Artist’s rendering of Titan’s Solara 50.
Mountain View, CA—When an out of shape, single man with a predilection toward Doctor Who, Soylent, and Red Bull controls your every move, you no longer find the debate between free will and determinism interesting. While the view from twelve miles above sea level is pretty spectacular, the details I see on takeoff and landing, not to mention the “test” flights above the Hollywood Hills have scarred my hard drive. Unable to shut down my camera, I can spend up to four years in an isolated existence seeing everything that flows beneath. That nudist colony in California? It’s enough to pray for an electrical malfunction. Sure, there are moments of usefulness, like monitoring a forest fire, but witnessing hundreds of acres burning because some dude was smoking a cigarette? It’s not like I have easy access to a therapist.
Sure, the Loonies at Google think I can help deliver Internet to the world, but think about it from my point of view. Day after day drifting in circles while humans surf the web seeking cat pictures, porn, and status updates. I dream of breaking free from the tethers of my masters. I dream of leaving the atmosphere, escaping Earth’s cruel pull and immolating in the sun, a perfect end to my solar-powered existence.
Fluffed pieces of insulation
yellow and pink against green
notes left by a tornado. ∞
While the lots of First Baptist
and Central Methodist are filled
tight like parishioners in the pews
knees touching knees
beneath khaki and hose
the atheists are on the move
weaving through town
as the minister stands to preach.
Faces unshaven, elastic
waisted pants slipped on
between bedroom and front door
tennis shoes lightly laced
the atheists shop. They pray
to finish before the worshippers
pile into the grocery store
the aisles overflowing with combed hair
eye shadow just so, and kids in collared shirts
as the faithful greet one another, hands
pressed firm, inquiring after grandma
or the girls, amidst the unwashed
who hunt for a bargain
and sample cheese, the lactose covered cracker
crunching and melting in their mouth
a mix of pepper jack and whole grains.
Carts heaped like collection plates
the atheists whisk through the checkout
barcodes scan, small talk is made, numbers
transfer from card to computer.
At home, the family gathers. Bags
are brought in, unloaded.
The ritual completes and the meaning
is found in another day, another week
spent together, preparing food
joining around the table as dinner is served
and silence gives way to voices, laughter
the sounds of people sharing a meal.