Saturday, June 29, 2013


Friend and poet David Ray contributed this to the Mammoth Publications Facebook page recently, and he gave permission for me to reprint it here. Mammoth is a small literary press co-published by Thomas Weso and Denise Low that specializes in Indigenous and mid-continent authors. (Mammoth is trumpeting for you!) Thanks to David for his attention to Pleistocene elephants and the procession of unfolding lineages. He is one of the most politically astute poets--he and Robert Bly edited the anthology  A Poetry Reading Against the Vietnam War in the 1960s. His commitment has never flagged.

New Species Revealed: Tiny Cousins of Humans
         Headline, New York Times

They were small as dolls,
David Ray, photo by Judy Ray
 and the elephants they hunted
 with spears were small too,
 as if to keep that island
 and its population between
Australia and Asia
 in proper proportion, for
 it too was small and fragile.
 Due to volcanic eruptions
 and other catastrophes
 there was never enough
 oxygen for humans
larger than Lilliputans
 or elephants as large
 as Ganesh, who brings
 good luck. In New Delhi
 we bought a model of him
in sweet-scented sandalwood.

Sadly, neither species --
 humans or elephants --
 matured enough
over time to join us
 as we strive for Utopia,--
 great empires, computers,
 cars, planes, telescopes,
 space travel, skyscrapers,
 and weapons far deadlier
 and more impressive
 than spears and slingshots.
I would love to sit down
and chat with these “small
archaic humans” and see
what they and the elephants
 might think of modern marvels.

© David Ray

David Ray edited New Letters for many years and taught creative writing at UMo.-KC. He has published widely and won awards, including the William Carlos Williams Award (twice), Paterson Award for Literary Excellence (twice), an NEA Fellowship, and more. He lives in Tucson with wife and poet Judy Ray. His most recent book is Hemingway: A Desperate Life.  Here is the publisher’s description: “David Ray’s poetic sequence counterpoints lyric and narrative, major and minor modes of amusement, admiration, and astonishment in beholding Hemingway’s Falstaffian posturings as well as his sufferings.  In the end, the poems express compassion for the 'desperate life' of this 'larger-than-life' personality.”  (Whirlybird Press, 2011, 124 pages, paperback, $12.00  ISBN  978-0-9647053-5-7 . Cover painting by Martha Armstrong, More than red, yellow and blue.)!/20599225