Time Travel

The one thing we know
About the future is that
There’s no time travel.

Otherwise people
Would be here telling you,
“I’m from the future!”

But there is no one.
No one who says, ‘I was born
In twenty-three ten.

‘My name is Zarzan,
And I have a second home
In the Milky Way.

‘I commute from there
To here, and I’m bilingual
In Alpha Centaurian.

I bring you Greetings
Stranger, from my world to this!
Tell me, who are you?’

There just aren’t people
Like that, from another time,
Though there’s a film-clip

Which looks like someone’s
Talking into a cell phone,
In a Chaplin film.

It’s called ‘The Circus’.
It’s black and white. A zebra
Stands at the entrance

To the box office,
Then a woman walks past it.
She’s holding something.

She talks into it,
She even turns to look at the camera,
In a knowing way.

She’s a large woman.
Her fingers are curled around
This thin black object.
It’s pressed to her ear

As she bustles down the street;
She talking, half-bumping
Into everyone;

Not quite looking where she’s going,
Just like ‘phone users.
Yet there weren’t such things

In Charlie Chaplin’s day.
Not in 1928.
“It’s a time traveller!

It’s claimed in an Internet
Posting from someone
Eager to believe

In such things, or to persuade
Others of such things –
Or with time to kill

(Instead of travelling through it)
Or, who needs to get a life.
But in it you do seem

To see someone in a crowd,
Holding this ‘something’.
It’s hard to explain.

Maybe it’s windy; and they’re
Just holding their hat.
Maybe it’s ear-ache

And she’s holding a poultice,
Or ice to her ear;
Or it’s photo-shopped

Or it’s done by CGI.
Whatever it is,
The clip is silent –

You don’t hear a cell ‘phone ring,
She just walks briskly
Talking to the air.

Chaplin’s subtitles don’t read:
‘Hey, that’s a neat phone!
Hey, look everyone

There’s a phone that has no wires!
Must be the future!’
Bustling past she seems

To be holding a cell phone
In a silent film.
No one notices

This odd hiccup in the space-
Time continuum.
But it’s intriguing,

And you want it to be true.
If the time barrier
Could be broken, then

You could go backwards in time
And forwards again.
Knowing what you know now

You could take that knowledge back –
Back to your own past.
Undo your mistakes.

You’d see that forked path again,
Take the road less travelled
But would you be you?

You’d be another you, and
One you might not know.
Every second counts

When you are time travelling,
Which everyone is.
You’re in the future

The particles that make you,
The Muons, and Tauons
And weird Tachyons,

Can go backwards and forwards
In time with quantum leaps.
And you’re in the past

Now was the future. It’s gone.
And now it’s the past.

If anyone hears
Of genuine time travellers
The first thing to ask
Would be why they chose

This particular moment
To make their entrance?
Will you recognize them

By some distinctive feature,
Such as looking lost?


Heathcote Williams

By Heathcote Williams

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One Response to Time Travel

    1. Captain Jean Luc Picard,
      of the Starship Enterprise,
      will be born on 13th July 2305.

      This must be true,
      I am going to read it on Wikipedia.

      Comment by Martin Garrod on 31 May, 2012 at 8:14 am

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