Notes for a New Century
The new gods walk behind the old gods
appraising their inheritance.
They reshape the world left to them ó
strange new colors in the sky whisper rumors
of whatís to come.
Forget carcinoma ó the new afflictions
burn before they pass, like the new systems
burned onto our lobes and cortices ó
our synapses: trails of ash.
We trail our need, useless, blunt
as a clear-cut scar
thatís just a bald patch from the moon.
We could watch the slaughter serene
as comets that do not welcome the scorched
affections of the suns they pass.
They know a kiss means another layer gone.
Their tails shiver and stain the space behind them;
arcs catch in telescopes.
The new gods are not astronomers, insist
on blocking out the stars
with their monoxide shawls.
When they rolled in from the horizon,
we marveled at the shapes their wings cut.
We were dazzled so easily ó how quickly
we came to fear ourselves,
to believe their version so completely.
Future readers: the sky was not always
so angry and burnt.
I wonder if we frighten you.
If we could meet, what would we discuss?
Letís talk about trees : they spoke to us
before radiation made accusatory fingers
of their foliage. Some of us sat among them,
listened while salamanders wrestled with our toes.
Now bombs are about to fall and the forest
rumbles with chainsaws.
See where these gods have led us?
Itís a human place,
but thatís no comfort. Among the ruins,
can you find us embracing against
our last moments?
When the trees grow back,
maybe theyíll tell you as they told us:
these things are human too.
This is both hope and warning.
That which abides in us, abides in you.