Three Poems: Ethan Goffman

Ethan Goffman
Eight Million Years

Yowling and whining,
Callie and Thelma demand
breakfast each morning
walking over us
with imperious impunity.

Cats are
an astonishingly patient species.
They waited 8 million years,
hunting, breeding, dying, hunting
for their humans to appear on Earth.

They waited 8 million years
to evolve in the blink of an eye
from hunters to lovers
purring, rubbing, frolicking
ending the suffering of
all the lonely people,
becoming stars of stage and screen
of a billion videos.

They waited 8 million years
to become an invasive species
slaughtering birds and voles
and rare protected critters
in nooks and crannies of the globe
where no cat had ever been.

Our cats haunt us daily
ghosts of devastation future
ethereal angels of love
We cannot live without them
as we hurl toward our common fate.

I Digress

People tell me I digress too much
like the time I was on the phone with my sister
talking about how humans acquire
the miracle of speech, which she studies,
she runs a research lab at Purdue University,
which is kind of amazing considering
she started off life aimless, going nowhere
which happens to many of us, after all
how do we decide what to do in this
vast and complex world
it is wildering, wide and wild
with biodiversity, lush with crazy beasts
like sloths, how do they spend their lives
hanging upside down
doesn’t the blood rush to their heads?
although the world is so confusing maybe we’d all be better off
hanging upside down, trying to connect the strands
of experience, of light, of vision
like paint whipped at random from the brush of
an insane abstract expressionist,
is that art, my child could do that?
but children are geniuses in a way
insane little geniuses
mad scientists cooking up trouble
cooking up batches of fresh
dream cookies lush with chocolate
mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, chocolate, invented by the Aztecs
whom we colonists discovered
and destroyed in our mad wanderings around
this crazy, mixed-up globe,
we are all colonists, in a way
wandering the world conquering
other species, other tribes
raping and slaughtering
stealing from their cultures to make something
new and old and beautiful
gorgeous and terrible
intricate and random
that’s the way the world works, infinite strands
flung and mixed and recombined.

So you see
I have not been digressing after all.

It Must Be Hard to Be God

Here's the dilemma.  You could create a world of beauty and harmony
angels strumming gorgeous harps, incandescent melodies,
perfection itself.
Perfectly boring.

Music is beauty plus dissonance.
Heavenly music is beauty without dissonance.
The Talking Heads sang, "heaven is a place where nothing ever happens."
William Blake wrote, “Milton is of the devil's own party."

Satan is the mother of invention.
Satan animates.

Satan sucks!  Auschwitz is one fragment in a vast mosaic of suffering.
The atheists are right.  The universe is too cruel for any creator.

The atheists are wrong.  The universe cannot exist without moral order.

If there is a god, I curse Him to high heaven
and to the depths of hell!

Imagine a world with only minor pains.
Instead of fire and ice
its history would culminate in
a civil debate with little insults
and paper airplanes
hurled hither and yon,
and final reconciliation a group hug.
No Evangelical fire and fury.
The Book of Revelations as reimagined by Unitarians.

A far worse fate is hurtling toward us all.

I can never forgive God.
And if there is no God
I can never forgive
the vast, empty universe.

I curse the universe.
The universe doesn't answer.

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