“My Salute to the Decoder Ring,” “The Night Visitors” and “The Unveiling”

Issue 38 by Elizabeth Buttimer

“My Salute to the Decoder Ring,” “The Night Visitors” and “The Unveiling”

My Salute to the Decoder Ring

If I had an amazing tool

it would be a decoder ring

straight from my cereal box

that would morph into a briefcase,

when I pressed a button

into the hand tooled leather satchel.

It would convert into a space ship,

a small one like a commuter airplane,

I could use to get to work by flying

over the traffic jams and chaos.—

Then, I would press the button twice

and the airplane would shrink back

into my briefcase and then—transform

into my wristwatch communicator

with genuine stainless steel band.

I would call up the moving sidewalk

that whisks me into my office,

and then—converts into a robot

who helps me get all my work done

in half the time.—I, then, rotate

a hidden dial on the communicator

which springs to life a hologram

of a robotic-zoologist who helps me

understand why my robot dog, Ralph,

brings every neighbor’s newspaper

to my house early in the morning

along with all the laundry that hung

on their clotheslines overnight

still moist with dew and robot dog saliva.

I must wash the clothes and return them

to correct owners, by using my wristwatch

communicator to convert into a laundry

specialist robot who cleans and dispatches

the dainties and dungarees to the right location.

—Thankful for my decoder ring that helps me

understand my relatives’ messages written

in illegible scrawls and top secret spy data

that comes from alien planets, I know

without it, my work would never get done.

The Night Visitors

We notice seven lights in the sky

greenish orbs that spread out, over

the mountain—move silently

like fog descends—but the haze

comes only in our heads—

the mountains, trees and village,

we clearly see. The waves break

in the sky like—a great ship plows

the ocean—but then, there is sea spray—

water sound—engine sound—

which we understand—but this—

unearthly silence—mute tree frogs

—deer, like statues of great heroes

stand erect, motionless. Paralyzed we are—

by fear—or some mysterious nerve

potion that holds us in a grip tighter

than a parsimonious uncle

caresses a gold-double-eagle.

We open our mouths to call out

to each other—but nothing comes

out—no scream—no sound

like the engine above that propels

the craft with its green lights

that move first in formation,

then scatter as marbles—then, reconfigure.

So much happens in only minutes—

seconds really—we search what

this strange manner of lights

could be, a coat rack for the mystery

that envelopes the quiet valley.

Just as quickly as it began,

the orbs that had invaded our sky

leave the witnesses’ view—and this peaceful

valley, pretty much, as they found it—

but—Oscar, the old hound dog,

never bays again, Granny Perkins

develops a twitch and we avoid

the night sky—shun the color green,

that gently glows our skin

on quiet, moonless nights.

The Unveiling

He bides his time

meanders —

his cleaning rag

up and down the barrel.

He caresses the wooden stock

and gently slides his cloth

into the gaping chamber,

empty mouthed, runs his

finger round the metal curve

of the trigger guard—no clear sense

of direction.

The kitchen table stark,

metallic white with red inserts

that complete the tableau.

Yesterday’s news spread across

the table, headlines that don’t have

a proper sense of urgency, today

in the empty kitchen. He stews—

reads aloud from the Book of Revelation.

A finger of bourbon in a jelly jar

awaits near his right hand.

All that’s inside him floats smoothly—

up and down the barrel, his voice calls

out the words from Revelation like

a mother calls home a child, late for supper.

He reads in soft crescendo,

I heard behind me a voice

like a trumpet.

Nothing outside shows the seething

that simmers close to a boil,

just a man, alone

maintaining his weapon,

no one sees the flames

that lap the backside of his eyeballs

and warm the underside of his brain

nothing but the sounds of a rag sliding the shaft

and thundering hooves propelling the four horsemen.

About the Author

Elizabeth Buttimer

Elizabeth P. Buttimer, a entrepreneur, a manufacturer and former educator, received her Ph.D. from Georgia State University, and M.S.C. and B.A. degrees from Auburn University.