Ballad of Jurassic World

awesome pic from

awesome pic from

a recounting and review in couplets
by D. R. Goodman

Our heroes (boys, of course) embark
to visit auntie at the park.
But auntie’s busy pandering
to corporate moguls wondering
what awesome monster BD Wong
might soon unveil before the throng
of highly-paying visitors
who’ve come to see the dinosaurs –
and so she sends a snippy Brit,
cell-phone obsessed, to babysit.

Behind the scenes, a guy named Owen
gets Velociraptors goin’,
training them to hunt and play,
and then (if we’re all lucky) stay,
get back, refrain from eating him
and other staff, which would be grim.
But evil Vince D’Onofrio
butts in with plans to let them go
afield as soldiers (raptors?! yes!),
assisting in tough spots, I guess,
like Syria, Afghanistan
(“if only…Tora Bora… man!”),
obeying orders from the troops—
unless they don’t (in which case, oops).

And then that actor, sad of eye,
from Lunchbox shows up as the guy
who owns the place. We can’t decide:
Is he a mensch, just selling rides?
Or bad guy, greedy to extremes?
A little bit of both, it seems.
He authorized BD to work
on creatures bound to go berserk
(spoiler alert!), but now feels doubt,
(what if Indominus rex gets out?),
tells auntie to call Owen in
(romantic interest!) to begin
assessing safety—and, guess what?
Containment’s weak! And so the plot
from twenty years ago replays
in much more bloody, violent ways,
with much less thought and much less depth.
Poor Michael Crichton would have wepth.

The boys go AWOL on a ride
without their nanny at their side—
and into mortal danger, yes.
How will they get out of this mess?
Then for a grueling hour, you’ll see
Indominus rex’s killing spree,
destroying staffers, soldiers, more,
with unmatched cruelty and gore,
and decimating harmless hordes
of sweet Jurassic herbivores—
the gore no easier to take
because the animals are fake.
A copter crashes, “birds” get out;
now Pterodactyls swarm about
with beaks like swords, and snatch as prey
the tourists as they run away.

Both good and bad die needlessly,
no line, no plot, no sympathy,
till finally Owen and his girl
set out to save Jurassic World
with guns and raptors to assist,
to hunt I. rex —wait! there’s a twist!
It’s not as simple as we thought!
Has all this training been for naught?
When all seems lost, our genius-boy
invokes T. rex—and hence this ploy:
our heroine, in heels, with flair,
brings old Tyrannosaur to bear;
and in a loud, horrendous fight
genetic cousins rend the night,
disturbing Sea World’s Mosasaurus.
Who will win the battle for us?

I won’t give it all away,
just this much more: Suffice to say
that Vincent D. is made to pay,
while BD lives another day
with I. rex eggs safely in tow
to guarantee a sequel. (No!)
The babysitter meets an end
so harsh and pointless, it offends;
and if you think she gets her due
gratuitously—so do you,
for paying bucks to see this dreck.
The movie is a bloody wreck.
But since we’ve made it here, this far—
let’s learn the morals. Here they are:
Folks, do not get divorced—it’s bad:
you’ll make your little genius sad.
Don’t joyride in a gyrosphere.
Don’t pass the sign that says “Stop here.”
Megalomania’s not good.
Respecting living things? You should.
And, scientists, amoral jerks,
(yes, all of you!) just stop your work!
Or, at the very least, god knows:
Don’t weaponize your GMOs.

© 2015 D. R. Goodman

There! Now I’ve saved you the trouble of going to see it. You’re welcome.
BTW that awesome pic of a dinosaur riding a shark is from



The human species holds 75% of its genes
in common with the puffer fish.

Sometimes, there’s an inkling:
a tickling behind the jaw,
a tingling in awkward limbs,
an involuntary blotchiness
of skin in the patchy light
that scatters down through treetops
as through ocean;
a certain notion of simple
round-faced shock,
spikes on end
to ward off those who prey;
a touch of poison
to make them pay.

This poem first appeared in Buckle &, number 14, Spring/Summer 2005.
If you’d like to read more about puffer fish, click in the photo to go to National Geographic.

Sestina: The Kickoff

The moment just before the kickoff
is a moment of grave tectonic stress,
the forces of muscle and adrenaline
pressing dangerously against stopped time.
The kicker measures his steps, raises his hand
and the plates begin to slide, break loose,

the small explosion of the kick lost in the loosed
power of charging, churning men. The kickoff
arcs high, hangs, falls toward one still player whose raised hand
now reaches to catch; he drops to his knee, the stress
broken for the moment, no miracle this time,
clash and crash averted, players awash in post-adrenaline

rush. They live this: a roller-coaster of adrenaline,
the kicker and the returner, two soloists set loose
outside the structure, holding the two ends of time,
suspended on opposite sides of the kickoff.
The kick-returner watches, waits in a vortex of stress,
the wild hope, the oft-dashed glory, the decision always at hand

to run for it, run behind his team—some of them actually hold hands,
a sort of nightmare Red Rover, 1200 pounds of adrenaline-
soaked linemen advancing together as if to stress
the sweet camaraderie of sports—or better yet, break loose,
somehow blast free and fly, carry the kickoff
all the way back, quicker than everyone, quicker than time.

And the kicker has his tension, too, his time
of expectation, doubt and certainty, the hand
raised when all the stars align, each kickoff
a fulmination of focused practice, perfection and adrenaline
joined in physical skill, everything let loose
in one swift swing and lift, and the force and stress

of impact send flying that burden, the ball, the stress
it stands for now transferred to the others for a time,
while he, still primed and hot, must wait and watch, stay loose,
the import of his one brief act out of his hands
if all goes as planned, but ready for the adrenaline
to kick back in if the returner, run amok, runs his kickoff

back, wild in the stress of the chase, the kicker’s hand
the last to catch his collar, just in time, down him, adrenaline
already shaking loose the impact, shaping, too, the forces, for the next kickoff.

Since it’s football season, I thought I’d post a suitable work. This poem first appeared in The Texas Review, Vol. XXIV, Nos. 3 & 4, Fall/Winter 2003. I enjoy the fond fantasy that this is the only sestina in existence on the subject of American football. — Oh, but now everyone will be wanting to write one!

The Goats Laboring

Trucked in like migrant workers, spindly-legged
And eager, they assault the hill—once logged,
Now thick with stumps and brush, and tinder-dry
Brown grass: a day’s assignment. Passers-by
Slow down in brief amusement at this sea
Of motley goats let run amok, set free
To trample and devour. This is their task:
Fight fire with hunger. Wearers of Satan’s mask,
This cloven-hoofed and horned and bearded horde
Consumes with fiery spirit all the hard,
Dry fuel that feeds the risk of conflagration
From one flicked ash. But what do they know of arson,
These ravenous goats? Hard at their urgent work,
Which they pursue past daylight into dark,
They know but that they’re hungry, and they eat.
Such is their nature—some would say the height
Of wisdom. So accomplished at their job
Are they, that any favored tree or shrub
Worth sparing has been fenced, to keep in check
The all-outreaching, ever-craning neck
Of goatly appetite. So stands the oak.

Next day, we find the hill transformed: now stripped
Of brush and leaves, the grass completely cropped;
The laborers about in varied poses,
Most lying, ruminating; some with noses
Thrust deep in troughs of water or of feed
That supplements their diet of dry weeds;
Some pose on stumps, hooves balanced on a point,
Supporting keg-like bodies, every joint
A bony knob. One samples and rejects
A pungent eucalyptus shoot, inspects
And chews the bark that falls in leathery strips;
Some, rampant, stretch to reach forbidden tips
Of juniper and oak. A pair lock horns
Like classic wrestlers on an ancient urn;
The young butt heads, with flat, thick skulls well-suited
To pointless conflict, pointedly disputed.
One elder turns on us a slit-eyed stare
Of startling blue, his curly, sheep-like hair
An old man’s coat. He seeks new leaves, so dense
And green just past the wires, but stops to sense
The tick, tick, tick of the electric fence.

This poem first appeared in Iambs and Trochees, no. III, Issue 2, 2004. It’s that season again: The goats are out in force cutting the wild grasses for the citizens of Oakland.

Living Under Eucalyptus

Those towering creatures,
providers of shade
and the vital illusion of woods—
they’ve grown willful again.
Enraged by the wind,
they pelt us with bark and branches,
with rock-hard acorns that rain down the roof,
skipping and bouncing till they fall to the porch
with a sound like a cracked skull.
There is no possibility of sleep.
The wind in the leaf-crown
surges like a great ocean.

By day they look down on us kindly,
marking our lot in deliberate rows,
whispering of the past
and the people who built this place.
Some have arms intertwined like lovers,
their skin streaked in muted colors,
red-brown and gray-brown, flesh and green.
Their bark drapes and hangs like a strange cloth.
The mat they’ve laid at our perimeter
rustles with deer or squirrel or the smallest bird,
lets no one approach by stealth.

Then night comes with its wind again,
and they tear their bark in a fury,
hurling it down in shreds.
The huge trunks moan and strain;
falling limbs play the aerial like a Jew’s harp.
I tell myself the roots are deep,
that the trees cannot come down,
but their branches crash like mortar fire.
We are under siege.
In the morning, we’ll walk out to find
the porch shin-deep in litter,
the gutters bent and battered, brimful of leaves,
a dead limb straddling a lawn chair like a warning.

This poem first appeared in Cimarron Review, Issue 158, Winter 2007. It was written quite a number of years before that, but it remains close to home—literally. Even as I type, the wind is setting up that roar in the treetops; the acorns (which are not truly acorns, but seed pods) will soon be bouncing down the roof.