Start with the names.

by Cheyenne Nimes Issue: Fall 2017 Special Issue on Extinction

WE ARE ALREADY in the times that have been prophesied. Enter light, exit light, & vanish like Atlantis. Animalia, Chordata, Mammalia, Primates, Hominidae, Homo, H. sapiens, & you are here: a time in-between, something already in the blood, acute intestinal pain, & still having trouble hearing a pronunciation: Extinction. The word goes on to mean having no qualified claimant, <an extinct title>, & no longer burning. For thousands of years, rites assured that the sun on the shortest day would not disappear forever. The weight of a human head far lighter than you’d think. 47,000 products the average supermarket has. Giving birth to all sorts of strange offspring. A way to distract the masses. Effective crime-scene staging. In the beginning, before everything was set in motion, effigy mounds were in the form of birds, animals, serpents. Figurines in the form of crouching human figures were typical. Carrying spears & shields. Things double-back. There are now 2x as many slot machines as there are ATM’s in America. You don’t think of the strange light falling. The light backs up. We’ll notice things: rare seabirds being spotted in California. Missed Approach. Wake up in the middle of the night screaming, say. Centrifugal force.

Some people will indeed keep denying that burning 80+ million barrels of oil, countess millions of tons of coal, natural gas, etc. every single day can’t possibly be having an impact up to the very moment when it becomes impossible to deny, until metaphorically up to their necks in evidence. Did you know pigs can’t ever look at the sky? Their neck muscles don’t allow it. Everyone is welcome to their own opinion but no one has a right to their own facts. What is written down is what counts. We all have the same 26 letters to go by. The front, as it has been understood in other wars, is where you’re facing at the moment. This is a kind of war that does not recognize noncombatants, where the high water mark even exists or will ever be again. Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil, Wal-Mart, BP, Chevron, Total, PetroChina, GE, Gazprom, Microsoft, Toyota, Nestle. ™. Frightening legitimacy. They usually hunt in groups because the chance of returning with game is better. Oscar Wilde: The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible. Facts take us only so far, like an empty waterhole where animals & humans once drank. There are facts & then there are facts. Mise-en-page. Diplomatic assurances are worthless. We know exactly what you’re talking about. Demons don’t like paper’s hissing noise, a Shinto priest says. Paper forms when atoms in the fibers bond with those in the water molecules & voila: Kill Order. Between the capital letter & the period, a comma slides down like a fang until it contracts to a question mark, human rights on a meat hook dangling upside down. It rounds a corner, becomes drained & then it’s someone else; a statement, a statistic.

The first is a question of what happened. The second is a question of how. It is illegal to chase or use a machine to assist in the taking of any game animal. So what? Well, what we owe to biodiversity is literally everything. The air we breathe. The food we eat. The materials of our homes, clothes, books, computers, medicines. Goods & services that we can’t even imagine we’ll need someday will come from species we have yet to identify. Seven in ten biologists believe the extinction juggernaut to be a colossal threat to humanity, one far more dire than even its contributor, global warming. Unknown fingerprints, hoof prints left in the mud, circling still. “Photonic camouflage” to help eliminate their shadows. Like a faint silhouette a fish throws to predators beneath it in the water column. Float on top. There are some parts of earth that remain hardly explored; never farmed on, built on, or reshaped by humans: the thickest, remotest jungles, polar regions, cave systems far underground, & deep oceans, 6.8 miles down. The monkey swings upward & lands, feet first, on another branch. This is what it has come to: A chilled tank, a frozen zoo, 20th CENTURY ARK stored at 315°F below zero, living skin cells representing about 275 species, the sperm samples from 2,000 animals equal to 156 species. “We maintain the viability of cells & sperm indefinitely.” Like shining little pieces of glass. Time comes and goes. When the sun comes up, most animals awaken and begin their day. A jaguar once used to hold the hearts of victims sacrificed to the Aztec gods. Statistically, each year begins with the same 1% chance that a 100-year event will occur. Pe=1-[1-(1/T)]n. Except it keeps upping to 100%. Every year. Upping. Massive movements of Earth, air, fire, & water. Age of the sun: 12.345-12.365 billion years. Said 100,000 times too bright to view with the naked eye. No one has ever gone blind from looking at the sun. Darkness can always be improved upon.

The current rate of extinction is at least 100 times above normal & Harvard biologist Edward O. Wilson estimates it to be 1,000 to 10,000 times greater- meaning somewhere between 2.7 & 270 species are wiped out every single day. Unless we dramatically change course, Wilson predicts half of all plants & animals will be extinct by 2100. Easily picked them off 1 by 1. Looked at us with as much inquisitiveness as we looked at them. More. Worth more dead. What counts is outside the normally counted. The words no one can find. We don’t think in words we don’t know the meaning of. It held no meaning beyond what it was not. And we don’t like trick answers. Is it a plant or an animal? There’s a clown with a trick mule whose tail pulls off. Bray! Braybraybrayaway. Little animals are funny… you gotta love ‘em! Japanese scientists create goldfish with invisible scales. Scientists, gotta love ‘em! The trouble is there aren’t enough words. Or is it the isolation of individual words? Bigger than a bread box? From last year’s profit alone, Exxon Mobil could give every person on earth $6.75, or $45 worth of Christmas gifts to each child alive, or every person who has ever lived 1 quarter, 1 dime, 1 nickel, 2 pennies. This is what most people look at as forms of possession. All major religions share a means for casting out demons: One inhabited by a demon a) speaks or understands unknown languages, B) knows things they shouldn’t, C) can predict the future, D) intense hatred for holy things, E) exhibits beyond mortal strength. It’s an open water kind of possession. The problem is not the supply of water- everyone knows Earth has the same amount today it did when dinosaurs roamed, that 4 trillion gallons fall daily in the form of precipitation. Anything elevated in space will fall. Ross Ice Shelf is melting to a small ice floe not large enough to stand on like a mass of letters stripped of their original meaning. A feeling in the bloodstream as it goes, that taste of salt at the back of your mouth. The top of the world, the bottom of the world, the whole shebang as seen in a time exposure. Eerie underglows coming from all the monitors. It’s eerie like seeing the charred remains of prehistoric campfires. The fire burned lower, the fire burned not at all. The sinkholes are forming. Look out there. There is a verisimilitude we can understand that is happening. Thanks for Playing! Endgame of the universe. Monkeys shrieking in the canopy.

More than a billion people lack access to potable water and 12 million die each year due to unsanitary water. With their hands tied behind them & stripped of all ornamentation, they were beheaded & thrown in a heap. Libation is from Latin libatio, from libare, to take a little from anything, to taste, to pour out as an offering. 1 in 8 people lack access to safe water supplies. Illegible water the color of a freshly dug grave. Black granite. The heart of dryness. All the little birds were badly scorched. Some were burned black all over. With wings folded inward like lower tips of a star. (When a star wobbles, astronomers only know an unseen planet could be causing the motion.) Known as the idiot’s defense, “This can’t be true, because if it was, there’d be investigations & arrests.” Dahmer’s neighbors smelled dead bodies & heard power saw buzzing in the dead of night. Darwin: “I have found one skeleton- sufficiently mutilated- of an animal, which I do not think there exists at present on the globe any relation.” Her hands were in front of her body. What’s The Time, Mister Wolf? In this game you are always moving. A herd taking flight for no apparent reason, a mass of scattered animals simultaneously raising ears and freezing in their tracks. Water, any type. Both lethal & less than lethal. Millions of women & girls spend several hours per day collecting water like an insufferable terminal French film. In the hot vertical charred noon, the reed-choked trickle-river and the eight-foot grass. The ones reduced to sand, ash, thirst, carrying on downstream from nothing going nowhere. You have to keep paying for being born female. Elephants coming to a water hole often arrive at a dead run, not because anything scary is behind them, but simply because water is, at last, in front. Bursts of automatic rifle fire, very close. Tints the water a brilliant red. Pay dirt. Suddenly the animals bunch & bolt; others gait as a lope, exhausted, communicate with one another by means of calls too low-pitched for humans to hear. They reclined never to rise again- forepaws outstretched & heads lifted high. Spread-jawed in horror. It was going to die & it knew it. Then he is gone, absorbed by the night. And that was that for that species. “Say goodbye for us.” Asian Elephant, elephas maximus. Cheetah, acinonyx jubatus. Great Indian Rhinoceros, rhinoceros unicornis. Black Rhinoceros, diceros bicornis. Leopard, panthera pardus. Bactrian Camel, camelus bactrianus. Asian small-clawed otter, aonyx cinerea. Atlantic Green Turtle, chelonia mydas mydas. Giant Panda, ailuropoda melanoleuca. Asiatic Black Bear, selenarctos thibetanus. Grizzly Bear, ursus arctos horribilis. West Indian Manatee, trichechus manatus. Hamadryas Baboon, papio hamadryas. Cheetah, acinonyx jubatus. Florida Panther, felis concolor coryi. Don’t forget that under the McNaughton Rule, a killer who has made an effort to cover up his crime is deemed to be sane & cognizant of the difference between right & wrong. A thousand frantic silhouettes. Thousands and thousands and thousands of them- like a big cloud. “Place of the invisible beings.” If you do not know the names of things, the knowledge of them is lost too, so says the Philosophia Botanica. After the false-color images, counted seedlings on hands & knees in a wind-scoured starkness, crawled along the edge of the world, along any great circle, in the light the world appeared in. A darker light bulb. Any mummy crumbles at each touch until it soon breaks at the neck.

Flat light hard light sidelight calling all high rollers. Coins hitting the tray is Universal Studios’ sound chip #0822, but there is another, lower-pitched sound for larger wins. Lesser sounds resemble a glass shattering somewhere in the distance. Like dice shaken in a cup. Thanks For Playing! 125-5 of California State Penal Code: Murder in the 2nd Degree: A person who through depraved indifference recklessly causes the death of another human being. This case is an abomination of human behavior, shouldn’t someone say? The Mafia code of silence is called “omerta.” Like the dark of someone’s mouth. It’s the blackest magic. Unparaphrasable. Begins to shine real sweat, biting their tongues behind a fixed smile, all in a row, white pillar teeth. Do the vestigial teeth come from the same place as the tail? Prehensile tail. The parents gave sharp cries, answered with increasing urgency by the cub. All three craned their necks, trying to locate each other. The attitude of the skeletons suggested that individuals had been dropped into a prepared grave soon after death. Just wide enough for a family to curl up together. A final dark defile. To describe it using any word seems a pitiful understatement. Words used as words are italicized. Example: What is the meaning of the word impeach? At right, parts of the town have caved in. Houses painted with the blood of a lamb. The huge marks going down the wall. Red on red. Open into what was once a ballroom; white of the gown, dark of the cast shadow. Flashy rhinestone detailing! Planned obsolescence. The first major superstructures, antedating even tombs, were all for storing water. Next: The Wild Card Round! A wall calendar frozen at November 4. Parchment paper made from animal skin. Death note. The sound of the animal breathing within an inch of its life. Something of its anguish lingered, a --, an --, a --. Whatever it is, we’ve come to it, the world at the edge of light. At any given time ½ the world’s hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from a water-related disease. Sharp intake of breath. Take in the moment, the components of things before they congeal. Again from heard been has never. Ex-post. Suspicion of solicitation to commit murder: 7 years, usually. But what do we say to the dead? Sometimes we get the water & it’s outside us & there’s no way to get it in us. Lividity is a purplish-red striation pattern formed in newly deceased bodies. When the heart stops pumping, blood no longer circulates & sinks to the lowest level of the body, where it eventually etches a series of permanent bright stripes- unless it is moved before lividity is set. Once lividity is complete, the body can be moved without any change in the pink to purplish markings. So colorful, so sayonara. Forget about anybody’s smile but your own. Check-point-friendly smiles as if they were the one losing blood. Hold that. We get knocked out because the brain collides with the skull because the water in the casing sloshes when the brain collides with the skull because brain moves out of its casing & that force causes a person to lose all consciousness. Because, because, because has an infinite regression of causes. It’s the water that does it. Hexagonal crystal structure with a bent molecular shape. How it moves. A case based on circumstantial theory rather than fact only stands up if no other theory makes sense. The only way to show a better theory is to present it. 99% of all chemical reactions in the body require water. Verse 30 from the Koran: or Qur’an – “We made from water every living thing.” There should be another word for water. It’s the most abundant molecule on Earth’s surface.

Killers often try to insert themselves into the police investigations of their homicides like a blood that has been diluted. Cast-off patterns of blood or drained veins. Everyone can see them. Situational awareness. Children who drink unsafe water often carry 1,000 parasitic worms in their bodies at any given time. Like dolls in various states of dress & dismemberment. Sticking in pin after pin. Ailuropoda melanoleuca: Their skin is pink & almost naked & their eyes are sealed until they are more than a month old. Newborns are 6 inches long & weigh 3 to 4 ounces- 1/900th of its Panda mother. Killers often return to the scene of their crimes. The collection of victims & the taking of trophies. Souvenirs, mementos of their victims when they were inflicting pain & suffering & use these to reminisce about the good times later on. Color of hydrogen peroxide on skin. Each human fetus passes through a stage with gill-like ridges & a tail. No one remembers what the original plan was but the procession continues anyway. Odds that where there is a will, there is a way. Odds that where there is a way anything will actually be done about it. However, you can certainly stop yourself from standing there. Call Sign, position, & standby generator. Over my dead body is a real term now. 8 degrees is roughly the width of your fist held at arm’s length. A stream-width away. This is a whale’s ear. They can hear a thousand miles. Blacking out at the peak moment of a homicide is a ploy that rarely convinces detectives, jurors, or judges. First the names. Start with the names. The players. The--. “Cu e surdu, orbu e taci, campa cent’anni ‘impaci: He who is deaf, blind, and silent will live a hundred years in peace.” Then there’s: Exculpatory: clears a defendant from guilt. Epilogue to the epilogue to the epilogue: whichever edition:

Cheyenne Nimes

Cheyenne Nimes is a hybrid writer living by the Great Salt Lake.