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john beer


encyclopaedia galactica

“The sky may be softly humming with messages from the stars.”



hey M13 what are u up to
this is Earth I thought maybe we could talk about science
I like arithmetic poetry are u into that
I also have this idea for an encyclopaedia galactica
ok well I’ll be here if you feel like talking later
hey NGC6723 what’s up
it’s Earth aka Humanity
2 3 5 7 11 13 17
haha get it
do you know what comes next
it’s 19
then the next would be 23
29 31 37
hi 55 Cnc
i think my phone might be fucked
there’s like a lag
so if u get this can u let me know
btw this is Earth
i wrote you a while ago about the galactic encyclopaedia
ok hope ur good
thx for letting me know if u get this
hey HD 43691
I don’t know if this is the right number
if u are even there
I know about quantum mechanics and arithmetic poetry
2 3 5 7 11 13 17
my name is Earth aka Humanity
u can also call me Carl
a lot of my relatives died in the holocaust
my mother never told me
I don’t know why I’m telling u
ha depressing
I’d like it if u wrote me back
if ur there that means the world won’t end so soon
boy super depressing
ignore these messages please
u could still write back
if u want
hi HD 224707 what is up
it’s Earth
r u a more technologically advanced civilization
maybe u can help us
I want to be friends
hey M13
this is Earth aka Humanity
I don’t know if u saw my other messages
2 3 5 7 11 13 17 19
I’m around if u want to talk
23 29 31 37 41 43 47
I hope u write back


The Rosetta Stone is a heavy stone. At the same time, it’s
surprisingly available for circulation. It is mobile,
and His Majesty, the son of the sun, Ptolemy,
the ever-living, beloved of Ptah, marched against the rebels.
While “the British seized the Rosetta Stone from the French
in 1802” (Encyclopedia of Africa) the Frenchman Champillion
attacked them by making a road to the town, raised
massive walls against them, and dug trenches, forming
“the conjecture that the phonetic hieroglyphs
were simply alphabetic” (Encylopaedia Britannica). Dr. Young
blocked up the canals that supplied the town with water,
a thing that had never been accomplished before.
A great deal of money was at stake, bestowing its name
upon computer programs, language schools, even a satellite.
His Majesty captured the town by assault very quickly,
cutting the rebels to pieces, slaughtering them,
acquiring objects in a context reflecting different values,
not comparable to our contemporary views. In July 2003,
His Majesty came to Memphis to avenge his father
and punished the leaders according to their deserts.
“John Ray has observed, ‘The day may come when the stone
has spent longer in the British Museum than it ever did
in Rosetta’” (Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia). He has
given everything needed for the embalming of bodies.
He has manifested the spirit of a beneficent god.
The story of the Rosetta Stone is ultimately one
of optimism, transforming oppression, war, and death
into empathy and understanding, teaching millions of visitors
to the British Museum annually that history
can be fun, that this decree shall be inscribed
on a stele of hard stone, set up in the sanctuaries
near the statue of Ptolemy, ever-living, beloved of Ptah,
the manifest god, whose deeds shine with beauty.





John Beer is the author of The Waste Land and Other Poems (Canarium, 2010), which won the Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America and the chapbook Lucinda (SPORK, 2013). He has also edited a collection of poems by Robert Lax, Poems (1962-1997(Wave Books, 2013).  He currently teaches creative writing at Portland State University.