Our claypan crumbles loose, an arid powder,

when we bend down to test it in our hands.

Weather’s hotter. Floodplains ooze. No memory

of when the elements so raged and shattered.

Ice and fire, wind and rain. We have the power

to splice each gene with pesticides. We spray

more chemicals when insects’ niches co-evolve.

We fatten hogs on drugs. We beef up cows

with peptides; hardly balk at their diminishing

resistance. An irrigation system terraforms the desert

pumping dry the ancient water-table until it’s red

with iron from its last barren drops. Our feedstock’s

swill, a load of antibiotics. Bloated, bulked-up chickens.

Decades of monocrop. The runoff slewing nitrates

thicker than the horseshit when the lawyers

come to pester us with threats of lawsuits, pricking

like mosquitos and no-see-ums. Potato beetles.

Spider mites. Cabbage loopers. Weevils. Invasive

troops of mollusks, aphids, fungus, caterpillars.

Each silo stuffed with germ for syrups we factory farm.

We itch and cough and hack and break out into boils.

A haze now blurs across the land, a mockery of halos,

an airborne opioid of soiled dreams. Inhale methane

and fetor—the fertilizer’s tang, close earth exchanged

with every breath. Old tractors settle into cark and rust.

Thin-skinned amphibians die off. The bees collapse.

The viruses of unbelief pass over in new variations

with junk we feed upon—quick clicks—soon spiraling

into the body politic the way fast food produces cancer.

We collect our seeds and give them back to corporate,

who’ve patented our lives. Dust storms. Derechos. Clouds

of cicadas shading us, orbiting and swooping over

ravaged plots—they babble through the Bible belts.

They stream a firestorm between us: a whirlwind’s

blackout at their arrival as they cross the barbwire

fences, cattle guards, cutting through the heart

of this here country. Their tiny gears go nibbling

until the crops are whittled down to nubs; fly off

then drop down on us, attacking as a swarm,

a shrill insistent pulse we numb to as the sky’s

eclipsing dark. By morning we awake to witness,

clinging to limp bark, their empty shells

as hollowed as ourselves

who now no longer listen to their songs or cries.