NaPoWriMo 11/30 Endlings

Endlings

Endling, Ender, Terminarch, Relict,
Martha, Benjamin, Incas, Celia,
and George oh George oh Lonesome George.
I saw George before he died not because I was
endling gawking but only because
I was there. Gawking.

Galapagos tortoise young
don’t know how to fuck so those
who grow up in cages without elders
without watching adults get it on
will never do it. We have yet to learn,
the naturalist said, how to teach them to want
to breed
.

Endling, Ender, Terminarch, Relict!
Get your endlings here, see ‘em quick afore
they be gone! The last of her species the last
of his kind! Last Passenger Pigeon! Last Tasmanian
tiger! Last Carolina Parakeet! Last Pyrenean ibex!
The last won’t last so get in quick!

Minor footnotes, one and all, before a storm of
endlings blows us clean
away. Last large land mammal, last large ocean
one, too. Last smaller-than-a-thumb Pine Barrens
frog. Last North American river without
fracking fluid, last 17 year cicada, others all
paved permanently under, last fluttering
heartbeat of a black-footed ferret.

But look, the sky shadowing, flocks
for miles coming in to feast, millions
of vultures and buzzards and bald-headed
consumers of carrion, population exploding until
they’ve ripped apart every ripened rotted
carcass until they too are fine feathered final
numbers before zero         familiar story but
with no humans left to give the endling turkey vulture
a sweetly sympathetic name. So you

can nominate your favorite name now!
Harold, I suppose, or Maude, or with that bright red head
how about Valentine? Valentine, the Very
Last Vulture
. The end of endlings
out with a bang.

NaPoWriMo 10/30 Martha

10/30

Martha

From 5 billion down to only you
Martha, passenger
from wild to white.

My grandfather said your flocks
took days to fly over dark
the sky with the thick of you
murdered by tall poles thrust into
flight path, momentum of your mass
sliding death by the thousands
down to the waiting
white men. How fun
to count to compete to complete
destruction and head home
for supper.

Of all the animals I
will never know you
Martha
stick in my gut, you
and the crows I did
not grow up with, extinct
from my thousand acres
youth, murdered by another white
male trick. When I was a child, my father said,
they had me climb a tree and steal a baby crow
put it in a cage and make it scream and when
the adult crows flocked in hundreds
to help a dozen men or maybe more
would blast into the black of them
the burn and pop of shotgun shells
rattling.

To every crow I see I call
Cousin, cousin, greetings to you.
Are you cawing murder still? Have you yet
found descendants of survivors
of the Morgan County Massacre?
Reparations, Cousins, take my corn,
my silver, the shiny bright blue
of my father’s young wide eyes.


Martha was the last known Passenger Pigeon. She died in the Cincinnati Zoo in 1914. At her death she was frozen in ice, shipped by train to the Smithsonian, skinned, dissected, and her skin stretched over a mold and mounted for display. Estimates place the Passenger Pigeon population at 3-5 billion before Whites arrived in North America, and the pigeons were slaughtered, in part, as cheap food for people held in slavery.