Codex Exterminarius (poem)

I was honored to have a poem of mine included in Issue #5 (“Rhythms”) of Consilience, which is a peer-reviewed journal exploring the spaces where science meets poetry and art.

My poem “Codex Exterminarius” is featured both in print and as an audio recording where you can listen to me read it.

The editors of Consilience ask each artist/poet to supply a short statement commenting on the science that underlies our piece. Here is mine:

“Codex Exterminarius” is a mapping of our cultural genome in an age of post-peak oil. Each pair of conjoined words at the centre of every line is car model names. The bonding letters conform to the molecular structure of DNA by replicating the Adenine-Thymine (A-T) and Cytosine-Guanine (C-G) base pairs that cement the double helix.

Every genetic code is a narrative assembly pre-configuring a developmental trajectory. The trajectory of this cultural genome would appear to open with idyllic bliss (“sonatA=Tempo”) and conclude with apocalypse (“omegA=Talon”).

The setting for the poem is the Nanaimo Estuary on Vancouver Island, where young salmon (smolts) with their large black eyes hide in the eelgrass before going out to sea. In Nanaimo Harbour beyond the estuary freighters stacked high with new cars from Europe (via the Panama Canal) are anchored before unloading. Despite car-makers naming so many models after animals, that will not forestall the mass extinction our cultural genome appears to be hurtling us toward.

Nanaimo Estuary, Vancouver Island, Canada. (Kim Goldberg photo)

About Kim Goldberg

Kim Goldberg is a poet, journalist and the author of 8 books of poetry and nonfiction. Latest titles: DEVOLUTION (poems of ecopocalypse), UNDETECTABLE (her Hep C journey in haibun), RED ZONE (poems of homelessness) and RIDE BACKWARDS ON DRAGON: a poet's journey through Liuhebafa. She lives in Nanaimo, BC. Contact:
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