Philip Appleman

P
Philip Appleman
Darwin’s Bestiary
PROLOGUE

Animals tame and animals feral
prowled the Dark Ages in search of a moral:
the canine was Loyal, the lion was Virile,
rabbits were Potent and gryphons were Sterile.
Sloth, Envy, Gluttony, Pride—every peril
was fleshed into something phantasmic and rural,
while Courage, Devotion, Thrift—every bright laurel
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How Evolution Came to Indiana
In Indianapolis they drive
five hundred miles and end up
where they started: survival
of the fittest. In the swamps
of Auburn and Elkhart,
in the jungles of South Bend,
one-cylinder chain-driven runabouts fall
to air-cooled V-4’s, a-speed gearboxes,
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Three Haiku, Two Tanka
(Kyoto) CONFIDENCE
(after Bashō)

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To the Garbage Collectors in Bloomington, Indiana, the First Pickup of the New Year
(the way bed is in winter, like an aproned lap,
like furry mittens,
like childhood crouching under tables)
The Ninth Day of Xmas, in the morning black
outside our window: clattering cans, the whir
of a hopper, shouts, a whistle, move on ...
I see them in my warm imagination
the way I’ll see them later in the cold,
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Euphorias
I heard a child, a little under four years old, when asked what was meant by being in good spirits, answer, “It is laughing, talking, and kissing.”
—CHARLES DARWIN, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals 1.WALDORF-ASTORIA EUPHORIA,
THE JOY OF BIG CITIES
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The Trickle-down Theory of Happiness
Out of heaven, to bless the high places,
it falls on the penthouses, drizzling
at first, then a pelting allegro,
and Dick and Jane skip to the terrace
and go boogieing through the azaleas,
while mommy and daddy come running
with pots and pans, glasses, and basins
and try to hold all of it up there,
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Vasectomy
After the steaming bodies swept
through the hungry streets of swollen cities;
after the vast pink spawning of family
poisoned the rivers and ravaged the prairies;
after the gamble of latex and
diaphragms and pills;
I invoked the white robes, gleaming blades
ready for blood, and, feeling the scourge
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The Voyage Home
The social instincts ...
naturally lead to the golden rule.
—CHARLES DARWIN, The Descent of Man 1
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