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edward palmquist

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our target

2008

The windows are dimly lit as we walk by.
There’s a man reading alone in one
A couple watching a movie in another.
All of them seem warm, yet something is missing.

The tools we carry, axes and such
Are cold in our hands yet their precise designs
Represent accomplishment, innovation
And the long nights spent in toil to achieve such things.

If only our labor can bear fruit as lovely as these
The glistening relics of a lost age
An ideal that fulfillment is found only in creation.
Yet sometimes improvement requires the destruction of the unnecessary.

The shuffle of our footfalls tapers off into the night
As we continue our fight for that thing which man has lost.
Our clothes are torn, our hair a mess in the wind.
Yet these we wear with pride, the scars of doing.

The others seem content as spectators.
Action would require certain risks
And is better left to characters in print and film.
Even as text they have more dimensions than their empty readers.

As we leave the last of the windows behind
We wonder whether we are simply the audience
Of some greater performance the nature of which we have yet to guess.
Were we like them, living through another?

Or are we merely like characters caught between plot points
Repeating the same mistakes regardless of time
No matter how many times the reader’s eyes pass over the same words?
There’s only so much that can be done in one lifetime.

What if our audience were to become disinterested?
If they were to turn the TV off, or return the book to their bedside table
Would we still exist? Would our efforts all be for naught, our sweat disregarded?
By those actions would they then become more than just viewers?

We are now making our way up the side of a hill.
The city lights can still be seen behind us and indeed it is a beautiful thing.
The smell of the soil tingles in our noses
And we smile as our pants are caught on various thorns and brambles.

As we reach the top, our target is in view.
A radio transmission tower reaching for the heavens
As if its blinking red beacon could compare with even one star in the sky.
Yet on it goes, ever blinking and ever mediocre.

This is one of them; one of the many sources
from which springs the ever-flowing stream of non-sense and infomercials.
Snatching signals from the air, transferring them through a primitive set of cables
All too easy to sever the connection between man and his denial of reality.

Our axes swiftly cut into the wires
Sparks shoot out for a moment as the life of countless talk shows fade to nothing.
Looking up we have difficulty finding the red light
Extinguished, it is the color of blood, it’s the only real victim tonight.

Our hammers slam against the frame of the tower
With brutal force, satisfying clangs echo off of the nearby mountains
Returning to us as nothing more than whispers.
The contact produces a great recoil, but our arms have grown strong and used to such shock.

The tower now crippled and lifeless
We look back towards the city, focusing on the surrounding hillside.
The distance is great, but sure enough we make out the other red lights
Shining in the night and all together ignorant of the fate they all will eventually meet.

Collecting our tools we head off back to the city.
Our work for the night is over, but much is left to be done over time.
We shall wait one month and see if the others begin to understand.
If not, we shall continue this work until our point is clear.

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