J I M H A R R I S O N
(Grayling, Michigan 1937~ Patagonia, Arizona 2016)
The worst dream ever that all the birds in the world died overnight.
Science couldn't figure it out but then a humble graduate student
from Caltech said that a prodigious number of quasar particles were
speeding toward earth at 5,0000 miles per second. These particles sup-
posedly pass through us harmlessly from a galaxy that had a black
hole the equal in power to five billion suns. Is God thinking too big? I
wondered. So the birds were destroyed by this surge in cosmic power.
Bird-watching groups committed suicide en masse. They were in a
medieval hell without birds. It was soon discovered that the quasars
were reducing human intelligence by a fatal half. Minor wars broke
out everywhere in the world. Luckily no one was bright enough to
press the red button. Dogs ate dogs. Married couples murdered each
other in great numbers to no surprise. Animals went berserk, unlike
us they couldn't adjust to being stupid. People were reduced to read-
ing poetry because it was shorter. A raven on the verge of death said
to me, "Why did you do this to us?" The same question they always
ask us. A few swallows were found in Brazil deep in a cove behind a
giant waterfall. Brazil kept these for themselves, wanting to be the
only country with birds. There was money in it. Thousands died try-
ing to visit the birds. The waterfall made Niagara look like a trickle.
Many stayed with the birds until they starved to death.
Dead Man's Float
Copper Canyon Press 2016
Jim Harrison's New York Times obituary
Thomas McGuane on Jim Harrison