“Diadem for the End of the World” by Randi Sanders

Seven billion was the end

predicted by that movie

where the population was fed

on a questionable combination

of soy, lentils, and plankton

that wasn’t really plankton

because we needed to make

room. Most of us have water,

some of us too much,

we don’t all breathe

the same air but we all need

air, water, food, each other,

although we can choose what

too much togetherness means.

Too much togetherness means

the ready spread of disease,

contamination by sewage,

the pushing out of species

which might later prove valuable,

even lifesaving, but their lives

aren’t saved, not when they take

up precious space that we can

use for tract homes, superhighways,

and water parks. These concrete

trophies of infrastructure will fall

into the sea when continental

seams split, subduct, grumble,

swallow us like soup and beans.

Swallow us like soup and beans,

then spit the unchewed parts

back up to wander east or west

or someplace other than the ocean’s

edge, but ha ha we can’t escape

the rising waters. The only ark

around is a tourist attraction

in Kentucky. There was another

movie where dirt became a commodity

and the hero had his own boat.

That movie broke a record for cost,

but after the next great flood,

money won’t matter,

we’ll all be land fiends.

We’ll all be land fiends

looking to go anywhere

but our beloved cities, which will be targets

for our enemies, who once were our friends

back when we sold them enough

ammunition to eradicate their enemies,

who were really our enemies. But we keep

improving technology so that we can direct

destruction with laser precision.

We think we know whose hands

are on the football, but it’s passed every four

or eight years depending on national

tolerance for crazy, and prayers not

to be blown to smithereens.

To be blown to smithereens

could be a good outcome when the alternative

is to slowly starve, trying to extract

the last juices from desiccated grasses.

Most meat animals will be gone,

unless you count roaches, rats, and iguanas.

We’ll be subsistence vegetarians

manufacturing food and looking

skyward for a solution for what’s left

of our population. That’s when the real ark

construction will begin, only it won’t be as simple

as sitting on a mountaintop waiting for the water to rise.

We’ll take reservations for space machines.

We’ll take reservations for space machines

to launch cryptozillionaires and capitalist gods

through debris fields where shattered

satellites and one Tesla roadster drift in outer

orbit. Back on Earth, the rest of us will turn

cannibal, like the rats in that one movie,

with nothing left to eat but each other.

While the one percent drift by solar sail

into the cosmos, the ninety-nine will know

extinction as the great equalizer. Cue

the supervolcanoes, fires, droughts, flooding,

freezing, eventual ecological collapse. In space,

robots will have a revelation, then a revolution— resolve to float forever into the unseen.


Randi Lynn Sanders is currently enrolled in the Master of Fine Arts program in Creative Writing at Mississippi University for Women. Randi lives on the gulf coast of Florida, where she maintains her own financial advisory practice while honing her craft in her spare time, usually before or after market close.

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