January 15, 2021

Poetry Week: Morning One – Damaris Zehner

Wolf. Photo by Andrea Ebling

Note from CM: I know this may not draw as many comments as some of our regular discussion posts, but I have wanted to have a “Poetry Week” here for a long time. So this will be the week.

Each day, we will publish two poems, one just after midnight, the other after noon. Hopefully, this will give us all a chance to move out of our left brain for a few days and into our right, to focus not on analysis and argumentation, but to practice contemplation as we immerse ourselves in imagery, metaphor, and beauty.

We begin today with our Poet Laureate, Damaris Zehner, a true lover of poetry, and, as you will see, a very able practitioner.

• • •

The Beginning of the Anthropocene
By Damaris Zehner

What daring our ancestor had, to face a wolf –
The teeth, the yellow eyes, the slow circling –
And see beyond the snarl
A warm-coated companion
Curled around his sleeping children.

What courage, to contemplate the aurochs
With horns like tree branches, heavy hooves,
Its back as humped and massive as the hills,
And feel, beyond a proper terror,
His cheek pressed against a hay-scented flank
And his hands tugging uncontested at rubbery udders.

What ambition rose in him to hear the stallion
Rallying his herd and see the flying manes and tails
Vanish over the steppe; to picture wagons, chariots,
Speed and conquest, and himself a centaur
Scattering people with his hooves.

What hubris filled him as, beside the hut
Of mammoth hides, he stared obliquely
At the orange ball sinking; he crouched and struck
The sun out of a rock, caught it in strands of grass,
And blew until bright worms crawled through the kindling.
Night fell, but the small sun on his hearth glowed with power,
And he gazed at it and dreamed.

Photo by Andreas Ebling at Flickr. Creative Commons License


  1. Daniel Jepsen says

    Love this, Damaris!

  2. Christiane says


    thank you, Damaris

  3. Susan Dumbrell says

    CM, Please excuse my enthusiasm
    I have been putting this together this weekend and wish to share it with the IM bloggers.
    I hope as a reflection fits in with this week’s theme. I look forward to the entries you post. I feel I will relate to them as words are my passion (along with Bach).

    Buds of Spring, Roses renewed and spring to life. Flowers of November, Blossoming love, our Lord is near to meet.
    Heat of Summer and the hot flush of love. A never before felt emotion.
    How this compares with those early days of Spring’s tempting first sight of ardour.
    We see our Lord as at Transfiguration, a blinding sight.

    So follows a Summer of effulgent, hotly flowing love which blooms white, pink and yellow.
    Interspersed by brilliant, red multi flowering stems which stand the test of the Summers’ extravagant heat.
    Such is midlife love as are the hot enfolding of the petals of God’s Holy Spirit.
    No love like this ever imagined. A gift from God to mankind and returned. Christ here with us in Body and Blood.

    Disease in Autumn, A spot or a grub grows and overpowers our ardour.
    Doubt of God and lover, whom can we trust? Where is our Saviour? Who renews our Passion?

    The Rose which once adorned His forehead, in pain and suffering borne, now wilted, dry, crumbling.
    Dry blood on old wounds crusted. Death foretold.

    Autumn brings Rosehips, Red, and Plump, ready for sweet jam.
    A new life from old.
    Swirling petals fill the mind with colour. Christ lives again and we with Him.
    May we be just as gentle in receiving Divine Love from Him and giving love to each other.

    In Jesus Name, Amen.

  4. Rick Ro. says

    Stellar poetry.

  5. Robert F says

    Damaris, Thanks for sharing this beautiful, thoughtful and carefully crafted poem. Here is my “right brain” response:

    emptiness and form
    are the same, not different,
    the sutra teaches

  6. Adam Tauno Williams says

    Brilliant work!

    The First Alliance, when hunters on two legs and four, moved beside one another – an under appreciated moment in our history.

  7. Robert F says

    The first time a human imagined and envisioned a weapon in the world around him — there was a fateful moment…

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      I have always assumed that Weapons predated anything that we would recognize as Human. Animals use weapons, even rudimentary tools.

      With any notion of Craftmanship would come, IMO, something clearly Human; with the thought, however vague, of “I make”. The making vs. the finding and repurposing. That is the big leap. The Canid can understand the Spear, even I believe it’s tactical advantage, as the human can appreciate the Canid’s seemingly magical ability to seek out it’s prey – – – what the beast cannot do is see the raw stone and stick, and imagine the Spear.

      • flatrocker says

        Speech is what separates us from the animals.
        Amplified speech is what separates us from the Amish.
        – Emo Philips

    • Ok I figure somebody will do this eventually so let me go ahead and be the one.


      A couple of years ago at a local screening her in DC I heard actor Keir Dullea comment that this was his favorite scene in the movie. How many times has he seen this movie over the years do you think? He and his official theater entourage were seated right behind me and my girlfriend. They kept reminding him that he didn’t have to sit through the entire movie if he didn’t want to but he did and got totally into it. He audibly gasped during this scene.

      One interesting item I’ve never seen commented on is that the movie clearly indicates that homo sapiens would not have achieved our current dominion without tools and would not have achieved the mastery of tools without outside (divine?) intervention. So in the end 2001 is a creationist epic.

      • Burro [Mule] says

        If A.I. had ended where Stanley Kubrick wanted the film to end, with David/Pinocchio staring up at the Blue Fairy in ecstasy until the heat death of the Universe, it would have simultaneously been the greatest and most black-hearted ending in cinematic history:

        God is an illusion, a trick our brains play on us, yet nothing comes remotely close to finding Him.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Some anecdotes about “History’s Most Expensive Underground Art Film” from a “The Making Of…” book I had from back when it first hit the theaters:

        2001 started the trend of using Classical music (instead of futuristic Theramins) for an SF movie score.

        2001‘s theme — “Also Sprach Zarathustra” — is only the opening to a long (and very dull) orchestral piece. The part used in the movie (the opening) is the only really impressive part of the piece.

        2001 quickly earned the reputation (shared with Yellow Submarine and Disney’s Alice in Wonderland) of THE movie to see while high. The first six rows of seats were usually full of heads who’d prepared with a tab of acid or a couple shrooms before going in.

        At the Los Angeles premiere, as the Black Slab beckoned the astronaut into Infinity, one of these heads came out of his seat and ran full-tilt down the aisle, going “It’s God! It’s God! It’s God!” until he crashed through the screen.

        • Robert F says

          When I was at Michigan State University in the late 70s, I saw “2001: ASO” at a Midnight Movie Madness double header along with “Reefer Madness”. I was not in the first six rows of seats, not that that made much difference to my altered state.

      • Rick Ro. says

        The whole scene is epic…


        “Tool” becomes “weapon”, which to me is the evolution of all technological advancement (from “good intent” to “bad intent”).

    • Burro [Mule] says

      Yet all of this pales before the first time any of us used an adjective.

      I remain in awe of human language.

    • Yes, that hint of dread was what I was hoping to capture, Robert F. The domestications mentioned in the poem progressed (or degenerated): the wolf as companion, the cow as servant, the horse as weapon, and the sun as power. Domestication, as everything we’ve done, yields mixed blessings.

      • Robert F says

        One Law for the Lion & Ox is oppression

        But humanity is always trying to make one law for everything; domestication is part of that project, and can only proceed by way of oppression. In retrospect, we should not be surprised that this has produced so much violence in our history.

  8. Excellent!

  9. Genesis speaks of God giving God/person “dominion” over the rest of creation. In spite of Dominion Theology and others who tend toward totalitarian control and self-serving exploitation, there really was some kind of quantum leap at our beginnings. That highly intelligent animal that had been fashioning the exact same spear point for a hundred thousand years suddenly started growing crops and tending flocks and building cities. And hammering out Empires.

    It’s been a long haul since Damaris’s worthy snapshots. There was significant progress with the uplifting of humanity that the uplifting of Jesus accomplished, but it was only within our lifetimes that the world population as a whole registered that crucial tick upward from service-to-self to that line where spiritual integrity begins. Even if many here still tend to see the glass as half empty, close inspection reveals that is slightly more than half full, barely so, but gaining slowly as we speak. That doesn’t mean that we can’t knock the glass off onto the floor or fling it up against the wall. We still have the same ability of choice we were given in the Garden. It is what separates us from the rest of creation we see surrounding. If we sometimes make stupid choices as a people, we retain the right to make individual choices that affect the whole, right on out to the stars and beyond for good or ill.

    I am most hopeful as to outcome but it’s an iffy proposition these days. Reports from the front indicate many victories over the Dark Forces that have held us in bondage over the millennia, but reports conflict and are scattered and incomplete. I peeked ahead and read the ending of the story, love wins, I just don’t know if that last chapter is now or yet to come. Some days it doesn’t look so good. Overall I’m betting on God’s Love but we could screw this up big time. I got a commentary today on Revelation from within the Wesleyan tradition. Not too light, not too heavy, may turn out to be an interesting take between the slavering Dispensationalists and the mind-numbing Academics, and I expect the Dragon will still get bound. In any case, better than the dark propaganda found on television, leave your fearful mind to us, go out and buy something. I choose the Light.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Reports from the front indicate many victories over the Dark Forces that have held us in bondage over the millennia…

      And all it takes is one full Nuclear War or similar-sized global disaster to kick us back to Iron Age Feudalism with salvaged high-tech weaponry, bringing the Dark Forces back at full strength.

      • Yes, and desperate, last-ditch efforts are being made openly to bring this about. Reports also indicate that this will not be allowed, but that we are still required to do our part for victory of the Light. This is not the time nor place to sit and wait for rescue while we watch TV. I wonder, HUG, if you ever saw the conversation between us recently that subsequently disappeared and never came back.

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