A Fire on Ganymede



You cannot build a fire
on Ganymede,
gather the deadwood
and work up a pleasant sweat
chopping and splitting.
You cannot sit around the campfire
afterwards, making awful coffee
in a pan, telling impossible lies
about how unique your own past has been.
You cannot breathe in the bitter wood-smoke
on Ganymede,
the product of inefficient oxidation,
you cannot, that is, pollute the air
and not care because it is so pleasant,
and say to yourself I will not think
about how horrible it would be if all
the galaxy’s billions were indulging
in a campfire
at once, and gee what’s next, anyway?
Yes, you cannot have that problem
on Ganymede
because you can’t have a campfire there
and so, frankly, one might as well
not go.

Now there is
undoubtedly
some fine reason or another to see
the place, and it’s probably
all right for some
city-bred bristle-head who
has never seen the outside
of a mall.
Send them to find the undoubtedly
superior pleasures
of Ganymede
but leave us old codgers alone.
We have no time for it,
we know better, we have
our standards.

And don’t even ask me what the Buddha
would have urged
about detachment and divorcing the ego
from the material.
When Buddha lived, everyone
burned wood, or dung, or
charcoal
for all their fires, every day.
The smoke hung everywhere,
he wouldn’t have been able
to get away from it
and I’ll bet, when he finally
left the world of illusion,
finally got free,
he felt it missing
and briefly
regretted it.