from Letter to the Aliens

BY Doug Paul Case

the year
dear aliens
is 2015 and yesterday
I learned there are still
five humans alive
that were born in 1889
dear aliens
one hundred sixteen years
of breathing this oxygen
of taking water and
vegetation and smaller animals
of walking and loving and
dreaming and singing and
outlasting the rest of us and
dear aliens
it is traditional to ask
those of us who survive
to one hundred what
their secrets are
to longevity
in the hopes we too
can prolong our lives
if we do exactly
what they had done
and usually their wisdom
is simple
dear aliens
like eat three meals a day
and live in the light of the Lord
and stay close to family
and one of these five women
dear aliens
it is always women who survive
said her secret was to stay
away from men
and good for her
dear aliens
most days
I am less interested
in their secrets
than in the troubles of we
who bother them asking
dear aliens
who cannot bear
thinking about our lives
as limited things
as small
as writhing yeast
in the bread that will be
unrecognizable in a year
never mind one hundred
dear aliens
I have come
to think of living
as primarily selfish
dear aliens
every day we have so little
to worry about
and we do and
every day we have so much
to consume
and we do and
dear aliens
some days I wonder how
long it will last
and also why


Doug Paul Case lives in Bloomington, where he recently received an MFA from Indiana University. Other excerpts from this poem have appeared in Powder Keg, Hobart, Juked, and Cosmonauts Avenue.