Grand Motherfucker (an epic sci-fi poem)

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This poem debuted live at Tuesday Funk #48 in Chicago on September 4, 2012, the same day it was written. I've submitted it to a few editors since then, but since they (probably sensibly) turned it down, my birthday present to myself is to publish it here.

It was the early 23rd and I was just the latest turd
Of a miner to get dumped on Harkin's Moon.
I had finished my first shift and took the slow repulsor lift
Up to a weightless bar called Betsy's Grand Saloon.

We were sipping bulbs of beer in artificial atmosphere
And watching servers flit around that hollow space.
My hair still caked with sand, I said the place it sure was grand,
And my new buddies smirked and pointed 'cross the place.

"You see that mope sitting alone like some sad king up on his throne?"
They said. "That bastard is the grandest of the grand.
And if you go and ask him why and make it back, why, then we'll buy
Your drinks all night, and we'll know you're a real man."

But they said, they said, "You have to ask him, sucker,
How he ever got to be such a grand motherfucker."

And then they shoved me in the chest and I was drifting past the rest
Of all the patrons, and the place grew deathly silent.
And I could only stop my flight by grabbing on and holding tight
To that guy's table, and the look he flashed was violent.

Well, I was barely hanging on, my heart was banging like a gong,
And that guy said, "You got a question? Well, then ask it."
Before those hundred pairs of eyes, I had no witty, quick replies,
And though I knew it just might mean an early casket,

I said, "Sir, I don't mean to push my luck, uh...
But how'd you get to be such a grand muthafucka?"

The whole bar's sharp intake of breath was like a harbinger of death,
And I was ready for that mope to grab his blaster.
And though his eyes were filled with rage, I saw the clues to his true age,
The biomods that smoothed his skin to alabaster.

He said, "No one has asked in years, which makes you braver than your peers."
He raised a jeweled fist as if to call my bluff.
"What can you tell about this ring?" It was a massive, gleaming thing.
I said, "That's rhodium? I only mine the stuff."

He snapped his fingers, called for drinks. Amidst the hubbub and the clinks
Of glassware, flunkies Velcro'd me into a chair.
And he took his sad Manhattan from a server clad in satin,
And said, "I'm the one who pays for all this air.

"So if you came here for a kiss, it's time to pucker,
'Cause this is how I got to be this grand motherfucker."

And this is what he said. He said:

It was the mid 22nd,
I was second in my class,
Ph.D. in physics just within my grasp.
Trying to unravel time travel,
Testing theories in my lab.
Could I grab all the glory, Nobel Prize?
Built a model down to size, miniaturized,
Fusion-powered on my finger.
At the zero hour, fired up the power.
Blinding flash, blinked my eyes.
Where was I?
Found a paper and I found to my surprise
It was the late 21st.
I was the first to jump through time,
But the bubble shortly burst.
I pressed the button on my ring
To go back. Not a thing. All alone,
Stranded sixty years from home.


How to get back, back on track?
Hack a passage to the future,
Stitch a suture in the spacetime fabric.
Found my way to my old college,
Newer now, seeking knowledge
From the sages of the time.
Showed up during office hours
Of a prof named Dr. Powers,
Told my tale to his assistant,
Was insistent that she listen,
Saw her eyes glisten. Frisson
Of familiarity came over me,
there and gone, she was on the intercom.
She shook her head.
She said, "Professor regrets he
Can't see you, but I'm Betsy.
I'm on my way to lunch, but I've a hunch
A bunch of stuff I know could help,
If you let me."

So we talked. Physics.

Noon turned to evening,
Thoughts of leaving fled.
21st century's not so dead,
I was thinking in my head.
But Betsy was believing in my story.
Took the ring apart in her lab,
Put it back together
With some parts from inventory.
She touched my hand,
Said, "Let's test it in the morning."

And she took me home.
But not to sleep.

What more is there to tell? Hurt like hell
To say goodbye, but it worked well, the ring.
She really was a genius.
Safe but aching back at home,
22nd, my time, my apartment,
Walked in. I saw the photos on the wall.
There was my mother as a small girl.
A photo I had seen my whole life,
Like a knife stabbing, shook my head.
My hands were grabbing at the frame,
One name on my tongue,
'Cause holding my mom's hand
Was my brilliant Betsy.
Do you get the point yet?
But I'd known her best as Liz, see?
Grandma Liz. I grew dizzy,
And it hit me like a mountain,
Like a fountain of my DNA,
Circling recursively through time,
Curs├Ęd strands that recombine
In a loop I can't escape, no extraction,
And it's real, it's no abstraction.
I'm a
grandmother fucker.

The bar was deathly still. There were still some gaps to fill,
Like how he'd traded patents for this lonely moon.
And all the rhodium we mined to fuel forays back in time
Went to the government. What they did no one knew.

He said, "I'll never leave this place 'cause I can never show my face
On the rock of my conception and my birth.
Five years, your contract expires and you'll head home to the spires
Of the place I'll never see again—the Earth!"

And he waved his jeweled hand, just a bitter, broken man,
And my pals they dragged me off to rent some tail.
But the androids in the brothels dressed like 21st century models,
And I realized this moon was just a jail.

We're inmates trapped without the hope of succor
In the prison that's the mind of the Grand Motherfucker.

2 Comments

Love it. Combines two of my favorite things--science fiction and the word Motherfucker.
Reminiscent of Heinlein's "All You Zombies."

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