It’s Alive

Frederick Pollack


Universal ruin doesn’t faze
the zombies. They think
(so to speak) a field has been cleared
so they may freely assemble,
Except for hunger, they are free from pain.
As they mill, bump, parts
sufficiently rotted, or burnt
by things still burning or searingly
melting, drop; the rest falls,
groans more, moves more awkwardly.
Crows are too high, rats too fast,
roaches hard for their poor hands to catch;
and the zombies think it’s unfair
there are no brains left.
In herds around them, meanwhile, vampires
have adopted the umbrella phalanx
and the shared tarp, and scuttle
in shadow beneath these, squealing
and bitching. They too
recognize no
responsibility. Sing their thirst, the total
inadequacy and
betrayal of all beings
below them; that is their art.
Periodically one or another drops
its umbrella or ducks
out from beneath the tarp to take
a short walk in the sun;
that is their spirituality.

Surviving humans, unsurprisingly,
are soldiers. And have learned,
though late, how to
inoculate themselves against
the undead: they weep.
Constantly. Sincerely,
like a living fountain for all
the living and unliving.
It acidifies the blood, changes the brain.
Which doesn’t mean these puffy-eyed
sharpshooters ranged in the rubble
for this final battle
have forgotten how to put
one in the head or in the heart.


The brilliant scientist is no fool.
The contacts may be placed
absurdly on the whorls and
protrusions of the monster
on the gurney. The flatlined
monitors may lie.
He’s armed, the scientist, and never
wholly diverts his attention
from the body. The general,
though a mind steeped in protocol
the event offends, glares steadily
at a claw. Data flows to his ear
from the site. Whether deep
undersea, or in ice, or a cordoned
field of strange non-metal,
it represents a power that
will be matched, will be crushed.
The soldiers also know the score,
their rifles on full automatic, leveled.
If I used eyes they’d be shut.

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