Practical Zombies
by Mike Allen and David C. Kopaska-Merkel


 

What is a mind
but a needless distraction?

Paragons of thought-free efficiency,
stripped of ulterior motives,
marching in ordered patterns,
clad in yesteryear's clothes,
last month's skin,
last week's gristle on yesterday's bones,

they comb streets and countryside,
thorough as any invading army,
mission etched somewhere other than
the spoiled soup inside their skulls, but
not inscribed on their shredded palms,
nor tucked into their tattered pockets.
Still, like a flock of sheep they seem
to be led unobtrusively.

The authorities know
where they are going, and
what they are doing there,
but not who is directing them
nor why they are collecting
obsolete electronics parts.

Many parts, taken from junkyard
or broken-windowed hardware store,
are lost on the way to wherever,
but many must reach their destinations.
Slots sliced and fitted, nerves frayed
and twisted into wires, eyes reconnected
to cathode ray tubes or flat screen
monitors, mouths replaced by subwoofers
with double the bass, bones with plumbing,
hearts with motors plucked from blenders.

Thousands of zombies on this slow
looting raid; thousands more, a tad riper,
pushing points of no return, lying
in basements of abandoned houses,
limestone caverns or other earthen places
that may soon become birthing spaces for
strange new monsters; but from where
comes this impetus, who are these
entities that guide these baroque refittings?

To answer that question,
FBI agents have gone under deeper
cover than agents have gone before;
they etch their mission on unreconstituted
brains, clammy palms, the insides
of their shoes, only to forget
what they were about
once they reach the other side.
Their instructions are peeled away,
new ones given, far more practical,
to march out in ordered patterns,
stripped of ulterior motives,
to comb streets and countrysides
for electric parts to refit their more
aged brethren. Soon these too
will march, on mismatched artificial legs
(or roll out on monster tires,
or crawl out on lawnmower limbs)
address us with chest-thumping bass
as hypnotic fractals spin across their eyes
and crotches whine and hum.

It doesn't seem as though
you can take it with you after all.
But we can take you with us,
back to the drawing board.

 

 

About the Authors:

Separated at birth, Mike and David followed tortuous but complementary paths until a chance meeting in 1862 changed both of their lives forever. David abandoned his career as a floss merchant to join the circus in which Mike was an acrobatic clown. After witnessing David's spontaneous juggling act involving sharp dental utensils, Mike asked him to become a partner and act as white clown to Mike's auguste. The two developed an infamous big top act involving stilts, ropes and embalmed animals, and, like all great circus clown twins, they wrote poetry together.  

 

 


Poem 2006 Mike Allen and David C. Kopaska-Merkel