John-Michael Bloomquist: Three Father Nescio Poems from The Future

Father Nescio and the Ark of the Future

The lift was a mile-long throat up 
to the scorched surface of the Earth. 

The phlegm-yellow sky hacked thunder 
and spat lightning around the Ark—

a shimmering peanut of mercury 
larger than the New York skyline 

sitting in the vaporized seabed—
a coral graveyard bleached like an 

albino Gila monster. Astronauts 
walked into and out of the Ark

like silver ants. I boarded it with two
DNA samples of every 21st century

animal we hadn’t been able to save. 
We were going to make a new home

where water gushed and air was free,
and the birds singing in forgotten trees 

would talk to the core of who we are.
We planned to bio-print the extinct

back to life to walk through our lost 
paradise. I’d kept faith in resurrection, 

in life after death. Of course, I had doubt: 
maybe we shouldn’t be a part of the worlds 

to come. But as radiation swept its
invisible broom, I stepped onto the Ark. 

The Second Prayer of Father Nescio 

How can we remain, in your image, parts
of one body when lab-grown hearts and ears 
and eyes are ready-made to order, and 
implanted in these oiled suits? 

Out of the womb of the seas we swarmed 
upon the shore drawn by the same urge that drives 
the moon over the earth. The force to live is dumb 

as gravity. Out of the womb of our earth, into 
the airless night of lights we explore 
new planets to forge our hovels—
out of one womb and into a million others, 
forever seeking to make a womb of it all. 

Yet we forget our first cocoon—the cradle myth 
of our pale blue dot we out grew by doubt. 
For all our progress, all our planet-wide citadels 
and genetically engineered regenerative cells, 

we are compelled to visit a place 
no satellite can orbit, no rocket can glide by.

How can it be that from slime to scale to fur to skin 
to upright space-trotting sapiens we are so lost

to each other? Behold, neighbor—does anyone
knock on the door of your conapt? 
You’ve every necessity at the touch of a button 
but who knows if you’re alive? I’m afraid

no one knows about me either, and I fear you, too, 
neighbor. Yet I would give my life 
to know you, if only to check that I’m still alive. 

I’ve heard in the past, a heart was donated from one
who had passed away, so that another may live.

Father Nescio’s Exorcism 

The exorcist came with an electronic 
crucifix that he plugged into my forehead,

uploading a software that scanned 
my mind for the medley of faces 
hidden within faces, voices echoing 

in the cave of my skull. The words
that were not mine flashed on the scanner  
like lumps giving away the cancer. 

I was nauseous as the oracle inhaling 
vapors, fumed with double speech, 
like a bot out of sync with its own code. 

The exorcist exhumed the shape-shifting
sidewinder sliding under the sands 
of my dendrites like an owl swooping 

down in the dark upon its prey, snagging 
up the spineless body with his talons. 

The glowing collar kept the priest’s 
mind safe as the virus sank its fangs
into him. Praying the ancient 

words enclosed the demon like a house 
spider within a jar. He slide the page 

underneath its feet, carried it outside. 
I’d almost forgotten my own way of thinking.

John-Michael Bloomquist lives in DC with his wife and their needy black cat, Zbigniew. He is an editor of Poems from the Jail Dorm, a collection of incarcerated men’s poetry. His poetry has been published in The Michigan Quarterly Review, Third Coast, The Southeast Review, The Portland Review, and many others. He can be found at john-michaelpbloomquist.com.

Image: dkngstudios.com

Check out HFR’s book catalog, publicity list, submission manager, and buy merch from our Spring store. Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.