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Calvin Pan '23

I. past perfect

Atop a soaring royal ziggurat in Uruk, a worried guard counted the degrees of the sun until he

            could hug his family below: twenty-seven geš, twenty-six geš…

In the Yucatan jungle, the scribe chiseled the current moment ( into the limestone.

Sometime during wū, the day of the fifth sun, a man was cremated alive.

A man left his children to forage on the steppe at sunrise and returned when the sun was slightly

             askew of center.


In the Cvria Romana, the tyrant called princeps named a month after himself.

At some point, we named our years after the birthday of a man who died from

              exsanguination atop a series of planks in the Jordanian desert.

Other nations moved to a clock set by the enlightenment of Buddha, Muhammad’s hijrah.

Though he didn’t notice it, a rabbit in Gothenburg, Sweden jumped forward 11 days on a 1753



In Paris, a man was guillotined for his opposition to the revolutionary ten-day week.

Pravda’s editorial lavishly praised workers’ newfound leisure from the elimination of Saturday

            and Sunday.

During the Cold War, a Congressman proposed to designate 1776 as year one of the Great

           American Calendar.

A tortoise knew not the day of the week, but shuffled along regardless.


A second was a second, no matter if regimented by Kim Il Sung’s birth or by a Kushan king.

Children still laughed the same.


II. present imperfect


I am pondering the fickleness of human existence while shrouded in a library, inspecting each

quickly-eroding snowflake.

The message is attacking: “URGENT: Action needed…”

bubbling blurriness is seizing my chest


you clear your ears, get rid of your headache.


The tangerine warmth of a piece of hongshaorou is blanketing me in velvet.

They are declaring that I’ll always be marred by my speech, an unacceptable imperfection.

running away, you are plugging your sopping face with a pillow


a moment of zen: I won’t let them hurt me.


Orange laughs are abounding around the television.

Then, a word is dropping that is blackening the air and is polluting the resin of geniality, but

somehow, as if immune, or ignorant, or just impervious they are continuing laughing and 


freezing up, stuttering, you’re betraying that you’re an outsider


a confident gaze in the mirror, you don't need them.


A walk full of fuzziness, handholding, the world is feeling whole.

Anxiety (n.): “A mental condition characterized by excessive apprehensiveness about real or perceived


something is compelling you to run away


a quick breath, inhale then, exhale.


A smile is returning.



III. future continuous


They will grow to be happy, or will navigate the same cruelties of mediocrity.

A rabbit will dash across an open field, or will explore a twisting underbrush maze.

She will soon realize the bounteous fortunes of the universe, the wind through her hair and the

serenity of open sea, or she will live forever blind.


Sometimes, a day will determine all.

The circling eagle will catch its prey and live a decade more, or it will plummet from the sky.

Tomorrow, you will howl as your brother powers that soccer ball past the defender, or you

will tear your soul apart as they describe his diagnosis.


A dice will be a fickle thing.

One-in-a-million: a cell will replicate wrong and start a chain reaction that eventually will

generate bacteria, tribolites, the dinosaurs, you.

He will say the words to start seventy years, or you will forever languish in unknowing.


Crystal balls will either fracture, or gleam.

So why not live in blissful unconcern?

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