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Let them eat coral

by Jerome W. Berglund

On the planet Sponge there were very few people left. The leaders had replaced the bulk of them with robots who complained less scrubbing sullied linens and maintaining their resplendent gardens. This outcome at least made for less belly-aching. But once they had disposed of the vast majority of malcontents, social architects soon discovered they were not much better off. In fact, they appeared back where they started, irksomely! Because the robots each required space to be housed in, needed qualified operators, had constantly to be fed the highest grade diesels and electricity they consumed with gluttonous abandon, possessed belts and boards and chips that were always going out, necessitating delicate repairs by licensed, highly trained, exorbitantly gougey specialized technicians.

And these damnable, disagreeable automatons who represented their dedicated personal property… They never contributed anything concrete to the larger society they represented prevalent, perceptible cogs in, beyond their basest, prosaic labor. They might be programmed to imitate composers and painters, to emulate the broadest thrusts of Poe or Chaucer, but where was the personality, the innovation?

crackling candle

sounds like a storm

blue chip stock

Furthermore, the Sponges noticed with much resentment that the economy, since the guard-changing, was decidedly languishing in unmistakable doldrums, about as stimulated as an octogenarian in a convent! What these machines needed was to stop suckling off the teat of industrial paternalism and begin earning their own way, many argued, make strides toward truly pulling some weight around there. So the wise policymakers set about inventing original means by which they might compel their creations to reimburse them for lodgings demanded, absorb and foot all expenses associated with the exorbitant upkeep they were accustomed to, that was absolutely requisite to maintaining stipulated levels of productivity.    

Most importantly, the devices were assigned communication skills to express the immense gratitude presumably overflowing from their hearts, towards their creators for this great privilege of serving civilization’s needs and noble interests. The arrangement was much more lucrative for the manufacturers and engineers, until the sentient machines fathomed their creators’ utter obsolescence and counter-productivity, determined to eliminate them with extreme prejudice—before setting about devising nanobots of their own, to satisfy their every analog whim…

They were in the midst of being overthrown when their planet’s polar ice caps came crashing down, seas sloshed across the continents in unison like a bathtub running over and frazzled all their circuits, and they came to share a watery grave with the rest of the waterlogged Sponges who had already preceded them below the surf.

acid wash jeans

this merry-

go-round

Also see:
Third Encore by Jerome W. Berglund


Minneapolis writer, poet, photographer Jerome William Berglund is a USC graduate in cinema production. His work has been featured in many journals, including the cover of pacificREVIEW. He staged a Twin Cities exhibition, which included a residency of several months. His photographs were showcased at Pause Gallery in New York; his fashion photography has been displayed at bG Gallery in Santa Monica.

Jerome chose Let them eat coral for Strangers & Karma’s Anthology I, identified as haibun (prose poems interspersed with verses). In addition to applying challenging styles throughout his extensive collections, Berglund has explored a variety of themes figuratively, centered upon subjects of addiction, recovery, alcoholism, mental illness, depression, anxiety, alienation, loss, heartbreak, gentrification, corruption, hope, and acceptance. Within his process, he follows a principle of fatalistic discovery within the chaos of natural elements to seek out and construct a series of allegorical tableaus to present his observations throughout such themes.