Subterranean Prose Poetics, by Ultan Banan. Dystopian literature for discerning readers.

The Lithosperic Penitent

Sickle-cell ambitions born of contamination. I had dreams once. I watched as, one by one, they lost air and hurtled towards shore like a bird on the stricken wing. I came to realise: they were doomed before they’d taken flight, born of poisoned imaginations and bearing only contaminated fruit. I saw this and dreamt no more, and since that moment I am free from earthly desires.

 Dreams are a folly, a misery.

Leaving behind the foolish world of dreams, I relinquished my budding, cancerous wings and burrowed deep underground, finding that life below was well-suited to one who bore not the ghosts of hope. No longer was the air filled with the choking, ashen particles of dead aspirations. No more was I blinded by the insubstantial and ill-defined vagaries of delusional cripples, drunk on kitschy prayers and notions, if not born idiot then made so by their books and stories. Away, fools! Stay away!

Here I crawl, below. I suffer none of their ailments. Instead, I suck the same air as the worm and the vole, moist and pure and mineral. What is in my blood? None of their carcinoma, I’ll tell you that much. In my blood is the cold earth and all that lives in it and dies too. Down here the record of those past, all the fools that became sick from their dreams and died for it. What proof more do you need? All those who dreamed are dead, and all dead now down here with me. Tell me, who is wise? I, or those with eat ash yet? Up there they choke, down here I breath freely.

Some days ago, I met another like me, a traveller of the earth’s crust. Maybe you won’t believe me, but we came across each other as we dug deeper in search of purer air. How surprised we were when our burrows came to meet as one! Yes, talking came slow, but I knew, I did, that here was another like myself, devoid of the cankerous sores that rot the soul with poisoned dreams. Yes, we shared stories, pure stories of stone and soil and the whispers of the earth creatures. Little did we realise, though, the danger that came upon us: our two burrows conjoined in some umbilical destiny, a great draft blew through it, bringing with it the choking air from above, the sound like a torrent of tormented air, on it the howls of dying dreams. So, altogether too soon, we parted ways, stopping up our burrows and digging out anew, headed in different directions. Since then, I have been alone, not meeting another.

One has no need of eyes here. I learned from the mole: closed my eyed and never looked back (tee-hee). Now, I see with my hands and fingers, my claws… like this I make my way, a blind hermetic through the Hadean darkness, a solitary searcher of the pure, a lithospheric penitent of the dreamless crust. Can you hear me above? If I shout, do my echoes reach you? Hear me not lest you pollute my porous invocations. Let me sow them only for the gopher and the muskrat, the field mouse and the vole.

My voice became a whisper became a vibration. My words, first pebbles, now only particles. I breathe the nitrogen exhaled by the corpse of human dreams. My world, chemical. When it rains, I swim in the earth’s pedogenetic soup, an aggregate bacteria returning to the womb.

The womb… the more I dig, the more resounding her song. And the deeper I go, the more I leach: enzymes, lipids, glycogen and phosphorus. Do you see now the folly of dreams?


That is what will remain. And I shall be so deep that it matters not. You will not sully my bed with false hopes. Dreams die quicker than ashes in the mouth. Where I lay, nothing is false because all is forgotten.

Soon, I shall sleep eternal. Until then, I feed the womb, placenta to the ravenous embryo within. She knows my constituent elements are pure. What of darkness! The child in the womb knows not the light.

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 ‘Dystopian poetics’, by Ultan Banan. Please note: flash fiction, nonfiction and all other content is the sole work of Black Tarn. Ask before republishing.

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