The Destiny of Us
The Destiny of Us
Fenton Johnson / April 2011
Oyez, oyez! Rise and hail!
Bush wren, emu, crake and rail,
Moa, parakeet, and chat,
Puffleg, chiffchaff, after that
An aged passenger is sat.
With the dodo, twelve’s complete,
Ivory bill may take his seat
In jurisprudent black.
In the docket, insolent,
Man and woman, unrepent.
Smooth-skinned bags of blood and sass –
What fool would defend our past?
Only pigeon’s left at hand
To justify the ways of man.
Objection raised –“rock dove” requested,
As “pigeon” is contempt-invested.
Hoots and trills until the Wood
Accepts the change, as well he should,
Knocks his bill against the daïs,
Calls the witnesses to places.
Evidence is scrutinized,
Gathered by the airborne spies,
Sparrows, starlings, grackles too –
They’ve been taking notes on you.
All that noise you thought was fuss?
Clandestine warblers watching us.
Every action marked and rated,
All injustice tabulated.
Condor prosecutor bows,
Raising high her wrinkled brows.
Life divides in homelands three,
Terra firma, sky and sea.
For Earth it once had been so planned
To be the paradise of man.
And yet man would not be content
With that for which they had been sent
And must begin to throw their shit
On fowl and fellow resident.
For this they should not be forgiven
Nor now, nor ever once be shriven
But left to wallow in their waste,
The gall of their own filth to taste.
Ignorance makes no amends.
Consider this, my feathered friends –
That justice may in fact be done.
For those who gave no quarter
Should be receiving none.
The turning earth, a window bright,
Illuminates the rock dove’s flight.
From far remove the sun’s long reach
Spotlights the gray defender’s speech.
For now the courtroom is aglow,
The rock dove struts – her feathers show
The question’s iridescent heart.
Heart-breaking, Condor, from the beak
Of one who knows whereof she speaks.
But some among us understand
That man is part of some big plan.
Who said it all had to make sense?
Life is its only recompense,
An order that o’er all presides,
In which it’s foolish to take sides.
Covetous of friend and neighbor,
For all we’re given, they must labor,
Even joy, so freely had —
They must practice to be glad.
Their compensation for this pain?
Too much capacity of brain.
One wonders at the Mighty’s plan
In making such a thing as man.
But condemnation’s a mistake
Judgment is not ours to make.
Mercy is not strain’d to fall
But comes like grace to one and all.
If they were each judged by their flaws
They’d all be bound for hellish maws.
Fellow prisoners of travail
And wonder, too – we shall prevail
Only if we learn to shrive
In hopes that they will learn to live.
Divorce themselves from price and wealth
Live only for the sake of health.
Begin each morning with a bow
Grateful for the here and now.
No need to puzzle or predict
The feathered courtroom’s wise verdict,
Or what their sentence was about –
Our time is here. We live it out.