Canto CCC

A subspecies, a thin wind battered branch
sprung from the tree of life, has gone extinct.
Your home island that gave Darwin the hunch

that pushed special creation to the brink,
is destitute without your round footprints.
You’re set adrift, far from the recent stink

of greasy fingered eco tourists,
after wide lensed cameras replaced the guns
that bagged the naturalists’ prized exhibits.

George,you weren’t the only lonesome one,
though your death serves as something to remind
us that our own short lives will soon be done

and all that live are the last of their kind.



The champions of intelligent design
are often harping on about the eye
as the true example of perfection.

These squishy, jellied orbs have been denied
the champion’s slice of the compendium
of all the manifestations of light

from the electromagnetic spectrum,
and worse than that, the retina’s screwed in
the wrong way round and so part of this room

that you know as the world remains hidden
from our eyes’  ownership, just to the side,
just like the divide of the Golden Section.

No daughter, when our visual feeds collide
I don’t see ultimate intelligence,
I see a billion slight mistakes instead,

that made a jagged path to providence,
the smudgy, factory seal of “good enough…”
Your eyes don’t come from immortal agents,

they come from something clumsier, like love.


Despite the squabbles, lumping and splitting,
the death and resurrection of theories,
the nationalistic pride, the headline baiting

pronouncements of a brand spanking new species—
I love it when the bones rise from the earth,
slight shards of light trespass the great abyss

that is the story of our mutual birth.
We are six billion, yet we are alone.
The last humans, facing the bitter truth

of our extinguished cousins, yet we can
imagine how they were, their burly frames,
dream flesh upon their ravaged, dried up bones,

join them round their last fires, give them names.

Canto LXV

Sometimes, when running through the rain I feel
as if I’ve crossed a boundary between
the need to stay dry and the subtle pull

towards the element from which life came.
I must confess that I have felt the urge
to leap from clifftop, bridge or man made dam,

as if my body’s own waters have heard
the song of crashing waves beyond my skin
and will me on to leap so they can purge

these twee constraints of soft tissue and bone.
There is a point when we no longer feel
that sensation of wetness, such as when

we dive into the chilly swimming pool
or lower into a hot, steaming bath
as the room’s air attains an alien chill.

So, as I tread the muddy jogging path,
I think of Darwin’s quote about the bear
“swimming for hours with widely open mouth”

to catch insects and thus the bear appeared
to the great man as something like a whale,
and after a few million passing years

could become like one. So, as the rain falls,
more beast of burden than hunter of stealth,
I open up my mouth and let it fill,

and become something bigger than myself.

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