End of the World, or Let's "Rapture" Everybody

Quite a few years back, I read a Christian comic book that depicted "The Rapture," and found it hilarious. That prompted this poem, the 21st in my "Anniversarius" autumn cycle, in which a Universal Rapture occurs on an autumn Monday morning:

Not with a trumpet
but a whisper. No angels
proclaimed the end. Prophets
with sandwich signs
did not predict it.
No tea-leaf ladies
or noted astrologers
knew that the end would come
at half-past eight
in the morning.

It was a Monday,
(of all days!)
catching them dressed
for their funerals.

Who would have guessed
that this October,
instead of leaves
the people turned
and blew away,
that gravity,
the faithful plodder,
would take a holiday?

First some commuters
on a platform in Connecticut
fell straight into a cloudless sky
trying to hook
to lampposts and poles
with flailing arms.

Even the oversize stationmaster
was not immune,
hung by his fingertips
to shingled roof,
an upside-down balloon.
His wig fell down,
the rest of him
shot shrieking upwards.

Slumlords in Brooklyn
dropped rent receipts,
clutched hearts and wallets
as they exfoliated,
burst into red and umber explosions
and flapped away.

A Senator stepped down
from his bulletproof limo,
waved to the waiting lobbyist,
(sweaty with suitcase
full of hundreds)
only to wither to leaf-brown dust,
crumbling within his overcoat.

Stockbrokers adjusted their power ties,
buttoned their monogrammed blazers,
pushed one another from narrow ledge
falling from Wall Street precipice
into the waiting sky,
printouts and ticker tapes,
class rings and credit cards
feathering back down.

Bankers turned yellow,
wisped out like willow leaf
from crumpled pin-stripe,
filling the air
with streamers of vomit
as they passed the roof
of the World Trade Center.

The colors were amazing:
black women turned ivory,
white men turned brown and sere,
athletes swelled up
to fuchsia puffballs,
Chinese unfurled
to weightless jade umbrellas.

Winds plucked the babies from carriages,
oozed them out of nurseries,
pulled them from delivery rooms,
from the very womb--
gone on the first wind out and upwards.

They filled the stratosphere
darkened the jet stream,
too frail to settle in orbit,
drifting to airless space.

They fell at last into the maw
of the black hole Harvester,
a gibbering god
who made a bonfire
of the human host
the whirling spiral of skeletons
a rainbow of dead colors
red and yellow and black and brown
albino and ivory
parched-leaf skins a naked tumble.

The bare earth sighed.
Pigeons took roost in palaces.
Tree roots began
the penetration of concrete.
Rats walked the noonday market.

Wild dogs patrolled
the shopping malls.
Wind licked at broken panes.
A corporate logo toppled
from its ziggurat.
Lightning jabbed down
at the arrogant churches
abandoned schools
mansions unoccupied

started a firestorm
a casual fire
as unconcerned
as that unfriendly shrug
that cleaned the planet.


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