Hughie Lee-Smith, Desert Forms, 1957

1. Past

When you venture into the past, your clothes
must fit the time, so stick with linens, cottons, wool. 
So too with self-defense, and arms remain a must, it’s best
to wield a knife that’s sharp, a handle made of wood.
Beyond these things, you’ll carry thoughts that put
you out of time, for you alone will think, This is the past,
while those you meet and all they know won’t think, 
but sense their lives pushing through the fog
of now toward their fates that you–a prophet, priest, 
or witch–could hold above their heads as if you wield
the might to steer the course of time, or you might
idly stroll through this history, a tourist who sees
the sights of days gone by with an eye to the future telling
to family, friends, trying to memorize moments to carry back 
to now, the trip incomplete until it can be told upon your return.   

2. Near Future

Everything you know now you will know in the near future
so bring your own clothes and sturdy hiking boots, iPhone
and chargers, too, with all the apps you’d like for pics, vids,
audio, though all your social accounts, like your slang and tidbits
of pop culture will be too far out of date for anyone else to get. 
You’ll want to pack your favorite soap, deodorant and toothpaste,
for what you use now will have been replaced by other, lesser,
versions even though they sometimes have the same brand names.
Don’t forget a watch, a mechanical one will do, to keep track of time
Especially during the rolling blackouts of the failing power grid. 

3. Far Future 

A hazardous material suit, gas mask, oxygen tanks, backpack, 
helmet with visor, towel to wipe the visor, duct tape, Geiger counter, 
bottled water, cash, flashlight, disinfectant wipes, weapons–knives, 
both short and long, and telescopic batons–self-defense training
in krav maga and escrima, a first-aid kit with extra bandages,  
plenty of potassium iodine tablets, a mechanical stopwatch to count
the seconds of radiation exposure or how long you can still bear 
the weight of lifelong hopes you held about humanity’s fate. 

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Michael Janairo
Michael Janairo is an American writer in the Capital Region of New York State. His work is forthcoming or has appeared in Weirdbook, Line of Advance, Abridged, Mirror Dance, Thimble Literary, Star*Line Magazine, and Eye to the Telescope, among others. A former journalist, he works at a college art museum. His Filipino family name is pronounced "ha NIGH row." He blogs at