Tomorrow’s Table

I’m healthy and wealthy; I’ve outgrown my past;
When I need to lose weight, I can diet or fast;
Starvation is not in the lot I’ve been cast—
My perspective is clearly not skewed.
I can buy the best produce they’ve managed to breed,
Have it shipped to my doorstep with mind-boggling speed;
In a world of such plenty, I don’t see the need
For genetically modified food

We can learn about foods from the Frankenstein myth
And distill what we know into substance and pith:
It’s much safer, our going without food than with
If the food isn’t natural, like mine
Some time in the future, we might pay the price
For life-saving products like GMO rice
(Of course the poor love it, but we can think twice—
Our neglect will be purely benign!)

Concerned about pesticides used to grow cotton?
The GE varieties best be forgotten;
We want, after all, to show people how rotten
Such produce can be for the Earth
The civilized buyer will treat as pariah,
The virus-resistant new strains of papaya,
A slap in the face of our dear Mother Gaia,
Despite how the poor see its worth

Of course, there’s a view, if you’re willing to learn,
Where the rest of humanity’s still our concern—
Even those who don’t make what us comfy folk earn,
But who still do the best they are able—
If you’re part of the planet (it seems so to me)
And look all around you, and find you agree
With John Donne, when he noted the bell tolls for thee…
There’s a seat here, for you, at the table.

I have noticed a pattern. You may have seen, our historically incredibly good health has allowed the fortunate members of our culture, the beneficiaries of decades of vaccination, sanitation, medication, and other ations, to wax eloquent of the virtues of a romanticized past, and to forego vaccines or other procedures that our grandparents would have viewed as miraculous. Our affluence, essentially, has allowed us to forget our very recent past, and to make stupid decisions without the consequences those same decisions would have led to not long ago.

Similarly, our affluence with regard to diet has similarly allowed us the privilege of choosing options which are simply impossible for most of the world. The problem is, we are forcing our blinkered views on others who are not so privileged as we are. The unvaccinated child is victim of a privileged parent’s ignorance (as are the child’s friends). The poor consumers may be victim of the privileged consumers’ natural food fetish, if the latter can bend regulations to their will. Myths of frankenfoods don’t match the actual safety record, but may be enough to hinder their development in a world where food is not nearly so easy to come by as it is for, well, me.

Scary graphics and bullet points make compelling viewing; “GM foods shown to be safe–film at eleven!” will have people asleep by 10:59. Unless. Unless you are one of those who needs drought-resistant crops. Or cares about pesticide and fertilizer runoff killing the fish you need to eat. Or whose life is changed by biofortified Golden rice. But those people are not watching TV, so they can be safely ignored. And we all know, a problem that isn’t in your own back yard, isn’t really a problem at all.

Oh, Oprah!

Just how wonderful is Oprah?
We may never know for sure;
Any scientific answer
Is, at this point, premature–
Oprah borders on angelic;
She’s a miracle, it’s true!
She’s beyond the realm of science
Or what scientists can view.

Just how awesome is her intellect?
How sensitive her soul?
How delicate her energies,
Which no one can control–
Can her viewers’ admiration
Make the world a better place?
Is her heart so big it really can
Be seen from outer space?

Does she really know The Secret
Is the cure for all your ills?
Will she tell you modern medicine’s
The one that really kills?
Will she take responsibility
For those who die of cancer?
Is there any depth she will not go?
We’ll never know the answer.

Context: Here, here, and especially here.

My First Review!

The new book, and the gorgeous mug from CafePress.

Reader Joan comments here:

Move over Dawkins..

Missed the book sale by one day
But I love it anyway
It would certainly be gold at any price.
Boxed shrink packaging is great.
This book will not meet the fate
Of poor handling here. You need not roll the dice

Three hundred forty poems plus one
This book promises much fun
And the content has included added spice.
There are illustrations, ten
(Cephalopodic, never men)
And the photo plates are way more than nice.

There’s no space here to reveal
The great depth of its appeal,
Humor, irony, a palatable screed.
But it passed my final litmus
I don’t have to wait for Xmas
To open up this truly perfect read.

Wow! This is just an amazing magnum opus. The volume, variety and quality of the poems stun me and I’m astounded at what a great job LuLu did with it. No ratty newprintish stock. The cover, the layout, and the quality of the paper are indistinguishable from expensive college texts. And, oh yes, It’s just as funny as hell. ( Should one believe that it exists and that there is anything to laugh about down there.)


One small correction–it’s actually not 341 poems; it’s 244 (if I counted correctly), but well over 300 pages of actual content (plus the foreword and table of contents and that sort of thing). Still, that’s less than a dime a poem–try and get that sort of deal with any other cephalopod!

Joan is right, though–I just got my own copies yesterday, and it really looks great. It shocked me to see just how much there is here (and yeah, I wrote it and put it together, so if anyone should have known better…). It’s considerably more substantial than I was anticipating, and I had honestly forgotten just how good some of this stuff is. I’ve had a great time putting this collection together and revisiting some of the old verses, but it is soooo much nicer to have in a book than to scroll back through pages on this blog.

Thank you, Joan! Enjoy it in good health!

Making A (Nativity) Scene

It’s Donohue’s proclivity
To protest progressivity
He’ll make a scene (nativity)
Predictably, each year—
The atheists’ activity
Regarding his festivity
Is pure insensitivity—
Just let him bend your ear.

A war on Christianity
By atheist humanity—
The harshest of profanity,
The godless at their worst!
His writing, though, is vanity
That borders on insanity
So silly, its inanity
Is what we notice first.

Oh, my. According to CNN’s “belief blog“, Bill Donohue has taken it upon himself (read: pleaded for donations from gullible and fearful combatants in the War FOR Christmas) to take the high road:

This supposedly peaceful time of year has the capacity to create tension – Christmas light rivalries and fights over whether religious decorations should adorn government spaces.

But the conservative Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights says it is just trying to spread holiday cheer by sending nativity scenes to governors in all 50 states.

In a letter last month, the Catholic League told governors and their chiefs of staff that the nativities were on their way and suggested they be displayed in capitol rotundas.

Just trying to spread holiday cheer. That’s all. Nothing paranoid about that. Oops, their slip is showing:

The Catholic League says its campaign is meant to counter what it calls “militant atheists.” The group is erecting a life-sized nativity scene in Central Park on December 16. The world’s largest menorah is currently on display there.

“We’re taking the moral high road,” says a statement on the group’s website. “The atheists are out in force this year trying to neuter Christmas. While a few of their efforts are benign… most are predictably hostile.”

The “militant” and “hostile” atheists have committed such atrocities as… erect billboards. Clearly, the pendulum has swung far enough that Donohue’s plea for the demolition of the first amendment. It’s only fair.

Disaster At The Creationist Theme Park

Our day at the park
Having fun on the ark
Will begin as we stroll up the ramp
With the mammals and dino’s
And strange hellifino’s
And all of it, gaudy and camp

There are creatures in twos
Like the grandest of zoos
Some in cages for people to see
Some are plastic, of course,
Like the odd “Jesus horse”
You can ride on (just children!) for free

With the tour guide explaining
It soon will start raining—
It’s best that we get through the doors
And with thunder and lightning
More piped-in than frightening
The skies open up, and it pours

It isn’t surprising
The water starts rising
With rivers obscuring the ground
We’re on board! We’re the winners!
We laugh at the sinners
Outside, who are there to be drowned.

Some electrical junction
Is bound to malfunction;
The waters continue to rise—
Now it’s panic and screaming
(Please tell me we’re dreaming!)
On board, we can hear all the cries

Now the water is rushing,
The pipes are still gushing,
We realize, we’re really afloat!
Like the Genesis story
We share in the glory
And ride in the biblical boat

Though it’s ill-built and creaky,
Substantially leaky,
We ought to be fine for a while
And although we’re all stuck
We rejoice in our luck
And we look at each other and smile.

Soon the still-rising tides
Means the screaming subsides
From the folks who did not get on board
And we know that God willed
That these people be killed
So we all praise the works of Our Lord

As the day turns to night
With no rescue in sight
Our exhaustion will drive us to sleep
Though the children are wary
Cos darkness is scary
And the lions are eating the sheep

So we all sleep in shifts
As our giant bed drifts
And there’s still not a star in the sky
Soon the sun will arrive
And we’re mostly alive
And if not, then God wants us to die.

At the whim of the weather
We huddle together
As carnivores roam through the decks
And we learned within hours
The stench overpowers—
Of feces, of death, and of sex

When the rain finally ceases
We pick up the pieces
And head to the top deck, for sun,
Where the clean-smelling breezes
Sweep by (thank you Jesus!)
And we kneel down and pray, every one!

As we float, we survey
The remains of the day
From our vantage above, on the ark
Where our neighbors and friends
Met their untimely ends
With the visitors there at the park

And we bow heads, and praise
God’s mysterious ways—
Our friends’ bodies have now begun bloating
And as plump as you please
They rise up through the seas
All disfigured and blue, they are floating

All the husbands and wives,
Little children whose lives
Were destroyed by their callous Creator
While we’re safe on the ark
Cos we chose to embark
A bit sooner, and not a bit later

There was water to drink
But it’s starting to stink
And starvation’s its own form of hell
But the hunger and thirst
Isn’t even the worst—
More than that, is the horrible smell

The miasma which flows
Though you cover your nose
Overwhelms you, and just never ends
And the worst of it all
This olfactory pall
Is the smell of our neighbors and friends

We float day after day
As around us, decay
And disease take a toll on our minds;
And our bodies grow weak
As around us, unspeak-
able horrors are all that one finds

In the decks down below
Where we never dare go
There is carnage like never before;
Most the mammals are gone
But the beetles live on
As they feast on the filth and the gore

There are maggots and flies
Which is no great surprise
In the dung and the foul, rancid meat
But up top, it is grim
Cos the pickings are slim
And there’s nothing for humans to eat

If we haven’t quite died
When the waters subside
We’ll praise God, and we won’t think to sue
Sure, it’s horribly cruel
But we learned, at home school
That what’s right is what Yahweh would do

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