John Gallaher

Quick, No Sudden Moves

I woke this morning in ruins. So that’s what all that noise was 

last night. Now what to do. Get a broom? Call someone?  

But I don’t know any archaeologists, and anyway, 

what could they do for me now but say “yes, this is who you were, 

this is what you probably ate, what you thought about the hills.”  

I could have told myself that. Maybe that makes me an archaeologist 

as well. I could hire myself out. Walk up and down the block 

asking people if they’d like to know what they were like before 

everything fell apart. What message are we sending?  

What does it want from me? Hello? These are the kinds of questions 

I could ask myself, that I could maybe get good money 

for answering. Maybe go on TV. Say this is what the president 

is thinking. Buzz buzz. I hope that same joy is what carries on 

with these next ruins we’re approaching as we’ve been touring ruins 

for a good number of years and still I feel at a beginning.  

I am also broken, but I can get more broken, like these pillars 

that looked pretty solid just yesterday, and now it turns out 

they were mostly caulk. It’s always been that way. How’ve I not 

seen that? And the roof it took with it, and several unidentified species 

of bat and several rounds of our hopes of getting something 

out of the future, maybe turn it into a rental or something. If or not 

either of us has been a good person, good enough to say 

“my interactions with people have been fair,” that we’d taken no 

unfair advantage, and also maybe even become better people 

over time. It’s hard to tell from the scorch marks on the driveway 

if it was too fast a take-off or too abrupt a landing. But I’ll opt 

for saying there was real promise here, that we were just about 

there when it all came down. It’s time now to see the doctor, 

a real doctor this time, as in the distance we hear shouts 

for mercy and the occasional trombone or barking of wolves.  


Nibiru, the Worst Guru in Northern California, Speaks

We’re all dying, but a lot of other people are dying faster 

so the point is only one small part of the experience.  

There are things such as this we can figure out by thinking 

about them. Other times we have to bang things together.  

Say we want to know something about people we don’t know 

or understand. We could imagine their motivations, 

or perhaps we could just throw them from a bridge, or perhaps 

a life raft, to derail a trolley heading for a crowd or to better 

understand gravity. Say the two of us are falling from a tower.  

Commonsense says that the heavier of the two of us 

will strike the ground first. But suppose we connect the two 

in some way. Say we hold hands. One could argue that the lighter 

of us acts as a brake on the heavier, slowing its fall. Then again, 

one could also argue that the composite body, whose weight 

is equal to the sum of the two original bodies, must fall faster 

than either body alone. Now we’ve a logical contradiction.  

We’re a thought experiment, when just yesterday we were living, 

breathing people imagining an alternative medicine practitioner 

and a faith healer stuck in an elevator, spending their waning hours 

counting the rabbits that keep finding their way in 

from out of their sleeves and overcoats. “What if gravity 

is different for witches?” someone imagines once, in the way 

that gravity is different for ghosts and saints. And what if gravity 

and motion is the same force, I’m thinking right now, 

just because it’s been such a bad year all around, full of bad ideas, 

how all these figures are imagining themselves stationary, 

as one feels no motion while falling. It’s the vendors 

who really missed out, as the people who visit us here 

are all dead and full of surprises about sentimentality and the sea.  

It’s a kind of democracy they champion, one full of the dead, 

which I realize I should’ve guessed already, but I keep trying, 

like with this overhead pitch and lists on the marketing process.  

It’s why the dead like us so much, our universal application.  

“What’s the point in reincarnation if you can’t remember 

all the other times?” they say, tossing a pair of dimes on the counter, 

which causes a passing philosopher to declare a new era has begun. 



Author Bio

John Gallaher's forthcoming book of poetry is Brand New Spacesuit. He lives in rural Missouri and co-edits The Laurel Review