Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Humbaba Scoffs

Even the most rigorous inquiry
Into causation is purely advanced

Superstition. You link things more or less
Similar more or less reliably.

The more precisely you tighten the link,
The more likely you are a scientist,

But you’re still a pigeon pecking a lever
Because pecking that lever gave you grain

Just enough times to trigger your belief.
Skeptical pigeons have higher thresholds.

Your seers used to see my face in entrails,
My wild and bearded, leonine face,

And claimed it was a good omen for kings.
Next thing you know, the kings ordered sculptors

To carve grotesque likenesses of my face,
As if made of entrails, on palace walls.

I was insulted, but that’s how it goes
With superstitious species. You predict

Cause and effect and cause is one effect.
I’m still here, by the way, in the mountains,

Among the ghosts of cedars and those kings
Sent to kill me. And you still trust your guts.

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