Life in the Permian

By | 1 May 2018

There is an exhibition about Monsters of the Permian:
they roamed the planet before the dinosaurs.
They look the same to me, with big gnashers and claws.

I need cash. Don’t we all? Lunchtime comes.
I walk with a heavy bag to the second hand bookshop
which buys and sells. I sell only. My library is thinning.

The Permian, all 46.7 million years of it, was jammed
between the Carboniferous and Triassic Periods,
and featured the supercontinent Pangaea. True fact.

I make small talk with Richard behind the counter.
Walk away with my $30, feeling halfway between
20 and 70 million years old in the Mortgagearian Epoch.

As well as reptiles, there were Permian creatures
that were kind of proto-mammals:
hairy little fuckers with mean eyes.

I paid for my children to see that exhibition.
They read wall panels about the great dying.
The gigadeaths of the great and small.

That’s how the Permian concluded: the great dying.
That’s what they call it. Lava floods.
Methane clathrates. Aridity. Acidity. Anoxia.

I search for the two bills in my wallet: a twenty and ten.
Gone. Nothing there. I look again as if
they could magically reappear.

After the great dying, it took ten million years for life
to get back to something resembling normal.
(The hairy little fuckers hid under rocks.)

Now I’m standing in front of a sign
advertising the Permian Monsters,
as I rifle through my pockets, in rage, in anguish.

Then a bit later on it all got smashed again
by the killer asteroid 65 million years ago,
and the HLFs were the only game left in town.

I’m searching for my missing cash
as killer asteroids explode on my head
on this fucking planet, this planet of death.

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