Jonathan Travelstead 

Fast Food Cook Mansplains the Large Hadron Collider

Three Red Dragons and the Sage by Gene Kreyd

The way I see it, it’s not so much a look through the void
as it is a Mexican stand-off between Switzerland & Chicago.
See, scientists from cheese country & scientists from
the most corrupt state in the Union say “Ok, go!”,
then cannonball two luchadores in opposite directions

around the planet. Only it’s not a planet, it’s a seventeen-mile
long underground ring. And the wrestlers are
Lilliputian particles of light. Why are they doing it? Because
those lycra-clad numbnuts in a split-flash
of headbutts will polish the lens of our third eye, clear

so we see the machinery of ghosts. Why do I care?
Because talking to ghosts means I won’t need this shit job,
or money. Only it’s been months since the experiment.
The Kitchen of Tomorrow’s here. My Ouija board says
reality as we know it still stands. My body double

never showed this morning, so here I am, fifteen bucks
per hundred burger flips, scalding my forearms with grease
while Pam gets her second smoke on. Come January 1
they’re replacing the counter girl with a screen because
the computer’s only vices are bricks & smudged thumbs.

Me, I’m the last lucky drone still assembling Big Macs.
Dude, the writing’s on the wall. I had a teacher once say
China would mass produce pinpricks of black holes
we could study up close. That a Mack truck tractored
into one would fill a teaspoon with so much mass

it would plunge straight to the earth’s core. Me?
I’d knock anyone upside his goddamn monocle who even
thinks of dropping any clickety-clack ball bearings
in a particle accelerator. Who wants another chain reaction
of economic upheaval from rapid, cascading shifts

in the technology sector? Who wants another epoch
of transition from corn syrup back to simple fructose,
silicon to cellulose & fig leaves? Fuck you. You can have it.


About the writer:
Jonathan Travelstead served in the Air Force National Guard for six years as a firefighter and currently works as a full-time firefighter for the city of Murphysboro and as co-editor for Cobalt Review. Having finished his MFA at Southern Illinois University of Carbondale, he also turns a lathe, crafting pens under the name Scorched Ink Penturning. His first collection How We Bury Our Dead by Cobalt Press was released in March 2015, and Conflict Tours (Cobalt Press) was released in 2017.

Image: Three Red Dragons and the Sage by Gene Kreyd. Enamel on canvas. 80 x 70 cm. 2016. By permission. Gene Kreyd was the O:JA&L Featured Artist in April 2019.