Exquisite Corpse - Issue 3
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by Bruce Farnsworth


(July 26th, 1999)
Nostradamus said the world was going to end on July 25th, 1999
so last night we all got dressed up and drank our best wine, smoked our best reefer,
and read poetry in Emil's little papier mache apartment
down in the earthquake zone.

We brought our library books and outstanding parking tickets
and unopened packets of prophylactics and burned them in the hibachi on the deck.
I threw my last twelve dollars-withdrawn that afternoon from my savings account-onto the fire.  It burned a cheerful nuclear orange
as we grilled savory kabobs and stared at the little flames
lapping up the earth's last bits of oxygen
regretting all the money we'd spent on age-retarding antioxidants
and hair-growth-inducing shark fin plasters and each of us wondered
if this was, at last, one of those situations where you could suggest an orgy
without preparing a funny line to take it back with
until Emil's neighbor pounded on the wall
and swore he had to work the next morning
(poor misguided bastard sleeping away the world's final purpling hours
the way we all slept through the last ten years not having read Nostradamus sooner)
but we ignored the neighbor and kept drinking and reading
until the cops came and said they didn't give a fuck if the world was ending
just so our party did so we crowded onto the deck and read and drank quieter
feeling foolish for whispering in the late night apocalyptic breeze.

I told them how Walter ruined a good debate about the new millennium
the other night by reminding us that a new millennium begins every day
and redheaded Mike confused us by saying the Irish believe
the end of the world comes everyday
which is why they make beer in Ireland not wine.

When the police came again Emil herded everyone who'd go
inside and assembled them into a circle of sorrow that looked like person-henge
from the deck where Brian and I watched them pity him for the unrelenting forces
that stalk his life; that dampened then smothered the woolen flame of his little party,
taking all the joy out of cataclysm
and will likely cause the sun to rise tomorrow in a disappointing perpetuity
that old Nostradamus,
with his slide rule up his winking ass
probably never doubted for a single

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