The Activity of Small Beasts

DeeSoul Carson

The TV teaches my parakeet televangelism.

      My parakeet teaches my mother war.

            My mother teaches ants the language of empire –

            either you are killed or you die indeterminately,

      difference being the countries bankrolling your revolution.

Soldier ants teach the lanternflies to taunt

what means them dead – to land on my collapsed

      umbrella & flash the brilliant coquelicot

            of their undersides, to make us see them

            and be haunted by the absence we’ve ordained.

      Lanternflies teach the fire escape: violence

is dictated by who wears the biggest boot.

The fire escape teaches the lillies – who teach

      the beetles, who teach the magpies, who teach

            the tadpoles, who teach the bullfrogs,

            who teach the scurrying roaches –

      iron’s secret to immortality, to rust

without succumbing to rain or winter

or the innumerable grievances of bipedals.

      Roaches, teaching & learning nothing, instead inspire

            bipedals to fear what happens when they close

            their laptops and retire to their rooms

      in their quarter-income lodgings. Last week,

the taxi cab in my dream drove into the vent

of a volcano and when it hit the magma

      the dream reset. A thousand times:

            the diving taxi, the unscathed occupant.

            I woke up and nothing in my life had changed.

      I went about my business uninterrupted. I brewed

my coffee. Recited my values at breakfast.

Funded wars and hospitals with spare change.

      I wanted to feel bad but had laundry to fold.

            Brunch to attend. No time for suffering.

            Nothing to tell the dead that wouldn’t make them scream.

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