Pop Forgot

J.H. Siegal

Pop Forgot

Pop forgot the aliens came down the other day.
When I stop by, he grabs my hand and begs me tell him,
“Georgie, is it true, about the aliens coming down?”
Nurse taps her pendant crucifix and looks the other way.
“Yes, Pop,” I say, “it’s true about the aliens.”
Pop recalls the seats we once had right behind third base.
And did I see the wildest news, the latest baseball moves,
Who they’re calling up, and who they might be sending down?
He taps a folded newspaper, denting piles of names.
Half a screaming headline boasts of aliens.
Pop is glazing over at the television screen.
Numbering the days is all the talking heads can do,
Looping dreadful footage of the ships hung in the air.
Pop just boggles at them as he reaches out for me.
“Georgie, have you heard about these aliens?”
Pop is walking well today around the little square.
He says the block has gone to pot, sirens everywhere.
“Look right there,” he says and points, “it’s filthy on the ground.”
He’s the only one outside whose head is pointed down.
The rest of us are looking up at aliens.
Pop’s awake, his startled eyes upon me in my chair.
“I didn’t know you’re here,” he says, the fifth day that I’m there.
“It’s George,” I say, and he replies, “of course it is, I know.”
And settles back to sleeping, and never sees the glow,
That flares outside, growing from the aliens.

J.H. Siegal writes fiction, nonfiction, music, and code. He plays barrelhouse piano and produces the musical group Red Spot Rhythm Section. His writing has appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review and Skeptic Magazine, among others. In 2021, his short story “Rocks and Snow” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Currently, he is at work on his first novel. He lives with his wife and two children near Chicago, IL.
Author’s Backstory: This poem started with the feeling that, at the intersection of two horrors, there might be a small mercy. I’m always looking for different ways to address apocalyptic scenarios, and as a child I was enamored of Frederik Pohl’s book The Day The Martians Came, for its human-scale treatments of such a massive event. In this poem, I’m mixing the colloquial rhythms of father-son banter with an accelerating rhyme scheme to capture that sense of a small, sad grace among the pervasive doom.
Editor’s Notes and/or Image Credit: Alien invasion [wallpaperflare.com]

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One Response to Pop Forgot

  1. Heidi Nickerson Levy says:

    This is w.o.n.d.e.r.f.u.l. ~ evocative, poignant, sweet, even as the subject matter is disturbing. Bravo!

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