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Cave Paintings (poem)

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Message Peter Barus
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We began consuming the world in just the last few moments.
Starting about the time History began,
When we started writing.

We had been drawing on the walls,
Choosing durable media, making images
In a human language we all comprehend.

To a hummingbird air is water. Literature compresses time.
The thundering herds drawn in soot had been real,
Living, snorting buffaloes, galloping along an unseen dimension.

When we began to name everything,
As we pronounced each new sound,
That name replaced the thing-in-itself.

They became petrified representations,
As did everything humans touched,
Even with only a glance.

Freeze-framing everything into words,
Everything leaps into motion for us,
Even as it turns to stone.

Now immobility is violent motion, and death is life.
Now we can't make anything disappear,
Or to keep what we really needed.

The great herds are to be seen only on the walls now,
Eternally in mid-stride, their essence abstracted,
Their thunder attenuated to infinity.

©Copyright 2020 Peter Barus

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I'm an old Pogo fan. For some unknown reason I persist in outrage at Feudalism, as if human beings can do much better than this. Our old ways of life are obsolete and are killing us. Will the human race wake up in time? Stay (more...)

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