The maniacal cop smothers George Floyd.
The young mother smothers her three children.

What will fail to burn may drown.
What will fail to drown will face pandemic.

A self-wounded nation is slowly strangled
by a deranged demi-despot: “this president.”

How we have evolved! We have evolved now
into the genius of our demise.

Return to the sponge, each sponge
a bound colony of discrete cells
collected in rank and file communities
bound also into a constitution,
unwritten, unspoken, unthought,
by evolution’s gravity urged.

What would the constituents do
with the power of memory
and the opposite urge,
at a mercy like cognition
to disengage each other? return

to the drifting freedom of ancestors?
restore the sub-plankton world,
which accomplished, avoid
the perils of permanent
constitutionally ordained arrangement?

the coral, anemone, jellyfish,
the cnidarian emergence
of poison-dart-sated appetite:
the reef, the beauty of seas . . .

which evolutionary step
not having been taken,

war would be slower, simpler,
relegated to local appetites fulfilled,
and life would not have discovered
the good grace of mourning.

Forward to this smoke-choked afternoon:
dis-evolve only to our last sane moment
and only for the sake of the moments
that may follow, and consider—

Shall we demand freedom
to earn the hard cold durance
to do and honor what we must?

or shall we demand to be taken care of,
condemned, “demanded of a sponge,”
to do willy-nilly what we think we wish? to

take the sad freedom
to live on the killing floor of the reef,
strangling on the stagnant oceans
of our poor device and sickly divisions?

Like the wonders of the reef,
our beauty demands a way
to take in the pure air that once was,

for a moment long enough
to hope for a voice left
willing to gasp
a dirge for Anthropos.

Richard Fenton Sederstrom was raised and lives in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and the North Woods of Minnesota. Sederstrom is the author of seven books of poetry, his newest book, Icarus Rising, Misadventures in Ascension, published by Jackpine Writers' Bloc, was released last winter. Read other articles by Richard Fenton.