Carbon poem by Janet Kuypers

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Carbon

by Janet Kuypers

from the “ Periodic Table of Poetry” series

I used to see the magazine ads
and the tee vee commercials.
All I was taught
was that a big busted blonde
was all I could aspire to be.
So I would dye my hair.
So I could act the dumb blonde.
I could still beat them
at any mind games,
but men don’t like the truth
shoved in their faces,
because they refuse to believe
anything that doesn’t stroke
their ego.

So yeah, I was a carbon copy
of what the media shoved
down America’s throats.

And yeah, as time went on
the dark-haired women
started to gain some popularity back,
but they still had to be anorexically thin
and they still had to battle
the notion of all men
still adoring the dumb blonde.
And yeah, as the years wore on
I didn’t have to die my hair,
but I still had to be thin,
I had to be the carbon copy
of the dark-haired, gaunt,
soulless faces
plastered on billboards,
papers and screens.

I pass the magazine stands,
see carbon copies of the models
on multiple magazine covers.

I pass the media store
with rows and stacks
of repeated tee vee screens,
showing carbon copies
to the world
of what we’re supposed to be.

I don’t want to be
a carbon copy of anything.
I want my own thoughts.
my own ideas,
and I want to spill them out
for the entire world to read and hear.

But carbon copy or not,
I end up resigned,
knowing that despite our differences,
we are all carbon—
based life forms.
I mean, when scientists
look for life on other planets,
they always only look
for water first.
Well sure, hydrogen, oxygen,
life as we know it
needs it, I get it.
But carbon-based life forms
are all we know.
I mean, whether or not
they have arms or legs,
or gills, or a mouth, or a brain,
they all have carbon in common.

So when I see
the atrocities mankind causes:

when I see Adolph Hitler,
the vegetarian artist wanna-be,
when I see Adolph Hitler
collect his cult followers
to systematically slaughter
millions…

when I see the stacks
of the skin and bone emaciation,
stacks of bodies in ditches,
or in rooms, stacked in a pyramid
to the small hole for air in the ceiling
after their final “shower”…

when I see the pope
visit Cuba
and wear a sombrero…

when I see chickens
crammed into rows of cages
they cannot move in,
for their eggs, for their flesh…

and when I see
the rows of pre-packaged
barely recognizable cow flesh
wrapped in cellophane,
row after row in the grocery store…

It is then I have to remember
that despite everything,
and as much as I hate to admit it,
we are not all that different.
I mean,
if nothing else,
we are all
carbon-based life forms.