Significance of Planetary Flatus and two other poems
Significance of Planetary Flatus
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: Evidence that methane emitted by the single-celled Methanoscarcina caused the largest mass extinction on Earth.
It is called The Great Dying.
250 million years ago
(only seconds in Earth’s long day)
90 percent of all species perished.
It’s blamed on gas.
Eon’s amnesia hides certainty,
yet experts say our verdant Earth
was broiled and poisoned
by these likely suspects:
1. Methane clathrate,
known as “fire ice”
(hat tip to Robert Frost).
2. Massive volcanic eruptions.
3. Asteroids slamming into
shale deposits, instigating a sudden
Now, research incriminates
It bloomed across oceans,
converting marine carbon
into so much methane
the weather broke.
You who insist humans
can’t change the climate,
consider this microbe.
It waits on the ocean floor.
It waits in your convoluted guts.
It asks you to remember.
our blue green world
needed ten million years to recover.
Nose pressed in tiny squares
against the screen, I watch
casual laughing gods
walk home from school.
I envy their long legs
and glossy notebooks,
their unseen powers
words from shapes,
My sister drops A+ papers
and library books
on the speckled Formica table.
Asks me how many times
a butterfly flaps its wings.
Tells me I’m wrong.
Eats two cookies.
Announces we’re made up
of tiny things called cells,
made up of tinier things
also made of what’s smaller.
The kitchen walls stretch
to galaxy proportions,
the table a raft among stars.
I hold tight to my chair
keeping my short legs,
my clumsy fingers,
the balloon of my body,
from dissolving into bits.
It’s Easy To Write About What’s Holy
Lavish the word “pure”
on a shopping cart upended
in a hot asphalt parking lot,
metal sparking sun-glints
as one wheel turns in the wind.
Describe the sacred in a man’s hands
cracked and gray against a black steering wheel.
The way he eases his taxi
around teens ambling in the street,
slows to let a car in his lane, a saintly image
you might juxtapose
with angry rap muttering from his radio.
Write about your newest purchase,
a costly down comforter stuffed with feathers
you hope haven’t been torn from a goose
condemned by her softness.
Next apartment over, a baby is wailing again.
You’ve seen him slumped in a stroller,
a limp grocery sack with newborn eyes.
Some days he cries for hours,
a wavering high volume siren.
You could use his tears as a metaphor
for this spoiled paradise,
where cruelty is for sale
and greed fouls the planet’s blessings.
Write about how hard it is to know this
and still drink good wine, laugh
with friends over dinner, pray
your submission is published.
Maybe writing about God eases your pain,
makes sense of the baby’s suffering,
heals a world just a shadow away from peace.
Sure, you could walk next door,
knock, offer to hold the baby,
bring dinner, say,
“It sounds hard for you right now.”
Easier to put in earbuds,
turn up the music, open your laptop
while just past the wall you suspect
another of God’s infinite disguises
keens at your apostasy.