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The algae eaters

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After the Mars mission of 2027,
They wanted to start colonizing the Red planet
ASAP, a logical (to some) outcome
Of utterly failing to halt climate warming.

But, they needed to see how people would handle
Being away from Earth and living on algae,
The easiest food to grow on Mars.
So they hand-picked some volunteers,

From the thousands who stepped up,
To spend three years in a giant dome
That simulated the climate of Mars,
While they prepared to send off the first 25 pioneers.

So, first, the dome-group was subjected to
A mock-up of the voyage to Mars
Including a rough landing. Then they were left alone
In their dome for three years.

They ate nothing but algae
With virtually no contact from the outside world.
When they emerged they were thin and greenish
And their pupils were strangely dilated

But all of them were very healthy and pleasant to be around.
But they didn't like talking very much and
They didn't seem to want to be with anyone
Except each other.

And they were allergic
To any kind of food but algae.
Also they wanted to be around plants all the time.
The experiment was considered a complete failure.

But that didn't matter very much because next
There was a pandemic that swept the planet,
Killing off the entire human race
Within a few months

Except for the algae eaters
Who were immune
To the ravages of the pandemic.
The end.



Do we have to become aliens to our own culture to survive (or to step out of) the bad karma of our self-destructive ways? This poem is a parable. You are what you eat.

It was amidst the turmoil of the German revolution in 1848 that the German philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach used his famous phrase, "We are what we eat." This poem takes that wisdom literally and weaves a little moral tale out of an imaginary possibility that if we were to narrow down our bizarre over-the-top consumption to algae, we would become more plantlike and everything about our civilization that was going wrong, which is almost all of it, would simply implode and vanish like a bad dream.

(Article changed on May 11, 2021 at 7:53 AM EDT)

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Gary Lindorff is a poet, writer, blogger and author of several nonfiction books, a collection of poetry, "Children to the Mountain" and a memoir, "Finding Myself in Time: Facing the Music" Over the last few years he has begun calling (more...)

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