Remember, Poetry24 welcomes submissions for both its main page and the In Brief... section. Poems inspired by news stories from the past will also be considered for publication in the occasional 'That Was the MUSE That Was' series.

Friday, 3 February 2012


I have a plan for the plants of the planet,
all plants, from A to Z –
four species are enough,
the alphabet is too long.

In a test tube
see me dive
straight to the heart of the cell,
see me slide down the ribbon
of the spinning spiral stairs,
with a platinum syringe
I inject a hormone,
I straighten a chromosome,
I add a brand new genome,
then I rush back up like lightning
to admire the masterpiece:
a suicidal,
colour-changing seed.

Before the seed is sown
I must first slay the fields:
here with charcoal weeds,
here with the ink
of double-dealing lawyers,
here with the agent orange
of my saliva.

In the Americas, Africa, India,
wherever there is open space,
I’ll sell the seeds in scores
with their purpose-made herbicide,
until the face of the earth blossoms
with deserts of green.

It’s not a question of luck:
with fertiliser the harvest is certain,
overflowing, rich,
with nine-month contracts
and the sole condition
that whoever keeps seeds for the following season
I will take to court.

If the groundwater becomes polluted
I’ll buy it, filter it
and re-sell it,
if the children grow warts
I’ll give them a toy
to take it out on,
if the garden of a farmer fertilises
with patented pollen
I’ll snatch away with an edict
all of his lands.

Thus every acre of the land
I will tread without lifting my shoes:
under the lens of the microscope
I’ll build an entire empire,
a cornucopia of copies –
the realm of mouths,
of stomachs,
of bowels.

In my hands the palette of the world:
gold in the soya, silver in the rice,
tomorrow I’ll submit a patent
on the dew.

Such is my patron saint,
and such is the multinational taste of my name
on everyone’s plate.

©   Antoine Cassar

Tories and Labour renew backing for GM food crops


Antoine Cassar is a Maltese poet and translator, recipient of the 2009 United Planet writing prize. His latest book is Bejn / Between (Skarta, 2011), with parallel English translation by Éire Stuart, Alex Vella Gera and himself.

1 comment:

  1. This poem has been recorded and uploaded to Youtube, for a documentary festival in New Zealand: