Slapping at skin,

At flesh, at consciousness, from

First naïve breath, first innate scream,

First inkling of self, first misguided inference of

Personal eternity — like fledgling deities —

It starts: all leisurely and soft almost,

Innocuous and easily ignored,

The steady Chop, Chop,

The floating up, the sinking down,

And seems, to fresh indestructible bones,

At times, like the patting of dogs,

When they’re good…

But soon, soon,

It builds and,

Beating at body,

At mind, at acts of

Wielding fit physique

And dictatorial intellect

— Devising wheels, wings,

Philosophies and civilizations,

Bestowing medals and monuments

For forging nations, annihilating nations —

The brutal Chop, Chop, pervasive

And glaringly unkind now,

Asserts its callous truth,

To pummel with

Relentless months, with

Bitter and unyielding years… punitive

Almost, as if the dogs have not been good.

Stunned, we’re outraged and insulted

By such ungodly circumstance,

— Such undeserved aggression! —

And, raving at the Chop, Chop,

We screech, we roar with

Manic indignation, but

All to no effect -

It comes, it comes

And shreds our vanity to rags

When bodies start to bruise and

Bleed. Delusions, definitive and potent once

­— Believing we are mighty beings! —

In tatters, ripped, exposed for

Vainglorious conceit, for

Self-important rot

When tendons break,

And muscles atrophy, when

Eyes and minds lose perspicuity…

New strategies now, desperately erecting

Bulwarks of burnt offerings and supplications to

The Gods, at first, then corporate citadels of science -

We triumph, we save billions from the

Onslaught of malevolent asbestos,

Or slow connections, but never

From the Chop, Chop.

Why us, we ask

Dejected, melancholy,

Drowning in self-pity, but

No, not us alone. This destiny awaits

All life, all hearts and pumping filaments alike,

The beasts and birds, the bees, the trees,

— And even rocks, ground into sand,

The sand to dust, the dust to void —

Deprived of any previous being

Or even memory of being

Leviathan or micro germ.

We sigh, and see that

All that is formed

Is fated since genesis to be

Undone, unmade, all substance

Ground beneath the stoic pulverising Chop, Chop.

Backs bent, arms limp against the deluge of

This ruthless repetition, Chop, Chop,

Cleaving joints, cleaving sinews,

— Unmoved by rage, by silence —

Crushing lungs, hopes,

with even memories unspared,

Till finally, we stop, we face the dreadful days,

The sledgehammering hours,

Good dogs, bad dogs,

We take it,

We take the beating

Like stumbling meat piñatas,

Cracking, and fall, we fall to ground, felled

Like toppling trees, and still we feel the steady battering of

Chop, Chop.