Jonathan Bright

A Slight Alteration

In the land of elongated skulls,
or landing strip messages to the gods,
or pyramids, temples, churches, stone circles,
all looking past the biosphere for a sign,
when the Earth rumbled, or maybe it was too quiet,
when the stars were the portraits of gods and heroes,
from the Greeks and Celts,
Egyptians and Mesopotamians,
there was a common way to
poke the gods for a sign.

Bogs in England yielded mummies of the strangled,
melting Alpine glaciers revealed a Stone Age iceman shot with an arrow,
and before scientists found a dead little girl with vomit on her shirt from fear or nausea,
the Chilean mountains hid Inca children drugged and frozen to death,
killed for the people, said the priests, and the people danced.

Back then,
villages and empires were alien planets scattered across
the galaxy of Earth separated by the great space of oceans
and mountains and deserts, continents drifted apart,
and people could not see clearly past clouds,
the stratosphere, the moon,
but everyone danced.

The people now know sacrifice appeases no god,
reveals no answer, does not bring the journey closer to Haven Port,
yet, today, an evolved people heard some news…

Back then, a little girl vomited on her shirt before she was killed.
A high priest said he appeased a god for the people,
and they probably believed it,
and they celebrated by dancing.

Today, a little girl vomited on her shirt before she was killed.
It was reported on TV. The people did not want to believe it.
Celebrity dancing followed.
A god appeased the people for the high priest.

Evolution begins with a slight alteration.


A Moose Where the Pin Was Found


Standing by Leif Erikson’s house
at the northern tip of Newfoundland,
The Viking descendent listened
to the tour guide explain how
archeologists proved this was
a Viking settlement
centuries before Columbus.
“They found a pin,” she said.
It was a three-inch pin used
to fasten a cloak at the shoulder.
It was quite an expensive pin,
she said, and the owner would have been
“distraught to have lost it.”
A pin?  Not a sword or remains
of a dragon ship or sculpture
of a goddess or a battle helmet,
but a small pin for clothing?
“That and they found some
small forges for making nails,”
said the tour guide.
Disappointed, the descendent looked at
the hole in the Earth that the tour guide
had called Leif Erikson’s house.
It was a large square
pit in the ground with a pile
of dirt next to it.
In a field near the house
was a replica of a Viking village,
along with two gift shops and a
hot dog vendor.
Suddenly, a large
bull moose ran through
the Viking village
and up a treeless, rocky hill
leading to a cliff overlooking the ocean.
The moose tried to climb
down the cliff, changed its mind,
loped back down the hill,
through the village,
onto the roadway leading to a beach,
then ran into the cove
and swam toward the ocean.
It kept swimming,
and the descendent watched
as the moose disappeared
into the horizon.
“Moose don’t belong here,”
said the tour guide. “They are
an introduced species to Newfoundland.”
The descendent asked the tour guide
where she thought the moose was headed.
“Oh, I don’t know, but this happens
a lot,” she said. “The replica village
was built in the middle
of their breeding ground.  They’ve
become disoriented.  Don’t worry;
he’ll come back.”
A few hours later, the descendent
was still waiting for the moose’s return.
He was eating his hotdog and
contemplating which souvenir
to buy when he heard someone
shout, “Moose!”
A large male moose
pulled itself out of the ocean,
stumbled onto the beach,
and staggered back toward
the replica village.
It collapsed in
Leif Erikson’s house,
the perfect grave.
The descendent decided
which souvenir to buy:
It was a large stuffed bipedal
moose wearing a plastic Viking helmet
and a t-shirt that read
“Take me or
Leif me in Newfoundland.”


Jonathan Bright describes his early life as an extended Monty Python skit, being the son of English parents, but he survived and went on to earn a BA in English (SUNY Oneonta), an MAT in English (Union College), and an MA in Communication (SUNY Albany). He is an educator and singer/songwriter with two solo acoustic albums, River Chaos and Order to March, but, lately, he has been focusing on his poetry and fiction.

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