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Here we are

at the edge of the universe

playing marbles with the boss


We polish ours between thumb and forefinger

(it's a misty green and blue cat's eye

flecked with white, a real beauty)

and away it rolls across the sand

It gets scratched a bit on the way

loses some of its shine


Now it’s the boss's turn, he lets loose a comet,

it sneaks between the orbit of a meteorite cloud

and a large cold planet, smashing aside tons

of hurtling rocks on the way

pow, no rocks, all gone to dust


We spit on our planet, rub it to bring back its shine

but our saliva is acid and only further discolors it

so we roll it back to the line in the sand,

take careful aim


In the meantime the boss is making points,

he shoots at a couple of pulsars, pow, they explode,

zaps a planet past a huge black hole

it veers, wobbles, finally slips into the hole, disappears


Our planet's not looking so good, we find a bottle

of planet cleaner, add a few chemicals of our own,

swish it around in a glass dish, remove it,

dry it off with a couple of tons of carbon monoxide.

That should make it beautiful again, but it doesn't,

some of the white haze seems to be disintegrating,

it looks a bit pitted


The boss is having fun with a couple of nebulae,

he spins some supergravity at them and they

change direction, dance like fireflies


Our planet seems somehow to have lost its roundness

we light a couple of huge atomic fires, pass it through

them carefully, just to soften it enough so we can

roll it around, restore it's perfect shape, but it doesn't

work, some of the blue has invaded the outlines of the green

and a few large brown discolorations appear

that we hadn't noticed before


Too late we realize that we've got to make our play now,

but our planet's in real bad shape, it's lost its smoothness

altogether, we flick it as best as we can saying a little prayer

under our breath and off it goes, hopping and weaving across

the sand like a dog with only two legs. Soon it disappears

into a cloud of cosmic debris and gets lost in a storm

of misshapen moons, we can't find it in all that whirling stuff


We look at the boss sort of coy, like the novices we are,

hoping he'll give us another cat's eye to play with,

let us have another chance


But he's busy with his own end game. Pow, another nebula, pow,

a whole bunch of them, he's picking them up now, putting them in his

bag which is swelling by the minute. He's like a snooker master,

pocketing the balls expertly, one by one, the red ball, the brown

ball, the pink ball. All gone


Then he sets them all up again in a triangle, lines them up,

lets off a thunderous opening shot, smash, a big bang and they all

fly apart, some of them already going into pockets


What about us, we ask. Can we have another chance, try again?

Sorry kids, he says, go back to school, study a bit, get smarter,

learn how to take care of your marbles. Come back when you grow up


Then he lets loose with some really dazzling impossible shots,

bouncing them off wall after wall effortlessly, finally pocketing

the whole lot


See you kids, he says, have a good day in school, then he smiles

that special knowing smile of his, winks at us


You can't beat the boss, he's the best

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© Johnmichael Simon



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