Wage-Slave in the Wasteland
The fisher king was never healed, they never meant for us to heal him. They only meant to conceal what we’d been fed, so they concealed him.
The fourth in a sequence of surrealist prophecies written using the divinatory technique of automatic writing (with subsequent revision). The theme of the sequence is the collapse of our global civilization due to uncontrollable climate change, leading to a mass rejection of both faith and reason and the re-enchantment of our world among the ruins of our failed creations. Some of the poems in the sequence are set before the Fall and portray the spiritual and emotional dilemma of our current crisis. Some describe the Fall itself, and the strange changes in thought and perception that will be needed if any are to survive a world in which humanity has been radically de-centered. Some describe the world to come, a world newly alive with gods and spirits yet free of all dogma or fixed belief – a world of beauty and strange magic.
The fourth prophecy explores the horror of living in our world in the last few generations before the Fall, trapped in bare survival as the world begins to slip from its moorings and slide down into strange dreams – a world in which meaning has died and has not yet been reborn. The wage-slave dreams of an apocalyptic wasteland but wakes up to an alarm clock.
Wage-Slave in the Wasteland
Between life and death there is just a breath, pluming out like choking smoke in the cold cracked morning of “not much left.”
Some part of me dreams...
Between life and death there is just a breath in the fresh anger of the frozen morning. Bare bushes burn in a dustland of rusted cars. My eyes stare out across the flat plain and coolly assess if there might be rain. A train approaches, black puffs of coal smoke chugging out angrily into the autumn air. There is a dead dog there, crawling along on broken legs with mindless eyes before the tracks. The scene lacks color, lacks contrast. The air feels thin, but leaves a slick film of grease on the skin. The sun looks parched, fighting to create its own conditions for some new existence that might pierce these clouds. Munitions cook off in the distance with a breakfast crackle as a castle burns.
Some part of me yearns...
But between life and death there is not much difference. A sick horror, and stuck tears. A body exhausted from all the acid years, corroded to almost nothing, holed-up like cheese. A red alarm demands full attention and announces that the morning now pounces upon you with its sharp intentions. The numbers flash, and you crash down from the grotesque fantasies of forgetful sleep to keep faith with cash. Dustland dreams disappear - another morning, another year.
We live here in the wasteland in which the Grail once shined, with no question on the tip of our lips, our gestures false like mimes. The fisher king was never healed, they never meant for us to heal him. They only meant to conceal what we’d been fed, so they concealed him. And what was revealed when they pulled the cloth away was just his worm-wet head.
Alive or dead? Too many days beneath this airless mystery where no soul has history, tied fast to the bedpost of this harsh necessity. I can no longer tell. And worst of all, I’m not even sure I can still recall - was I alive before? Was there, at some point, more?
Christopher Scott Thompson
Christopher Scott Thompson is an anarchist, martial arts instructor, devotee of Brighid and Macha, and a wandering exile roaming the earth. Photo by Tam Zech.