Prey, 1 million BC


Strip away cities and houses and walls;
strip away electricity and shopping malls.
Remove gears and machines

more complicated
than a rock on a stick.
Take away pencil, paper and book.
Forget the wheel, medicine and gun,
Forget having enough to eat,
And climb into trees to sleep.

Strip away comforts in crowds,
Cancel the tools that
made us destroyers of worlds.

Go back to the time of Caligula
then fly before iron tools, tile floors, empire.

Strip away 90,000 years,
100,000, then more
all the way back to
when we were food for those
that slipped through the night
sniffed
under the trees, or eyed
the campfire and caves where we hid

Half-naked and small,
starving, furtive,
huddled around the fire,
sharpened sticks and rocks within reach,
telling quiet jokes to break the tension,
teasing the young one’s nerves,
but living hushed lives,
every ear listening for the whisper of a big cat
chuckling and mumbling with hunger
just outside the circle of light.

How many of us will blunt the beast’s attack?
Will it find me first, or you?
Will our sharpened sticks and stone knives be enough?
This night goes on and on,
An owl call somewhere in the dark,
Something rustles a bush.
Some sleep and some watch,
seeing in the fires’ embers the fiery

memory of the awful relief of the sunrise,
will it come again?–
listening through the hours of darkness,
feeding wood to the fire,
praying the embers will somehow
reignite the blaze of morning
before hunger drives the cat
past the fire.
We are powerless and afraid.
Every night it is so,
watching the embers,
listening for what might be there
not sure if the morning will come.

Before we became Death, the
destroyer of worlds.