2000 Years BCC
by Oz Hardwick
When all the people die, says the unsolicited email, it’ll just be gods and trolls, slugging it out amongst clouds and rainbows. There will be fire and flood, slaughtered sheep piled in the alleys for council waste operatives who will, being dead, never come. All the ornaments we’ve kept dusted on our tidy shelves will be smashed in the frenzy of good versus evil, though – remember, everyone will be dead – there will be no mortal to impose such purely anthropocentric distinctions. On the plus side, many red list species may thrive, though there are no certainties, as collateral damage occurring as a result of the Last Battle is beyond anyone’s ability to predict, barring gods and, possibly, trolls, both of whom are currently keeping schtum as they hone their weapons and plan their campaigns. Here, there’s an emphatic gif of an unsuspecting rodent being struck down by a lightning bolt, although whether it’s an endangered hazel dormouse or a common brown rat is beyond the animator’s skill. The message concludes with an admonition to look to the afterlie. It will, it assures anyone who has read beyond the recursively terminated rodent, resemble the most lurid scenes from Nose mythology. Clods and rainbows, fir and flood. A tree falls in the forest. Trust no one. Hearken to the drumming thunder. Sniff the air for changes. Check your spelling. Line up your empty bottles for the milkman who will, being dead already, never come.
This poem received first place in our 2023 Prose Poetry Competition.
Oz Hardwick is a European poet and academic, whose work has been widely published in international journals and anthologies. He has published “about a dozen” full collections and chapbooks, including Learning to Have Lost (Canberra: IPSI, 2018) which won the 2019 Rubery International Book Award for poetry, and most recently A Census of Preconceptions (Dublin & Reggio di Calabria: SurVision Books, 2022). With Anne Caldwell, he edited The Valley Press Anthology of Prose Poetry (Scarborough: Valley Press, 2019) and Prose Poetry in Theory and Practice (Abingdon: Routledge, 2022). Oz is Professor of Creative Writing at Leeds Trinity University.