From: Jerome Clark <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Thu, 25 Jun 98 11:19:04 PDT Fwd Date: Thu, 25 Jun 1998 18:39:02 -0400 Subject: 'On The Bus To Utica' Hi, everybody, The following poem by Carl Dennis appears in the July 6, 1998, issue of The New Republic (p. 44): On the Bus to Utica Up to a year ago I'd have driven myself to Utica As I've always done when visiting Aunt Jeannine. But since last summer, and the bad experience in my car With aliens, I prefer bus travel. Do you believe In intelligent peoples elsewhere in our universe More advanced than we are who might be visiting? Neither did I till experience forced me To widen the narrow notion of the possible Common to people like me who have faith in science. It happened one night last fall after the Rotary meeting. I'd lingered, as chapter chairman, to sort my notes, So I wasn't surprised when I finally got to the lot To find my car the only one there, though the shadows Hovering over it should have been a tip-off And the strong odor I had trouble placing -- Salty, ashy, metallic. My thoughts were elsewhere, Reliving the vote at the meeting to help a restaurant Take its first steps in a risky neighborhood. So the element of surprise was theirs, the four of them, Three who pulled me in when I opened the door And one who drove us out past the town edge To a cleared field where a three-legged landing craft Big as a moving van sat idling. In its blue-green light I caught my first good look of their faces. Like ours, But with eyes bigger and glossier, and foreheads bumpier With bristles from the eyebrows up, the hair of hedgehogs. No rudeness from them, no shouting or shoving. Just quiet gestures signaling me to sit down And keep calm as we rose in silence to the mother ship. I remember the red lights of the docking platform, A dark hall, a room with a gurney where it dawned on me Just before I went under there would be no discussions, No sharing of thoughts on the fate of the universe, No messages to bring back to my fellow earthlings. When I woke from the drug they'd dosed me with I was back in the car, in the Rotary parking lot, With a splitting headache and a feeling I'd been massaged Hard for a week or two by giants. Now I feel fine Though my outlook on life has altered. It rankles To think that beings have reached us who are smugly certain All they can learn from us is what we can learn From dissecting sea worms or banding geese. Let's hope their science is pure at least, Not a probe for a colony in the Milky Way. Do you think they've planted a bug inside me? Is that why you're silent? Fear will do us more harm Than they will. Be brave. Speak out. Tell me something you won't confide to your friends Out of fear they may think you strange, eccentric. If you're waiting for an audience that's more congenial, More sensitive than the one that happens To be sitting beside you now on this ramshackle bus, I can sympathize. Once I waited too. Now, as you see, I take what's offered.
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