The lion’s coat, renowned in tribal vision, is redolent close up of muck and dirt and zebra remnants from the subdivision of his last meal. Gazelles that you think flirt with lions do so perhaps on television but in real life the pride itself is hurt by breath past fangs that flecked with unflossed prize explain why lions converse with squinted eyes.
‘Who’s Wot Gnu?’ you ask. A magic gardener conceived from little just like you and me and thus with bugs and beasts and us coparceners an inheritor of the sun, the fields, the sea. Wot operates with me a veterinary practice: we heal beasts to set them free as they free us. They bring colour to our world. We do not want a home that is not merled, not foxed nor robined. We are for preservation of rat-cheer rodents, sleeping ants, the chough, and, in moderation, every nation.
‘What’s Wot got,’ you may ask, ‘to do with lions?’ I answer, ‘Everything from here to Orion. It’s similar to asking how much twine goes in a piece of string. All life is fine.’
‘What knew Wot Gnu to make you his disciple?’ you ask despairing of an answer clear. ‘Damn all,’ I say, ‘except he’s archetypal of this whole confusing mess that I hold dear.’
Shadows claim me with a sense of obligation
that is the stronger since I know it is unfounded.
I stand in shallows of an edgeless river;
I try to remember towns that it contains.
I was born downstream of here in a coastal city,
a term we are forgetting now they are gone.
Behind me a dwindling people marches on.
I conflate thoughts no one should need to have.
The short disastrous reigns of evil emperors… Rains, reins, reigns. It’s criminally late to care.
Whose fault is it we let democracy die?
Were Von Trumpf and Pinz the plague’s causatives or symptoms?
We groped too vigorously in the cookie jar.
When we broke it we rejoiced at the noise.
I conflate thoughts no one should need to have.
’Why not,’ Mad Hatter asked, ‘give war a chance?’
We did. We fought. We died. We are still too many
for Earth to feed, now we have broken Her.
We did not break the Earth. At most we scratched
or irritated Earth, till She broke free
of Her patience for the spreading skin disease
(I conflate thoughts no one should need to have)
we were to Her. Her ancient Deccan Traps
reopened. She ignited Yellowstone.
Stood in silt, I feel fish graze my legs.
There are no fish. Plastic trash is what I feel.
Plastic: the ice-nine we gave to Earth
before we began to capitalise Her Name
and venerate Her, the way we do with Things
and People once we’ve killed them and they’re gone.
Alone in shade-stuck shallows you’d think I’d drown
but someone sees and hails me. We march on.
It is fun and new for me to have an ebook on Amazon I put my first one ever there on July 1. As a paperback it would take time for DREAM STARS to get around. But I hear the ebook has already been downloaded and read in far-apart places: Amsterdam, Colorado, England, Alabama, Ecuador …
Everyone whom I know well is part fictitious.
They are souls, the way I see them, living in
high rises that have, for now, beat back the vicious
tenant microbes to their cellars. In truth Lynne
Margulis got it right: the forms of life
that rule are not the macro but the small.
Bacteria are butter on the knife
we wield. We call the knife’s swishing sounds free will.
Seeing this poem today reminded me of Lynne Margulis, one of the great scientists.
Here’s why the other human beasts abhor us. It’s a common trait we have from common parents so common we have other mannerisms like war and murder our kind traces back to when we were one family razing cane, each of us thinking he or she is able to get out after setting fires in stables. We’re sure we prosper sponsoring insane wars somewhere else, feel we evade the pack, and packs of lies, and sponsored barbarisms, each certain it’s the other who’s the tyrant, and the only god’s the one who roots for us.
Dust devils in this jungle make me cough.
The last tapir, and I, and an angry sunburned spider,
count tree stumps and watch topsoil blowing off.
The spider sighs, and tries, but fails, to hide her
sadness. She says, ‘They have made this Hell.
to get “rich” quick. Who would have given odds
that men could do the Devil’s work so well?’
She does the spider dance that calls small gods.
Heat-stress cracked dirt shivers. Thunder rumbles.
‘No clouds,’ the tapir says. ‘No chance of rain.’
Small gods appear. A duo. The fat one grumbles,
‘Man’s gone too far’. The thin one says, ‘Again!’
He claimed that life was a simile, like a headlight.
These small gods are essentially one schtick cronies.
In addition to immortality and teleportation
each has a single power which alone is
a specific gift of material mutation.
The fat small god whose name translates as Fuel
decrees from now no drop of gasoline
or similar will burn. Each molecule
will turn into water for this arid scene.
The thin small god says, ‘I ban ammunition.
From now gunpowder transmutes into sand.
Men here will be in the same condition
as the other creatures, with their firearms banned.
I see a thought large as clouds would be,
were clouds as small as squirrels.
As quick as rumours, as rare as truth,
the promising thought unfurls.
I see it as a puff of smoke
too wispy to decipher.
This thought is worth more, it itself asserts,
than empires people die for.
I suddenly see — epiphany! —
how this can save the planet.
And then it’s gone, like forgotten song.
I no longer understand it.