A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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December 2007, vol 3 no 4

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Jim Kacian


watching the playoffs

through a fog of flu. The Falcons are marvelously organized, and as one they march repeatedly across the field in huge bites. In my mild miasma, their precision--the way they explode as a unit, unfolding beautiful, irresistible patterns--seems the endeavor of some lower species, bent on community survival with no quarter given.

Sleep again is fitful, and as has been the pattern the past few nights, whatever is lingering in my mind as I drift off effuses my dreams. At first, these same beautiful, ruthless red and black patterns, the seeming futility of resistance. Then my own mind is permitted to interact, and I discover it is a video game that I control. I invent different variations of the game, one in particular called "enlightened self-interest". I envision the complex algorithm of calculating best-case scenarios for all 22 players on the field, the distribution of opportunity, the likelihood of equal happiness in the system. Increasingly odd play ensues, pattern is lost, the calculation of reward complicates enormously to account for the results of each preceding play, and weird, we might as well say random, acts occur as the only possible actions. By this point, of course, football rules have been abandoned as having no value in what remains of the game. New rules are probably emerging, but it's nearly impossible to say from my point of view.

By now I'm writhing beneath the covers, my sweat chilled, twisting the sheets to immobilise myself. The dog wakes from her own more peaceable sleep, and comes over to investigate. I'm cheered by this act of community, of fellow feeling across species, and pat her head and stroke her fur. I'm braced by the thought--oh, never mind, she just wants to go out.

midnight pee
dog runs to the edge
of the light

previously published in GUD Magazine, December 2007