A Poetry Column By Philip Appleman
“Prairie dog villages used to extend for hundreds of miles
across the plains. One city contained more than 400 million
of these ground squirrels. But 250 of them would eat as
much as a cow, so prairie dogs were doomed.”
—Desert Museum, Tucson, Arizona
“We must welcome more babies to the banquet of life.”
—Pope Paul VI
Zoologist are all agog
At this imposter of a dog
Whose fierce fertility and brains
Civilized the western plains:
Taking to himself a wife,
He made a banquet out of life
And bred a swarm of boys and girls—
A great society of squirrels.
Life was simple, life was sport,
When one day everything ran short:
The five-year plan for grass was clouded,
Burrows all seemed overcrowded,
“Too many cows,” they started to fuss,
“and what’s more, there are too many of us .”
Today, like aardvarks, yaks, and gnus,
Prairie dogs are kept in zoos.
Surviving rodents, may we hope
You have a message for the pope?
From Karma, Dharma, Pudding & Pie
© Philip Appleman.
Philip Appleman is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Indiana University. He is editor of the Norton Critical Edition of Darwin. He and his playwright wife, Marjorie Appleman, are both “After-Life” Members of FFRF. Phil’s books: ffrf.org/shop.