Apocalypto for a Small Planet


& the radio reports how in 2050
farming Massachusetts will be like farming Georgia—
all’s flux, no one can say what will grow in Georgia,

where maples will grow then or whose fine taps
will sap sugar from the cold in spring. Will we get syrup
from the boreal forest, peaches from Massachusetts?


Drone strikes & opium poppies.
Oil spills & poisoned wells.
Drought zone. Famine. War zone.


Artisanal, this

what gift
this day.


My inner cynic says
don’t bother this is navel gazing

& my friend at Yale says my hunger
to be near zucchinis

will not save the planet from real hunger
except I remember in the film on gleaning

when the priest in his compassion says:
those who glean now out of spiritual hunger

also should be fed.


Ecosystem of yard or field or mind:

these cucumbers are more art than science,
more daydream

than global action (if we separate the two).
But digging now I feel an otherness—

life, a great inhuman freedom—
here I work a plot that also grounds—

by Tess Taylor
from Work and Days
Red Hen Press, 2016

The Workforce

Do you have adequate oxen for the job?
No, my oxen are inadequate.
Well, how many oxen would it take to do an adequate job?
I would need ten more oxen to do the job adequately.
I’ll see if I can get them for you.
I’d be obliged if you could do that for me.
Certainly. And do you have sufficient fishcakes for the men?
We have fifty fishcakes, which is less than sufficient.
I’ll have them delivered on the morrow.
Do you need maps of the mountains and the underworld?
We have maps of the mountains but we lack maps of the underworld.
Of course you lack maps of the underworld,
there are no maps of the underworld
And, besides, you don’t want to go there, it’s stuffy.
I had no intention of going there, or anywhere for that matter.
It’s just that you asked me if I needed maps. . . .
Yes, yes, it’s my fault, I got carried away.
What do you need, then, you tell me?
We need seeds, we need plows, we need scythes, chickens
pigs, cows, buckets and women.
We have no women.
You’ve a sorry lot, then.
We are a sorry lot, sir.
Well, I can’t get you women.
I assumed as much, sir.
What are you going to do without women, then?
We will suffer, sir. And then we will die out one by one.
Can any of you sing?
Yes, sir, we have many fine singers among us.
Order them to begin singing immediately.
Either women will find you this way or you will die
comforted. Meanwhile busy yourselves
with the meaningful tasks you have set for yourselves.
Sir, we will not rest until the babes arrive.

by James Tate
from Memoir of the Hawk
Harper Collins, 2001


Ahump or Trumphab

David Schneider, a Facebook friend, just made a very smart post in which he mentioned Ahab, a character of Melville’s imagination who is the perfect icon of the moment we are called upon to tend (BTW, I recommend the book).

my reaction:

David —

I like the white whale ref
I hadn’t thought of that
but it’s apt

Ahump or Trumphab
Melville has spelled it out
for common consumption,
and we eat

It’s gotten
that bad



Major reason

to vote no-Trump:
his promise we’ll never
see him again

But we will (see him again)
He can’t shut up
He loves a camera

He lives to see his image
in a flicker of light

He’ll do damage to
see it there

Seriously, you don’t think
he might!?



Always Me-ing

Trum Stiffs

to stiff a small business is a big thing
which, to do, you must think big
but be small

a small business gets by on the work it does
a yuge business gets by on whatever
it can wring out of whatever work
a worker in a small business does  

to do that (ironically)
a huge business that nonchalantly
stiffs a small one for small gains
must be run by the smallest of all

so, a small man who thinks big
while stiffing small businesses
is not big at all

therefore (unless you believe in miracles),
it would not be a stretch to imagine
that if a-small-man-who-thinks-big
ran a nation he would, more than likely,
still tend to think big while being
(rapaciously) the smallest of all:

…… miniscule, a mite inside, ever hungry
…… always me-ing.

Jim Culleny