The Kardashev Scale

Photo: © Amy Dupcak. All rights reserved.

I hope to be alive to witness the heat death of the universe.
This is not a popular wish coming from a mouth
that worshipped the god Apollo at Parnassus.
This is us—the people that possibly survived a cataclysm
of concentric circles, and now I’m asking you to board
a billion-dollar generation ship bound for a black hole
near Sagittarius. I’m here—asking you to genuflect
before new AI demigods. Our ancestors transformed
tree trunks into charcoal into pitch so we could cross
the ocean with forged steel, and now I’m asking you
to invent time travel—the same folks that stared
into the burning eye of Kilauea, the hearty souls
in seal-skin boots that crossed a Siberian land bridge
over vanishing islands and exploding lakes, who fished
for monsters quaking the earth under the sea of Japan,
who built this civilization of blood and atoms and logic gates.
And now I ask you to bend your body through higher dimensions,
to build a new essential civilization of uneven land
peppered with alien sinkholes and galactic stock markets,
acid seas and raising standards. This is a long way of saying
I am ready for you to be alive to witness my end,
to cry with me the tears of genesis, to find a stable orbit
in a trillion-year-old sky no longer filled with stars.

Trapper Markelz writes from Arlington, Massachusetts. He is the author of the chapbook Childproof Sky, a Cherry Dress Chapbooks 2023 selection. His work has appeared in the journals Baltimore Review, Stillwater Review, Wild Roof Journal, Greensboro Review, and Passengers, among others. Learn more at

Appears In

Issue 20

Browse Issues