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.