Astro Boy

Tell me, astro boy

What does it feel like to have no friends

To sit alone like this

Under your great starry sky

Before your glowing door

 

Tell me while I am here

Everything around, it’s lit by starlight now, beautiful

And sad beyond words, there’s death in this light

A clinging on through aeons, a breathing one’s last

Only drawn out through years of lonely time

 

Astro boy, how do you wait

and what have you to wait for?

Tell me, so I may sit and wait with you.

I am tired by all that I waited for

never having waited for me.

 

There is an empty solace in your galaxies

There is a bare truth.

If only I could lay my mind to sleep

And sit with you on your starlit ground

And watch your stars as ages float by.

 

But astro boy, I need to go

Into the light through your glowing door

Where there is no silence, darkness or respite

Only a waiting on all that won’t wait for you

I’ll be back, and we’ll sit and dream.

 

Wait for me.

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Cracked

I’ve cracked it. Finally.

This darned thing has been crashing over and over again for years. I was at my wit’s end to find what was wrong. Which part of this cryptic network is the culprit. I’ve finally cracked it. It was simple. But it was something I didn’t want to see. That’s why I missed it, just as I’d read in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. It was me. Not really me, but the way I am with respect to the rest of the system. I realize now that the singular problem was that any relevance of me to the rest of the system, every time, without exception, owes itself wholly and exclusively, to my usefulness to it.

Now for a fix.

Mercedez-Benz had five seconds.

This is June 2012. These days when you want to watch a video on YouTube, there are ads which start that you can only skip after 5 seconds. I hate these ads because they eat into my meager bandwidth. I watched one of them to the end, the new Mercedez-Benz ad. Why did I do that?

Mercedez-Benz had five seconds to do something that the user wouldn’t skip. What did they do?

They started with a nice music video-ish clip of a scene moving past the screen, and some nice music in the background. You see what happened there? For a moment you wouldn’t know this is an ad. I didn’t hit skip. I waited. Then I was sucked into the ad, which is what they wanted. I didn’t like the whole ad so much, but that’s irrelevant; they got me to watch it.

I don’t know if this was intentional. Probably not, because they didn’t do this ad just for YouTube. They did it for TV, everywhere. But it worked here.

Here’s the video:

The Death of a Dirty Little Sewer Rat

There was a dirty little rat that fell down a sewer pipe once. This happened because it was a sewer rat.

In the beginning the pipe was wide and it fell straight down. Then it bent into a horizontal bit. The rat couldn’t climb back up, so it kept crawling on its dirty little feet along it, hoping to find a way (sewer rats are stupid) and then suddenly in the darkness it fell again through another vertical bit. Its hind legs had slipped first, so it fell head upwards. This bit of the pipe grew narrower down, and at one point the dirty sewer rat got stuck.

It was too freaking fat to slip any further down, and its legs were all stuck so it couldn’t climb back up. It was dark everywhere, the walls were moist and smelly and the air heavy and foul, but I don’t think rats mind that.

Its legs were all bent and crooked really tight against the walls of the pipe, though, and it must have hurt a lot. I can’t tell.

It tried to move, jerk its spine around, but this only lodged it deeper and tighter into the pipe. Its legs hurt much more, and there now wasn’t enough room for its little body to swell for it to breathe.

It stayed that way for some hours. As it breathed, its weight slowly made it slip a tiny fraction down, further down, tighter and tighter.

Then came the water, because that’s what sewers are for. There was so little room around the rat that the dirty gurgly sewer water choked up on top of it and the rat was about to drown. But slowly it trickled through gaps around it and the rat could breathe again out of the water. At the time it was under the water, it had swallowed quite a bit of it, wretched creature, and some dirty food alongside that comes floating in sewer water. That’s why rats live in sewers in the first place.

This way it went for days. The dirty rat was lodged in the pipe tight enough for it to hurt a lot and to only allow very shallow, very frequent breaths, but just loose enough not to kill it. The water, when it jammed on top of it, receded through the holes around it just as the rat was about to drown. The morsels in the sewer water were just enough to keep the dirty thing alive. When the sewer clogged from below and water rose slowly up from the bottom, it used to stop just below its snout. There it used to lie for hours, the dirty sewer rat, unmoving, eyes under the dirty dark water, nostrils breathing the foul dank air.

I don’t know if it wanted to die. But even if it did, it couldn’t. It was stuck on the border between life and death, slightly to the side of life, unmoving.

And thus the sewer rat kept being, head up all the time because it had no choice. It lost all senses of its forelegs a few days down, then its hind ones. There was only impenetrable darkness all around. But there were sounds. In the day, through the hollow iron pipes would arrive echoes of the outside world. People walking on the street, the honking of cars, the scurrying of other rats around the sewer system. These scenes had been a daily routine once, and now the rat could only link them to those pictures in its little dirty head as it lay stuck in the unforgiving, unfriendly, uninterested darkness.

A few weeks down, when the dirty mite had shrunk to a thin layer of skin over its skeleton, and slipped even more down the pipe, it realized it was rotting from the bottom up. This is natural, as sewer water is very good for decomposing things. But I don’t know how it was, really, for the rat, to feel its bottom half again after a long time, as the parts inside its body that had retained sensation were now exposed and being eaten through by the same water that provided nourishment.

I think it took a week or so for the rotting to spread to enough organs to kill the dirty little sewer rat. During these days, I don’t know what it used to think all the time. You’d have to think something, I guess. Every waking moment you must think something. I don’t know about rats, but we must. I just wonder what it used to think all the time, the great unmoving time. That’s all I wonder.

Rebuild

Again, as ever,

in the desolate desert of mine,

dry and quiet since the last rain

that I falter to remember

under a lost sky

I start to rebuild.

 

So tall my arches and towers

rise to dizzying heights

where the sun can glisten off

every brick, so perfect

 

I take a step back

look up through my sweat

and I am blinded by the excruciating beauty

it’s majesty on the sand.

 

I didn’t remember last

when I was this happy

as the sun set

and the crimson rays lingered on my mortar

for one last fond caress.

 

I went to sleep in the night

smiling up at stars.

 

but as the inside of my eyes

lit up from the first warmth of the sun

I woke to heartbreak.

 

my towers, they lay toppled around me

my arches crushed and buried

looked up at me from the sand

all through a dreamy ripple of heat

as if this were a mirage all along

 

but the sand was the same.

empty, quiet, dry

the element of me,

the one unchanged.

 

so it was desert again as this story ended

and desolation

the last word, as ever.