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JM Romig Sep 2022
A black and white film
About an old man and his dog.
There is no dialogue.
Just ambient sounds -

First, of the alarm clock’s
monotonous song.
Followed by an abrupt
cutting silence as his hand slams
down on the snooze button

Then, the sound of a coffeemaker
spitting and burbling.
The coffee, pouring into a chipped mug.
Sugar, then milk,
the clink of the spoon against the ceramic
as he stirs
the long first sip

As the man looks curiously
at something on the fridge,
just out of frame.
A bag of dogfood opening.

hard kibble ringing against the metal dish.
The dog grumbling - impatiently waiting.
Tupperware  opening
The hum of a microwave, and the beep.
Last night’s stew poured into a bowl
the rest, over the kibble.

The closed caption reads:
[Enthusiastic, sloppy eating noises]

The sound of water running
as the bowls are scrubbed clean.

The door closing as the two leave
for their morning walk.
The old man and the dog
are now sitting on a park bench.

The grass, still wet from the morning dew.
There is a beautiful sunrise
over the nearby lake.

The camera pulls away,
as music overtakes the diegetic sounds
of nearby parkgoers, birds and runners,
and teens playing hooky.

The camera cuts back to for a beat
to the kitchen
in the empty house.

The camera zooms in on a weathered
and well loved piece of paper
held up by a rainbow magnet
on the refrigerator door.

Fade to a black screen,
with white letters:
What was on the paper?
JM Romig Nov 2021
A moderately sized planet,
afloat in a distant spiral galaxy
orbiting an unremarkable star,
has taken the Tardigrazian nations by storm.
For thousands of their star cycles,
they have been capturing the imaginations
of countless people watching from their pods
both Planetside and Satellite alike,
brought together by the light
of the Blue Bead –

The little exoplanet and that defied all reason
and persisted at all cost,
despite itself,
possibly to spite itself.
Millions of lightyears away from our humble empire.

This tiny little dot
and the two-legged folk walking upon it
became something of a cultural phenomenon.
We have become the cheerleaders
for a people likely long passed.
We used to believe they might outlive their star
Go on to visit other planets -
meet their neighbors, like we did.

But recent transmissions from our probes
spell a tragic end on the horizon
for our distant friends,
whom we’ve seen climb down from trees,
invent tools, and writing, and cities, and more
but they never stopped at a reasonable spot.

No amount self-inflicted suffering
they brought in the name
of that momentum would stop them.
Progress, and the comfort that comes with it,
being not unlike an intoxicant for these people.
Addicts will always justify the means.

Their world has rapidly grown warmer
in the time we’ve been observing them.
Soon it will be outside the narrow window
in which they can reasonably survive.

We watched, screaming at our screens,
"The fuel - it’s the fuel causing the rise!!"
They’d gone this long, burning the dead
and expected no consequence.
It's not their fault they’re so short-sighted
It's how they evolved.
A mere hundred years or so,
that’s the lifetime of these feeble creatures
Hardly enough to gain wisdom,
let alone pass it down.

Nevertheless, they lived, they loved,
and they thrived.
Surpassing even the most generous
of our expectations.
Against all odds, they learned, and they grew.
Eventually, we did see the brightest of them
realize their jeopardy and speak the truth.
Just in time, they would unite as they did
so many times before
…or so we thought.

Instead, they fought more.
Even on the edge of extinction,
they dig their trenches,
and they pick their sides.
The great imaginations
that helped them build the world
now affixing them in rigid fictions
of their own making
Unable to see beyond
these preconceived limitations.

It feels, now more than ever,
as though we’re seeing the
final seasons of the Blue Bead.
The fall of a beloved people.
Who will never know
the billions of lives they’ve touched
in the brief time we’ve gotten
to share with them.

But then, they have surprised us
countless times before.
Perhaps they will again.
JM Romig Mar 2021
Semantic satiation
is when you repeat
a word or phrase
so much that it loses
all sense of meaning

Grim Milestone
sounds like the protagonist
of a paperback thriller series
by Patterson
or one of his ghosts

Grim Milestone
sounds like the title
of a Goosebumps book
about a killer street

Grim Milestone
sounds like a gloomy rock
on a lonely corner
whose only purpose in life
is to tell people
they’re on the wrong path.

Grim Milestone
Grim Milestone
Grim Milestone
Grim Milestone
Grim Milestone
Grim Milestone

I keep thinking
that maybe, if I say enough
my heart will ache less at the words
when we pass the next one
JM Romig Apr 2020
It's two o'clock - Post Meridian
Time to raise a glass
Of wine or flask of gin
To the Good 'Ol Gov
And Marvelous Dr. Acton

Take action, Homebound Heroes
By extensive handwashing
And endless binge-watching,
Baby Yoda and the Tiger King

One day eventually
There will be
Cause to celebrate,
Gather outside
And roam

But until then,
For Grandma's sake, people
Napowrimo 2020 #1
JM Romig Feb 2020
It's the first good day in a month.
After two weeks, bedridden
I finally have the energy
To take the dog around the block

She stops to sniff
Every single tree,
Patch of grass,
Stop sign, and telephone pole.

Normally, I'd be annoyed
Angry even
"****** Anna!"
With frustration, I would bawk.

But not today.
It's fifty-five degrees outside
And I'm not in pain
So sniff up enough
- to fill your little doggo soul

Just don't pull so hard.
I know, I know. You don't wanna stop.
Ok, Ok. Just one more time
Around the block.
JM Romig Aug 2019
Lee was posted up in in usual spot
back by the stacks,
with his phone on life support.
Its umbilical cord was knotted up like a nest,
and held together by electrical tape.

It sat next to his vape
box and a stack of books
about the GED, twenty-fist century
side hustles and back issues of Ebony.

People come in and out of the library
and everyone says hi to Lee,
He is the man to see,
He asks about their lives and gives sage advice –
How you been, my man?
How’s the kids doin’, girl?
How’s married life treatin’ you, my dude?

My man, you gotta do this.
Babygirl, look into that.
Don’t wear your hat like that,
Boy, ya look silly.

Lee lives in a van
that he parks nearby
so he can job-hunt on the free wifi
even when the place is closed.

If you feel sorry for me, don’t
says Lee
I’m the freest now I’ll ever be,
so, don’t you dare take pity on me
I’m doing all I can do,
being all I can be.

Everything’s  temporary.
Tomorrow I could be you,
you could be me
we’re just one bad day,
one scratch-off lottery ticket away
from swapping places, my man.

Yeah, I live in that van
parked outside the library
but if you think I’m sad,
you’re thinking wrong,

Won’t see me moping, or doping
floating along
you won’t see me frowning,
or drowning,
singing a sad song.

I’m happy with all that I got
who wouldn’t wanna be in my spot,
I’m The King
of the Library Parking Lot.
*Disclaimer: Lee is a fictional character. Any resemblance he may have to any persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
JM Romig Apr 2019
Scraping off
The smiling Santa Claus faces
Dim hope fading
With each metallic fleck
Flicked onto the kitchen floor

Yet, she will buy more
Always more
And always the same numbers
On the gas station tickets
She buys with a bag of chips

And gas-station humus
With gas-station pop,
In a gas-station cup -
Too large to hold in one hand -
That she fills to the brim

With hope
She never lets herself
Get to empty
She fills her soul with
Perpetual certainty
That one day, she’s gotta win
She’s just gotta

So she plays the game
Plays the odds
Fills her cup
Fills up her tank

Drives to two, three, four
Thankless jobs
And never lets her soul
Get to empty

She’s just gotta win
Fate has gotta give in
To her sheer ambition,

She knows it in her bones
Maybe not this time,
or next time
…or the time after

But soon
…definitely soon
Dedicated to my Mother In Law
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