Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Observations on Earth Day

Starlings in America

The watchman stood alone on his blue hill
and watched, then, as he does now.
Saw them coming.

A few Vikings, some kook in a coracle.
He saw three ships come sailing in
from Spain.

They traded trinkets for coconuts and corn,
traded pox for potatoes.
A syphilitic wife will change your life.

The sun rises and the sun sets.
Their God was nailed to a tree
where they could keep an eye on him.

They brought original sin, brought a savior
and took silver, brought guns and took gold.
Brought alcohol, took tobacco.

They brought ponies and plunder,
were crazy for beaver
and a quick way to China.

In time, they brought steel and steam.
A steel knife will change your life, too.
The sun rises and the sun sets.

They brought bulldozers and drag-line buckets.
Tore the Earth.  Tore the Good Earth.
Put it on Mr. Peabody’s coal train.
Brought languages,
took languages away.
Brought starlings.

Brought Studebakers and Scotch Tape.
Duct tape and red tape.
They brought refrigerator magnets,

scotch and soda, the cotton gin, wrinkle –
free polyester.  Bourbon and Bud Lite and
a bomb that bloomed in the desert.

They taught children to hide under desks.
Atomic strife will change your life.
The sun rises and sets.

Edsels come and Edsels go.
The watchman stands alone on his blue hill.
Do not be hopeful,

he calls out at last,
but do not be without hope.
They brought Schubert.

~ Ralph Murre