what is human builds.
there are leopards
in our bones, hyenas
in our throats, growling
& now laughing tornado spirits
spin small midnight circles
in ripening cow corn behind my house.
i want to choose symbols for us
past 30-minute television channel mysteries
revealing the pseudoscience of crop circles
& speculating intelligence bigger
than our small heads shaping pyramids
on two continents. the joke’s
on us. did we not raise a tower so high
God blew it over like a house of cards
scattered in the breath of new languages?
what is human, makes.
there is truth in my mouth
i cannot surrender to breath. this tongue
limits me to a yes only you hear
& perhaps we too could build something
dangerously tall with these hands
if together we uncovered a voice
that would speak it into being
what is human, worships.
in other stories a man–one man
they made a god
separated earth from a heaven
that pressed us flat. we are always
feeding gods our young
choking on sky
& hunting that one thing
that can translate what is written
behind eyes, under tongues
the neanderthals buried their dead.
they lived alongside us. briefly.
carbon tells us 100,000 years ago
we mixed paints from ochre & ash.
we danced shadows through smoke,
pressed earth smooth to wood drums,
braided feathers in hair
threaded with sinew
who says what is human
could not envision stonehenge?
what is human, builds.
what is human, makes.
what is human, worships.
buried their dead.
Perhaps the Neanderthals painted with us, once. Perhaps they too sang. Such is the work of conjecture, but in the here and now, there are a lot of lessons in history, in who we are, if we strip away the pretence and zero in on essence.
“strip away the pretense and zero in on essence.” Wow. You just opened up my brain so wide it hurts. Nelle–LOVE your comments.
rofl, writers tend to do that, eh?
Yes, they do & thanking you for that! Broke one of my rules & fixed that other thing…
Excellent.. I love it ❤
Mark, thank you!
Wow Susan–just a wonderful piece–great imagery and great meaning–loved this!
Audrey–thank you–woke up with that simmering in my mind. Glad it spoke to you!
You keep raising the ceiling. Bravo! 🙂
Ken–thanking you! I have no idea where this one jumped out from–woke up with it–perhaps I dreamed it, mixed with a few details from an article I read this week. Wherever it came from, I am grateful for it 🙂
Just stay receptive, pen poised 🙂
hahaha–this was definitely better than being woken up to write about footballs and peppercorns 😉
note to muse/chi–I am NOT complaining!
Bravo on this piece Susan, bravo
Wow, Boomie–thank you. I am humbled.
Another great read. Your creative powers are truly inspiring. I like the animal within us imagery and then the introduction of the distant timescale and the Neanderthal past. Brilliant.
Wow, David–thanks so much! Again, I have no idea where this came from, other than I dreamed parts of it. Really appreciate the comments and encouragement.
wowsers!! I love the second stanza. ( le clown’s huge face is staring at me when I write this comment.. he is scaring me)
Thanks, hon–I really, really appreciate it. Ohhhh–me too–I need to shrink that!
this is most excellent loved the thoughts and images running through it
Thank you, Bruce!
Oh, thank you, Celestine!
in our bones, hyenas
in our throats… love how you go back and how you paint that picture…esp. love the second to last stanza…makes me wanna mix paints from ochre & ash…
Oh, let’s do it–let’s mix paints and just dance….Thanks much, Claudia!
An amazing poem, Susan. And the last two stanzas were truly inspired!
Mary, thanking you! Like I said, I dreamed part and part came from who knows where, was just glad to have a hand in it 😉
i love the leopards in our bones. Interesting write throughout!
Oh thanks so much! Glad you enjoyed.
this has such power rippling all the way through it, i could hear drums beating.
Oh, Kelly, thank you! I heard those drums in my dreams the night before I wrote this 😉
Hey–just noticed something–we are kinda neighbors–I am near Buffalo!
Great write and imagery .
Thank you, Ayala.
haha this is fantastical….i love the symbolism through the first part…this works really well as spoken word as you are so engaging with the audience….there is power in your words as well…the solid closure as well brings it home and i esp love the off beat last bit on the neanderthals….
Brian–thanks so very much! This was really an odd thing that came to me as I was waking up 😉
The neanderthals were pretty talented I think -a s are you. k.
The neanderthals already had semblance of communities and living within societies.Though theirs were uncomplicated lives. But to be able to give back those cave drawings,the concentric circles, stonehenges. Were they the ones or some others or some greater beings that helped. Nicely Susan!
Thank you, Hank–yes, I wonder about this…
The command is – Say it! but I don’t quite know how to….epic is the first word that came to my mind so I am writing that here…
Oh, thanks so much! I am humbled by such praise!
The symbolism, the imagery, the rhythm – there’s so much to love about this. Encore!
Tony, thank you! I will try 😉
Wow! Lots to ponder in this one. It seems to have so many layers and angles. My english lit teacher would have had a field day (week?) making us analyze this one. Wonderful write!
Oh, my! Thank you! If ever someone decides to analyze this one, I would love to know what they think it’s about, LOL. I wrote it and it still confounds me…
This is exceptional Susan. I like having read it back to back with Emmett’s. From one mother – the mitochondrial eve comes this celebration of human life. What we do, what we are, how we sing, how we feel goodness, grace flows in all our veins. We are cousins, we are a family. It’s time we all recognized this – laid down weapons, and learned to love one another!
Gay, thanking you! I agree, we are all family…
An engaging piece, reassuring us of our potential, flawed though we may be 🙂
Gene–thank you so very much! I say we should love each other, warts, and all 😉
A powerful and lyrical meditation of the human equivalent of ‘the green fuse that drives the flower’.
oh, goodness, Dick, I am stunned, really, that my little lines could bring to mind an image crafted by one of my favorite poets, ever. Wow. Thanks so very, very much, and I hope DT is not too offended 😉
Wow. A strong, strong poem. The ending blew me away. Incredible. I believe that the thought that will be stuck in my head all day is that there are hyenas in our throats. If I say it out loud, someone is sure to look at me as though I grew a second head but it is so true that I can’t let it go. Well done.
Oh, Beth–what an image you have left me with–the hyenas in our throats are now stuck in your head–what a really cool idea! I am so glad this spoke to you!