Another Apocalypse Poem, Take 28

Christien Gholson

The Rio Mosquito, so-called because it escaped from some lab in Brazil, has a sting that can bring on brilliant hallucinations. Ecstasy inside a fever dream. There are those that have become addicted to these dreams, stand in ditch-water half-naked, arms out in praise, to receive multiple stings. They call this position “the glory rack.” Just one more religion rising from reflections in stagnant water. There’s probably more religions than people now.  

Back in the day, I would have called this act insane, but that word means nothing now. It got tired and walked away into the desert long ago. No one’s seen it since. And I say good riddance.  

I mean, I tried “the glory rack” a couple months ago, the day after a hurricane ripped through town, slid traffic lights and dogs and nursing homes and cucumbers into the sea. 

This is what I saw: There was an old woman resting on a mattress of dollars, watching wind and light sneak through a crack in the shack boards above her feet. She got up, crossed to a pile of dollars in the corner of the dark room. She pulled a few bills from the pile, dipped them in a bowl of rust-colored water, pasted them across the crack of light in the wall. The wind pushed against the wet bills as they slowly dried. 

Outside, she looked east. The sun rose above the edge of a flat plain. She opened the wire mesh gate of the chicken coop, knelt in the dust, pulled some dollars from her pocket, tore them into tiny pieces. The chickens gathered around her. She told them a story:  

“Dollars bred dollars,” she said, “until there were too many. They clogged every room, every closet, every bed. No one could breathe. People clawed through the dollars, toward their windows. And the windows burst with dollars.” The chickens pecked at the bits of paper scattering in the wind. “People in the streets pushed and shoved each other,” she said, “shouting for joy, clutching at the rain of dollars, stuffing bills into their pockets, growing heavy with the laughter of so many dollars.”

“Dollars flooded the fields,” she said, “washed down into the ditches. Mama and her family ran outside, dancing. And the dollars descended, whirling over everything just as it was promised…” 

The old woman finished dropping the pieces of paper and struggled to her feet. “And that’s how the world was made,” she whispered. Everything loose in the yard flapped softly.

About the Author

Christien Gholson is the author of several books of poetry, including The No One Poems (Thirty West Publishing); On the Side of the Crow(Hanging Loose Press); All the Beautiful Dead (Bitter Oleander Press); and a novel: A Fish Trapped Inside the Wind (Parthian Books). A long eco-catastrophe-ceremony poem, Tidal Flats, can be found at Mudlark, along with its sequel, Solutions for the End of the World, at The American Journal of Poetry. He lives in Oregon.