This is failure. Hill after smoldering hill rolls out, Flame. The sky burns brown-orange. Look Up: that roar pounding your ears—huge plane, Stalling above? No, just flying too low, laboring Heavy-laden: prisoners, weighted with fire Gear. When rains come, they too bring ruin, dark Stain rising in homes not consumed. This was not Doom. Seems all it takes for apocalypse is us Making mistakes we won’t fix. Under a fallen sky Of ash we scurry masked, infected by the beasts We crowd, crowding each other side by side Because we haven’t met enough people who’ve Died. Are you sick yet? I’m not. Odd, life that Seemed so see-what-my-new-phone-does Frivolous winds up, surprise, so serious, And science—such a blur in school, that Smelly frog—turns out so disrespectful To what we’d prefer, making us not Conquerors, but freaks, of nature. What Creature fouls its nest, kills its own kind? If The day breaks that lets us take off these Masks, perhaps we’d best speak up, not like The cop who’s scared to tell the bad cop: Stop. Because the bailiff’s here, the jury’s in, No joke, there’s smoke, there’s fire, this is Failure. Look down: that small stream running Over rocks, the one you love to stand and Listen to alone—that tumbling warbling Glistening rush is just the sound of water Striking stone, blocked and blunted, Flung-off, shattered, split, only to flow Against, around, through, over, under— On. I dip my hand into the cool, another Plane flying above. The charred ash That should mark my forehead as A sign, the stream instead keeps Trying to bear off, to clear, to Pardon, to forgive, trying to Carry far away, trying to Bear it, trying, trying.