Conversation 48

At the Anthropocene
(AGO exhibit: Burtynsky, Baichwal, De Pencier)

Tom Cull

Jumbo screens burn
tusk pyramids
humans are the worst
flame storms in Kenya
whip the gallery thick
rolling smoke rising
from ivory furnaces
Ivan said the café is quite good

In the corner pose
with Sudan the last
male white rhinoceros
he ghosts weightless ears
twitching 3D Smart screens
augment his extinction
try again his eyes were closed
closer closer good got it

A man with one white
and one black rubber boot
a large tarp slung over his shoulder
shuffles through endless landfill
man-sized Undertaker Birds stand silhouetted
on plastic hills spectral prison guards
swinging pink gular sacs
I went to Euro-Disney when I was
in Paris kind of a bucket list thing

Phosphor tailings
oil bunkering
pivot irrigation
Bagger 291 bucket-
wheel excavating
new geologic

What does a good Anthropocene
look like to you
Beached tetrapods
holding back the waters
lithium potash copper
Those are Carol’s colours

In a word
how does what you’ve
seen here make you feel

Press your percentage


never more alive

Terrible Twos

Chris Benjamin

Beaver’s got a case of the Terrible Twos.
“Mine,” he says, jamming his toy explorers,
two-footed, into the arctic snow.

Beaver’s scientists are on a special mission:
to solve the issue of ownership,
prove that the North Pole
is connected to his home
on native land,
as the old song goes.

“When all this melts I’ll own
whatever’s left of it!” Beaver proclaims.
“All my peer-reviewed journals will prove it.”

All well and good,
until Bear comes to play.

Bear’s in that same phase,
also staking claims,
learning his power,
unaware of repercussions
or limits.

“Mine,” Bear says, jamming flagpoles,
single-speared, into everything,
even underwater.

Bear’s soldiers are on a special mission:
to get there first, like Sputnik,
to defend what’s his,
like the old Soviet republics.

“When all this melts I’ll own
whatever’s left of it!” Bear proclaims.
“All my flags will prove it.”