Thine eyes rain down from heaven.
Siouxsie Sioux


I am so exhausted of this particular nightmare imagination
that I can’t even feel it anymore,
which is to say I am exhausted of feeling,
and of the feeling of exhaustion too,
And when I look now upon the emptied sound of my voice,

When I examine that spartan record of what’s come of me,
I find one thing only: the meaningless expanse
of all I imagined we might have made mean.
Not, of course, that anyone ever considered imagination practical,
And the particular techniques through which I’d imagined voice’s form

Were perhaps always empty, perhaps always mere forms of hallucination.
But this is not to say the technology of form has failed us entirely:
after all, the spreadsheets of our atrocity are filed neatly
in their digital realm, through which binary code’s cold absence
And presence structures so completely our day-to-day we end up taking for granted

That it has freed us of something, something earlier and even more horrible.
Turns out all the old metaphysical technologies assert again their dominion
at the very moment we deny they ever held dominion to begin with.
Take, for example, these new screens: they don’t ever flicker
Like the old ones did, don’t do anything to point to their idiot fantasy.

I’m exhausted of looking at it, of living its fantastic nightmare.
Plato already had a theory of screens, namely
that they enslave us to our delusion.
Marx said, or ought have, that all of us is a distorted screen
Reflecting distorted each of us, each of whom reflects outward distortion again.

Plato’s idea of freedom had something to do with bowing to the indignities
of a life arranged entirely in opposition
to the idea of ever being made to bow.
Marx was more of an optimist. Me, I can’t help
Imagining how we wouldn’t need have troubled so much over freedom

Hadn’t idiot man warred to enslave us all the whole course of history,
which, had Hegel thought to say it, Hegel would have said
is a screen reflecting each of us into the future,
or rather, through spacetime, Hegel would have said,
Had Hegel had himself one lovely day a vision of post-Einsteinian physics.

But I do mean man, you know? I’m not trying to be exclusionary;
I’m not trying, as a matter of fact, to be anything
that will leave me remembered
as having had any part in this, am trying to be other
Than the predetermined outcome of my demographic and biological data,

Am trying to not be made to bow to the algorithm that has reflected me already
through spacetime’s expanse and into my brutal, meaningless death,
though certainly the algorithm adjusts itself even now
in anticipation of this, my pompous, simple rebellion,
Which takes the form, because I can think of nothing so much as thought itself

That is–so far as our image of social memory is concerned–invisible and irrelevant,
of a thought about the screens I stare into all these my days,
the screens I take for granted will reflect
something of me back to myself, and what it is I’m thinking
Is that they do not enslave us only, but even also poor light itself,

The wave-particle form of which, we must endeavor to imagine, is infinite,
is the form of the universe’s infinite memory, by which I don’t mean
anything subtle or philosophical,
but only that light is literally and empirically the universe’s medium
For conveying image of what is past into the future, for conveying through space

An image of what no longer moves in time, yet persists as a reflection
of what once was. I hope that this is making sense,
hope that you’ll imagine, for example,
that everything we’ve ever seen, because light must take its time
To travel from the thing it reflects to the thing that perceives its reflection,

That everything we’ve ever seen was already past, that we will see the end coming,
but we will not see the end. And when we with our screens bind light
to our terrible images, light, infinite, must bear them, forever.
I was thinking that although we no longer seem able to feel anything
For one another, perhaps we might feel something for the light, the light

That reflects our doom and is doomed to carry our doomed image with it eternally.
Do you see what I mean? All light is so bound. This is true.
Not even Republicans, so far as I know, would deny it,
Though certainly their algorithm adjusts itself even now.
And so before it becomes consigned to the realm of just another impossibility,

Imagine with me if you will that all of this would allow us to calculate, precisely,
how far news of our atrocity, and news of our acceptance of it,
has traveled through the universe. News, for example,
of my birth into this disaster is arriving just now,
Infinitely pale and diffuse, in a star system we call Theta Persei, 37 light years distant

And shining in our imagination as the shoulder of our hero Perseus,
who grasps by her serpentine locks the Gorgon Medusa’s severed head.
Because in his binary imagination he would allow women
to be only one of two things, man called her ugly, said her glance
Would turn man stone, and because we know by now there are no monsters

So monstrous as man, we understand they killed her as a threat to all women forever,
killed her and placed an image of her decapitation among the stars
as a warning to women to not look upon man with disdain,
not demand any form of voice, not even that silenced voice-form
Of silent disdain; they murdered her and called her ugly and drew snakes for her hair,

A form of male aggression that reflects now up from your screen and toward you
in the form of every single online comment thread, as mean and dumb
as the basic formal principle from which the brutality
of our culture was born: man arranged the light of heaven
So that it would reflect his monstrousness back to him in the form of heroes and gods

And through his stories of monsters, reflected the monstrosity of himself:
Medusa’s eyes eternally unclosed, eternally a reminder of what man
demands the world become: a place resounding with his voice only.
And she becomes the terrible likeness who wails silent in the vacuum,
And 37 light years distant, on some terrible horizon, I am become her revenge;

I and all of us together become her revenge, become what fills some unimagined world’s
nascent sky with war and rape and pillage and genocide,
become what fills that distant sky with horror,
the same horror we recognized in ourselves so long ago
But failed to understand as anything but the idiot fantasy of our necessary birthright,

And it is my red and wrinkled birthface, the distortion and terror of all my arrival symbolizes,
that follows in the wake of fallen Harvey Milk’s death-mask, foretells
the faces of John Lennon and Óscar Romero as they fall in rhythm
to Siouxsie and the Banshees, who wail out from heaven’s radio static
While the great blasphemy of Reagan looms and the desert sands are all ablaze,

And below it all in some primordial ocean, some primordial glop of cells
is just now becoming sensitive to light, just now feeling for the first time
the sting of unfreedom light must bear, some glop of cells
that someday will become an eye and some others cells behind it
That someday will become what senses the light that reflects inside the eye,

That someday will become what participates in a reflective consciousness,
one that, more sensitive, perhaps, than ours, I hope will understand us
as the warning–we conflagration of the heavens–all of us has become.

Jeffrey Schultz is the author of two National Poetry Series selections: Civil Twilight (Ecco, 2017) and What Ridiculous Things We Could Ask of Each Other (University of Georgia Press, 2014). His poems have appeared in Boston Review, Indiana Review, The Missouri Review, Prairie Schooner, and Poetry. Schultz is a visiting assistant professor of English and creative writing at Pepperdine University, and lives in Los Angeles with his wife and a seemingly ever-increasing number of rescue animals.