Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Springtime at the Olduvai

© Steve King
All rights reserved

where brown earth
and green bush meet
unrolling to empty azure all around
the cats picnic in moving shade
painting red the sands with random feasts

spiraling above
great birds follow where ripe scent blooms
across revealed ages

The brown guide says
‘here is where they saw it first’

the older tourist in fresh khaki nods

‘they were more like monkeys yes
not so much like us’

‘oh not so much like you sir’

‘no, you will have an easy resting place
and a crowd to please you at the last
not a pack set running
at the sight of you

‘or puzzling as your eyes lose their light
wondering how this all had come to pass,
wondering that you must have so displeased
the angry spirits of the grass

‘dying quick
belly pain the last sensation
birds nearer
nearer as you watch

‘no, you will have kind grasses and cool earth
and there will be no mystery of you
and no seeking after
for it will all be known
plain as may be said
between the corners
of your polished stone

‘even now for you
the birds are distant curiosities
just artifacts like all these other things
even now
seeing how it all began
seeing how it goes’

‘no sir not at all like you’

and breaching earth
the ancient rift
a piece of countenance revealed
hollow eyes
broken brow polished
from long confinement
in grinding sand
and heaving gravel bed

come again to sun
outlasting flies
and all the carrion feasts

waiting for the sands again
the shifting grave

without memory or expectation
no mercy dreams
to soften long night
or another day
another season
as much a cousin now
to all rough stones
as to the monkeys

even less to you sir

yet sir

no sir not at all


  1. ha intriguing write, right to dawn of man and the walking out of the primative...oh nothing like you at all chuckled a bit in reading...

  2. i really love this, you drew me in and then the italicized section was like whispers in my ear, musical and lovely.

  3. Lord, Steve, this is good. Both the concept and the execution--and it goes to the core of who we are, and what we aren't but perhaps would be the richer for connecting to, feeling and remembering. There is fine work in every line of this, but I also like the sad resonance of the italicized portion.

  4. Fascinating write! Will need to read a few more times...

  5. Great story atomsphere
    I laughed a bit I fear
    As you tell it so well
    Here at your blog cell

  6. I read this, then (I confess) had to look up Olduvai, then reread your poem. I love how you subscripted the story in italics to pull out the feral feel that still surrounds this cradle of civilization. Your writing is always fascinating. I not only got to enjoy the form and story, but also learned from this. A wonderful piece, my friend!

  7. Fantastic on first read, but more will be needed to appreciate the layers. Like Ginny, I had to sneak a peak over at be sure. So enjoy your voice in your's been a while! Happy OpenLinkNight Poet!

  8. I had to read it a few times to appreciate the fine words and story...great form and narrative, you drew the reader in ~

  9. Well, here's yet another reader who had to google Olduvai...of course one could guess at it, but I had to be sure. I'm going to have to reread this, but at first reading I find this rich language intriguing as the pondering of what our ancestors were really like...I'll be back, cuz you hooked me.

  10. Interesting theme to explore of what it means/meant to be human so good use of voice in the exploration

  11. So lovely... I especially like the first stanza, Steve.

  12. smiles...had to google olduvai as well... this is a fascinating write and you take us right on a journey with your words...great attention to the details here...very fine work steve

  13. Had that bit of edginess and self-delusion I like to see in a poem