Volume 31, Number 1


When we found the tiny people
They were making civilization
In an uncivilized gully no one
Had thought to explore the value of 

Except for them, and now us.
You can wonder why they would inhabit
Such an out-of-the-way place, but
If this land of theirs were so easily
Reached, it would have long before now

Become ours, not theirs. There looks to be
Four, maybe five dozen of them,
Two longhouses only three feet across,
A smattering of outbuildings. I can’t imagine
At eight inches high they would farm.
Speculation is that they hunt the indigenous bugs

As we might hunt bison or deer,
Have a use for the exoskeletons, fashion
Beetle legs to brace roofs perhaps. Could be
There is insect worship, a place
Where souls are reborn as larvae; or no.
At this point in our knowledge, possibility
Is remarkably fat. I have heard

That bugs are very nutritious, contain more protein
Than we give them credit for. For the moment, 
We take notes, with good intentions map out
A potentially more involved anthropological inquiry,
Agree amongst ourselves there must be
No contamination. Being eight times their size
Knowledge of us would smother their ambitions.
Our parallel worlds can co-exist as long

As they co-exist in mutual ignorance.
Let us hope there is no gold in these hills,
No manganese to extract. We each will do a book,
Make back our expedition investment with the royalties.
Johnson hollers, look, they all go about
Wondrously, innocently, naked.  We could
Include discreet photographs, mix tribal beauties
In with the village snapshots, triple
The sales. After a few years

The public’s fascination will wane.
Inevitably, electricity will come to their gully,
And all the tiny people will have to find
Real jobs, give up the insects for shaved beef,
Accept the government dole, wear colorful loincloths;
And, to the varied commissioners
Then coming to ensure that their welfare
Is being maintained—as our world
Supplants theirs even here in nowhere—
Share how they held out for so long.

—Ken Poyner