Back to the basics

Back to the basics: down that trail
bringing us from the ocean’s foam
where we shared space with fish and snail;
back past Europe, far beyond Rome,
before we started keeping track
or had the means to tally score.
If we would find the things we lack
we must devolve, then dig some more
distaining drills and modern tools,
pickaxes, shovels and backhoes;
tricks learned in engineering schools,
and physics, too; they must all go.

Bring nothing with you, pen nor phone
will serve you here in this dead zone;
no trail guides, blueprints, wires or cups —
to walk this path, you must give up
all semblance to your modern self;
and all those volumes on your shelves:
pretend that they were never writ,
that all you know, the breadth of it,
spans just as far as your two arms
and runs the width of a small farm.

Back to the basics: eat and sleep,
hunt and be hunted, kill or die.
Turn back from hills that are too steep,
from rivers too deep or too wide.
Back to the basics: no free time,
no Broadway shows, no top shelf wines;
the Devil’s in such modern stuff,
so give it back, and say, “Enough!”

Forget how far the human race
has come; at least, in any case,
deny yourself the benefit
of what you did not work to get
and take for granted your whole life:
to slice that bread, you’ll need a knife.

03 JUN 2005

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