̶ 5 million human beings
in 8,000 B.C. leavened at leisure to
200m by 1 A.D., in thrall to animals,
imbued with the elements, intense
ephemera enmeshed in the rest,
until the Industrial Revolution, like a steam engine
accelerator, blasted the census figure up to 1,000m by 1818.
Peasants were snatched from pastoral bonds into orchards
of hard knowledge to subordinate everything, sentient and dead,
pumping pistons, pulleys and pollution: dominion in full swing.
We are legion now, a plague upon the earth. 7,000m, a nuclear cloud of us
in 2011, increasingly alienated from organic origins and otherwise calibrated.
Ghettoes and refugee camps heave beside the chronic rash of ubiquitous developments.
We scapegoat comrade species for getting in the way and encroaching on our space
while spraying them with pesticides, sludge and garbage gunk,
razing hedgerows and habitats, culling,
Waste metastasises, wrapping the planet in a carcinogenic smog.
Frantic fingers seed G.M. crops and tweak livestock without a clue about
consequences except that capital keeps accruing away to the wealthy elite
armed to the atomic zenith, sedating us with neon logo glows and terrorist woes
until they change their minds, or nature gets there first and, calling our bluff, stamps us out.
What are we to do? Our population has multiplied thousands-fold over the same surface area.
Are we pride or are we pest? Or something in between, primate and homo sapiens in one
and one for all, able to drop competition and meet in the global commons outside and in?
Can we come to our senses, stop running amok and start travelling light? Can we down-skill
to stewardship, calm the wildfire blaze of us and nurse harmony back into last-gasp
ecosystems without adding catastrophe to catastrophe? And, if we can do it, will we?
Caroline's poems have previously appeared in Poetry24, as well as in The Electric Acorn, threemonkeysonline.com and in ESOF's 3nd Science Meets Poetry anthology. Clebran.org featured a chapter from her novel and some of her flash fiction. Her current focus is on young adult fiction and screenwriting. She lives near an Irish bird reserve.