Poetry: A Complicated Misunderstanding

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March 16, 2020 – Los Angeles: The latest Artists For A Better World International “Poetry of the Month” selection features a piece from Malcolm Aslett of Virginia.

A Complicated Misunderstanding

By Malcolm Aslett

It was a complicated misunderstanding
And all happened because I don’t understand
How a time machine works under the hood
Who are these astronauts of fiction
Who fix their rocket ships in distant constellations
With nothing but a screwdriver and toothpicks?

If you’re smart enough to be a rocket scientist
you’re not dumb enough fly a piece of tinfoil
to the stars. But still the myth persists
I can press the buttons and pull the levers
That’s it. I’m not one of those specky-boffin over-achievers

Yet the mission was a good one, to be clear
To save our ancestors from the fear
of Nazis and Holocausts and, in addition, stay
the sale of dodgy Third Reich souvenirs on Ebay
Three of us to change the course of history
Me, my twin brother and also a clone of me
(Confusing for our mother and my old ‘close’ friend Emily)
By travelling to the year of 1923
and infecting Adolf Hitler’s kartoffel-bake
with something that would make his belly ache
And this, the night before the infamous Beer Hall Putsch
There’d be no Mein Kampf, and such
would be the ripples both extraneous and germane
there would never be volkswagens
or the movie, Herbie Rides Again (again)

I have to say it worked a treat: instead of a Putsch
there was a putz with gastric problems
And just to clarify our methodology further
we in the future are not favorable to murder
Not a chicken, nor a fly, as we’re all vegans now
In fact the only thing that we’re allowed to disembowel
is the odd Republican who hid out in the Hills
of Beverly with their guns and George Foreman grills
Yes, for in the enlightened year of Two-O-Ninety-Two
we don’t talk of Human Rights
as cuddly creatures have them too

I guess I have digressed and so to help you understand
How me, myself and brother ended up in a bizarre land
I should tell you that our time machine is a Tesla Avian
The one that’s powered by the sound of doves cooing
So when we crushed the Putsch and planned on coming home
And I ably hit the buttons set in all that shiny chrome
We heard the wheeze of flapping wings that gave out with a flourish
As the battery went flat, my clone got a little churlish
“I said we needed two flocks more. Now while you pop the bonnet
(For he likes his Anglicisms and the odd Shakesperian sonnet)
I’ll try and grab a pigeon or a blackbird or a turkey
So we can squeeze a few years of their twitter for the journey”
Ah had we but known the sonic subtleties of time
I wouldn’t be in jail now and convicted of a crime
As it turns out the species matters more than you would guess – (or I)
With the squawk of twenty blackbirds times the known value for pi
We stuttered to the future though not to our noble age
But the year of Twenty Twenty when corona was the rage

How primitive a time in this cold and cruel regime
Where people still eat burgers made from creatures so benign
They’d give the coat right off their back if you were in the need
(At least for those who don’t mind leather or a soft attractive suede)

We were hungry when we landed in the city of Seattle
And hoped that we could find a snack that didn’t involve cattle
A place that sounded Scottish seemed a promising bistro
For a hearty bowl of porridge or something made of dough
Oh, perhaps this is a good time for me to let you know
That we also had a passenger who we had brought in tow
I thought it would be safer for the Bernsteins and the Cohens
If we brought Adolf along with us to stop his daft shenanigans
So we could keep a closer eye on him until the day he died
(And though it might sound cruel it would be crueller if he fried)

So the four of us went into this rather antiquated lair
The sign read ‘McDougals’ or ‘MacDonagh’s’ or some such Highlander
Now, this was a surprise, as all our history books bar none of them
Say the people of this age were all boneheads, every one of them
I didn’t think they’d recognize old Adolf as authentic but
surmise he looked like Chaplin or just old and more eccentric
As it turned out he’s famous – in an OJ sort of way
And furthermore they got upset when we went up to pay
All we had were Deutschmarks and some teeny weeny pfennigs
Then Adolf started goose stepping and preaching on eugenics
It all got a little worse when we ate some things called burgers
As they all turned out to be the scene of all these mini murders
I threw up, my clone just barfed, my brother hurled with candour
The law arrived and spoke at length about some girl Miranda
They claimed we were disorderly in ordering our order
And failed to pay for consumed food and carbonated water

Though most of us would see these things as petty misdemeanours
There were bureaucratic snafus and some mix-ups with procedures
And while my brother and my clone walked free
With Adolf left for company
With evidence based on DNA
For crimes involving an affray
Not once but three times in a row
(They had it all on video)
Guess what? In this mad country steeped in vengeance
Those three strikes got me a life’s sentence

Now this is odd, I have to say
As Adolf is in vogue
With people who wear baseball caps
And like a hate filled rogue
Once upon a time it was okay to be vegan
Or black or brown or Japanese or Spanish or an Asian
Once upon a time in a time when I was younger
Now I’m a little worried what might happen in the future

by Malcolm Aslett of Virginia.
Copyright © By Malcolm Aslett. All Rights Reserved.