13 July 2014

The dwarf hippopotamus, the golden toad

                     by Lucia Perillo

The Great Wave
              Life on this earth has often been distubed by dreadful events.
             -- George Cuvier, 1812

Now that we've entered the sixth great wave of extinction
let's sing while we still can.
before we all go where the dinosaurs went,
dropping our bones down into the shale.

And the floor of the sea becomes the top
of the mountain, the top
of the mountain the trough of the ditch.

climb onto my back and cry wreck it wreck it
like a frog in the grip of exctatic amplexus

. . . before the UVB exceeds the threshold
or the chytrid fungus destroys our skin
or trematodes further encyst in our limb buds
or the meteor hits and the Earth is once
more wrapped in a cloak of dust.

Please accept my regret
for the frogs that I've eaten
but grant me the gig
with which I impaled them

and the words gig and impale
and especially the splashing through
the lake edge at night
searching for eyes!

There was too much to love about their deaths,
using the gig like a picador

stabbing the hump on the neck of the bull
so the darkness roared and threw down its roses!

At least, I felt its velvet petals on my cheeks.

This year's Christmas trees are tainted
with Pacific chorus frogs
we're not supposed to let hop
out the door. But there's and easy solution:

all you need is a jar.
And the will to stick the jar in the freezer

then flush.
It's simple, it's clean.
No one's talking about a whale here
dead in the dooryard.

Or an auroch or a quagga.

4. Too late for the golden toads, who vanished
as soon as the scientists came to map out
their plots. Until it dawned on the scientists: they
were the vector. As in:

Look for me under your bootsoles.
You will hardly now who I am or what I mean,
But I shall filter and fiber your blood.

But in the village you can still buy
figurines, for luck -- golden toads
on cell phones and toads on mopeds and toads

who will serenade you with their mandolins.

I don't have the ending: ask the Vegas Valley leopard frog.
The dwarf hippopotamus or the giant swan.
Stag-moose, shrub ox, passenger pigeon.
The golden coqui or the short-faced bear.

When we are gone, may some survivor
like Mr. Industrious Roach
evolve the brains to hawk our likenesses
for didn't we cherish commerce and
view fortune as a wheel? 

From The American Poetry Review, July/August 2014.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely poem: made me think of the resonant phrase at the end of Lolita: "I am thinking of aurochs and angels, the secret of durable pigments, prophetic sonnets, the refuge of art." Let's hope we don't have to transmute all the world's biota into art!


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