Civilization overshoots its capacity. The more people, the hungrier everyone is.
Celsius spikes, hundred-year storms flood, and so on.
Rock and sun collide in the presence of water. The first single cells grow animals, some survive, transcontinental asphalt heads off to intervene with zoological displays, centers of population, CO2-sequestrating plants, and so on.
Fossil aquifers are tapped. Dust and modern crop yields promote production of all the more people.
Half the world attends the banquet. Half gathers matter for bone soup. Grasshoppers descend on the Dust Bowl forever swallowing. Polar ice melts under assumptions lingering from earlier centuries. The story looks for its exceptionalism reaching amino acids the faster time moves, and so on.
The more people afloat, the rockier sea level lifts.
Beautiful and strange dark-scarlet veins of the large grasshoppers disappear. Brazilian rainforest canopies drag out their disappearance in front of razor-lit melts of hell-yes and heavens-no.
Predicting Future History
The future history of recent events may well transpose underlings and substitute conditions with intention in the face of known extractions. It turns out only one species is writing it.
Noticed will be extraordinary individual wealth with accumulations of impoverishment related to the transactions and consolidations that seem determined, perhaps bound, to pursue business as usual underground in lodgings as meet class requirements of comfort and attendance of serving people.
The latter will be the stones staying in studio apartments, surviving on meager rations, as the great future history of recent past survival of identity, believed to independently exist without need of dissection tables or names for fabled microbes, goes on.
If the anti-Jeffersonian liberal education crowd has its way, identity will win social recognition, whether or not undertakers will have abandoned the old practice of attempting to placate any of the closer individually bereaved or shocked.
Why spend the final valuable moments of time decorating the next corpse with its own resemblance, in the future world experiencing the effects of possession of the means and ends by those long ago sequestered in comforts of their own underground?
The Pacific Trash Vortex
Swerving out of a blank spot of the back story far from shipping routes, soured and ingrown as seawaters go acidic, the vortex swells into a gaping wound where throw-outs collect trapped by current as cities spill more than anyone sees ending in the planetary swirl expanding north and east of Hawaii.
As Greenpeace folks gill-net some of it out, most pitched hollow polymer parts remain, most produce sacks in a briny stew through which jellyfish must parachute, through what’s packing bellies of seabirds until they can’t swallow, what’s making elegant harbor seals clogged with lacerated wrappings and locking caps from tour-ship malls where waves float yellow wrenches through handbag rips sordid and barnacled.
Pitched bottles float, leaking quaternary ammonium biocides into parts of trawler-net comb-throughs catching many sea-swimmers stuffed with syndiotactic polypropylene to be eaten by others dying there with single net-snagged dolphins unable to breathe.
The vortex revolves in current swirling as if over a drain, but nothing goes down that doesn’t ride on depths, cartwheeling with lost handles of blue toys and grocery aisle debris torn into death jellies stuck with roiling thick tons in the throat of the ocean.
Small Chant in the Heat
Torch-lit emptiness leaves a wake of photochemical torque between species with falling rain and hurrying in light living larger than needs,
the anomalous heart-beat hunger of humanity for all you can eat, the wheat-field renewal of destiny, the deep-sea stretches of opening profit,
the benefits of symbolic brethren purposes blanketing zero imprint, razing their own hillside burns, loosening impermanence where the black-blue bowl’s made open
to pours of the compass, worthiness, guilt echoing in degrees, in the hour of depth, the vacant orange-yellow earliness with a chance to live out vulnerability,
the red-hot flats at the bottom of scarlet dark, the rake of luminous Rothko red-violet reds, the winter fits of tortoise-crawl scrafing off in the shadow of unequal distribution.
James Grabill’s poems have appeared in numerous periodicals such as The Oxonian Review, Stand, Magma, Toronto Quarterly, Harvard Review, Seneca Review, Urthona, kayak, Plumwood Mountain, Caliban, Spittoon, Weber: The Contemporary West, The Common Review, and Buddhist Poetry Review. His books include Poem Rising Out of the Earth (1994) and An Indigo Scent after the Rain (2003). Wordcraft of Oregon will publish his new project of environmental prose poems, Sea-Level Nerve: Book I, this summer, Book II next summer. He teaches “systems thinking” relative to sustainability and is available for readings and workshops.