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The Survivors - Henry E Crawford

Minutes after liftoff

as the houses below

were disappearing

the landing gear fell off

the engines exploded

and the floor gave way

a salesman with a laptop

belted to his seat

followed me down

families of three and four

falling together with seat trays

and carry on bags

and we were buzzing the cityscape

like wingless dragonflies

strapped into cushions

scattered and speeding to the ground

in multiple pathways

like neutrino souls

indifferent to the feel of matter

penetrating the roofs of malls and stores

hitting the ground and slicing through

the surface of the earth

descending through layers of clay and crust

and molten core

our clocks going backwards

north and south collapsing in sheets

we were the dead and the dead spun round

but pulled up now

to the world of the sun again

through lanes of underground surfaces

opening up to light the way

I glimpsed a boy still in his freckles

“We’re almost there sir, looks like we’re going

to make it”

and bathed in the halo of light gravity

that is always with us

I found myself standing still

up on top with two feet

before a stand of poplar trees bristling

in the shine we share not with the gods

but with the ground

breathing in the moist aroma of midday soil

on the other side of the world.


Henry Crawford is the author of two poetry collections, American Software (CW Books 2017) and The Binary Planet (The Word Works 2020. His poem The Fruits of Famine, won first prize in the 2019 World Food Poetry Competition. His work has appeared in the Southern Humanities Review, Boulevard, Rattle, and others. He is a co-host of the popular poetry series Café Muse, presented by The Work Works press.

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