Species Definition

(In Gaza, and in the Negev, an Israeli and a Palestinian are

working together to prevent the spread of the Avian Flu)


The enemy of my enemy should be my friend

Is that not the formula?

Is there not some mutual interest, some common need or desire,

that will lead us, with congeniality, into a room

where we may leave our knives behind us?


We negotiate in good faith.

But it is faith itself, I’m afraid, that keeps us separate,

drops poison pills into glasses

wherewith we pretend to toast each other.

How can we dispel the viciousness

that makes devils of every last one of us?


What we need, I think, is a common enemy,

something alien, like a virus that kills chickens,

as difficult to apprehend as the Big Bang, or star formation,

or genomic maps they make of our chromosomes.


Look, we might say, beneath this diversity in dress, of manners,

betwixt the formulations, the rules, the expositions, by which we delineate our ideologies,

that whole popcorn of religious belief,

we are all subject to the same diseases, the same ineluctable disasters;

And so you, too, must be human.