With Respect to the Whale | A Poem by David Russell

Oh, man – foul carnivore!
Gorging beyond all need for sustenance,
Gorging beyond even your body’s bounds!

And is this a fixation on your prey,
A lust for prey-communion?
Willing your own, final annihilation
By turning into quarry
That great, that fine, that more than any beast;
Sea-mammal – in its form a synthesis of elements,
Model of global harmony,
Sea-mammal – its pure song of sight and touch
A blending of all sense, beyond man’s symbols.

Oh, man! Knowing yourself so small,
Are you in full immersion lost
In dental agony of harpoon barbs,
Asphyxiate in quicksand blubber?

Or, in false striving
To cheat the others of fair depths
Would you burst, flounder, cast up useless bones
Sick binder for your film
Of mineral perversion?

Oh you, that made of noble forms
Cheap factories, demolished in a day
For pulp, for ballast in the supermarket
Without the dignity
Of geriatrics’ corsets;

Oh you, who pay mock homage
To rare or extinct species
Behind museums’ glass, in research confines
To rare or extinct species – know your vanity!

Know that the see-through panel
That seals rare specimens from mundane soiling
Is to yourselves a mirror! There your end . . .

With one proviso – when your vile exertions
At last become fulfilled among yourselves
And you mere cinder-blistered slime

No species that survives will honour you;
In all your seeming strength your final weakness
Cutting your lifelines with your every grab
For further power and satiation.

The time to halt is now; let live and know –
Abjure corrupt proliferation, grow
In numbers’ confines, species’ truest bounds.

Break down the elements, split them
To non-existence;
Then shatter all solidity’s illusions,
Free impulses
Beyond the viscous mind, still feeling hard
By vanity’s gas upholstered.

And then, for happiness’s definition,
Shut the door;
Relax, and don’t be squeamish;
For every grit of teeth, a pull of trigger,
A sear, a cloud . . .

Then, if the bacillus, the charge
Breaks through even your filter-screen,
Then paper barrier that defines
Your victims and yourselves . . .

And you, amoebae, become specimens
Now that your brainchild ogres
Have outstepped the frames of will;

Oh super-brains! Limp, flapping squids;
Now that you’ve burst your cranial cannisters,
Now that you’ve blundered on the combination
To open up the vault
Wherein you case your muffled
to soothing, doped oblivion;

Did you first conquer all remorse, all fear,
Destroy all that might have the power to save?

And will you now be laid low, by yourselves,
Even denied all retribution’s flames,
All instantaneous dignity?

Oh ones still solid, cynicism’s crust
Thickens and stifles, yet absorbs,
Driving life’s final spark to desperation;
No scope to flash
Without full-voiding all outside itself.

Oh loosen now your halters,
Clean growth, no fission-cancers,
Live now; be novae

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