extinction is a biological term
that describes the termination
of a whole group of a species
such that they cannot be found
anywhere on the planet,

in the beginning in the beginning
when the word was light
and light was the world
and becoming and mattering
were one and the same –
we mattered
because we were here –
perfect expressions
of the perfect here now

and the sun
touched our faces
like it touched the bright leaves
of trees and the earth where we stood
rooted –
paths where we moved
flowed capillary, blood vessel
artery across the earth
and we lived
and we ate
and we danced
and we died.
a tree grew
a season turned
and we became and became

there are only two
northern white rhinos left
and both are female
their reproductive capacity

became and became
clever hands clever thoughts
like carry this, move this
stand this stone
in the name of all that is holy.

like make make make this
like more make this more

like what if death comes
before we are done

like what if our work here is important
separate from
the work of the world
becoming and becoming

like what if we are more

and in our thinking
there came to be
a hole
a little bit of space
for the seed
of our own obsolescence

extinction is a biological term
that describes the termination
of a whole group of a species
such that they cannot be found
anywhere on the planet,
or the surviving members
no longer have the ability
to propagate their species.

without a planet can we?
without a living planet
do we have the ability
to propagate our species?

late afternoon and the light comes slow –
in a house long ago.
foot against the balustrade
i rock the old chair –
soft upholstered, carved spiral arms,
my mother’s and my mother’s mother’s
before me –
small as a cat
my daughter sleeps on my chest
as i did
as my mother did

our forgetting came
like a dark cloud across our world
first in story then in deed
and in our forgetting
we became forgotten –
knowing our unknowing in our bones’
an infinitely insatiable hunger
that wants more more more
until we have destroyed
that which we were –
and become and become

but clever hands, clever thoughts
carved and wove too,
sung stories to the night of our being
and our becoming and the light of long stars
touched our faces like it touched the bright leaves
of trees and the earth where we stood
rooted us –
and in those stories we knew we lived
infinite infinity
arranging and rearranging atoms
until and still
we were all one and the same
tree, leaf, human, stone, egret
and we spoke the tongues
of the deer –
walked the silent feet of elephant
and remembered
and remembered

in the face of all that is the world today
large electronic corporations
among others
still design their products
with planned obsolescence
a circuit break here
a malfunctioning screen connection there
a finite battery that cannot be replaced
there is no repair
throw away
away away
out of sight out of mind –
the new one is shinier
newer better
see how clear the images
how fast the answers
look the wormy worm chases its tail
chases its tail across the screen
– don’t look away
this is all the world
here – here is a new one
have this one
never never look away.

if the whole point of our existence
was to be one voice among the many
just one pattern fractal
of this ever dancing light
then our destruction of our home
our silencing of other voices
diminishes and diminishes us
until we too are no more

and what if death comes
before we are done
is the purpose of a candle
to burn until it is finished
or cast light while it is


For Brendan at Earthweal’s weekly challenge: EXTINCTION TALES


Linking to Earthweal’s open link weekend #93



14 thoughts on “obsolescence

  1. Love what you’ve done here…

    “is the purpose of a candle
    to burn until it is finished
    or cast light while it is
    aflame.” – this will stay with me for a long time…


  2. This is a very powerful poem. I felt so sad when I read about the two female rhino. I hadn’t heard about that before. There are no words to fully encompass we humans have done to the Earth and its beings. Our only hope is to remember our own beginnings as part of nature.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Suzanne. My understanding is that the last known male Northern White Rhino(destinct species from the Southern white rhino) died in 2018. I think there is an effort to implant a fertilized embryo into a southern white rhino and return them from the brink that way.


  3. Science may indeed be able to bring back the white rhino implanting an embryo – bring back more distant extinct species by descanting their DNA and implanting into some cousin life — probably more magical rites than that to come -: But heavens, what is science to do with us, the master invasive species? It’s not about what science can do but what Homo sapiens must do to save its animal self and life on this planet. Sit in a rocking chair on a porch with a child breathing on one’s chest surrounded by the heart and lungs of mother life. Poetry as that endearment and enchantment is more essential than ever. Loved the long meditational weave here, returning home to “remember/ embody/ become.” Extinction tales have an afterlife.


  4. I completely agree. Leaning on science to bring back species that we brought to the point of extinction is totally lacking in sense or logic. I understand the desire to undo our mistakes, but without addressing the cause it seems futile.


  5. I read today that the human population in 1970 was half the number of today.

    We displace all the other biomass to feed our own.

    A powerful poem, especially the last two verses. How I wish the wisdom therein would take root. But who is to tell all these human mouths, we need to be fewer, that other life may live?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. Agreed – and incredibly difficult to address – I mean we are all equal members of that statistic of too much. Slightly easier(but still seemingly impossible) is to curb the over consumption by the west and the west wannabes – learn to do less harm. But goodness we are slow to learn and even slower to act.

      Liked by 1 person

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