Incident at LaBrea and Sunset


Arthur Vogelsang

Originally published in The Evergreen Review Issue 126 in 2011.

Early this afternoon we adopted 12 stem cells,
After reading the threatening paper this morning
(Such arrangements happen at wonderful speed),
One cell from each of the 12 horoscope months.
So far, each cell has no characteristics
Except the right to bear arms.
We took their 12 little boxes for their first outing
Late this afternoon to Starbucks. Unloading
Their sidearms before we entered
And placing the weapons on top of each box
So they were in clear view
Wasn’t too difficult (strapped to a stem cell,
A sidearm sticks out like a sore thumb),
Except we kept dropping the bullets in the car.
You can easily load the bullets without dropping them,
But it’s very difficult to get them out of the chambers
Without dropping them, as you can imagine.
On the way home, we bought a nice thick book of fortune-teller readings,
Which I have called horoscopes previously,
One hundred separate forecasts, Aries to Pisces,
By one hundred different expert human forecasters,
To understand what will happen next.
Yes, we already know they are embryonic stem cells.
Yes, we love them.
Yes, we already know they will be sent out on the hallways to do their work.
Yes, they will disappear, it is their job, but the 12 horoscopes
Have them disappearing in 12 distinct ways.