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Poetry

POEMOTIONS

Text of book

Part Two (continued)

Humanity

Start of page 55 in the book

Genetic Engineering

 

On the eve of the twenty-first century
the heir
maketh his selection
from among
the heirlooms.

 

The Capsule
made of a light, pale alloy,
falls at Luke's feet.
There's a trick to opening it:
but it doesn't take long to master.

 

I

 

Richness descends to you
(multiples of the endless creativity
of man in his unavoidable captivity)
and now you must choose.

 

Not all is fit to carry you with it.
Not all is balm, nor bears a charm
to guard you from harm.
Choose now, and choose wisely.

 

At risk is the happiness of you and your brothers:
but more of your sons, and their long line of sons.
You and their happiness -
heart's ease and all hearts' peace.

 

Friends of man watch up high
in places fixed
near the utmost top of the Universe
as vantage points.

 

Start of page 56 in the book

 

II

 

(Luke, stumblingly)
So I must choose.
But do I choose what to take, what to accept
or what to leave, what to reject?

 

You are, as you must be, well-chosen.
I see you know some of the right questions.
A cleverer than you would have seen
this one poses no alternative.

 

'I will take this, and leave that' differs not
from 'I will leave this, and take that'.
But I believe you can see deeper; with a rare vision detect
the crux.

 

III

 

I fancy you stand on a peak, carried thither
by wrought creatures who climbed mountains at tremendous speed.

 

With a zooming rush unknown in galactic time
those myriad hands have whirled you to this height:

 

whereon you peer dizzily, voiding the nausea,
pathetically ill-equipped to make momentous choice

 

IV

 

Come Monsieur (for we are multi-national) - accept my hand.
I'll guide your choice, having watched it all;
watched in amazement, to the limits of my sight -
vaster by far than yours
yet still dismally finite.

 

Long have I known the task I was set to do.
My function nears completion.
When I have made the reports on which depend your choice
I'll die like the Sequoia struck by bolts
from dynamos spun by distant blazing gases.

 

Start of page 57 in the book

 

Mine's an unimportant death: your choice is more:
more a billionfold. For man can make his choice.
The first of all the animals
to programme the long course
of his vast progeny.

 

So to my heavy work; though mark you this,
if I discharge it ill, I shall not burn.
Not I be toasted by malicious sprites
turning the glowing spits in Hell's vast furnace.
There's no such place.

 

V

 

This my first lesson then:
take heart, take comfort, know
there is no angel writing down your sins.
None could achieve that task, and none there is:
the Universe is not so feebly run.

 

As well to calculate the angels dancing on a pin, the motes
filling a sunbeam with their whirling points.
No, different still, for where are swirling motes
when falls the dusk? Where sins
when there obtains no freedom for the will?

 

Men never had that freedom. I have watched
the noble course of those who thought 'twas theirs;
who struggled with a guilt thrust on them
by ancient fools who long struggled vainly
then swiftly sank, holed from within.

 

No fault at all was theirs -
fault anyway is not a real thing

 

VI

 

The second lesson take
not as a chore, a burden - but release
a soothing, gentle, joyful, swirling breeze.

 

Start of page 58 in the book

 

You are much thought of, highly prized,
chosen to be the front of marching men
evolving to the universal Whole.

 

Fight on, you're asked to bear
the hectic, swift, accelerating thrust
of man's extending knowledge, oft accursed.

 

In this, the swiftest of his centuries,
a storm blows down the peaceful slopes
scattering long-cherished memories.

 

Tornadoes then whirl, and earthquakes swallow up
the settled, ignorant, patterned way of life.
You bear it all, you hero!

 

Come now, arise. Acknowledge from this gallery,
wherefrom look down on you selected souls.
Gracefully wave at all our cheers for what you bear.

 

Nobly, decisively, turning to account
new knowledge piled like mountains round your cave,
what strains you bear!

 

The casualties are great, but many come (I know)
from absence of the praise that now at last
unstinted I bestow.

 

Not praise because you choose the right from wrong
(you have no choice); but praise
we give the doughty runner on the track.

 

After his tired marathon
we're glad to cheer a mighty task
mightily performed.

 

However short you fall
of targets you had set yourself of old
take heart: progress is good.

 

Start of page 59 in the book

 

Mankind's achieving much, but now's the time
to pick and choose among the legacies.
In this for once you're free: choose well!

 

VII

 

Last lesson grows from these
(we're in among the roots!)
grasp your sharpest knife
and turn it, turn it inwards.
You can gain your life
restore it to the truth
rid it of disease.

 

They said your sin was pride
(and meekly you believed!)
firmly grasp that knife
and turn it, turn it inwards.
Rooted there, and rife
handsomely achieved
your enemy abides.

 

His name was never Pride
(poor soul, you lack enough!).
Strike shrewdly with that knife
as you turn it, turn it inwards.
Victory in this strife -
smoothness from the rough -
cannot be withheld.

 

Plunge it to the hilt
(unflinchingly, be bold!) -
it's a killer now, that knife
turning, turning inwards,
killing to save life,
the parasite of old,
whose hated name is GUILT!

 

Start of page 60 in the book

 

VIII

 

It worries you, the way you're using more alcohol.
People who seem to know what they're talking about warn you of its dangers.
Your beloved wife harps on the cost -
as well as expecting her share of the drink.
Which of course she gets.

 

Then there's tobacco, also a threat to your health
and costly in many other ways.
Why not
try pot?
Maybe it's not dangerous to life, though they can arrest you for it.

 

The anxieties of life do need stimulants, relaxants, stupefiants,
or you can't cope with them.
But you can't really cope with the chemicals either.
Poor dear -
you are in a fix.

 

IX

 

The Metal Box Company
with difficulty, then triumph,
made two pairs of wheels and a petrol engine
and attached them to one of its metal boxes:
chauffeurs were then ten a penny.

 

So you took to the open road.
From historic experience
you knew how to use your feet for running, kicking.
Now, with no experience,
you learned rapidly to use them for rapid driving.

 

You felt the subtle interaction of clutch and accelerator;
the instant reflex on the brake;
not to mention the ingenious carburettor, always letting you down.
While your hands too
had new things to do.

 

That was a complex evolutionary leap
worth a good million years.
You managed it in a month or two.
Now, as you manoeuvre your metal box
through the city, a thousand decisions must be taken.

 

One after the other, in quick time,
you take the decisions, sitting in the metal box.
Sometimes half a dozen all at once - often when you're feeling dozy.
Small wonder
you slip up now and then.

 

Start of page 61 in the book

 

Small wonder the sleepy children die
crushed under your wheels
or squashed within your metal box.
You needn't feel guilty:
after all you did your best.

 

X

 

This is the Nine O'Clock
World-Wide News.
The wonderful Nine O'Clock
World Wide News.

 

Drink deep, drink deep,
of the World Wide News
the wonderful Nine O'Clock
World Wide News.

 

On the Appenines
a plane crashed, a plane crashed.
Six hundred dead.
(You killed them, you killed them every one!)

 

In the Baltic
a ship burns, a ship burns.
Its crew are trapped
(You fired it, you trapped them every one!)

 

In the Third World
there's famine, there's famine.
Ten thousand starved to death.
(You killed them, you starved them every one!)

 

That was the Nine O'Clock
World Wide News.
At ten o'clock
we'll tell it all again.

 

Start of page 62 in the book

 

Mind you listen in.
You'll want to be sure,
certain beyond doubt,
what you're guilty of today.

 

XI

 

A small boy named Yesukristi
stared at a girl called Maria.
His penis went stiff.
He crept away, knowing it was wrong,
and felt guilty all day.

 

Yesukristi, growing older,
got erections frequently.
He longed to possess Maria, or any girl.
As the juice spurted, he knew it was called lust:
and felt guilty all weak.

 

A charitable uncle
warned him he'd go insane.
His schoolmaster threatened a flogging.
The curate said
save it for your wife.

 

As the winds carried
he never married.

 

Start of page 63 in the book

 

XII

 

This is the word of God - I'm telling you.
This is the word of God - I'm telling you because
I've been taught it.
How do I know it's right?
For a million reasons - life's too short to give them all.


Yes, I know others are telling you different.
Pay no attention.
They're wrong.
They haven't been telling it long.
We Christians go back two thousand years.

 

Never mind the Buddhists; ignore the Hindus; dismiss the Muslims.
Just pay attention to me.
If I'm not authoritative I'm nothing.
Yes - and you can forget the Jews also.
When did you last contribute to the Church's Mission to the Jews?

 

That's the only way you should remember the Jews.
Just sit back and believe - then you'll feel comfortable.
You already feel comfortable on the outside.
Put yourself in my hands and you'll feel comfortable
inside as well.

 

Now I want to talk to you about contraception.
Some say it's a wicked sin to use reliable scientific means
for achieving what you're free to achieve
if you do it inefficiently.
We don't mind inefficiency: it doesn't threaten our belief.

 

Anathema, anathema: on your deathbed I curse you
to everlasting hellfire
for calving and not leading the calf
to be sacrificed on My altar.
No, I can't spare the time to explain Hell to you now.

 

Start of page 64 in the book

 

It must exist: we couldn't have taught the wrong thing
for two thousand years.
Clearly God wouldn't have allowed it.
The tribes of Israel, smitten by hunger, smitten in battle, smitten by disease
needed every able-bodied youth they could raise.

 

If it was true in BC 100
why shouldn't it be true today?
Don't attempt to argue the contrary:
it's heretical -
and we burn heretics.

 

XIII

 

You have to learn virtue
or else it can be programmed.
That's quicker, as well as being more effective:
you'll be taught that by experience very soon.

 

What else can be programmed you ask:
why, everything!
The programmers are more powerful
than ever poor God was.

 

XIV

 

So here's where you make your choice,
you who've been chosen to decide
on behalf of all mankind.
I'm addressing you, Luke, typical Mr Everyman.
We can't let geniuses do it:
they might get it right.

 

Come now Luke, I've given you a few hints
and none too soon:
for the programming's just ready to start.
Your kids are the last generation
to be born of blind chance;
or should I rather say Divine will?

 

Start of page 65 in the book

 

Get a move on Luke, get this into your bourgeois skull
The next generation's going to be programmed!
At least start collecting together a few ideas
for the heir of all the years.
At least decide what genes not to put in the chromosome.
(All that Christian theology might do for a start.)

 

I created Man; stupendous feat: but more
with him I created an enigmatic Capsule.
It lurched about Man's world for millennia.
He never noticed it:
it wasn't his fault.
The life I gave him took up all his time.

 

Think quick; quicker than I designed.
Think fast. No, readily I concur
that's not fair.
I didn't create you to think speedily.
That Capsule though -
didn't you ever guess?

 

It matters not about your guesswork.
This is fact. That Capsule had some day
to be laid open, acted on,
just like a Will and Testament.
So I bequeathed to Man (more potent, far, than any testator he'd known)
within that Capsule, POWER.

 

What power is this you ask? What power is this?
What power, what power is this? What power is this?
Ask away, ask through the centuries!
It is the only power a true Creator gives
the power for you (the creature)
to CREATE!

 

Start of page 66 in the book

 

Nay further, to create more than the first Creator had in mind:
perhaps more than He would have sanctioned
If He had thought
deeply enough.
Such power might light and move our Universe
through all we call Eternity.

 

Luke cries: humbly, brow to rock, I scream;
possessed of knowledge more than I can bear
I scream at the birth pangs of my son,
My only son, my heir and last successor.
Now, son,
CREATE WHAT'S TO SUCCEED MANKIND!