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Diane Hine

(25 July 1956)


Say, eighteen hundred thousand years ago
A lightning strike set blaze a bushy plain
And seared the seeds of life that hid below.

When cooled, a group appeared on charred terrain
And scratched the earth with thumb-opposing hands
In search of tuber, pulse or wild grain.

Alert and ill-at-ease in open lands
The scattered stones and sticks provided arms
And held aloft, some branches glowed like brands.

Then shelter bound, they took their smoking charms
To ward against their fears, yet knew not how
They held an epoch's clock within their palms.

A child played with cast-off ashy bough
And fed a spark from which a tiny flame
then sparked a torch in every bony brow.

And ages passed for which they had no name
In which an unlocked, heat-wrought wealth of food
progressively transformed their bodies' frame.

Small jaws and teeth, and shorter gut ensued
While larger brains advanced their skulls to fore
And differential sex size was subdued.

The species spread and prospered, wood to shore
Time freed, to hone fine blades for hunt or art
And language flourished in the cause of war.

More ages passed and time forbade rechart
Until their burning needs enclosed complete
Dependent bodies, slaves to fire at heart.

What now to burn? their fossil fuels deplete
To feed a shared compulsion, both engrossed
And having filled their carbon sinks, replete.

In chains of servitude and thrall inmost
Denial is the addicts common state
Poor parasites of all-consuming host.

*Please choose from one of the following options-

a) Upheaval, floods and famines decimate
Descendents left to rue their sorry fate.

b) With cognate love and empathy innate
They turned the tide before it was too late.

c) Almighty God did frothily berate
With smiting, all who'd dared to fornicate.

d) None of the above.

Submitted: Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Edited: Sunday, December 09, 2012

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  • J.b. Lebuert (3/20/2012 7:16:00 PM)

    Well another awsome poem - I really like the options, and I have to go with a being in my pessimistic phase right now. You do write some deep stuff! (Report) Reply

  • Patti Masterman (3/14/2012 9:18:00 PM)

    Wow, the knowledge contained in this took my breath away (only recently I learned of the dna change that shortened the jaw and allowed the brain more room to grow larger; before that, I thought it was all a function
    of our meat eating diet) . Yes, I too hope the answer will be B, but of course, we may not be around to tell the final truth of the ending- but the dance sure has been fun, hasn't it? (Report) Reply

  • Danny Draper (3/14/2012 8:00:00 AM)

    An intelligent and precise piece. Informative but not didactic, therefore tereffic and serruptiriously educational. The content that evolution has taken humans along a norrow and seemingly intractable and irreversable course appears to seal our collective fate, but as sentient beings and with an undying faith in the human experiment and it's spirit I do not believe we will just give up. A love of life and science tells me B) is surely our only course. Fantastic the survey device at the end. Simply to demonstrate with 1 simple question the expected and most obvious answer but see the myriad complexity and diverse responses as is the human condition. Bravo. (Report) Reply

  • Karen Deeks (3/14/2012 4:19:00 AM)

    Maybe so... I love the optional extras at the bottom! Great reader involvement... My favourite line is (And language flourished in the cause of war.) what a thought! ! Thank you Karen (Report) Reply

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