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The Time Machinist

by David Barber

“Mr Wells...”

The man pulls his nightshirt up
around his knees and screams like an Eloi
seized in the night.

“No, this is not a dream,
though it is about one. First things first:
some titles to get you started. Take them.
The Shape of Dr Moreau, The Invisible War,
The Machine of the Worlds, The Time
Sleepers. So many tropes from one pen.
Take them, I say, else stay a footnote
to novels of social realism.

“And put that Lucifer down. Even one
spark stabs at eyes bred to the dark.

“Calm yourself. You do not smell blood.
History confirms those plump white limbs
remain untasted this night. And you pose
questions that deserve answers. Consider
how simply predicting a thing makes it
more likely; as if talk of war
encourages the slaughter.

“Every one of your books will happen.
You create us and we will create you;
yet there are intimations we are not as real
as we thought; our cities beneath the earth,
simply metaphors; the Victorian underclass
and so on. The time line tangles. What is,
and what is not, grows tighter as we pull.

“Do not concern yourself with detail;
overnight the machine stands by the Sphinx
and we use it to ensure our own birth.
Post-modern irony, as your Eloi say,
that we cannot make another since
its workings are pure imagination
and we have none.

“We are creatures of the obvious;
like a stone. It is your vision of Morlock
and Eloi which must start the rockslide
of something in your kind you do not hint
is missing yet or wrong.

“The past happens
though our memory of which past dims.
Our best hope now is ignorance, to prey
in darkness, with always more journeys than
seem possible in one night.

“Yes, that is blood.
I brought the Eloi Weena to bargain
with but grew thirsty. You made us, after all,
or will do, if the future goes to plan.“

Copyright © 2011 by David Barber

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