Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Morning

It is christmas morning at cuttlehouse. I am the only one awake at the moment, aside from the cats who woke me. Years ago, by this time, our young children would have been whispering excitedly back and forth from their rooms, eager to pounce on their presents. Christmas morning was magic for them, and because of that, it was magic for us.

This year, the Cuttlekids are back from college. Sleeping in holds more appeal than the early start on presents. But they are both here, and so there is a new sort of christmas magic for me. Perhaps in a few more years, the cycle will repeat itself. For now, I am enjoying this calmer, quieter magic.

Happy Christmas to all of you, too. I hope it is a good day for you. We all could use a few of those, I'm sure.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Nope, Didn't Work (It Never Works)

Hush-a-bye puppy
Here on the bed
No need for barking
Lay down your head
I know it’s scary
When everything’s dark
But Daddy’s still grading,
Puppy, don’t bark!

On the plus side, no burglar will ever come within 50 feet of the house without the dogs barking their heads off. On the minus side, I will have habituated to this barking, and will sleep soundly while the burglar relieves us of our valuables. On the plus side, we have no valuables. On the minus side, we have no valuables.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Life Everlasting

There are promises made of a life everlasting,
Though first we bid this one good-bye,
Of a feast up in heaven we all will be tasting—
I’m happily waiting to die.

There is beauty around me—I choose to ignore it—
To heaven I’m casting my eye;
Though heathens fear death, I am eagerly for it
I’m happily waiting to die.

The atheist folks are so angry and bitter
As heaven itself they deny
They fight against death; I am gladly a quitter;
I’m happily waiting to die.

They see beauty on earth, or they look through the Hubble
At galaxies strewn through the sky,
What a miserable lot—why, it’s not worth the trouble—
I’m happily waiting to die.

When loved ones pass on, why, the atheists grieve them
I can’t for a moment see why;
There are stories of heaven—why can’t they believe them?
I’m happily waiting to die.

The atheists all must be daft or deluded
They listen to me and they sigh
I’ve looked—not around, but inside, and concluded
I’m happily waiting to die.

You know, it doesn't take much translation to turn a perfectly ordinary sermon into the rants of Jim Jones, Charles Manson, or Marshall Applewhite. "Life everlasting", that extraordinary reward that comes after this miserable existence here on earth, sounds so wonderful. Golly gosh, let's all go gentle into that dark night!

Except, it's not just a lie, it's an insult. My brother died this year; are his daughters supposed to be happy that their daddy is in an even better life now than the mundane one he stumbled through with them? How much happier he must be, lounging around adoring a deity instead of working in the garden with them.

No wonder people like Tim Moyle find that all atheists are angry. I suppose if horseflies or mosquitos were to describe humans in one word, it would be "slappy".

Maybe Moyle isn't bitter, himself... but he's a carrier.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It's Tough To Be Christian (At Christmastime)

It’s tough to be Christian, when Christmastime comes,
What with Santa, and reindeer, and elves,
With other religions, or secular folks,
And people who think for themselves

The Christian religion has changed, over time,
And it makes us all anxious as hell,
When the season arrives, and it’s not just for us,
But for other religions as well!

My neighbors are having their holiday feast
And it’s making me angry to see—
Devoutly expressing their deeply felt faith…
But a different religion than me!

The Christian majority’s under attack,
When the holidays force us to share—
We need recognition that’s Christian alone;
Without it, we don’t have a prayer.

Oh, yes, Christmas is a tough time for believers, according to the New York Times' Ross Douthat, in December 20th's op-ed
Christmas is hard for everyone. But it’s particularly hard for people who actually believe in it.
Mind you, that depends on what your definition of "it" is. I love christmas, but I doubt that I believe in the same christmas as Douthat, or he in mine.
In a sense, of course, there’s no better time to be a Christian than the first 25 days of December. But this is also the season when American Christians can feel most embattled. Their piety is overshadowed by materialist ticky-tack. Their great feast is compromised by Christmukkwanzaa multiculturalism. And the once-a-year churchgoers crowding the pews beside them are a reminder of how many Americans regard religion as just another form of midwinter entertainment, wedged in between “The Nutcracker” and “Miracle on 34th Street.”

These anxieties can be overdrawn, and they’re frequently turned to cynical purposes. (Think of the annual “war on Christmas” drumbeat, or last week’s complaints from Republican senators about the supposed “sacrilege” of keeping Congress in session through the holiday.) But they also reflect the peculiar and complicated status of Christian faith in American life. Depending on the angle you take, Christianity is either dominant or under siege, ubiquitous or marginal, the strongest religion in the country or a waning and increasingly archaic faith.
Oddly enough, it doesn't bother me at all that Douthat celebrates as he does, or believes as he does. But it does seem to bother him that I, an atheist, have a christmas tree, with christmas presents underneath it, and christmas cookies, and songs, poems, traditions, and the like, and not a bit of it dependent on Douthat's notions of Christmas. And I suspect that, if he ever actually got the chance to read my blog, he'd have noticed if I had written "Xmas" instead of "Christmas", but thought nothing of the odd term "Christmukkwanzaa", since demeaning terms for other traditions are fine.

Yes, it's tough to be a christian at christmastime.

Monday, December 20, 2010

It Works, Bitches

When we battle slings and arrows
And the path before us narrows
Or when shock or illness harrows
Us, and bedrock yaws and pitches
Though we battle against giants,
We find aid, in our defiance,
When we use the tools of science—
Why? Because they work, bitches.

(click to embiggen!)
(image from XKCD, of course)

At least three times a week, my first stop (after letting the dogs out and making coffee) is XKCD. My guess is, the vast majority of my readers do the same (unless, of course, they don't have dogs). But in case you hadn't checked yet, here it is, once again with a message as simple yet powerful as those stick figure drawings. If you are a regular follower, you'll recognize "this illness" as having particular poignance this time. After this year, I can relate.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

When Johnny Comes Marching Home

As published in 1863...

When Johnny comes marching home again
Hurrah! Hurrah!
We'll give him a hearty welcome then
Hurrah! Hurrah!
The men will cheer and the boys will shout
The ladies they will all turn out
And we'll all feel gay
When Johnny comes marching home.

The old church bell will peal with joy
Hurrah! Hurrah!
To welcome home our darling boy,
Hurrah! Hurrah!
The village lads and lassies say
With roses they will strew the way,
And we'll all feel gay
When Johnny comes marching home.

Get ready for the Jubilee,
Hurrah! Hurrah!
We'll give the hero three times three,
Hurrah! Hurrah!
The laurel wreath is ready now
To place upon his loyal brow
And we'll all feel gay
When Johnny comes marching home.

Let love and friendship on that day,
Hurrah, hurrah!
Their choicest pleasures then display,
Hurrah, hurrah!
And let each one perform some part,
To fill with joy the warrior's heart,
And we'll all feel gay
When Johnny comes marching home.

So, after the Senate's vote last night, I was toying around with a couple of different potential verses (may still work one of them out), including possibly re-working some traditional song. This one came to mind, and I thought about either writing one with a modern, gay Johnny, or perhaps one with John McCain as Johnny (Republicans will whine and pout, that no-one ought to serve while out"), and I realized I needed to take a look at the original lyrics.

They were already perfect.

Amazing what a change of context can do. So, yeah--let love and friendship on this day their choicest pleasures now display! This is a good day for anyone who actually cares about equal rights.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Your Brain On God? (What, Again?)

Add oomph to your writing;
Make science exciting—
Cos everyone loves a nice scan!
Make “neurotheology
Look like biology—
Look! It’s the brain of a man!
Both god-contemplation
And deep meditation
Show frontal-lobe action, it seems;
But scanning a brain
Doesn’t really explain
All that neurotheology dreams.
Whether fishers of men
Or seekers of zen,
In the scan, we can see what we wish;
But now, let’s examine
The brain of a salmon
Is there god in the head of a fish?

From NPR again, a story that combines some of the things I really really hate about the new, sexy machines that neuroscientists can use. A mediocre study that might not get a second glance gets gussied up with a brain scan or two, and suddenly it's cutting edge science. Humbug. What's more, a brain image, even an image of a brain at work, is a snapshot. Brains are not snapshots. Looking at a scan of the function of a number of adult brains really tells us very little about what those brains are doing, and tells us nothing at all about what sort of history led to the activity seen today.

The researchers found an increase in frontal lobe activity during meditation.
"They had improvements of about 10 or 15 percent," [Dr. Andrew] Newberg [director of research at the Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University and Hospital in Philadelphia] says. "This is only after eight weeks at 12 minutes a day, so you can imagine what happens in people who are deeply religious and spiritual and are doing these practices for hours a day for years and years."
Yes, imagine. You'll have to, because the study did nothing of the sort. In fact, brain scans of experts (say, for instance, in chess) show less activity than novices, arguably because they are so good that there is less actual effort expended. So, can we assume that 8 weeks of practice can be extrapolated to a lifetime? I don't know. Frankly, I don't much care; others can be interested in what's going on in the brain--I'm more interested in what's going on in the interaction between the individual and their environment over the years that shape them. The brain is not the "why"--the brain is part of the "how".

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I Can See Myself (Polluting) In My Sparkling Dishes!

The bloom in the river is turning it green
And it’s killing off all of the fishes,
The river is dying, tree-huggers are crying,
But Mabel, just look at my dishes!

They sparkle! They glimmer! They’re spotlessly clean!
They’re as gorgeous as gorgeous can be!
The scientists may see the cause of the bloom,
I see a reflection of me!

We used to find perch here, and big rainbow trout,
Now it’s carp, gulping air as they spawn;
It’s ugly, so turn your gaze elsewhere, and look
At my beautiful, beautiful lawn!

It’s lush and it’s leafy, it’s weed-free and dense,
A most wonderful deep shade of green;
Sure the chemicals cost a bit more to apply,
But the sacrifice works, as you’ve seen!

The rivers and lakes, and the oceans as well
Are polluted with all sorts of ooze,
From shipwrecks and oil spills and who all knows what—
We’ve watched it each night on the news—

We’ve got to do something! It really looks bad!
This pollution is truly obscene!
But our dishes, our laundry, our car and our lawn,
We’ve been doing our part to keep clean!

From NPR, a story today on why your dishes aren't as sparkling clean as they used to be. Turns out, it's not your fault. Dishwashing detergent has been reformulated, without phosphates.
This was supposed to be good for waterways. But it turned a simple chore into a frustrating mystery for many people across the country.

A couple of months ago, Sandra Young from Vernon, Fla., started to notice that something was seriously amiss with her dishes.

"The pots and pans were gray, the aluminum was starting to turn black, the glasses had fingerprints and lip prints still on them, and they were starting to get this powdery look to them," Vernon says. "I'm like, oh, my goodness, my dishwasher must be dying, I better get a new dishwasher."

Young's not alone. Many people across the country are tearing out their hair over stained flatware, filmy glasses and ruined dishes.
But this is NPR, so I'm sure the story will remind us that phosphates contribute to algal blooms, and show this obsession over sparkling dishes for the vanity it is. Right?
But dirty and damaged dishes are turning many people into skeptics, including Wright.

"I'm angry at the people who decided that phosphate was growing algae. I'm not sure that I believe that," [Sue] Wright [from Austin, Texas] adds.
Um... skeptics? Those who require evidence? NPR, the word you were looking for was "pinheads". But I'm sure there will be a scientist speaking soon, to set Wright... er, right.
Susan Baba from Procter and Gamble says the company had no choice. It just wasn't feasible to make detergent with phosphates for some states and without them for others.

"You know, this isn't really a huge environmental win," she says.

That's because phosphates are wonder ingredients. They not only strip food and grease from dishes but also prevent crud from getting reattached during the wash. So she says without phosphates, people have to wash or rinse their dishes before they put them in the dishwasher, which wastes water. Or they run their dishwasher twice, which wastes electricity.
I'm sure an industry spokeswoman is unbiased, though. Who needs scientists to speak for the science?

Anyway, you just know that NPR (NPR!) will close by chastising the people who are more concerned with seeing their reflections in their dishes than seeing the pollution they are dumping into the ecosystem. Never put your outhouse upstream from your well, and all that. Right, NPR?
But not everyone is willing to adjust. Sandra Young figured out a way to undo the phosphate ban — at least in her own kitchen.

She bought some trisodium phosphate at a hardware store and started mixing her own formula.

"It seems to be working pretty good," Young says.

Other people have given up on their machines altogether and are washing dishes by hand. But some are switching to other brands and making peace with phosphate-free detergents.
Thanks, NPR--I never would have thought of that! I'll just pop right out to the hardware store, and my problem is solved! It's now the problem of the people (and other organisms) who live downstream.

Funny thing about an ecosystem. We're all downstream. Thanks, NPR.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Hang Stockings, Hang Mistletoe... Hang An Elf?

Photo source

The war against Christmas has taken a turn
With the hanging of one of the elves—
No need for a godless opponent, we learn,
The Christians can fight it themselves!

For some, any elf is the work of the Devil—
It’s Satan, not Santa, at play
He’s not making toys; he’s distributing evil
And needs to be hanged right away!

We’ve all hung our stockings, and mistletoe too,
But an elf is a new one on me!
But pastor Jon Knudsen knew just what to do,
So he hanged it, for children to see!

For Christmas is sacred, and solemn, and sad,
So we’re killing off Santa, forthwith!
And the lesson, this season, is “God will get mad,
So you’d better believe the right myth!”

I couldn't have made up this story; it boggles the imagination. Santa and the elves are the Devil's work. This we already knew, but what are ya gonna do? Pastor Knudsen did what the rest of us can only wish we had the courage to do; he hanged an elf.

Let me repeat that: He hanged an elf.

The war on Christmas is not fought from without; it is fought from within. What could possibly kill Christmas? Taking it seriously, that's what could kill it.

Think of the children (won't somebody, please?)--little Bjorn has a choice between a Santa Claus who brings him presents, or "the truth about christmas" for which a pastor hanged an elf. Game over, man. The believers have scored, but it's an own goal.

The good news?
The executed elf was originally supposed to remain hanging from the church until Sunday, and the church had set up a night watch in order to prevent it from being stolen.

One offended resident took action Monday afternoon while no one was watching, however, and pulled down the elf. He left a message with the pastor that the elf was being “kept safe until after the New Year”.

Knudsen reported the theft to the police, and the culprit confessed. The police, however, refused to press charges, stating that their “caseload was too heavy to make investigating theft of a stuffed toy elf a priority”.
Cuttlecap tip to Noadi, via twitter.

Friday, December 10, 2010

On Freedom Of Speech

Freedom of speech offends me
And I hope it always will,
Till the sun explodes, or worlds collide,
Or hands of time stand still.
If I hate what you are saying
And you hate my words as well
That’s the way we know it’s working,
Or as far as I can tell.
You are free to be offensive,
Rude and crude and vile and mean—
It’s a radical idea,
But the best I’ve ever seen.

Strange... someone was looking for a particular verse of mine last night, and couldn't find it. Looking through my computer files around the date in question, I found this one, which google tells me I never posted anywhere. Not here as a post, nor anywhere else as a comment. Not terribly surprising--I wrote it the morning my brother died, in the time when we were still optimistic that he'd recover. I know there have been times I've started on a verse, then set it aside when, say, the dog needed walking. I wonder how many orphaned poems there are on various computer drives (including dead drives) scattered around my life-space.

What with the WikiLeaks stuff going on, freedom of speech is being tested in a different way--not so much offensive speech, as speech that a person or party in power does not want to be made public. But I'll put this verse up today anyway, and you can probably guess my stance on today's issue as well.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Tomorrow's Table

I’m healthy and wealthy; I’ve outgrown my past;
When I need to lose weight, I can diet or fast;
Starvation is not in the lot I’ve been cast—
My perspective is clearly not skewed.
I can buy the best produce they’ve managed to breed,
Have it shipped to my doorstep with mind-boggling speed;
In a world of such plenty, I don’t see the need
For genetically modified food

We can learn about foods from the Frankenstein myth
And distill what we know into substance and pith:
It’s much safer, our going without food than with
If the food isn’t natural, like mine
Some time in the future, we might pay the price
For life-saving products like GMO rice
(Of course the poor love it, but we can think twice—
Our neglect will be purely benign!)

Concerned about pesticides used to grow cotton?
The GE varieties best be forgotten;
We want, after all, to show people how rotten
Such produce can be for the Earth
The civilized buyer will treat as pariah,
The virus-resistant new strains of papaya,
A slap in the face of our dear Mother Gaia,
Despite how the poor see its worth

Of course, there’s a view, if you’re willing to learn,
Where the rest of humanity’s still our concern—
Even those who don’t make what us comfy folk earn,
But who still do the best they are able—
If you’re part of the planet (it seems so to me)
And look all around you, and find you agree
With John Donne, when he noted the bell tolls for thee…
There’s a seat here, for you, at the table.

I have noticed a pattern. You may have seen, our historically incredibly good health has allowed the fortunate members of our culture, the beneficiaries of decades of vaccination, sanitation, medication, and other ations, to wax eloquent of the virtues of a romanticized past, and to forego vaccines or other procedures that our grandparents would have viewed as miraculous. Our affluence, essentially, has allowed us to forget our very recent past, and to make stupid decisions without the consequences those same decisions would have led to not long ago.

Similarly, our affluence with regard to diet has similarly allowed us the privilege of choosing options which are simply impossible for most of the world. The problem is, we are forcing our blinkered views on others who are not so privileged as we are. The unvaccinated child is victim of a privileged parent's ignorance (as are the child's friends). The poor consumers may be victim of the privileged consumers' natural food fetish, if the latter can bend regulations to their will. Myths of frankenfoods don't match the actual safety record, but may be enough to hinder their development in a world where food is not nearly so easy to come by as it is for, well, me.

Scary graphics and bullet points make compelling viewing; "GM foods shown to be safe--film at eleven!" will have people asleep by 10:59. Unless. Unless you are one of those who needs drought-resistant crops. Or cares about pesticide and fertilizer runoff killing the fish you need to eat. Or whose life is changed by biofortified Golden rice. But those people are not watching TV, so they can be safely ignored. And we all know, a problem that isn't in your own back yard, isn't really a problem at all.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Oh, Oprah!

Just how wonderful is Oprah?
We may never know for sure;
Any scientific answer
Is, at this point, premature--
Oprah borders on angelic;
She's a miracle, it's true!
She's beyond the realm of science
Or what scientists can view.

Just how awesome is her intellect?
How sensitive her soul?
How delicate her energies,
Which no one can control--
Can her viewers' admiration
Make the world a better place?
Is her heart so big it really can
Be seen from outer space?

Does she really know The Secret
Is the cure for all your ills?
Will she tell you modern medicine's
The one that really kills?
Will she take responsibility
For those who die of cancer?
Is there any depth she will not go?
We'll never know the answer.

Context: Here, here, and especially here.

My First Review!

The new book, and the gorgeous mug from CafePress.

Reader Joan comments here:
Move over Dawkins..

Missed the book sale by one day
But I love it anyway
It would certainly be gold at any price.
Boxed shrink packaging is great.
This book will not meet the fate
Of poor handling here. You need not roll the dice

Three hundred forty poems plus one
This book promises much fun
And the content has included added spice.
There are illustrations, ten
(Cephalopodic, never men)
And the photo plates are way more than nice.

There’s no space here to reveal
The great depth of its appeal,
Humor, irony, a palatable screed.
But it passed my final litmus
I don’t have to wait for Xmas
To open up this truly perfect read.

Wow! This is just an amazing magnum opus. The volume, variety and quality of the poems stun me and I’m astounded at what a great job LuLu did with it. No ratty newprintish stock. The cover, the layout, and the quality of the paper are indistinguishable from expensive college texts. And, oh yes, It’s just as funny as hell. ( Should one believe that it exists and that there is anything to laugh about down there.)

One small correction--it's actually not 341 poems; it's 244 (if I counted correctly), but well over 300 pages of actual content (plus the foreword and table of contents and that sort of thing). Still, that's less than a dime a poem--try and get that sort of deal with any other cephalopod!

Joan is right, though--I just got my own copies yesterday, and it really looks great. It shocked me to see just how much there is here (and yeah, I wrote it and put it together, so if anyone should have known better...). It's considerably more substantial than I was anticipating, and I had honestly forgotten just how good some of this stuff is. I've had a great time putting this collection together and revisiting some of the old verses, but it is soooo much nicer to have in a book than to scroll back through pages on this blog.

Thank you, Joan! Enjoy it in good health!

Monday, December 06, 2010

Making A (Nativity) Scene

It’s Donohue’s proclivity
To protest progressivity
He’ll make a scene (nativity)
Predictably, each year—
The atheists’ activity
Regarding his festivity
Is pure insensitivity—
Just let him bend your ear.

A war on Christianity
By atheist humanity—
The harshest of profanity,
The godless at their worst!
His writing, though, is vanity
That borders on insanity
So silly, its inanity
Is what we notice first.

Oh, my. According to CNN's "belief blog", Bill Donohue has taken it upon himself (read: pleaded for donations from gullible and fearful combatants in the War FOR Christmas) to take the high road:
This supposedly peaceful time of year has the capacity to create tension - Christmas light rivalries and fights over whether religious decorations should adorn government spaces.

But the conservative Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights says it is just trying to spread holiday cheer by sending nativity scenes to governors in all 50 states.

In a letter last month, the Catholic League told governors and their chiefs of staff that the nativities were on their way and suggested they be displayed in capitol rotundas.
Just trying to spread holiday cheer. That's all. Nothing paranoid about that. Oops, their slip is showing:
The Catholic League says its campaign is meant to counter what it calls “militant atheists.” The group is erecting a life-sized nativity scene in Central Park on December 16. The world’s largest menorah is currently on display there.

“We're taking the moral high road,” says a statement on the group’s website. “The atheists are out in force this year trying to neuter Christmas. While a few of their efforts are benign… most are predictably hostile.”
The "militant" and "hostile" atheists have committed such atrocities as... erect billboards. Clearly, the pendulum has swung far enough that Donohue's plea for the demolition of the first amendment. It's only fair.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Disaster At The Creationist Theme Park

Our day at the park
Having fun on the ark
Will begin as we stroll up the ramp
With the mammals and dino’s
And strange hellifino’s
And all of it, gaudy and camp

There are creatures in twos
Like the grandest of zoos
Some in cages for people to see
Some are plastic, of course,
Like the odd “Jesus horse”
You can ride on (just children!) for free

With the tour guide explaining
It soon will start raining—
It’s best that we get through the doors
And with thunder and lightning
More piped-in than frightening
The skies open up, and it pours

It isn’t surprising
The water starts rising
With rivers obscuring the ground
We’re on board! We’re the winners!
We laugh at the sinners
Outside, who are there to be drowned.

Some electrical junction
Is bound to malfunction;
The waters continue to rise—
Now it’s panic and screaming
(Please tell me we’re dreaming!)
On board, we can hear all the cries

Now the water is rushing,
The pipes are still gushing,
We realize, we’re really afloat!
Like the Genesis story
We share in the glory
And ride in the biblical boat

Though it’s ill-built and creaky,
Substantially leaky,
We ought to be fine for a while
And although we’re all stuck
We rejoice in our luck
And we look at each other and smile.

Soon the still-rising tides
Means the screaming subsides
From the folks who did not get on board
And we know that God willed
That these people be killed
So we all praise the works of Our Lord

As the day turns to night
With no rescue in sight
Our exhaustion will drive us to sleep
Though the children are wary
Cos darkness is scary
And the lions are eating the sheep

So we all sleep in shifts
As our giant bed drifts
And there’s still not a star in the sky
Soon the sun will arrive
And we’re mostly alive
And if not, then God wants us to die.

At the whim of the weather
We huddle together
As carnivores roam through the decks
And we learned within hours
The stench overpowers—
Of feces, of death, and of sex

When the rain finally ceases
We pick up the pieces
And head to the top deck, for sun,
Where the clean-smelling breezes
Sweep by (thank you Jesus!)
And we kneel down and pray, every one!

As we float, we survey
The remains of the day
From our vantage above, on the ark
Where our neighbors and friends
Met their untimely ends
With the visitors there at the park

And we bow heads, and praise
God’s mysterious ways—
Our friends’ bodies have now begun bloating
And as plump as you please
They rise up through the seas
All disfigured and blue, they are floating

All the husbands and wives,
Little children whose lives
Were destroyed by their callous Creator
While we’re safe on the ark
Cos we chose to embark
A bit sooner, and not a bit later

There was water to drink
But it’s starting to stink
And starvation’s its own form of hell
But the hunger and thirst
Isn’t even the worst—
More than that, is the horrible smell

The miasma which flows
Though you cover your nose
Overwhelms you, and just never ends
And the worst of it all
This olfactory pall
Is the smell of our neighbors and friends

We float day after day
As around us, decay
And disease take a toll on our minds;
And our bodies grow weak
As around us, unspeak-
able horrors are all that one finds

In the decks down below
Where we never dare go
There is carnage like never before;
Most the mammals are gone
But the beetles live on
As they feast on the filth and the gore

There are maggots and flies
Which is no great surprise
In the dung and the foul, rancid meat
But up top, it is grim
Cos the pickings are slim
And there’s nothing for humans to eat

If we haven’t quite died
When the waters subside
We’ll praise God, and we won’t think to sue
Sure, it’s horribly cruel
But we learned, at home school
That what’s right is what Yahweh would do

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