We should bow deeply before the orchid and the snail

…before the monarch butterfly and the magnolia tree.

The feeling of respect for all species will help us

recognize the noblest nature in ourselves. – Nhat Hanh


From filthy bilges of merchant ships

came furry invaders that gorged

their bellies with raw natives,

overran the islands.


Human gods later brought wolfsnails

to “biocontrol” other island creatures

as if using one life to kill another

were sanctified, but


the wolfsnails disobeyed

the human gods and slayed

scores of smaller natives.


Human gods picked favorites

among the living, like chameleons as pets,

that had huge appetites for little natives.


Loss of forest vegetation by human’s

pigs and goats drove native survivors

to the safety of mountain trees, a banishment

of innocence by entitlement.


The last survivor of his tribe, kept alive

in a lab fourteen years, Lonely George

has died, the last Hawaiian tree snail

of Achatinella apexfulva, one of the

first species discovered on the islands.


Three-fourths of snail species in Hawaii

are now extinct, forever dead. Ten remaining

species are expected to join George this decade,

a doomsday assembly line. Human gods may be unconcerned


by yet another foreigner’s death until they realize

tree snails control fungal abundance and diversity,

vital necessities. But, survival of the gods would require

they look away from their own needs first.