Scott Topper

Bugs and Robots 

In the nursery, a child wails.  Her eyes turn red and split into a hundred pairs,

antennae twitching, then a double set of silver wings erupt, lift her by her back

and launch her corkscrewed to a fairer land.  Children raise themselves, I guess. 

There are robots whirring by outside.  I take a walk, wander through the flashing

metal men, taller, fleshy.  They haven’t noticed yet.  Then it’s closing time:

steel gates shut, plate glass goes dark, reflects.  Look: my mouth hangs open,


somewhat stupidly.  My skin is greener than it was.  There are three unfamiliar

wrinkles at my eye, a scar beneath the chin, grainy cheeks.  That nose, bent like that. 

His lips seem weak, so do his eyes, double windows to a hole.  He lifts his hand and I

lift mine; our cold fingers touch.  The rivers gently lift.  Crickets whir and click; now

the streets are empty, now a dog with human eyes sulks around the trash and lifts a leg. 

My wallet’s gone.  My whole life was inside.  But here I am, out here.

Life Is Grand

The child’s purple, fit to burst, he’s swollen, leaking urine, every time he laughs he farts.  And he laughs non-stop: the room is swarmed with squealing aunts, snaggle-toothed and tangled, done-up, worn-out, a little sauced, they all hold hands and dance, fall down, get up, swing around again.  The aunties joke and laugh and try to throw the monstrous berry in the air.  His diaper sags, his hands are swollen, he will never make a fist.  It tickles him to see them shout and fight, to hear them loop their questions out and back, at least for now, at least ‘til he goes deaf, then blind, and then his liver fails, and then his kidneys, and sometime after that he sputters out and dies.  The aunties hold their breath and puff their cheeks, their heads turn shades of bruise, they press together in a bunch.  Somewhere there’s a father and it’s not his fault, a tattoo right between his eyes, money elegant upon his hand.  The kid might live to thirty, which is not too bad, the father says, shopping for a car.  The tires squeal and fart some more.  It could have all been different: the carberry could have not been born a bear, a cabinet, a short squat lump of laughing coal, but it wasn’t different, it was this thing-y life, and all this fading noise, and him inside.  It’s just a baby! someone squeals, but for now it’s just a mountain with one squint eye, and two more aunties come like hikers, to entertain it with their picks and ropes: one is thin and missing teeth and swaying, and the other’s shoes popped off her swollen feet.  And then another auntie by the door, twists her hair around her finger, humming Oh la… le pauvre!, then breathless, then up against the wall and fast asleep, mouth open, snoring blankly.  Then one last auntie crawling on the floor, the mountain on her back, wheezing like a horse, hoofing off to find the lord.  The mountain winks and slaps its thigh.  Life is grand, he seems to say, even if I’m always thirsty. 

Scott Topper

<em>Edit Poetry</em> Scott Topper

Scott Topper’s poetry has appeared in Boston Review, Colorado Review, The Literary Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Puerto del Sol , Nimrod, PoetryDaily, Mid-American Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review and elsewhere, and his essays have appeared on Public Radio International’s To The Best of Our Knowledge.  He lives in Chicago, where he is a Fellow in Clinical Molecular Genetics at the University of Chicago.