apocalypse poem #4 (it’s temporary)

asteroids, floods, & eruptions
might sweep this face clean
of what crawls or walks on it
occasionally, a few seconds
in hours of geologic time




but she’s not telling
the how of it or the when
except what is written
in layers of sediment
turned stone–
glyphs we read
& wonder at meaning
when every gesture
could have permanence

consider the dinosaurs
running across mud
their footprints
uncovered now &
behind museum ropes

but we can’t guess
at what is kept
for the sake of memory
or just random fossilization

we don’t speak
the language of stone
or know what planets whisper
to each other
across near-vacuum

& how could we
that we are
count those layers & say
we have learned anything
but our own smallness,
the duration of our heartbeats
uncharted in stone

begging the question

if we can’t know our beginning
how can we presume
to impose a supposed end
on this living

so much bigger
than any of us?

About Susan L Daniels

I am a firm believer that politics are personal, that faith is expressed through action, and that life is something that must be loved and lived authentically--or why bother with any of it?
This entry was posted in New Free Verse and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

50 Responses to apocalypse poem #4 (it’s temporary)

  1. claudia says:

    love the reflective mood in this susan….kept copying parts while i read through only to find one that i liked even more…here are my two favs though..

    we don’t speak
    the language of stone
    or know what planets whisper
    to each other
    across near-vacuum..


    we have learned anything
    but our own smallness

    • Claudia, thank you! This is my favorite of this 21-poem series I am doing so far (OK, the 22nd one is going to be the most fun to write, I think 😉 ). Glad you liked this, and thanks for the thoughtful comment.

  2. Very timely with all of this talk regarding the whole so-called Mayan apocalypse prophecy. Fun read.

  3. Miriam E. says:

    wonderful work, susan.
    i loved this part:
    their footprints
    uncovered now &
    behind museum ropes
    … made me sad for some reason. well done!

  4. adetokunbohr says:

    I think i’m going to start reading you to improve my art of writing. This is really good stuff here.

  5. ruleofstupid says:

    Great stuff SuPorn #9/b #1/c
    I’m really enjoying this series 🙂

  6. Pingback: Post apocalypse ‘pun-ditry’ – a silly post « ruleofstupid

  7. mobius faith says:

    This really got me thinking. Thinking about the great flood and how it basically wiped everything clean. Yet humanity continues. There is always a remnant that survives and lives on. So even if the world ends on 12/21. I suspect there will still be a remnant that survives to tell of it to future generations. I think I’ll be one of the survivors.

    • I like that mindset, Terry, and SOMEONE has to survive who is not holed up in a bunker with dried beef and canned chick peas, or that guy in China who is building another ark. Hint–that is the subject of the 12/5 poem 😉

  8. nelle says:

    Indeed. We build our walls and attach descriptives to them, too large, too small, too insignificant, too overwhelming. Perhaps the lesson for us to learn is in the realm of possibility, where no barriers should exist in mind. Be impressed with it all in equal measure.

    Richard Bach sought such a place.

  9. Pat Hatt says:

    Great write and yeah it is a load of crap made up by people to just scare one and all and keep them in line. Nothing will happen on the 21st, plus the world will never end, the world will still be here for a very very long time, we just may not.

  10. Tino says:

    So, its all built around that Mayan thingamyjig, I see now. If I come back and comment again on the 22nd, we know it was all hot air and hype.
    But you capture the potential outcome pretty well.
    I had forgotten about it to be honest, thanks for the reminder 😉

  11. ayala says:

    Great share…love these lines..we have learned anything
    but our own smallness.

  12. brian miller says:

    smiles…really cool ponderings…and no one knows the day or time…and even looking back we wont find it…those days are our best guesses…it will be interesting to see how people react this month…def not the stir that Y2K had….smiles.

  13. vivinfrance says:

    Brilliant: this chimes with my own recent intimations of mortality.

  14. Mary says:

    Yes, if we don’t know our beginning….how could we presume to know or imagine our ending? Life has so many mysteries…and the ending of the human race, or even much of the human race, is something I don’t think we have any idea about. A thought-provoking poem, Susan.

  15. Sabio Lantz says:

    That is the beauty of science — it admits the limits of knowledge and is always exploring. Many religions, on the other hand, feel the book is closed. They know the beginning, they know the end — everything is nice and comfortable. Now we can sleep well.

    • Oh, I love your comment, Sabio! Secure in the blanket of faith, which I have no argument with, certainly does make one sleep easier, wrapped in a blanket of certainty. Yes–science leads to uncertainty, which we as animals do not seem to like, though we live within it daily. Interesting paradox.

  16. Grace says:

    Lovely reflections here Susan ~ These lines strongly resonate with me:

    we have learned anything
    but our own smallness

    Again, no one can predict the ending, and this is part of the challenge of living ~

  17. If it happens it happens, we are just a speck…

  18. kelly says:

    So much to think about here…. These thoughts run through my mind, and then I try not to think about them… Great poetry… Filled with truth and foreboding.

  19. Pingback: Apocalypse poem #5–the apocalypse survivor kit | Susan Daniels Poetry

  20. Wow, so wonderfully…cosmic. A very good poem that I truly enjoyed reading.

  21. Susan says:

    I like this entire series, but especially this poem which measures time of IS with that of WAS and What can be read in the layers by such non-readers as we are:
    “we don’t speak
    the language of stone
    or know what planets whisper
    to each other
    across near-vacuum”
    Mayans read the stars and the planets in ways we cannot know from our changed perceptions of these, but I feel the change we are in the middle of as surely as the museums exist now for the dinosaurs and our earth is one big living museum for what is yet to come. I am happy to be alive to wonder. Your poem enhances this happiness for me!

  22. Beth Winter says:

    I have guests coming over this weekend and as we usually discuss a selected poem as our evening topic. This weekend, I believe yours will provide wonderful interaction. Very much enjoyed and I’m sure I’ll enjoy it more over dinner. Wonderful.

  23. Superlative topic – excellent treatment, and always current. Never a day goes by that I don’t consider my microbic size in relation to the known universe. We are, as Stephen Hawking says, a remarkable species to be able to be aware of the vastness of the universe but it seems to create more questions for me than answers. Yet your poem explores the observations and questions in an acute and intelligent way. Thank you!

    • Gay, thanks so much! I agree that most of us do not set ourselves in scale with everything we know, because if we did it daily, we would surely be reverent (to something) all the time, just for the fact of being here, and we would not then presume to guess at an end. Oh–I think you just gave me another subject for this series I am doing! Thanks! Really appreciate your comment–you are always so incisive and encouraging with them.

  24. Pingback: apocalypse poem #6–the prophet | Susan Daniels Poetry

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  26. if we can’t know our beginning
    how can we presume
    to impose a supposed end
    on this living

    That is a fine question. Man, know thyself. Another excellent one. I’ve arrived ehre rather late but I am enjoying the series. 🙂

    • thank you, Celestine! If you want to see all but the last one, I have them on their own page. Actually, the last one will be added there too–thanks for unintentionally reminding me! Yes, those lines, actually the whole poem, speaks to our arrogance. I will leave it to the Father to know when it’s time to go pop…

      • Ha ha ha! I am taking my time through them. But I wll pause for now and get back to them later at home. Hubby has come for me now at work. So, catch you later, my dear sweet friend. 🙂

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