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The Nine Billion Names of Man

by David Adès

A clock ticks over, number after number.

The number rises.
In times of war, famine,

in times of epidemics, catastrophes,

the number rises,
swells, washes into and over

coastal plains, forests, mountains, deserts,

rivulets pouring in every direction,
beyond carrying capacity,

beyond ecosystems,

releasing viruses, changing landscape.
The number rises faster.

Another is born and named

and another, and another,
so many and still more

until the swell inundates.

One by one in the monasteries
and the cities, darkness spreads,

the lights go out.

Copyright © 2016 by David Adès

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