Some are apt to swoon over nature,
loving what they call harmony.
But Tennyson got it right on whoever
Trusted God was love indeed
And love Creation's final law,
saying Nature, red in tooth and claw
With ravine, shriek'd against his creed.
The gulls that once patrolled the Bay
of Naples, for instance, long since shifted
attention toward the city’s landfill,
where pigeons, slurred as flying rats,
seek detritus like vegetable remnants,
fish-bones, fruit stones, clots of sauce,
what have you. They’re like gulls at that–
at least like gulls in ages past.
Now, in search of greater substance,
the sea birds have largely turned from refuse
and gathered rather in teams to maul
those pigeons. Not that gulls have teeth,
and not that we can rightly refer
to their blood-stained, webby feet as claws,
but you catch my meaning. The plunderers smash
their quarry to death, then like so many
lions or jackals, devour each carcass.
Is that what’s meant by harmony?
Our nation’s governed by a knave and fool.
Unnatural, you say? What’s new?
The raptor gorges on its prey.
Sydney Leawas Poet Laureate of Vermont from 2011-2015. His most recent collection of poems, No Doubt the Nameless, is available from Four Way Books.