What There’s Too Much Of: You Decide

We’ve got too many
people and too much
carbon dioxide—both
the result of mating.
Corporations who make things

prefer making things
with machines
not people. People want
health benefits and pensions
and food. Machines
want only food: carbon
their favorite meal.
In the machine bellies
carbon and air copulate.
(No one is watching!)
Gut full with birth
the machines burp babies
christened Carbon Dioxide.
Gut empty

people take what pleasure they can,
make more
people. Happy

to be the machines’ prodigal child,
bratty and spoiled
carbon dioxide refuses
to allow the sun’s heat
to return to the sky.
Carbon dioxide wants
all the love the sun gives
close, all for itself. The hot

earth itches from the heat,
desperate for relief
burns sticks and melts ice.
Water floods the vegetable patch
where the potato the gut-empty people
wanted to eat drowns. Fire
burns the gut-empty people’s houses.
Hooray, shouts

carbon dioxide, Dead
people! Less competition!
The machines get

all the jobs. Mountains
of garments pile up
spit out
by the machines’ mouths

but there’s no one
to wear them.

Leslie Lytle’s poems have appeared in The Carolina Quarterly, The Georgia Review, Literary Review, New England Review and elsewhere. In her novel Chicken Stock (Hedgehog and Fox, 2015), a young woman desperate to save the family farm battles corporate agriculture. In Execution’s Doorstep (nonfiction, University Press of New England, 2008) five innocent men struggle against a system that wants to execute them for crimes they didn’t commit—“in real life, the true hell just might be inside the heads of the innocent men behind bars.” (Playboy, Nov. 2008). She works as a reporter for the Sewanee Mountain Messenger. Read other articles by Leslie.