Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Adrie Kusserow: Mismatch in the Modern West

For Robert Wright

Sometimes I catch myself, my tongue dry from the gummy prune and lick of my ego, hissing at predators that no longer exist. A scrappy, dogged species, we’ve crawled to the top, shoveling our genes into the next generation, made possible day after day by a grand illusion, (that the self is closer to wood than wave). Still smitten with the fiction of a singular self, still on fire with fight or flight, our brains, itchy nests of thought huddling high above the trunks of our bodies. That bulky mind evolution left us, the thuggish one, designed for hunter gatherers, all gunshot and adrenalin? The Buddha says we don’t have to buy all of its thoughts, instead we can watch them, note their magnetic pull, the suck of their maddening orbits, say to them gently, how interesting, there now, it’s time to let you go.

So now that we’ve won and our planet bleeds at our feet, isn’t it time for the Darwinocene to end? Surely we’ve noticed how quickly happiness evaporates under the current regime? It’s a subtle thing, meditation, a hard sell, a rebellion against natural selection, but a tool no less game changing than the wheel.

How exhausting it is, even though survival’s a given, our belly full and war a distant grumble, our instincts misfiring like bulky canons, the last grand fireworks of a forager’s DNA. Still, no one loves humans more than I do. How beautiful we are, at night calling to each other like owls, our loneliness barely masked, barely voweled into sound, the past calling to us like hungry ghosts, the future a sterile space we have yet to find cozy,  sweeping from limb to limb of stiff old Gods we nest in a while, then fly off. 

Despite this liminal time, when oceans drag villages into their distended bellies, we gather and feed the sick, the lost, we laugh and joke.  Deep inside our skulls, the shocks of brilliance startling over and over, like a flock of birds that never rests and all night, our imagination pulsing like fireflies in the dark. And even though we’ve forgotten we’re miracles, who knows who’s out there watching, saying, oh, my…Haven’t you noticed, even your longing is so terribly beautiful?


Adrie Kusserow is a cultural anthropologist who works with Sudanese refugees in trying to build schools in war-worn South Sudan. Currently an associate professor of Cultural Anthropology at St. Michael’s College in Vermont, Kusserow earned her PhD in Social Anthropology from Harvard University. She is the author of two collections of poetry, both published by BOA Editions, Hunting Down the Monk (2002), and Refuge (2013).

Copyright 2019 Adrie Kusserow

Image by Willem Kusserow-Lair

7 comments on “Adrie Kusserow: Mismatch in the Modern West

  1. kim gutschow
    August 31, 2019

    whoa, this resonates so deeply, the images are deep and true. love the new prose poetry Adrie! please keep it coming…. I can only think of how much our species needs these kinds of thought pauses, as we mindlessly keep foraging and forging ahead heedless of the destruction and suffering we are causing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. jalerner11
    August 27, 2019

    Breathtaking and heartbreaking, Adrie. Only someone who loves humans more than all of us could produce this. I wish more members of our scrappy, dogged species would take the time to take this in.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ajstccri
    August 27, 2019

    This piece captures so much of what it means to be human, and in just a few beautiful words, Just brilliant.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. David
    August 26, 2019

    We need more poetry on topics like this!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jan Henry
    August 26, 2019

    Brilliant poem ….

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Patty
    August 26, 2019

    Wonderful, Adrie xx

    Liked by 1 person

  7. emonley
    August 26, 2019

    Wow. Thanks for sharing. Immensely powerful poem to read. Both heartening and dismaying. But mainly heartening. The imagery: wow. Sticks to your ribs.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Enter your email address to follow Vox Populi and receive new posts by email.

Join 10,761 other followers

Blog Stats

  • 3,754,667 hits

Archives

%d bloggers like this: