Again, the neighbours’ cat

has deposited shit on our grass –

a sticky, smelly mess

resistant to removal.

The soil in the flower bed

is loose and easy to dig,

so why can’t it bury its shit

like our own cats always did?


Humans sometimes do better.

Beneath New Mexico

we’re constructing a repository

designed to last for millennia

of half-lives, but don’t yet know

what to tell those who come,

long after we’ve passed on,

about the dangers concealed

by the desert sand.


How could we deter the curious

from excavation?

Structures invite investigation,

pictograms might be thought

a treasure-hunter’s map –

and how well would an artefact

marking a nuclear tomb

defy the erosive power

of sun, wind, rain and frost?

Perhaps it’s better to deposit

such waste deep in a forest

and let trees reoccupy the site

as if there’d been no burial,

for it’s futile to invest in signs

intended to warn civilisations

using symbols and languages

perhaps very different from ours.


But why do we still choose

to dump such shit and bury it?

We no longer need to excavate

the earth for uranium:

air, fire and water can generate

the power we need

and allow the planet to recuperate

from our careless hurts –


until the swelling, scorching sun

boils away the seas,

our cosmic dot has lost its blue

and all its life is ash.

What are you looking for?