Poems by Jan Steckel

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Bat Cataclysm

by Jan Steckel

From Canary Spring 2010

Jan lives between Peralta Creek and Courtland Creek in the East Creek watershed, between the Hayward Fault and San Francisco Bay.

Amphibians disappear from Panama:
delicate frogs, insides visible
through green glass skin;
clawed toads whose eggs erupt
out of blisters on their backs.
Salamanders dance out of the century.

Bats die en masse in hibernaculae,
huge caverns where they’ve slept
fifty million winters
until now. Today, walk across
layers of dead bats on the cave floor.
Tiny bones crunch like black snow.

Avocados evolved to be gulped
by extinct herbivores huge enough
to swallow the pits whole.
The American pronghorn
races sixty miles per hour
from a predator no longer there.

Nobody on the continent
runs that fast anymore.
The mongoose is closer
to the walrus than the rat.
Who knows how we got
from that to this.

Like the dinosaur-killing meteor,
we’re the bat cataclysm,
the amphibian apocalypse.
We’re the four horsemen
galloping toward a future
that is no longer there.

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