December 4, 2014

Poetry Friday--"Nothing in Moderation"

Cigarette card, ca. 1934-1939, courtesy NYPL Digital Gallery. See below for the back side of the card.

Last Friday I posted a tanka and a video about starling murmuration. In one of the comments, Mary Lee wrote, "And I love it that nasty annoying starlings can make something so movingly beautiful." I replied to her comment with a link to an article from the New York Times, "100 Years of the Starling" by Ted Gup and I also said, "There's an ironic poem here, methinks!" Of course, the wheels started turning and I wrote "Nothing in Moderation," which I'll dedicate to Mary Lee (happy birthday, Mary Lee!):
Nothing in Moderation

"Starlings do nothing
in moderation," the
ornithologist wrote.

Yes, they reproduce
like wildfire. Yes, they
lay waste to fields.

They carry disease &
torment innumerable
air traffic controllers.

But, do not blame
the iridescent bird
for being what it is.

Immoderation in
a lover of the Bard
let them loose here.

Our need to command
the heavens above
made them a hazard.

Humans' desire to
procreate like...like
...well, like starlings,

brought us to a state
where we freely bitch
slap Mother Nature

and, continue to
think we will
get away with it.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.
The poem is based completely on the article, but it reflects what I've come to understand--human beings never do anything in moderation if they can "supersize" it. It's the reason the world is in the state it's in--climate change, corporatocracy, American exceptionalism, obesity, etc. I don't know if I should thank, or curse, Mary Lee for making me think of all this stuff!

A little aside here, the name of the author of the starling article sounded familiar to me, and I realized he also wrote, A Secret Gift: How One Man's Kindness--and a Trove of Letters--Revealed the Hidden History of the Great Depression [Penguin, 2010]. I read the book when it first came out and I loved it. It's the story of a man who truly was a "secret Santa" who helped people survive one of America's darkest periods. The book would make for a good discussion group choice.

The Poetry Friday Round-Up is being held at Anastasia Suen's Booktalking #kidlit.




21 comments:

  1. Your poem made me chuckle, "Do not blame the bird for being what it is." What a contrast to humans who take, take, take. I definitely feel the bite of this poem. Happy Birthday, Mary Lee. Hope you are laughing, too.

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    1. I hate the way people have taken it upon themselves to undo natural balance. Nothing good comes of it.

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  2. We're having an infestation of crows near Seattle - crows are beserk! http://www.king5.com/story/news/local/2014/12/04/crows-take-over-downtown-nightly/19921873/
    Still, as you point out, people have crows and starlings beat for beserk-ness.

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    1. So, instead of improving methods of feeding cows, they try to get rid of the crows. And then when the crows are gone, they'll find themselves overrun with grasshoppers or mice, or they'll be disgusted by an abundance of run-over small animals that crows are no longer around to clean up. Yeah, humans are real smart.

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  3. There are quite a few things in our world that are out of sync because of human interference. Your poem hits the mark and sadly, Diane. Thanks for sharing that book title too. I'll look for it.

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    1. I think you'll like the book, Linda. We all know the depression was bad, but Gup lets us see just how bad things were.

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  4. "Do not blame the iridescent bird for being what it is." <-- This is my new mantra.

    Iridescence is the key, methinks. Most humans are poorly lacking in that quality.

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    1. Do you mind if I use the above quote in a Two Line Tuesday at some point, Diane?

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  5. Oh yes, so very true -- humans don't know when to stop. Great poem, Diane. Love hearing about how your wheels started turning and you were able to fashion a meaningful poem inspired by Gup's article and Mary Lee's comment. :) The starling murmurations are amazing!

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    1. Thanks, Jama. I was always told "moderation in everything." I'm not sure who first said that to me, but I believe it's advice that is wise to follow.

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  6. Bought the book (A Secret Gift) --Thanks, Diane!

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    1. If you read it, and I know that there are so many books out there calling out to you, please let me know what you think.

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  7. Thanks for sharing this for Poetry Friday, Diane!

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    1. You're welcome! Thanks for stopping by.

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  8. Yes, we are freely bitch slapping our way to oblivion and irrelevance these days - so appreciate your wry and clear eyed view. I'll have to look for Gup's book, too. Thanks for sharing, Diane.

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  9. How bold are we to continue to think that we will get away with it? Great ending, Diane.

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    1. I'm glad you mentioned the ending, Carol, I contemplated leaving it off as stating the obvious.

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  10. I'm honored to be the inspiration for this poem! Your words are true. We should not blame the bird. We have no one to blame but ourselves for the death of this beautiful little planet.

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    1. I'm happy you like it, Mary Lee. Next time I'll write something for you that's a little more uplifting! ;-)

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