So I wrote this one awhile back… A variation on the Apocalypse I wrote for an unreleased chapbook I had planned back in 2012 called The 14th Bak’tun, when the height of paranoia surrounding the end of the 13th Bak’tun of the Mayan solar calendar supposedly foretold the world’s end. Here, whales are the cause of humanity’s downfall.
It’s an idea I investigated after reading John Wyndham’s The Kraken Wakes. In his novel (which is really a fabulous read), an extraterrestrial species comes to Earth and decides to make their home in the ocean’s depths. Humanity simply can’t deal with it, so it starts a war with the aliens. It’s a Cold War fable where Wyndham posits that the biggest powers on any world will eventually come to blows.
Who bigger to fight with than the Whales?
It’s going to be an “appendix” poem for 2017’s Words for the Men in Grey Suits. After I saw the above meme going around, I couldn’t resist posting it. As always, I hope you enjoy it, and constructive criticism is always welcome!
Whale War III
Ecology 101: Biomass – the totality of mass for a specific species.
The species with the largest biomass on Earth? Krill.
Krill is the primary source of food for the cetaceans.
The species with the second largest biomass? Homo sapiens.
Humanity has no natural predators.
They called themselves the “Sea Shepherds”.
To some, they were eco-warriors,
to others, lawless pirates.
We know them now as history’s greatest villains,
sending back Japan’s mighty whaling fleet,
holds empty of fresh kills,
harpoons having tasted no blood.
Beneath the waves,
“gentle” giants gorged themselves.
The War between the Oceankind and Man over,
whales swept the seas clean,
feeding until they could feed no more.
Though the banquet be great,
extinction was forever.
Humpbacks sang songs of hunger.
What or who would they eat now?
Some remembered the songs of old,
of ancient Basilosaurus and Biblical Leviathan,
they remembered when THEY were the fishers of men,
how Jonah went down smooth.
Songs were sung to the darkest, coldest currents,
carried to all corners of the world ocean.
Minke, Fin, Grey, and Blue.
The whales listened.
Songs of the whaleship Essex sent to Davy Jones’ Locker,
Moby Dick dragging Ahab to his death,
of the time Shamu went crazy,
killed all those tourists,
the first rows soaking wet…
Some sang songs of peace,
that for every evil that we visited upon the seas,
there was an equal and opposite Jacques Cousteau.
Could there not be co-existence?
Debate was fierce,
the ocean surface an orchestral foam,
Man looked to the seas with fear.
Surely the whales could not return to the top of the food chain,
would not our threats of returning to the ways
of the harpoon bushido
keep them at bay?
The waters then became as a mill pond,
the debate ended.
Then the mighty flukes of a million monsters
slammed against fault lines
the Land of the Rising Sun drowning beneath
a weapons test of tsunami waters and radioactive steam.
“How do we taste now, you sons of bitches?” they sang.
Bodies floated into the sea,
one gigantic Blue,
known to the others as the Prince of Whales,
baleen sharpened into terrible cutlery,
took a bite,
discover’d Homo sapiens are flipper-lickin’ good.
Today, the world is their marine park
and we all live in their splash zone.
We cling to the remaining mountains
lest we be swept away by the flood.
Watching as the whales pick off the stragglers one by one,
remembering how Nantucket
went up in the mushroom cloud of a primitive atomic whale bomb,
how Long John Silver’s sold us on a silver platter
serving up human flesh n’ chips to their new masters,
hush puppies made from man’s best friend.
We learned too late
nature is red in spray and sonar,
to the victor go the spoils
and there are no peace treaties
between predator and prey.
Ecology 101: Extinction – A game between two species,
it’s just a matter of who wants it more.
(© Bernard Schober/The Klute 2011)