by Mark Waldrop

Down in the basement, as far away from the Arizona sun

As we could get, we were led by a man that loved the word

Motherfucker.  He said this was where we belonged.

In the basement.


He told us science fiction had rules:

1.  Don't read anything before the year you were born.

2.  Time is a motherfucker. 


He couldn't stand still and

He left his reading glasses on around his neck.

He'd swoop them up off his chest the way a gunfighter

Quick draws a revolver — to fire some paragraph right through us.


That goes for my stuff too, he said.  Don't go reading my books

Until you've finished Bradbury and Wells.


Time, he'd say, is a motherfucker.  He told us to put our hands on the flat

Cool surface of the desks, to touch them so we knew they were real. 

Some of us did, some just watched him, shuffling

Birkenstock sandals, playing with curls of hair.

He stopped moving to tell us this one thing.

This is the past, he said.  You don't know it yet but this moment is over.

Time is a motherfucker that way.