The Bottle in the Cosmic Ocean by Tony Brewer

The Bottle in the Cosmic Ocean

In our vast language of signs
hoary old saws lost in translation
rattle around deep edges of the heliosphere

naked waving hello/goodbye
commentary on wildflowers
snatches of Bach and Chuck Berry

Miraculously it’s intentionless
birdsong the needle drops on first
scratching over bloviating human hi’s
from stern heads of state

Emissaries operating at odd frequencies
the birds make sense and the listener
focused on the far-flung message
buried deep on side 2

We adapted to this
whether we survived or not
is what they say between sweetness
sung so hard it sounds
like a worried come-on
to ears that parse the further warning

They are coming
working playing laughing crying
millennia from now still talking
telling everything about themselves
in long waves of endless celestial static

Will the intelligence we hope to reach
already know our deepest fears?
The loneliness of a planet
teeming with life
we barely understand.
Will they tolerate us politely?
Or will they turn out the light
and hope we go another way?

TONY BREWER is a poet, live sound effects artist, and event producer. He has
been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize. His books include: The Great
American Scapegoat, Little Glove in a Big Hand, Hot Type Cold Read,
Homunculus, and The History of Projectiles. More at

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