BY JAN HAAG

POETRY + ESSAYS + MUSIC + TRAVEL + FICTION + TEXTILE ART

INTRODUCTION + HAAG'S BIO





CHOICE




I

In the beginning was wo-man.
Then, due to a temperature
change during gestation, came man.
His pistil outside, he could plant
seed, but he couldn't reproduce

himself. He made things. Frantically
filling up space, everywhere,
taking the air that had been used
for breathing as breath for his things,
he left the world gasping. For some

time the people, while they lived and
reproduced, left man to play with his
things. But, soon, men made things too
dangerous to be allowed to
continue with their violent/

foolish/destructive games. People
hadn't minded men wanting to
hack at each other with swords, or
shoot each other with guns, but when
nuclear bombs endangered the

lives of the people, laws were made
restricting and regulating
their play.



II

Attempts were made to civilize
men. To make them more gentle, kind,
intelligent, like the people.
But, because of something deeply
askew in the nature of man,
few could

learn to be loving, nurturing,
as people could. Few could be taught
control of their anger and their
egocentricity. Now the
people, having learned how to breed
and clone

themselves to produce only true
people, restricted men's breeding.
Nonetheless, pitying man as
an endangered species, some were
allowed to copulate. The best
seed sires

were kept in posh zoos where people,
who wanted to risk their lives (or
sanity) in heroine-ic
attempts to breed gentle men, could
volunteer. Once or twice a strain
would seem,

for a few generations to
stabilize. Civilizing seemed
possible.



III

But even those few men allowed
to sow seed persisted in their
insatiable necessity
to make things. They kept littering
the world. Therefore, an old-fashioned
custom was

revived: the Potlatch. Each year the
people took the things men made and
burned them so that the cities, fields,
woods would not be cluttered. Men wept
at this, but the people could not
bear the mess,

the plastic bottles, the gewgaws,
the "necessities". They thought in
time they could teach men to delight
in simplicity and beauty,
but weak strains would not allow the
desired

characteristics to firm up in the genes.
For a time, however, the Potlatch worked
well. Even the people made things to
burn. Then one Potlatch eve there was
a great hullabaloo. The men
sent a troop

to the people to beg them to
let them preserve one of their things:
begging on grounds of usefulness,
beauty, mostly on grounds of greed:
how much thought, effort, cash it had
taken to

build a supercomputer. But
the people stood firm, knowing the
brains of the few in the zoos thought
far too much, invented far too
many things already -- without
computers.

They knew it was unhealthy to
calculate so much. It fed a
restless, insatiable fury,
just as power drills and ringing
cash registers bred violence
in those who

spent all their time in building or
selling -- as if there were nothing
on earth to do but con, build, shop
and kill. So the people said: "Burn
it all. Keep the earth clean. Look at
the crystal.

Admire the stream, the earth below
and the clouds overhead. See the
world. Enjoy it."



IV

But always the men in the zoos
attacked each other. A vote was
called. It was decided to let
them eliminate themselves. This
distressed the volunteer mothers,
because many

had grown fond of the male children.
But in the end, finding the genes
hopelessly contaminated
by auto-exacerbated
psychosis, the people voted
to let them all,

like the dodo bird, flightless and
fearless, forgettable, goose step
into history.



V

Now, as in the beginning, peace
and harmony reign on earth,
the people, serenely, bring forth
only after their kind. The whole
paradisian universe
sings hosannas to

the Goddess for the elegant
lack of things. A few people make
a few beautiful things which are
burned each year at the Potlatch. Fine
artists, like the peaceful people
-- as plentiful as

leaves on the deciduous trees --
live their lives graced by nature's strict
temporality,
joy.





Copyright © 2000 Jan Haag
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Jan Haag may be reached via e-mail: jhaag@u.washington.edu




POEMS ABOUT LOVE

Choice

The End of the Affair

"...The Cattle Have Diamond Bones..."



THE DEVAYANI POEMS

Feeding Frenzy

Gifts

India

Nothing



BY JAN HAAG


POETRY + MUSIC + ESSAYS + TRAVEL + FICTION + TEXTILE ART

INTRODUCTION + HAAG'S BIO



21st CENTURY ART, C.E. - B.C., A Context