Back to Issue Twenty-Two.

on the theory of descent

BY COREY VAN LANDINGHAM

 

—Darwin

He meant, of course, origin. What
                                   strains from what framework of bones.
                                                           The form

                                               the giraffe bends
                      down to the dirt same as the elephant,
                                 binding our foreign, numbered—L4, T7—

weight. And from the war of nature
            comes the production
                                 of a higher animal. Say

                                                           from the war of nature comes
                                               what we need—
                      a machine more than man. What mind wouldn’t

want this? Clean tactic, poor boys
                      of America safe before a screen.
            My friend caught, in Jalula,

                                               by an IED, not quite right
                                 still. Who am I, then, to demand
                                                           a higher order.

There is grandeur,
            Darwin says, in this view of life.
                                 The new technology

                      that keeps our Global Hawk air-strong
                                               thirty-four long hours. Improving the real
                                 bird’s endurance by a day. So art

plays nature’s second part.
                                 Coiled, darker
                      than black, the engine resembles

                                               sci-fi’s most gleaming
                                 machinations. Death-helmet, snake
                                                           pit, asteroid-flung. O endless forms

most beautiful. It looks ready
                      for space,
                                 another world.

                                               Over Gaza
                                                           men call drones zanana—nagging
                                 wife. Slang imitating sound. How hungry

language becomes. Thy soul was like
            a star—They are as gentle as zephyrs,
                                 blowing below the violet—

                                                           Her beauty hangs
                                                                         upon the cheek of night—Always
                                               we want more. Catch up, fiction. We are

already our most gruesome
                      design. Operators, in their padded
            chairs, in low, tan Midwestern

                                               buildings, cannot hear
                                                           the buzzing—like
                                 a thousand chainsaws—these new birds

make. Bangana—Pashtu for wasp—
            sing us a song we can fall down
                                 into. Sing something decent, something

                      far off and sweet. We are, we now know,
                                 made from star stuff. Who wouldn’t feel
                                                         god-like, so hovering, so composed.    

 

 

Van Landingham 22

Corey Van Landingham is the author of Antidote, winner of the 2012 Ohio State University Press/The Journal Award in Poetry. A recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and a Wallace Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University, her work has appeared in Best American Poetry 2014, Boston Review, Kenyon Review and The New Yorker, among many other places. She is currently a doctoral student in English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Cincinnati and a Book Review Editor for Kenyon Review.

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