Size / / /

The last time,

bipeds rolled high.

Things went badly from the beginning.

Witnesses said

earthquakes, cyclones,

just about anything terrestrial

would not have been as bad.

Some even prayed

for direct intervention

in the form of a giant

red-hot rock

like the one that

punched a big hole in the Yucatán.

That was silly:

even bipeds weren't that destructive.

The last time,

bipeds again.

These didn't have any fur,

claws on their toes,

and those funny iridescent scales

around their eyes.

They did no better;

only good thing about them,

they couldn't colonize the high latitudes,

at first.

Once they got good at

keeping warm, they exterminated

high-latitude species just as fast as

the tropical ones

in their incessant search for

new delicacies and

more depraved games.

Never could control their tempers;

many thought that was just as well in the end.

The last time,

we went with something exoskeletal,

something with fewer organ systems

something colonial.

A promising approach; you'd think that

cooperation would come naturally.


Just like those self-destructive chordates,

cooperation worked pretty well with the ingroup

but, they were decidedly anti-"social"

when it came to dealing with the "other,"

a collective consciousness

was no better than the discrete approach.

If anything, they were more destructive,

if only because

they were better at it.

The last time,

we abandoned that branch

of the tree of life altogether

even though there was agitation

to give the slime molds a chance.

But we won't get fooled again.

This time,

we're going to let kudzu have a shot.

David Kopaska-Merkel describes rocks for the State of Alabama. He lives with artists in an urban farmhouse with a yellow "tin" roof. He was born in Virginia, but has lived in the home of the crookneck as long as anywhere. Flash fiction can be found at David's blog is located at

David C. Kopaska-Merkel won the 2006 Rhysling Award for a collaboration with Kendall Evans, edits Dreams & Nightmares magazine, and has edited Star*Line and several Rhysling anthologies. His poems have appeared in Asimov’s, Strange Horizons, and elsewhere. A collection, Some Disassembly Required, winner of the 2023 Elgin Award, is available from him at
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