The contradiction between the probability of extraterrestrial life and our lack of contact with it led Enrico Fermi to ask the question,“Where is everybody?”
We sat together in the dark
and talked about those other worlds
Enrico Fermi thought might be
awash with aliens
because his numbers pointed up
the likelihood of teeming life
among the stars. But where, alas,
did everybody go?
You’d think, perhaps, the prodigies
would come to us or play upon
our signals and reciprocate
—though not if they were bugs.
It could be that they flamed out
the same way we might disappear,
in Malthusian catastrophes
we bring upon ourselves,
or maybe, by design, they’ve gone
to hide beyond Andromeda
because they realized long ago
how frequently we lie.
We’re not worth knowing in the end,
a filthy, biomechanical,
weapons-bearing form of life
that builds amusement parks.
Of all the heavens haven’t said,
the best by far I think is this,
that we, together in the dark,
aspire not to care.
John Foy’s poems have appeared in the Swallow Anthology of New American Poets, The New Yorker, Poetry, The Hudson Review, The Yale Review, American Arts Quarterly, Alabama Literary Review, The Dark Horse, The Hopkins Review, and The Raintown Review, among other journals and websites. He lives in New York with his wife, the Brazilian painter Majô L. Foy, and their two children, Catherine and Christopher. His latest collection Night Vision, in which this poem appears, is the 2016 winner of the New Criterion Poetry Prize.