Two Poems

by Rebecca A. Durham Issue: Spring 2019

Coextinction Cascade

keywords: food webs; mutualistic networks;
network motifs; coextinction

great auk, flightless
com-p+le-x eco+logi_cal_net-work
rate and shape of which
therefore, loss

the disassembly of ecological networks
leads to thresholds whereupon the network
               co+l)lapses
                                              habitat
razed/erased, last seen [         ]
biased pruning of the t[r/ee of l}/if/e
Darwin's fox, umbrella species
                                            fr+agility
Global change
is one of the leading problems
faced by h_u_&m/an/[kind]

roughly speaking, let us imagine
Bornean orangutan, teetering
so far we can speak only of

there is still a large gap
in our un_d_er{st_and[_)ing
of this problem

in order to assess, perhaps also relates
                             more pronounced loss
ili pika
nature of the [co]ex_t/in(ct/i)on cascade
these very preliminary results

on both the assembly of ecological networks
and its collapse after perturbations

informed extinction model
robustness           of
                               of           sudden collapse
suddenly \e%a{\r_th\ felt less cohesive

The reader should recognize, however,
that this knowledge is still
very  f{r=ag}_ment[[]e/d

 

 

No Entry: A Dichotomous Key to Elemental Disarray

1a. My dome top is a viscid slick; ochre pores, gill-less…................……….Boletus edulis
1b. Not as above……………………………...……………….………….……………..…2

2a. When you mine my mind, mica smarts your lashing tongue…….....………………....6
2b. I hold two hydrogens and an oxygen, unmarred…………….……………..………….3

3a. Thorns adorn me, lichens splay from my grey limbs………..........Crataegus douglasii
3b. My body is soft, or else the sharp parts are well-hidden…………...……..……..……4

4a. When the Swainson’s thrush calls I forget I have matter……….…….…...…...…..…5
4b. I pull myself up to summit tiny sky wounds…………………………………….…....6

5a. Mouth stings of acid rain and/or leachate torques cells……..............….….…………8
5b. Not as above…………………………………………………………...….….……...11

6a. When the bees come I clutch them with blue-purple tubes..….........….Penstemon spp.
6b. When I feel my body I find just a few chloroplasts………………..……………....…7

7a. Scarred by a metal blow, my skin erupts from your pollen…...……..Phleum pratense
7b. I tether an empty pause between anger and elation………………………...…….…..8

8a. My yellow-white body feeds on scavenged sugars…….…………Corallorhiza trifida
8b. Body green, inaudible, or otherwise fed……………………………………..….……9

9a. Body glabrous, wax-white, or wanting………………………………………………10
9b. Stem, leaves, and bracts with harsh stiff hairs………………..……..Castilleja hispida

10a. Each raindrop spills sperm into my leaf labyrinth.................Polytrichum juniperinum
10b. I taste a saline drought draped upon basalt…..……..…………………….………...11

11a. You might believe cleaving matter is something other than assault…......................12
11b. I push the button for colony collapse, listen for the last waning drone………...…..13

12a. My trill: not a warning; my body, not a target…………………..…Catharus guttatus
12b. The air writhes with my protest; I shield ferns from your scythe…...……...…..…..13

13a. In the atomic blur we are monstrous, marred and gutting..........Homo sapiens sapiens
13b. I dream we’re wise isotopes, a memory mass of gills…………Homo sapiens sapiens


Rebecca A. Durham

Rebecca A. Durham is a poet, botanist, and artist. Originally from New England, she now calls Montana home. She holds a B.A. in Biology from Colby College, an M.S. in Botany from Oregon State University, and an MFA in Creative Writing (Poetry) from the University of Montana. Nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Rebecca’s writing has appeared in Orion Magazine, Superstition Review, Pilgrimage Magazine, Riverfeet Press Anthology, Mud Season Review, Meniscus, Epiphany Magazine, Pacific Review, Mantis, Bright Bones: Contemporary Montana Writing, and Poetry Northwest. For the last eight years she has been researching vascular plants and lichens at the MPG Ranch, a conservation property in western Montana. Rebecca is a PhD student at the University of Montana studying ecopoetry, ecocriticism, and environmental philosophy. You may find more of her work at www.rebeccadurham.net.