The Not So Distant Future

Some day, in the Not
So Distant Future (and
I don’t know exactly

Why I like that run of
Words: Not So Distant
Future, even though it

Usually spells something
Bad), when everyone will
Have to wear special

Goggles to protect themselves
From the awful sold-out and
War-torn air, the new-normal-

What-will-be-called Air,
People will enjoy a juicy
Steak under the chop chop

Chop of the birdless militarized
Sky with even more guilt than
They enjoy steak now and I think

Of this as I cook up a steak
For my son mostly because he asked
For one, slicing off a bit for the loyal

Dog, who just walked him
To the store for me, good dog,
While I washed the dishes

From last night, the pile up
Before the next pile up, after a day
Longer than I ever think is

Possible, and then put each familial
Item, each domestic necessity, in its
Place even when I have nothing

Left in me, straight out of gas,
Allowing myself a little shot
Of loneliness, of singular sadness,

Another day waiting for us
Tomorrow like this one, no
Time for poetry it feels like,

Because before the once-essential
Art and play and thinking comes
Survival, and the push to another

Collapse, and the Not So
Distant Future comes lucidly
Calling and I think of the Steaks

Of the Future, the meals of the
Future, when I won’t be around,
The dog having given her last wag,

Maybe the kids will remember when
I had nothing left in me yet somehow
Found a way to sustain us at day’s end,

met an urge, responded to a primal need,
And maybe the memory will be
A happy one that cuts through

Whatever toxic way the people
Of the Future will have figured
Out to make one another feel

Awful, whatever replaces the
Present way people are awful
To one another. People are

Awful to one another. But then
The youngest will ask “Hug?”
And you hug her, you will hug

Her because she asked for it,
And the response to a need fulfills
Your own surprising need

And none of it had to be sold
Or voted on or broadcasted.
A can won’t need opening.

For her
And for her brother—
At least for a moment—

The helicopter sounds will recede.

P.K. Harmon‘s collection What Island won the Serving House Books First Book Prize in Poetry. He has poems forthcoming in the Gesture Literary Review and Colorado Review. Recent poems have appeared in the Southeast Review and The Marshall Islands Journal. He and his two children live in Pagat Mangilao, Guam.