Victor HugoWhere was I? Musing on impermanence… I wonder if this piece will survive me. Victor Hugo probably had no such doubt about his legendary hunchback character. That novel’s final image birthed and informed my piece, over 160 years later.

Jack or Jive named one of their albums Mujyo, which means Transcience. The words “transcience” and “conscience” each contain the word “science”. Telling and ironic.

Arthur C. Clarke has long been one my prized writers. My favourite novel of his, The Songs of Distant Earth, really resonated in my mind around the time this was written.

Quasimodo’s Bones

Crescent slits the fertile Sky
Her blood the Ocean
Saturate in life changing
Bathing the open shore
Kisses passion pounding
A gift remains, hurled adrift
Glitter shiny – stone cold enamel
Spiral child

Gale slashes the futile hill
Hollow temple dust aswirl
Dionysus howls abandon
One grain too many too few
Pride of the polis totters
Ground to pieces – crash to earth
The Ancients reclaim their glory
Crushed empty shell

Oceans swelling towering dance
Sinking soaring forest reef
Sunken bubble in earth
Ancient magical creatures vanish
  as rough walls wash smooth

Blinding disk fuse the sterile sky
Awash in aching flame
Slashing burning tides of sand
  disperse those waters of old
Landscape swirling shifting
Spiral child scratched dimmed dusted blasted
Drowning grain by grain
Engulfed in dry earth

Michael Whelan's artwork for Arthur C. Clarke's novel The Songs of Distant Earth

We have ignition –
Desert sands fused
Polished glittering jade
Life green vista
Museum floor at ground zero
Now I am become –
  code name Trinity

Solitary fish leaps for glory –
Now I am not where I am!
My deep world lies flat beneath me
What alien vista this?
Suspended, dry – what are these lights?
Floating, not floating?
That distant edge –
  the end of this new world?
Restored to my old!

Diamond in sands of time signatures
At last to ashes to dust
Even the Magic Flute may fade
As memorial stones crumble
Bones in the expression of love
Disintegrate – re-earthed to atoms

As we build forever empires
Permanent structures –
  of quantum probabilities
A new bright smudge in the night sky
  heralds a star’s death ages past
Its dust blasted around half a galaxy
  – spiral parent –
Only now we get the first clue
The beginning after the end

To Arthur C. Clarke


The pyramids at Giza, Egypt