Time Travel: A Field Guide

Dear Orloj, My Wondering,

The last two dreams were not about her.
For the first time in 5 years two nights have passed without her face.
I'm not happy or sad.
I had given up my nights to her long ago so it doesn't matter, couldn't matter.
It seems that this naked, blind book of stories or prayers has altered a degree 
somewhere within the astrolabe, though I can't see yet, just where.

This doesn't change anything.
You know this as well as I do, so do not tease me with incremental, obvious cosmetics.
Save that shit for the tourists.
You know what I want.
You know I will wait.

This minor graphic indicates to me only your own fear, Orloj.
You wouldn't give me even this were you not afraid to give more.
I will rest upon one of two accords:

You find the correct alignment for me to go back to when it mattered.
Take me back to her.
If you're scared rely upon my surety regarding this course.
I am enough to hold us both, and our fear, Orloj.
Ken the sequence.
Use my dreams or whatever kisses your wind that makes you afraid to breathe. 
Send me back to her.

Get me off this fucking planet.
If you can't, and as to this I'm hazy on the limits of your magick,
that's fine — but find me the one who can.

I have forever, Orloj.
Do you?

Do you have forever? 

Adam Ai

What is the significant of this work to you?

Talking to clocks may not be a waste of time. In a ravaged moment I realized there's more to Orloj than I thought—and hadn't thought about it at all, not really. Until it became a necessity. Until I came to believe time travel was the only way I was going to survive. I had to go back to when I could save her. Jill. We loved each other until I didn't. Then she stepped in front of a train. She still did and her love was all through her. I think of this strange piece I've written as a monument to a dark time so it's odd to see it hitting light. Like a diary entry... I never intended the piece to go public. I guess I'm not surprised though. Orloj may not be a talking clockkeeper for the secrets to relativity, but sincerity in approach to the dilemma of loss, with guts enough or loss enough, I guess, the willingness to try the impossible, seems to open up odd, new channels. Too bad—I still don't have the combination for time travel. Thank God—I'm no longer looking.

What is the significance of the form you chose for this work?

The form for "Time Travel: A Field Guide" was arrived at after other experiments in "epistolary" writing were successes, to my mind (they lived for me), and writing a poem in a letter in a riddle in a hope to create something more, something bigger than a poem, a first attempt at using words as if they could be magic, well, was too available to my mind and seemed like a reasonable option—when I was in the midst of losing touch. I knew it. Was terrified. Considering suicide. Things are different now. Maybe for the better. What worries me still. I may have gotten the attention of something else. I mean, that was the goal—it was never Orloj specifically—I just needed a way to get a flag in the air, I think. It was a confused time so it's a challenge to reconstruct. But really, my cagey goal was to get the attention of someone who knew more about time travel, and to see if anything started changing, or... Becoming... And I know how this sounds. Know that I am relieved and grateful to be out of that place. But maybe, on some things, there's no going back to before you say the words. Angels? Demons? Are my flags filling up with alien breezes and artificially intelligent starlights? Psh. Right? No way. I'm sure all the serendipity in the air is only the matter of interpretation. And there's nothing watching. No.

What was your process for creating this work?

I began with a private conversation between myself and a completely impossible idea, sure in my instinct that if I pressed deeply enough any direction I'd probably see some reactive stuff. Why not give everything to something impossible? Time travel? Just another word for hope. I had nothing to hold that might keep me from slipping away. So I invented a reason. It was pretty close, whether or not I was gonna make it... Do I really believe I'm in communication with something universal? Yes. We all are, varying ways. Who cares. The Orloj letter was just a framework for the concept of surviving devastation and summiting loss. There's always another light coming, on top the mountain. But you gotta get up there first. I was out of possible ideas. It's pretty scary to look back on. But now I can. And if things are hard enough, it didn't matter how you got there, you got there. Because sometimes even madness can save you. Now here I am, and seeing this machine of life for what it is—a field guide for the hopeless to take the chance on before they take their life. Here's something that works. What sort of chance that must be for them, time travel, or not or what? Only they know that. For me it was time travel and poems that barely register the definition. Poems. Only if by poem, you mean, life for the ones dying. I hope someone gets it that needs it. I really do.

Adam Ai is a Puerto Rican and Basque poet and U.S. Army veteran from Los Angeles. His poems have been published in various print and online publications. He lives with a ghost. Hobbies include time travel and teaching robots love. Connect with him on Twitter and Instagram @AdamAiPoems.

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