Originally written decades ago to depict the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust, and thus warn against taking another step in a direction which led to the inevitable end of everything, this poem of conscience has many further layers, and can also be viewed as a powerful herald alluding to contemporary threats facing the earth.
While not the burning topic that atomic weapons were in the fifties and sixties, the peril they presented then is really as lethal today with arms dealers scavenging the arsenals of the former Soviet Union, the Indian subcontinent in its own nuclear race, and the United States unprecedented invasion of Iraq specifically to target a potential nuclear hazard.
Just as urgently, the poem could be seen as a metaphor for the systematic and relentless destruction of the environment which we witness on so many fronts each and every day.
"The Time of Man"
by Travis Edmonson
It's not nice to speak of troubles
that happen in our time,
Or to mention the contention
that we're slipping as we climb.
But I'd like to take this moment here and now
to share a thought
that might not mean much now,
but later on, might mean a lot.
Think of the house you grew up in,
and the block and the town and the state.
Think of the people you knew there,
and the taste of the food that you ate.
Think of the places you've travelled
and the things that you've seen that were great.
Think of those things that you love right now,
because memory always comes late.
The things that we take for granted
like the sky and our friends and the sea;
Everything that you know that's clean
and everything that's free.
Because all of these things have been frozen in time
and cheated in history.
We're dooming these things to die,
and pretending not to see.
We're ringing down the curtain on life
By ignoring catastrophe.
The sabre tooth tiger, the mastodon and man.
And now, you and I will be known as the link that missed.
Not the missing link.
And what will be left if it comes to that
of the things that we have known?
A molten earth? A shoreless sea?
A powdery dust to be blown out beyond the planets
Where the other dead stars are blown?
Now, think back
to those things we were trying to recall.
And think of those same places and things
without any life at all.
A little rag doll, lying still in the dust.
A guitar in the corner, muted with rust.
A rattling rose bush dead by the door,
A half-broken comb grinning up from the floor.
A paper-strewn floor, shifting round in the wind,
half covered with glass where the windows blew in.
A ghost town where there was once money and mirth?
No, this is what's come to be called a ghost earth.
From the drama of world cataclysm, Travis Edmonson considers the softer subject of spiritual refreshment.
Read his poem
and see more Travis poetry links at top right
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