by Mark Vogel
Surely better not to know.
how many there could be,
how often puny humans lived wrong
in patterns now documented by academics—
like when ancestors herded mammoths
over the cliff, until none were left.
Or gleefully slaughtered enough passenger pigeons
to feed the world, until they were gone,
no chirp remaining—nothing but
the Smithsonian stuffed stare.
How often the misguided circular
killing/eating/fucking excess established,
beyond individual/communal free will,
how a dance or shuffle could end
with no planned goal, no epiphany—
Amen blue fin tuna delicacy until
every big one is caught. How often
a culture can bubble in oblivion,
like the decades in exotic drinking desire,
ancient addictions like a rhythm
as the boring destructive norm.
Tiring how seldom the glossy textbook
reminds us how bad we can be,
a thousand times unlearning language,
blinking through wisdom, smiling as
we wound. How often we have stumbled
toward pared death, believing any movement
is progress beyond, though the ground
opens for miles, and Mother shrinks into herself,
and beyond us a thousand clones
blithely drive cars toward family extinction,
into new/old colors so neon bright,
labeled as frontier. Like yesterday
when the land was gaudy and too bald,
and we posted the scene wading in
the same flowing wild muddy rivers,
polluted with our own waste. It seems
inevitable someday we will forget
how to laugh.