Let Me End the Way the Dinosaurs Began

by Guy Kettelhack
Wild Poetry Forum
First Place, September 2018
Judged by Kathleen Hellen

Carl and Alice now reside beside each other as small
piles of grit – sieved into the brass receptacles that
bear their names; my brother Bob is similarly packed
in brass two thousand seven hundred ninety miles away
insensible to masses he once led and prayed in at
St Thomas’s Episcopalian Hollywood Boulevard array
of granite grey occasion for haute Anglican gesticulation,
three minutes’ amble west of Grauman’s in L.A. –
my parents in a backroom of St Mary’s Anglican brown
shingled nineteenth century Long Island edifice devoted
to not worrying about obfuscatory Soul. My brother
Bob’s dust lies inside an obeliskish Monument (though
maybe not, I might have made it up) etched letters
in its stone in praise of him as priest. He tried but couldn’t
break the least blip in the spell of AIDS. These are
the passing grades Religion gives to those who don’t,
as I will, throw myself as is my wont upon the upstretched
angry spears and blades that wait to rip my consciousness
to shreds, crush the mess into small bits of carbohydrate,
protein, mineral and fat that I’ll exactingly have told
executors to roll into soft pellets to regale descendants
of the dinosaurs, particularly those ferocious sparrows,
fierce as wanton arrows, who don’t give a flying flip
if any other sparrow gets a share. Let me end the way
the Dinosaurs began, as evolutionary oddity whose
single efficacy would eventually be to let their dead
collective rotting body fertilize and nourish antecedents
of what in three hundred million years would turn
into a German mother’s embryo that would become
the man who’d engineer the Autobahn and drive
as fast upon it as he’d dare. No speed limit there.
I’m not sure. Did I just write a prayer?

The confidence of form---8 quatrains with interlocking rhyme---serves as striking counterpoint to the ambiguity of the final couplet. The narrator’s long view (LA to Long Island to Germany/“three hundred million years” to now) is part elegy to others (“Carl and Alice,” brother Bob, parents) and part to self: The anticipation of a “ferocious” end that is a “mess” of “soft pellets,” fertilizer for “antecedents”---until the very human question at the end: “Did I just write a prayer?” --Kathleen Hellen