Natural Species

D.J. Enright

There’s a law these days against the extirpation of a
Natural species ... So John Brown assures himself
As he moves with care down the Underground corridors.
A poster for panties carries a sticker:
    ‘This degrades women.’

For Brown himself is the sole survivor of one such
Natural species: the John Browns. He can still recall
The others – John the stripling ... Brown the poet ...
The sportsman ... the bridegroom ... the warrior ...
    the work-force ...

All departed, leaving this world a poorer place.
Only Old Man Brown is left, the last of his kind.
So will it preserve him, the law concerning species?
On a picture of men’s briefs a sticker proclaims:
    ‘This degrades yellow underwear.’

He knows what laws are like. There are loopholes in them.
(They changed the rules of rugger when he wasn’t looking.)
You can fall through a loophole. Or under a train.
Then what use a lawyer? He knows what lawyers are like.
On a playbill for Oh! Calcutta! a sticker complains:
    ‘This degrades Black Holes.’

Is his the folly of age? There are other forms.
Like the madness of Darwin. And the law’s loopiness.
He moves with care through the Underground alleys –
Genocide they call it, or (watch out!) Endangered.
Better to miss your train than be hit by it.
    Extinction is degrading to John Brown.