being twice. It was just this once, with the hardened exertion of a soldier believing he had stepped into his final battle, that I managed to see his face: he is a robot that dreams, and this, my dear comrades, is a reality the terror of which cannot lightly be shaken once it has been realized. As our eyes locked in psychic struggle I could feel myself being drawn into the feedback loop that artificially populates his inner life, that uploads into his dreamscapes visions of total conquest and dead gods, of a single monument (completely meaningless to our humanity’s eyes) placed in the center of the universe, surrounded by infinite nothingness to the very borderlands of creation.
They asked me to try my best to describe it: it was like a vortex of angels spiraling into the emptiness at the center of each isolated mind. This is what the robot dreams. This is what I saw in the rider’s eyes in those horrible, near-endless seconds on that accursed battlefield.
How I survived is another tale, one that perhaps I’ll tell another time, when I’m ready…
Dear friends, have courage: I did survive! Despite our terror, we will win, because our souls are the images of God, while the robot has merely images.
An Anonymous Soldier
Ric Carfagna was born and educated in Boston Massachusetts. He is the author of numerous collections of poetry, most recently: Symphonies Nos. 5, & 9 published by White Sky Books. Symphony X (sequence of finalities) is due out this year from Creaky Plough Press. His poetry has evolved from the early radical experiments of his first two books, Confluential Trajectories and Porchcat Nadir, to the unsettling existential mosaics of his multi-book project Notes On NonExistence. Ric lives in rural central Massachusetts with his wife, cellist Mary Carfagna and daughters, Emilia and Aria.
Kurt Cline is Associate Professor of English and World Comparative Literature, National Taipei University of Technology. His full-length book of poetry, Voyage to the Sun, was published by Boston Poet Press in 2008. Poems and stories have appeared, most recently, in BlazeVOX, Danse Macabre, The Tule Review, Mission at 10th, Wilderness House Literary Review, HuesoLoco, Apocrypha and Abstractions, Black Scat, and Clockwise Cat. Scholarly articles have appeared in Glimpse; Anthropology of Consciousness; Concentric; Beatdom Literary Journal; and Comparative Civilizations and Cultures.
Stuart Cooke’s next collection of poems, Opera, is forthcoming from Five Islands Press. He lectures in creative writing and literary studies at Griffith University.
Stuart Jay Silverman, an east coast expatriate retired from college/university teaching, divides his time between Hot Springs, Arkansas. and Chicago, Illinois. Some 500 of his poems/translations appear in 100+ magazines and anthologies here and abroad. Hawk Publishing Group published his The Complete Lost Poems: A Selection. Feeling that Parnassus has no preference for free verse vs. formal, or the other way, he writes both. He subscribes to the theory that poetry today is mostly a reeking bed of narcissistic self-display and, so, tries to make his poetry the creation and exploration of imagined worlds, or real worlds made into substrata on which the imagination can build new and varied structures.
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