The Remains

I found this self-help text stored on a mini SD card, the memory I removed from a dead smartphone. Its screen bore a thin spiderweb of cracks spreading from a central point, as if it had been hit with an emergency hammer, one you might find on a bus in a small red box. Once hidden in the bottom drawer of waste phones at my local dump, it is now listed here due to elements of internal interest, but in the end perhaps it should have been left to transfer to a landfill site and decay, six feet down, among the plastic bags, the compact discs, and trays of silver-plated cutlery – and this remains its fate, even here. But that’s okay!

[…] – a grave marker indicates corrupted text.

The Manuscript

[…] to cope with the private nocturnal terrors I began to revel in them, to smile. To clasp my hands as if in prayer, in a simulation of an older time. I mean, it gave me something to do, which helped. And many years afterwards I began to design graves, in another way of coping with certain facts of living. But then, what counts as coping?

That we are not here on a certain future date, does not mean we have no stake in what goes on with the remains. Of course there are many views on the function of grief and mourning and their socially emergent ceremonies. This isn’t the place for that. And don’t talk to me about grandiosity – that we are here at all is grandiose enough.

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The love of blue should not eclipse
the love of green – of mossy tiles
of algae bloom and ancient trees –
but then – culture does not feel pain

The sky should remain blue, and far,
so we needn’t worry to breathe,
its empire dissolved, its currents
tamed – culture does not feel pain

Whelks and shells of oysters bubble
on the beach and drown, and white flocks
of turrets spoil the darkling coast
and yet – culture does not feel pain

Cinema screens in a bleak world
play empty films to empty rooms,
sound whispered arguments about
light swords – culture does not feel pain

The stadiums of the still world
are filled with the crowds of the past
and sportsmen fight against hunger
because – culture does not feel pain

The boats upon the sea that leave
bodies scattered, should now be raised
cenotaphii to float above
white cliffs – culture does not feel pain