Zumwalt Poems Online

Better than

Better than

The land and water is haunted with beasts.
Some are carnivorous;
Some are microscopic;
None are smart like us
or entitled to dine at a good restaurant.

They think, we think, but differently.
None speak Mandarin or Cape York Pidgin English.
They have offspring and some care for their young,
Some eat their young,
But not a one makes contributions to a college fund.

I can wear them as hats, or mount them on my wall
But I can’t suffer this idea that they deserve representation in Congress.
I can grill them on coals, or tie them to my sled
But I won’t consider giving them my email address.

Evolution is a dusty and poorly mapped path
Nonetheless, it does not cross upon itself
And head back many miles
So that one easily confuses the end with its beginning.

It doesn’t jump from amoebas to mudfish and then back down to insects
then jump up to chimpanzees, over to worms and across to chihuahuas.

It progresses steadily, more or less,
from moss to shrimp to clown fish
to red-legged frog to crocodile
and then on to penguin or duck,
next visiting the platypus,
on to rabbits and rats
and terriers and tigers,
or lemurs and monkeys
and gibbons, gorillas,
bonobos, and our friends next door,
the Millers.

At the top are we,
and granted certain privilege and priority.
We can extend our parking lots
and re-engineer the best sun-bathing spots.

At the peak are we
with our rhubarb pie and peach-ginger iced tea.
We have power of attorney to set fires to ancient trees
and reclaim land from the South China Sea.

The air and ocean is haunted with creatures.
Some are carniverous;
Some are microscopic;
None should have free trespass without our permission.

We should put up security gates
And start up detailed dossiers.
Every genus should have a dedicated database;
Every species captured in a redundant set of disk arrays.

They may think that we think they are not much different than we
But none speak Mandarin, Hindi, Hungarian or Burmese.
They have offspring so that their lineage continues on
But that’s up to us and little to do with them.

We may not hang on.
We are a destructive bunch
With a vicious knock-out punch.

We may not survive the dawn,
but if we do manage to last
and hold on as the entitled upper class
they need to take note
most carefully
that we not only own all we buy, lease or see
but in the end,
we can certainly ensure
that none of them,
aggressively,
or at their leisure,
pass us
on any given branch
of the post-Darwinian,
well groomed,
often pruned,
evolutionary
tree.

— Zumwalt (2011)

Advertisements

Comments on: "Better than" (6)

  1. Zum, I am gulping for air. This is so brilliant, I have forgotten – I hope temporarily – how to spell. I don’t really need to write any more poems after reading this one. Please post this again and often!

    Like

  2. Definitely interesting, thanks for suggesting it to me. Many, if not most, biologists dislike the idea of ‘better than’ all the other organisms, presumably because we’re the only ones who can consider ourselves so. That last stanza was especially good. We are sure are doing a good job of trying to control everything and destroying that which we cannot control. Loved “well-groomed, /often pruned, /evolutionary /tree.”

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: