by Alfred S. Pirozzoli author of The Last Dig
Working the alkali and sagebrush desert floor,
110 degrees in the shade, except, there is no shade.
Pseudo hunters in the distance work with hammers,
picks and toothbrushes, scraping dead dry bones.
Butts up in the air, faces to the ground.
My boots layered with chalky bone dust, from
a Cretaceous closet, until now, closed 65 million
years, and time was the lock.
Old dead lizards rusting away like big old Cadillacs
in the time junkyard.
My boots leave a bone dust trail walking the roof of a 235
million year old tomb: the chamber of great reptile Pharaohs,
now just bits of china plate fossil in the badlands dirt,
and their ancient aroma summons museum experts—the
grave robbers with degrees.
Funny how time plays tricks for once they’d tower over me;
now I walk over the yesterday of them dead dinosaurs.
It’s so telling—the mighty get no guarantee for long term
contracts, for time is a cruel employer.
In this once moist jungle, leviathan masters exalted
over all life, moving in misty wet humidity ruling over
the swamp’s choicest real estate.
Big, small, short, tall, slow, fast, crawling, swimming,
flying—a circus to envy and draw applause.
Some, awesome vegetarians, some fearsome carnivores;
big meat on big bones, killing off Darwin’s weak—
hey, they just don’t make the cut.
Living in self supremacy they ruled it all, without the
Armani suits of Fifth Avenue, no cell phones, credit cards,
No intel satellites or computers, and yet survived 100 million years,
and in arrogance,
we call them stupid dinosaurs—I tremble as my bone dust
covered boots walk over them, lest they hear such heresy.
Great leviathans reigned over all they could see,
yet were blind to their extinction approaching.
So where are they now, that fearsome species of big?
Paleontologists dust off their bones, now in layered
hard earth formed of ancient swamp mud.
Behold the mighty dinosaurs, now but weekend attractions
in animal morgues labeled museums—propped up by wires
and glue, pieced together like science store puzzles,
cataloged and showcased along with dead civilizations.
You see, we have no respect for God’s leviathans who ruled
the world without man’s progress or scientific toys.
And here on the alkali and sagebrush desert floor we stand,
in bone dust covered boots, running air hammers over them
and breaking for lunch,
irreverently, dropping sandwich
wrappers and empty Coke cans on their sacred rest.
Startled to my senses, I’ve walked far from the dig and see the
thick cover of bone dust on my boots.
Can’t help shutter, terrified, realizing in awe,
we weren’t digging up the past,
we were digging up the future. Our future.
The human circus of kings and carnivores ruling in self
sufficiency, complete with Armani suits, electronics, modems and
all the rest that supports man: the modern Pharaohs.
We stand so tall. We see it all—
reflected in the prophesy of these dead, dry bones.
Everything in me, shouted, stop the dig.
before we uncovered any more of our future.
But there’s no stopping
the supremacy of arrogance,
willingly following Leviathan footsteps down extinction’s pathway.
And I wonder with growing sense of cold humility, who
will one day walk over
our dead dry fossils,
collecting our chalky bone dust
on their boots?
©1998 Bone Dust on My Books. A. S. Pirozzoli
Al Pirozzoli wrote this poem in 1998. Finding the poem years later, he was inspired to write his first eBook novel, The Last Dig.