After The Big Tide

I wake up in the morning in a stuffy room
and slowly struggle out of bed.
As my foot steps on a long forgotten broom
and my shaky fingers light a cigarette.

My mirror has been dirty for a long long time,
so what faces me in there is half-concealed.
As I punish now my skin with after shaving lime
I feel like a wound that's never ever healed.

There is chlorine in the water that I splash in my face,
and aluminum hydroxide in my spray.
Hexachlor in my toothpaste, heptachlor in my soap,
and strychnine in my first pill as a base.

On the stove, boiling slowly is my pep-up caffeine
and two eggs laid by chickens 'special breed',
my milk fortified with vitamins and greed,
all with hexamethylentetramine.

My trousers barely buttoned 'round my bulging waist,
I gulp this balanced breakfast quickly down.
The sodium chloride and the DDT in haste
then the glutamate, the cyclamate, alaun.

And I step outside the door, puffing wildly on my weed
and coughingly run for the nearest public car.
And the smog fills my lungs and reduces my speed
as I spit out the window the purest blackest tar.

The lights were installed just a week ago
with special, powerful beams.
To make sure that we see half a block or so,
as a substitute for daylight, so it seems.

The book I read at home just now
tells me of times so long forgotten.
It mentions sunshine, rain and how
the whole wide world would soon be rotten.

It makes me smile to think how far,
how very backward they have been,
with some of them against the car
and even food not kept in tin.

Our age at least is civilised,
the life expectancy is twenty.
No wars no births
and criticised
is no one in the land of plenty.

The rich in our country live
some two, three years over the norm,
with plastic organs put in if
they want to go conform.

We made it, mankind's glorious dream,
got rid of all the obsolete,
we need no schools, no work, no scheme:
The world announces its defeat.

There is but one task still unfinished
and those of us who still can move
are writing history of the diminished,
the conquered universe, the clearest proof.

For after us there shall not be
a so-called human, this time is past-
just giant insects we have raised with DDT,
with intellect and nitroblast.

So, let us praise Christ our Lord,
whose head is made of gold,
whose radioactive spinal cord
protects us, as it's told.

His greatest deed was done with ink,
when that stuff still existed,
he crossed from all the manuscripts
one word which is no longer listed.

That word was 'HAPPY', a foul left-over
from times of little human pride,
and publicly he killed the clover,
the last of plants after the tide.

Our pets are growing at a steady rate,
they teach us how to go with ease.
And smilingly, without debate
we do, because we're free to cease.

1969

by Herbert Nehrlich

Comments (6)

That word was 'HAPPY'...? ? ? ? 1969.. I thawt the word was 'HIPPY'.. wow.. if you rewrote it now.. tink of how epic the poem would be with all the extra flavoured additives and GMO divergences... (tinking more about it.. you probably have written it.. and I just haven't got round to reading it yet) ..: ~)
This is so intense......It sort of remnds me of stuff I've read by Isaac Asminov...I enjoyed it!
'For after us there shall not be a so-called human, this time is past- just giant insects we have raised with DDT, with intellect and nitroblast.' Excellent work, i really love that stanza The future looks dark and pure intellect is not going to help us Your poem makes me think...is this the way we want it to be? With love Pia
I had not seen this one of yours before, Herbert. A bleak, horrific, scifi scenario, well told, and regrettably too apt to occur
Wow Thats heavy.......What a great description!
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