Four Poems by Roger W. Hecht
Like scissors they snip
the chemical threads
that hold a live thing
fungus, primordial swarm.
Then we’re gas. Then
we become element:
something a live
plant can claim. Dead,
we’re soup, we’re cheese,
we’re the meal we’re
invited to but can never
if a mold knows joy--
let’s say sated on,
feted because we’re feast,
the last supper we’ll never
know because by then
we’re already being
resurrected back into
the body of the world.
The Romans read entrails to discern the future.
We read stools for signs: too much fiber,
cancer, foreclosure. The Jews force-fed maggots
to Roman goats
to buy themselves time in the dust of Masada.
We eat Kale & cabbage, açai
bowls sprinkled with chia seeds, determined
to extend our days another day. You’ll find
us tending our gut flora with the acuity of termites
turning a forest to soil. & in the time,
It’s taken to tend these lines another species has died--
a fish, a frog, an insect—unseen by us, who’ve tried
so hard to interpret the signs of the world we made,
ignoring our spot in the extinction parade.
Sonnet from misread lines
After "ficus carica sonnet" by Hua Ngyuen
The cicada belt hugs the heart: in any three trees
in Tokyo they sing you to distraction;
in the glassy rain-drenched mountains they scream
in neither anger nor fear. Snow infects this April
Where tree blossoms should be. The seasons have been
Long unsettled--we're feeling the brunt of it now.
If only we listened to the animals when we could.
Snow settles like cigarette ash. We huddle like children
Dreaming of insects in our dug out caves.
What would we ask of the spirits, leaving us
One by one, if it ever occurred to us to interview them
Before they departed the room? I strain hard
For any sound other than the scavenger birds pecking
the snow, stopping to cough, then rising like blurred smoke in the storm.
For Isao Takahata
One Step Ahead of Them
Donald Trump’s administration has reportedly banned the Center for Disease Control from using seven words and phrases, including “science-based” and “transgender,” in documents it is working on for next year's budget.
--Newsweek, Dec.16, 2017
Being between being & not being is precarious for the fetus,
who nonetheless marvels at her place in the diversity
of life. A speck among specks, he never feels vulnerable
and she never succumbs to a sense entitlement
for wearing the crown called human. Trans-species, transgender,
he crosses all boundaries, though encased in a science-based
bubble confirming the reality she assumes. Though science based
its projections of the future by plotting the past, the fetus
knows nothing of this since past is present & all things transgender
transgress the binary systems that keeps diversity
in a corner, chained to a chair that the demons of entitlement
locked tight & swallowed the key. Now we are no longer vulnerable
to the things we fear, they proclaim, measuring their voices against the vulnerable
pillars they erected to keep their sky intact. Despite science-based
research revealing fissures in their foundation, the aura of entitlement
makes their certainty seem inviolable. Meanwhile, the fetus
drifts unawares, mapping planets on her womb wall, the diversity
of stars he imagines exploring once she exits through the transom transgender,
translating his dreams into solid fields of action, trans gender-
ripples across dark matter. This unseen substance should leave her vulnerable,
but he intuits that metaphor accounts for only half of diversity
and of all the sense of wonder that science, based
in Capital, aims to nail down if not to nail shut. She thinks, fetus:
is that even close to the potentiality within? Our entitlement
is that we shall hence renounce our sense of entitlement.
In the womb we cut down craving with the cord. Transgender
transcends lust & greed. A new child shall rise. Oh fetus,
if only thy thoughts were true! If only we could be invulnerable
to the demons of our power, to the machinations of science-based
systems that unlock so they can control the diversity
of the biome, the diversity of the psyche, the diversity
of the heart. Ho, ho, ho, the tragic voices of entitlement
bellow with derision. The hills tremble. Still, against this thunder science-based
agents of virtue plant small bombs of doubt in their bombast, sow transgender
transactions into the public proceedings, & the vulnerable
gain a foothold in the sunlight, if for only a minute, to breathe. The fetus
waits. He tests the waters, the diversity of molecules. The fetus
has science-based diagrams of the levers of power. Transgender
transfiguring the fall of entitlement. Now to empower the vulnerable.
Roger W. Hecht is an Associate Professor of English at SUNY College at Oneonta. His poetry collection, Talking Pictures, was issued by Cervena Barva Press. His work has recently appeared in Bracken, A-Minor, Sheila-na-gig, and Yes Poetry. He lives in Ithaca, NY.