Satellite 18

Daniel Altenburg

So, this man, let’s call him Sergeant X, picks up a transmitter and breathes humid truths into it.

This other man, let’s call him, says, ‘Be still and know that I am God.’ So you drop the receiver and coat your face in paints and powders; wear something sexy and appropriate.

A man, a man, and another man walk into a bar. None of them are God, but the first’s tongue is rough like sex throughout a moon landing. The second’s mouth and soul are forgettable, but the third. The third drops his tongue into your throat like a fishing bobber.

You hear about the planet with life, so tell a man. But you start, “Have you heard the one,” so he thinks you’re talking of God, buys you sweetened drinks and breathes into your transmitter’s humble cage.

Have you heard the one that calls from space and isn’t God and you mistake the sound overhead as a jet or Venus’ white buzz in morning light?

Have you heard how they talk of space with a rural tongue and thatched? Heard a man talk to a woman?

But this man, Sergeant X, picks up a transmitter to contact your 13 year old self. Except your father picks up to ruin you instead. Your father, let’s call him Frank, brings complexes to your bed for you to kneel and pray on. You say, “Dear God, I have no wishes; Frank says he loves me.” “Dear God, Sergeant X says he loves me.” “A boy says he lives me and I believe him.” “Dear God,” you say, “I have no wishes. Everyone the world will give me has already fingered the nape behind my ear.”

So, Sergeant X, God, and Frank walk into a bar and tell sexist jokes until patrons buy them drinks to quell their mouths. Frank sets up a radio transistor while locals kick the shit out of Sergeant X. And God and his parlor tricks finds you choking on a bobber and Heimlichs. The three play billiards with it through the night.

This guy walks into a bar, let’s say he’s me. Let’s say I live you, and step on Sergeant X’s soft skull. Walk up to God and Frank, can’t tell the difference so murder them both.

Let’s say I say, ‘Let’s stay.’ Let’s say we venerate for a bit. Let’s say I’m not good with bliss, so I love you and leave you and transmit you to an awful world of teeth and rockets. And you say, “Dear God,” but the awful world doesn’t breathe into your transmitter; the awful world wraps your cord umbilical.

DANIEL ALTENBURG holds a BS in English from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire (2009), as well as an MFA in poetry from the University of Arizona (2011). He is currently pursuing his PhD in creative writing at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where he teaches English and works as an assistant poetry editor for Rougarou. Daniel is interested in space, life, and the vulgarities of colloquial and gendered language. His work has most recently appeared in Spork Press, Caffeine Dirge, The Offending Adam, and Deluge, and can be found at his website