“the evolutionary future is pathogens, pets, and guests”
—Rob Dunn, 2007
Count among domesticated species
the fruit fly, traveling with our pears,
banana trees, living 1000 generations
as tissue culture in our lab jars;
the house mouse’s several species,
adapted to wintering inside our walls;
our skin microbes, evolving under
the selection pressure of antibacterial soap;
the DDT resistant bugs and BT enhanced weeds;
and in the Petri dishes, plants adapted
to take up our heavy metals, salts.
Snakes with mouths too small
to eat the poison Cane Toads
will grow larger jaws. The breeds
of Labradoodle dogs will multiply,
the clones of prion-resistant cows diverge;
whatever the future fate of life,
the lice and viruses of the world are ours;
microbes will develop a taste for plastics.
And ours too whatever lives or dies
as we strip our forests or plant more trees,
mono-crop or companion plant, green
our roofs or pave the ground, trawl
the seas with nets of every size; what’s left,
pest, pet, or guest, has hitched its star
to us; what follows always logical
from the view of a genetic pool and its niche.
Robin Chapman (blog) is the author of seven books of poetry, most recently Abundance, winner of the Cider Press Review’s Book Award, and The Eelgrass Meadow (Tebot Bach, October 2011). She is recipient of Appalachia‘s 2010 Helen Howe Poetry Prize. Her poems have appeared recently in Alaska Quarterly Review, Nimrod, and Wilderness. She’s also a watercolor and acrylic artist.
I remember wind, but this music is new
Your face—hello, old friend.
That name I knew you by?
How I spend my days?
sparrow, sparrow—and now the squirrel, leaping
I open my mouth—saxophone elbows sousaphone,
the closet of musical instruments a jumble
Such a short distance to walk.
Falling? I never fall.
Immense space beyond quiet—
was this what the Buddha knew?
What I did yesterday—
a blank page
Robin Chapman’s poems have appeared recently in Alaska Quarterly Review, Prairie Schooner, Wilderness, and Valparaiso Poetry Review. She is author of seven books of poetry, most recently Abundance and the eelgrass meadow.
Every green growing flowering thing
is filling the air—Dame’s rocket vanilla
blends with honey-suckle, the tang
of waterleaf, the siren call of lily-
of-the valley, and below that note
the breath of last lilac blooms—breathe,
breathe, and even your own out-breath
adds its minty zest as the cherry trees
and pagoda dogwoods rain down
their pollen, as the wind stirs the mix
with some slight promise of rain—
only a month ago there was snow,
early dusk, the lake ice-locked—
now this rush, life calling to life to begin.
Robin Chapman’s most recent book, The Eelgrass Meadow, will be published by Tebot Bach this fall. Her poems have appeared recently in Alaska Quarterly Review, Prairie Schooner, and Bosphorus Art Project Quarterly. She is recipient of the 2010 Helen Howe Poetry Prize from Appalachia.
Small Santa Clara pot I buy
in the Santa Fe market from its maker,
Noel, maybe a grandson of Maria: he breathes
spirit into its mouth and hands it to me:
it fits in my palm, its mouth ringed
by the rainbow serpent, fragment
of my ancestry—so too in my palm the dour
Scots taking the land from Irish owners,
the French trapping mink in St. Croix,
the Cherokee on the long trail of tears
to Oklahoma grasshopper heat, the English
brothers hopping a freighter, scrabbling
west to pan for gold in California,
pick cotton, cobble shoes for luckier miners,
and the grandfather who sold golden
Mazola oil and cornstarch by Model T
and wrote poems to the grandmother
who praised violets, blue and true, in hers,
and the grandmother raised on the reserve
who stitched draperies till her eyes went bad
and the grandfather who repaired
leaking pipes, telephone lines,
and typewriters—here I am in Santa Fe
holding a black bowl fired and glazed
by Noel in a secret way that gives a shine
to its black on black shell and holds
the breath of generations in its mouth.
Robin Chapman is author of six books of poetry, including most recently Smoke and Strong Whiskey (WordTech Editions) and Abundance, winner of the Cider Press Review Editors’ Book Award. Her seventh, The Eelgrass Meadow, will be published by Tebot Bach in 2011. She is the recipient of the 2010 Helen Howe Poetry Prize from Appalachia.
Over Wyalusing, riding thermals, they shine
and disappear, vanish like thought,
re-emerge stacked, stretched,
a drifting fireworks’ burst.
We can’t stop looking up from paddling,
imagining how high they must be
to look so tiny, flecks of light.
Battling against headwind, we thrill
to see—we think we see—
their third dimension of effortless life,
scattershot, high in the blue sky,
turning in sun—white, silver, ash, gone,
how we could ride, carried
on rising currents of air, wide view,
steadily accompanied. As they are.
And on the river’s back, we too.
Robin Chapman (webpage) is author of five chapbooks and six books of poems, most recently Abundance, winner of the Cider Press Review Editor’s Book Award. She is recipient of the 2010 Appalachia Poetry Prize. Her poems have appeared recently in Prairie Schooner, Poetry East, and online in Qarrtsiluni and Valparaiso Poetry Review.
I’m up to the minute
in news-flash alarms—
PCBs in the water, mercury in fish,
bird flu pandemic, various gases,
and summer will bring its own bad news
of West Nile virus, chronic wasting disease,
of surviving life are small,
whatever you do.
And I’ve also read, tucked away
in the Times‘ Circuits section,
that we’ve made giant microwave
E-bombs at high-powered frequencies
that can fry our computers
from miles away and crash
the lifetime’s work
that was our only hope
to etch our words, our stories
on stone, hidden in caves,
memorized in the nursery rhymes
recited to children
on the way to sleep,
another piece of human heritage
like love, like hope,
in weedy holographic duplicates
so dense they can’t be blown away.
Robin Chapman (website) won the Cider Press Review Editors’ Award for her newest collection of poems, Abundance. Her Verse Daily page contains Amazon links to five of her ten poetry collections. Her poems have appeared recently in 5 AM, Poetry East, and Southern Poetry Review and online at Project Gutenberg, Umbrella, and Babel Fruit. She hosts poems on Robin Chapman’s Poetry a Day Blog.
Robin Chapman studied the acquisition of speech acts by children for forty years, and now writes poetry. Abundance, winner of the Cider Press Review Editors’ Award, is her newest book.