Mac Watson’s Last Testament
Recording found in a pressure suit
This bottle’s almost gone, but I don’t think
I’d trade it for ten sippers full of air
that starve your blood unless you poke along.
Your time runs out no matter what the charge,
and I don’t give a damn for time as such.
I’ve brawled and loved on sixty worlds or so,
from Dry Sands out to Hogan’s Port and back,
on Stony Rim behind the Coal Sack cloud,
on Merrill’s Sixth and Beecham’s Water Stop.
I lost three fingers down in Donner’s Whirl,
my good left leg in Alvarilla’s Swamp.
But never mind—the suit takes up the slack,
and I’m a whole man underneath my skin.
Set spinning, ship-blown, now I see them pass:
blue stars and red among the fainter hosts—
old friends, companions, sirens, quester’s ghosts.
(Allow me a rhyme or two before the end.)
The gauge is in the red. The stars wink out.
My spinning slows the pounding of my blood.
My hands are heavy at the outer rim—
no matter that the brain can’t call them back.
Goodbye to All-Ports Molly out on Troy,
Amazing Grace, whose bed I shared nine days—
tell ’em that old Mac Watson’s charge ran out,
But tell ’em I drained it dry, sucked every breath.
It’s just one tick of the Big Clock some would say,
but short or long, by God, that tick’s been mine!
John S. Tumlin has been an Observer with the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory satellite tracking network, a college professor, a short-order cook, a hauler of sheetrock, a professional actor (on stage and in films you’ve never heard of), a skeptical UFO investigator, a husband, a father, and recently a grandfather. He is a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and the Science Fiction Poetry Association.