In SETI Silence

Ann K. Schwader

In SETI Silence

The Drake Equation failed us. Once we thought
belief might be enough: just listen hard
& cross your fingers. Easy. We forgot

how fragile intellect gets, battle-scarred
by every little cataclysm. Let
a war or three go really wrong; the charred

remains sulk into silence, blood & sweat
& tears alike rejoining void. That pond
should still be full of signal-ripples – yet

somehow it’s not. Turns out the stars beyond
are haunted only sparsely. Holding on
until we notice (let alone respond)

asks far too much of people eons gone,
their planets cracked to dust or blown to red
irradiated vapor. Science spawned

a guesstimate to clutter up our heads
with saucer saviors. Don’t be comforted:
we’re on our own. The aliens are dead.


Ann K. Schwader’s poems have recently appeared in Spectral Realms, Dreams & Nightmares, Star*Line, and Weird Fiction Review. Her most recent collection, Dark Energies (P’rea Press 2015) was a Bram Stoker Award Finalist.

Editor’s Notes: The poem is in a classic Italian form called a terza rima. And the image is from the June 2012 poster for SETIcon II, by Danielle Futselaar. More on the Drake Equation can be found here, together with my essay-poem parody of it (“Happy Hour at Drake’s Lounge”) recently in Altered Reality Magazine

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