Coelecanth
#1
It must be hell
to be known to the Universe
as a "living fossil",
then again, maybe not.
I'm happiest when I'm alone
and to be alone on an evolutionary scale
crawling peacefully through the cold mud
at the bottom of an oceanic trench
untainted by religion or science
or seldom even a photon
ugly but undemanding
with my fins
like a parody of limbs
and all my relatives 
dead for millions of years....
Why not?
“All persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.”  Kurt Vonnegut
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#2
Very cool piece, Tim-
It's very interesting that the coelecanth are surmised to have started their evolutionary journey 420 million years ago. And they're still around.

(05-29-2021, 09:44 PM)TranquillityBase Wrote:  It must be hell
to be known to the Universe Maybe, "known to us humans".  But, OK...
as a "living fossil",
then again, maybe not.
I'm happiest when I'm alone  AHA! now who's the living fossil.  Good twist here, Tim.
and to be alone on an evolutionary scale  If your kind have been around for 100's of millions of years I wonder how alone?
crawling peacefully through the cold mud
at the bottom of an oceanic trench
untainted by religion or science  yep, that would be the case
or seldom even a photon yep, that too
ugly but undemanding 
with my fins
like a parody of limbs
and all my relatives 
dead for millions of years....
Why not? Unexpected question here at the end, but it feels oddly appropriate, as in why not be known as a living fossil?

I really like what you've done here, Tim, assuming the identity of this "living fossil."  Many times I know how ya feel. 

Once again, very cool piece, maybe my favorite of yours yet. Thanks Tim!
Mark
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#3
thanks Mark.  This may sound off topic, but it's not.  Have you by chance seen the film The Lobster?  I would choose to be either a cicada or a coelecanth.  A few glorious weeks in the trees or 50 odd years at 2,000 feet deep with no predators....
“All persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.”  Kurt Vonnegut
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#4
(05-29-2021, 09:44 PM)TranquillityBase Wrote:  It must be hell
to be known to the Universe
as a "living fossil",
then again, maybe not.
I'm happiest when I'm alone
and to be alone on an evolutionary scale
crawling peacefully through the cold mud
at the bottom of an oceanic trench
untainted by religion or science
or seldom even a photon
ugly but undemanding
with my fins
like a parody of limbs
and all my relatives 
dead for millions of years....
Why not?

I see the nice parallel to human aging, but I don't see 'untainted....photon' doing anything for the poem. 
Likewise, the repetition of 'I'm' and 'alone' and the puzzling 'to be' (or not to be...)
I would also end it at 'years'. I don't think the question at the end "adds value".
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#5
(05-29-2021, 09:44 PM)TranquillityBase Wrote:  It must be hell
to be known to the Universe
as a "living fossil". Full stop.
Then again, maybe not.
I'm happiest when I'm alone
and to be alone on an evolutionary scale Busker's note on "to be" is fascinating -- at first I found it almost unnecessary, with this and the previous line able to be compressed.
crawling peacefully through the cold mud
at the bottom of an oceanic trench
untainted by religion or science
or seldom even a photon, Comma?
I find this and the previous line fascinating -- two ways, so to speak, of seeing a thing, that thing being the basic unit of light, though the focus and terminology throughout betrays a bias towards the latter way. Only perhaps the bias is because religion -- at least, religion as obsessed over in the west -- doesn't have the terminology for it? No "living fossil" or "evolutionary scale" or "oceanic trench" in the Bible....And this bias, of course, along with what's contemplated -- along with "hell" and capital-u Universe and the use of light as some sort of metaphor -- betrays the lie. 
ugly but undemanding and begin this line with another "to be"?
with my fins
a parody of limbs Remove "like".
and all my relatives 
dead for millions of years.... Again, the lie. I don't profess much kinship with people from, say, two thousand years ago, much less forty-two million, or else by a religious obsession with virtue or a scientific obsession with phylogenetics I don't see them as dead. And it feels....funny....that the fish would see its fins as a parody of limbs, than limbs a parody of fins. 
Why not? The question does nothing for me. There's a drive to it, of course, with "happiest" and "peacefully" and "undemanding", but to me there seems nothing but a summary of the piece's last sentence in this ending, a summary that seems to me unnecessary. I'm sure there's an ending to be found that's as captivating as the rest. Or maybe it doesn't need one, considering all the pleasant twists and turns already there.

Oh, another important note:

Coelacanth, not Coelecanth.
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#6
Thanks for the read and the comments.  I like the cuts that were suggested.

RN, I'm a bit unclear (and would like to not be) about "the lie"?  Am I understanding that the poem expresses a bias towards religion while still using its ideas?  Just not following your thought all the way through, or just too dim  Undecided
“All persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.”  Kurt Vonnegut
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#7
That - I read it as the speaker being very unreliable. They claim they're untouched by science and religion, while expressing religious ideas and using scientific terms. They claim all their relatives are dead for millions of years, but that would be denying their evolutionary kinship with, say, other fish, which however extended is still a kinship, or else it would be saying that they are, as an individual, ridiculously long-lived, having been born to parents and having cousins and uncles that lived, well, millions of years ago. The second observation is perhaps more stretched than the first, but either way it makes for very delicious reading.
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