Drought (What Time Is It?)
the man in the mezzanine talks
about all his issues with clocks
he says we should measure our time
by the number of people alive
he measures his worth in proportion
to the size of the population
because when all is said and done
when the Earth sinks into the sun
you are not one bit more or less
important than anyone else
and he says we grow with our world
and the world is not very old
and this world is full of the living
waiting to die, but they’re giving
they’ve given us all we possess
so why can’t they get some respect?
but he lives in the middle-place
between stories so you can’t see his face
and he lectures us on humility
but all we can feel is humidity
because all of the water to drink
has evaporated out of his sink
and it’s fogging up all the TV screens
in his clockless and thirsty mezzanine
his friend the vegetarian
who’s very non-sectarian
says remember remember the biosphere
the mice the rabbits the deer
the treetops the jellyfish the plants
the whales the beetles the ants
the ticks that live in the wheat-fields
the plankton the rhinos the eels
the germs, the microbes, he’s getting radical
he’s on a six-month sabbatical
all living things should be valued
even if they don’t look like you
he thinks we should measure ourselves
as fractions of the number of cells
in organisms throughout
this vast, miraculous drought
what time is it? I don’t know
all the clocks are too fast or too slow
some say seven-thirty some say seven billion
give or take a few hundred million
maybe five in the morning or so
I can hear by the rooster’s crow
the elephants are looking for water
and I want to marry the elephant’s daughter
The Hungry Tiger and the Seventh Horse
There was once a tiger so constantly hungry that if let loose on a village at noon,
by around midnight she could be expected to finish eating its entire population.
For some villages, unusually large ones, she might take a few hours longer.
But by dawn, every village she had ever been in, in her life, was empty of human life.
This was true even of villages to which she was taken as part of a circus, or a zoo.
She was hungry enough that she could eat through the bars of her cage,
or through chair, ringmaster, audience, tent and all, out into the open,
there to feast all afternoon long, and perhaps through much of the night,
depending on the size of the village.
This tiger was not a particularly big tiger, however.
One would never have guessed anything abnormal about her from her appearance.
She was an average tiger. Her stripes were beautiful,
but every tiger’s stripes are beautiful.
Among tigers in society she was considered mild-mannered and plain.
One day in late July, she woke up and found the weather cold.
She was glad, because it had been a hot summer, and she missed cold mornings.
Mornings, she felt, should be cold. Then it should warm up a bit after breakfast.
She always felt warm after eating, and she ate a lot.
So this January morning transplanted to July came as a welcome surprise.
Then it was followed, inexplicably, by a January afternoon.
It didn’t warm up even after she ate a wealthy cattle-merchant, his fat family,
and six of his horses. At two o’clock it began to snow.
She didn’t eat the cattle-merchant’s seventh horse, because she thought he was ugly.
The seventh horse was confused by the weather,
and asked the tiger why she had eaten the other horses.
Because she was hungry, she replied. This made sense to him.
They soon became fast friends and roamed about the snowy countryside together,
Age 16, Grade 11
Saint Ann’s School