The Shores of Babylon by M. Cynthia Cheung

2022 AD


When everything started, the newscasters said
all would be back to normal sooner
than later. Now the heat uncoils
itself outside the caves where people
cut their days beneath Jupiter’s vapid twirl.
Fallout dried up.




There is always
a prior to. For instance, the last
of any species is an endling,
or else a terminarch, who strains
to remember—or forget—another’s body
leaning in. I remind myself
that scientists once studied the bones
of mammoths in cliff shadows, while everyone else
decided that we didn’t
drive the beasts over the edge.
They went on their own.




I am tired. I walk among
the half-buried, my handprints pressed
into the sky; the emptied houses
semaphore endlessly. All the sediment
we called God’s bad rains—who could say
what now drags its tail through?
There are some who will survive
any spectacle. I hold
a mirror to my lips to see
what happens.

M. Cynthia Cheung is physician whose writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The Baltimore Review, Dialogist, Palette Poetry, RHINO, Salamander, Sugar House Review, SWWIM and others. She was a semifinalist for the Tupelo Press Snowbound Chapbook Prize in 2022. Currently, she serves as a judge for Baylor College of Medicine’s annual Michael E. DeBakey Medical Student Poetry Awards.