Poetry – The Last Gasp

The Last Gasp

With the last desperate gasp

She slumped back on to the floor and was still.

Outside the birds sang in the pruned apple trees,

The spiders span their webs in the trimmed hedges,

Rabbits nibbled grass in the field at the back

And mice slipped through the foliage of the hedgerows – unseen.

Inside the house it was still, as if holding its breath in disbelief.

The car sat in the drive and everything was as neat and tidy as normal.

Except this was a new normal.

All over the world it was the same story.

Creatures hesitantly tested the extent of their jurisdiction

As they warily adjusted to the new world,

Keeping one eye on the look-out for man.

But there was no man to be seen.

In time they would forget.

In time the boundaries would disappear.

It had been so quick.

One minute there were lawns being mown, roads being laid and trees being felled –

One minute the world was full of cars, chainsaws and guns,

And the next it was quiet, holding its breath, before exhaling a new song of joy.

It did not take long.

The roots and spores soon set to work.

Concrete cracked, wood rotted and plants grew unchecked.

No more herbicides and pesticides –

A plethora of weeds, trees and insects –

A profusion of creatures large and small –

Without hindrance or cull

The predators had food a-plenty.

The seas unfished and freshened;

The air clear and scented;

The soil reinvigorated.

As grey turned green and life teemed

Evolution worked overtime to plug the gaps that man had hollowed out –

The mega-beasts, the balance and harmony, the variation and abundance.

And over a million years the bones

Compressed in rock

Were the only reminder of the days of disaster.

Opher 22.10.2016

The Last Gasp

I have been thinking of writing a novel about a world to come, when mankind has had his day and the planet passes out of the Anthropocene and into a new age.

Without man it would not take long for all our structures to crumble away, for the plants and animals to reassert their presence and for the world to once more teem with life.

Without man the air and water would be pure and the soil cleansed so that balance could be restored.

Without the artificial farming of the most fertile land it would soon return to its natural climax and become rich in habitat and possibility. It would rapidly reassert a new harmony and balance.

It would provide impetus for a new burst of evolution as mutation threw up new possibilities to fill the gaps that mankind has wheedled out. Unchecked new species would emerge to exploit the abundance and changing ecosystems. The planet would soon recover.

Within the brief expanse of a million years or two it would be a rich new world of possibility, and there, buried in the rocks, would be the bones left to tell a terrible story of desperate days when a savage beast ravaged the land and relentlessly tainted and destroyed – a beast of intelligence, imagination and skill who proved himself none too clever, had his day and departed the scene.

I could not think how to write that novel with no characters to focus on, no survivors at all, so I condensed it into a poem.

Poetry – There is a War

There is a War

There is a war raging

Using chemical and machine,

Counting the casualties

In numbers astronomically obscene,

Laying waste the land,

Hunting the helpless in fantastic amounts,

Spraying poison indiscriminately –

Where profit is the key

And the only line that counts.

Opher 13.9.2016

There is a War

There is a war going on. It is a war against nature. Pest and weed are being decimated. There is collateral damage.

A pest is a creature that we don’t happen to like. It wants to live. It eats our crops and lives on our land.

A weed is a plant we don’t like. It grows on our land. It takes nutrients and light from our crops. It makes our garden look untidy.

We have to eradicate anything that encroaches on ours.

We can take what we want but nothing should dare to intrude on what we have claimed as ours.

We wage war on it. With chemical poison and machine we slaughter in huge numbers. The bees, butterflies, frogs, newts, and toads are all collateral damage.

The invertebrate population has been decimated. 56% have gone. That’ll teach them! 10% of all wildernesses have been claimed by us in the last twenty years. We have laid waste to it all. It is now denuded, coffee plantation, palm oil or simply desolate.

There’s a war going on. We won’t be happy until we have beaten it all.

Poetry – By the carpark

By the carpark

By the carpark

Where the wood one stood;

By the stream

Long since culverted in;

Where the new housing estate now stands

On what used to be a marsh,

A vole hides among the rubbish.

Near the runway

For the new airport;

By the side of the new field

Reclaimed from wasteland;

Alongside the new road

Bringing travellers to and fro;

On the roundabout

That used to be a copse,

A tiny mouse shivers

Under a newly planted shrub.

Opher 18.4.2016

By the carpark

I was sitting on the bus going back to pick up my car. It gave me a higher view over the hedgerows into the fields beyond. I could see all the new builds.

As we approached the town there was more and more. New estates were springing up. The trees, streams and ponds were disappearing along with the remaining patches of wasteland. Even the word wasteland betrays the attitude. If it is not being built on or used for agriculture it is wasted.

So where do the voles, mice, hedgehogs, newts, frogs and toads go? Is there space foe the lizards, slowworms and snakes? Are we sanitising the countryside of insects?

I looked out over the fields and all the birds I see are pigeons, crows, magpies and sea-gulls – the scavengers. They are having a fine old time.

But how far can we continue pushing nature into the periphery before it runs out of room?

Is it all going to be ploughed fields, manicured lawns and ornamental shrubs?

How many creatures are shivering in the wreckage of their homes?

Poetry – What we want

What we want

What we want

Is not hard to say

It is merely hard to do.

We want the world

To stay green,

Full of animals

That are free

And skies that are blue.

We want the water clear

And trees to wave

In the breeze;

Tigers and rhinos

Running through the long grass

As they used to do.

It’s not too much to want

In a world so big

Is it?

Opher 14.4.2016

What we want

It seems that I want the impossible. I want the world.

I want life to flourish.

I want the wild creatures free and running through the wilderness.

I want the space for every type of life to flourish.

There’s room enough.

I’m not alone.

Lots of us want the same thing.

I am told it is too much to ask for.

People are more important.

No they are not.

I do not believe they are.

The ants and bees are as important. There should be room for the chimpanzees.

I do not believe it is impossible.

If we have the intelligence we can manage our numbers, manage the land, and leave room enough foe everything.

Poetry – Nature

I wrote this one yesterday. It seems to fit with the one before which I wrote five years ago.

Nature

Cauterised, sterilised

Manicured and tamed.

Pulverised, terrified,

Massacred and maimed.

Caged, manacled,

Tied up and chained,

Flattened butchered

Castrated and drained.

Nature in this century

Always on the run.

Treated like the enemy

And tortured for fun.

People in this modern world

Losing their connection.

Senseless and callous

Bereft of all direction.

Opher 13.3.2021

The planet used to be an interconnecting web of different habitats, each different and rich in number and variety. It was a web that we were part of.

That web is now broken up by fields, roads and towns. It no longer connects.

We are no longer part of it.

Nature has become something to be conquered and tamed.

The wildlife is driven back, the swamps drained, the forests cleared and the seas dredged.

The creatures are driven out. Those we find, the remnants, are poisoned, butchered or tormented for fun.

We know longer have purpose. We think we are above everything.

I fear there will be a terrible reckoning

Poetry – Magic’s Gone

Magic’s Gone

Salamander,

Smooth snake tail,

Tiger tooth –

Now as rare as the Holy Grail.

Rhino horn,

Gorilla’s nail,

Not enough left

To even make one spell.

All the magic’s gone

Out of the world.

Sold down the drain

For a crock of gold.

Hardwood tree,

Chimpanzee too,

Mighty lion

From Timbuktu,

Whale and bear

Melted down for glue.

Before it’s all gone

What are we going to do?

All the magic’s gone

Out of the world.

Sold down the drain

For a crock of gold.

Opher  13.12.2015

Magic’s Gone

When I was a child the world was full of magic. I’d run in the flower-laden meadows all full of grasshoppers, beetles, bees and butterflies. The whole air trilled and whiffed with their sound and scent. I fished in the ponds and streams for sticklebacks, frogs, newts and toads. There were lizards, slowworms and snakes, voles, mice and hedgehogs.

It was a world that was alive with magic – the magic of nature.

I read stories of the impenetrable jungles where the gorillas, orang u tangs and elephants roamed. The seas were full of fish. The bears, tigers and lions strode through the wilderness and the wildebeest herds were measured in millions.

That was magic.

Now the logging companies have built in their roads, the hunters have followed them in and the impenetrable has become accessible. The jungles have been drastically reduced. Soon they will be gone.

Now the population of the world has more than doubled and they are gobbling up land, wild-life and resources. The jungles are burnt down and cleared; the animals driven out and hunted for bush-meat in an endless slaughter.

Now the ponds are filled in and the streams culverted. The meadow flowers no longer scent the air. The insects no longer buzz. The herbicides and pesticides have done their job. The streams are muddy ditches devoid of stickleback, frog and newt. The fields look drab and lifeless.

The magic is gone.

As the last vestiges of chimpanzee, gorilla, tiger, rhino and elephant now hang on a knives edge and are being hunted to extinction; as the mining and logging companies move relentlessly forward; as the population continues to explode – we’re selling the future for a greedy present.

How can we bring the magic back? Are we going to allow it to die completely?

Poetry – One Mother Many Sons

One Mother Many Sons

Sometimes I despair of what we are doing. The overpopulation continues – producing huge numbers sweeping all before it in a mad rush for space, food, water and shelter.

Mass migration, deforestation, desertification, desecration, fanaticism, desperation, slaughter of life, butchery and death. The mantra is for more growth, more expansion. The rich get richer. The poor starve in the midst of plenty. The numbers increase by the minute. A mad hurtling forward. Everyone looking after their own

Mad belief that it will all work out.

What can we do?

Get on with our lives.

While those at the top scheme and cream from their yachts and penthouse suites. And those at the bottom dream of pent-house suites and yachts. 


One Mother Many Sons

One mother in the bush

Under the sun

Holding her child

In the wild,

Her only one.

Passing down her line

To roam and redefine

The changes

Strong and true

As her family grew.

Through many threats

And chance

They came through.

A mere two hundred thousand

Years flew

As the eyes peered

And minds grew

Flint to steel

And spaceship crew

Conquering all before

In rabid mode

Into space

To explode

With a mantra of ‘mine’

And bombs to

Unload.

Now seven billion on the shore

Chopping, slaying

For ever more

With nothing left

To remain

Of the wonders around

That we disdain.

Heading for ten billion

Without a care

As we settle every score

With seething brain

And madness as our pillion.

Twenty billion on a sterile ball

Of plastic joy

And concrete and steel alloy

Still heading on

Is the best we can do.

Thinking a hundred thousand

Years more

Is our due.

Yet the next fifty

May well see us through.

Adieu, Adieu…… Adieu

They’ll be nothing left

To miss you.

Opher 10.9.2015

Poetry – Once

Once

Once grasshopper jumped with every step

And ponds were full of frogs.

Once there were stag beetles

That lived in rotten logs.

Once there were huge flocks of swallows

Wheeling through the sky.

Now they are all gone

And we’re left to wonder why.

Once great forests covered every hill

Bears and wolves hunted the deer.

Once people lived in harmony with nature

And the seasons of the year.

Once there was a balance

Full of bounty for the gleaning.

We lived a natural life;

An existence full of meaning.

Opher – 23.1.2021

We live in the Anthropocene, in a landscape designed by man. The wilderness has gone. Nature is tamed.

All that lives only does so through our benevolence; vestiges of what once was.

The forests have given way to green fields of crops, sprayed with death.

Now we life an artificial life and search for meaning.

Poetry – Trees

Trees

Green sap,

Green leaves,

Oxygen, soil, fruit and shade –

Fine rewards.

Slow grow,

Tall trees,

Serene giants, majestic calm

Strong and broad.

Chain saw,

Short sight,

Dead to lumber and away

Cash in hand.

Bare soil,

Stark stump,

Arid rock, no life and now

Desert sand.

No fruit,

No leaf,

No oxygen, water, muse

Or rich life.

All poor,

No breath,

No food, animal, music

Drum or fife.

Gentle

Life-form

Savagely ripped apart

Without a thought.

Seas of

Green now

Now parched joyless rock; all life

Sold and bought.

Opher 18.7.2015

Trees

This short-sighted destruction of the world’s great jungles is the most wicked vandalism of all. To sell the future for a handful of gold is plain stupid.

Trees are our oldest living organisms. Some are three thousand, five hundred years old. There is no respect. Thousand year old trees are senselessly chopped for profit.

Pristine rain-forest, teeming with life, is being cleared to provide food, cosmetics and beverages for a burgeoning human population. Our numbers are destroying the world. Coffee, palm-oil and short-term slash and burn farming are destroying the world.

The trees provide fruit, habitats for most of our planet’s land-based life, soil consolidation, carbon recycling, oxygen production, medicines, shade and water recycling.

Without the trees the soil is rapidly eroded, fertility declines, the wild-life dies, the oxygen is not released, the carbon is not absorbed and all life is the less.

The short-term gain is soon spent. The long-term loss goes on for ever.

Who is to say that these incredible long-lived life-forms are not sentient? Perhaps they think and dream in their own languid manner? Perhaps they feel fear and pain? Who knows?

Poetry – One Gaff and a Slow Slice

One Gaff and a Slow Slice

One gaff

And a slow serrated slice,

Sawing and hacking to the cord.

Then relief.

Agony prolonged,

Intense,

And grief.

Gentle and trusting

Easily herded

Into the shallows

Where the blood

Is curded.

Gleefully stabbed.

The shock resounds.

Excited hunter

With joy rebounds.

No concept of the pain.

Sad meat upon the shore.

Crimson seeps between

Each grain

But the fever

Still screams

For more.

Butchered in the sunset

Ruddy water

Reflects

The crime.

Hunter stands

In depths

Of gory grime

As one

Of the great tragedies

Of our time.

Opher 4.7.2015

One Gaff and a Slow Slice

This was the theme of a number of my Anthropocene Apocalypse poems.

The dolphins and porpoises have bigger brains than us. They are certainly intelligent. But they are gentle creatures with no need to build shelters or machines, let alone weapons.

I stood on the hills above Wineglass Bay in Tasmania with my wife Liz and my friends Dylan and Julia. It is one of the most beautiful sights with its emerald green water and golden sands. I thought it was called Wineglass Bay solely because of its shape as a wine glass. It wasn’t. In the older days they would herd thousands of dolphins into the shallow water. The hunters would stand in the water gaffing them with huge serrated hooks and sawing through their necks to sever the spinal cord with great serrated knives. They would continue in an orgy of murder until all the trapped terrorized animals were slaughtered and the water they stood in was turned from emerald green to crimson. From the hills above the water of the bay was turned red as if it was a half-full glass of Beaujolais.

Can you imagine that much blood?

Can you imagine the pain? To be speared with a huge gaff while some brute slowly cuts through your body with a great knife?

You’d think that was bad enough. That those were uncivilized days long gone. Back then people were brutalized and cruel. Except it is still going on today in the same grisly manner as before. In the Faeroe Islands they are still doing exactly this.

They are as bad as the sadists of ISIS!