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Every day I add an inch

to the pile of old newspapers

in the closet.

In that three foot pile now

a dozen airliner crashes,

one earthquake in Alaska,

seventeen American soldiers

face down in Asian mud.

I could go on enumerating

like newsprint – we record

violent death & hockey scores

& keep the front room neat.

In front of me, on the table

my empty coffee cup, somewhat melted

butter, carbon copy of an old poem,

familiar things, nothing unexpected.

A plane could crash into the kitchen –

a fissure could jag the floor open –

some olive faced paratrooper bash

his rifle thru the window –

It would be news, somewhere.


There's a Polar Bear

In our Frigidaire--

He likes it 'cause it's cold in there.

With his seat in the meat

And his face in the fish

And his big hairy paws

In the buttery dish,

He's nibbling the noodles,

He's munching the rice,

He's slurping the soda,

He's licking the ice.

And he lets out a roar

If you open the door.

And it gives me a scare

To know he's in there—


The place was white and there was something aloof and puritanical and uncaring about the whiteness, as if the city stood so lofty in its thoughts that the crawling scum of life was as nothing to it.

And yet, I told myself, the trees towered over all. It had been the trees, I knew, when the ship started coming down toward the landing field, riding on the homing beam we'd caught far out in space, that had made me think we'd be landing at a village. Perhaps, I had told myself, a village not unlike that old white New England village I had seen on Earth, nestled in the valley with the laughing brook and the flame of autumn maples climbing up the hills. Watching, I had been thankful, and a bit surprised as well, to find such a place, a quiet and peaceful place, for surely any creatures that had constructed such a village would be a quiet and peaceful people, not given to the bizarre concepts and outlandish mores so often found on an alien planet.

But this was not a village. It was about as far from a village as it was possible to get. It had been the trees towering over the whiteness of it that had spelled village in my mind. But who would expect to find trees that would soar above a city, a city that rose so tall one must tilt his head to see its topmost towers?

The city rose into the air like a towering mountain range springing up, without benefit of foothills, from a level plain. It fenced in the landing field with its massive structure, like an oval of tall bleachers hemming in a playing field. From space the city had been shining white, but it no longer shone. It was white, all white, but soft satiny, having something in common with the subdued gleam of expensive china on a candle-lighted table.

The city was white and the landing field was white and the sky so faint a blue that it seemed white as well. All white except the trees that topped a city which surged up to mountain height.

My neck was getting tired from tilting my head to stare up at the city and the trees and now, when I lowered my head and looked across the field, I saw, for the first time, there were other ships upon the field. A great many other ships, I realized with a start-more ships than one would normally expect to find on even some of the larger and busier fields of the human galaxy. Ships of every size and shape and all of them were white. That had been the reason, I told myself, I'd not spotted them before. The whiteness of them served as a camouflage, blending them in with the whiteness of the field itself.

All white, I thought. The whole damn planet white. And not merely white, but a special kind of whiteness-all with that same soft-china glow. The city and the ships and the field itself all were china-white, as if they had been carved by some industrious sculptor out of one great block of stone to form a single piece of statuary.

There was no activity. There was nothing stirring. No one was coming out to meet us. The city stood up dead. (2405)

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