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Bradley Earle Hoge

Human Genome Project

Inner Fish


Let me tell you about your inner fish.

It is a kinder story than to skip

to reptile – and we already know all 

about that – offered to us in advertisements

and political discourse. Let us avoid

the awkward references to machismo

and death wish, skin deep beauty

and slavery to fashion. Best not over-

simplify aggressive driving and litter

thrown from open window, passive

aggressive masturbation, or voting

for reactionary political candidates – 

reactionary religious fervor – reactionary

lust for the good old days. Best

to concentrate on changes in skull

structure that led to expansion of brain

case. Of extension of skeleton into fin

that allowed us to lift ourselves

from the mud and scamper across

dry patches. Rotation of shoulder 

and pelvic girdles so that we could 

support our own weight and expand 

ischium to allow passage of single egg –

shelled and protected – and eventually 

skull rotated and hinged to allow 

continued growth. Best to hold on 

to these instincts of vulnerability 

that encouraged us to leave the dangers 

of the ocean for exposure to the skies.




Reptile Skin


Now let us consider reptile –

Having left the seas for exposure

to the skies one quickly 

realizes they are being followed 

and ways must be found 

for recapturing the protection 

of the deep – Obscurity

of darkness. But there are only 

so many places to hide, and they 

are quickly taken. And so reptile

must become bird and flock 

together recreating school.

But instead of weaving into center 

to expose the vulnerable – Squawking

loudly enough to draw predators

to the edges – And loudly 

enough to obscure gaps in the silence.

Or, reptile can become mammal 

forming herds, packs, tribes. Serving 

the purpose of flocks and schools –

Exposing the vulnerable by varying 

strategies. But by the time mammal 

becomes human depth once again 

becomes a frightening place – 

To be avoided and obscured

by squawking and weaving, group-

think and drinking, and other 

mind-numbing pursuits. Enough 

to make topography interesting 

and deeper exploration unfathomable.





Bradley Earle Hoge is the managing editor of Dark Matter: a journal of speculative literature. His poems appear in numerous literary journals and anthologies including Chronogram, Rattle, Tertulia, Stickman Review, Tonapah la, entelechy: mind and culture, and Tar Wolf Review. His chapbook “Clacking Things” was recently published by KattyWompus Press. He also has chapbooks published by Red Berry Editions and Plain View Press. Bradley lives in Spring, TX with his wife and three children.  He teaches natural science at the University of Houston – Downtown. 

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