"Survival Of The Fittest" and "Dystopian"

Survival Of The Fittest

The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy.
          —Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man

She is just
starting out in life
she is feed by a
machine breathes
with the aid of
another machine
take away the
machines, she dies.
She is on a bus driving
in darkness to reach
Washington D.C.
she is one of many
on that trek,
mothers, caregivers,
children and others
whose lives or loved
ones’ lives hang in
the balance who live
because and only
because Medicaid
pays for their care.
The bus rolls on
in the dismal night,
it is a long and risky
flight for such fragile
souls as she. They
are on a mission, to plead
with those who hold
the future in their hands
to show the faces of 
pending tragedy,
begging in favor of
reality vs. ideology.
She spikes a fever
on the way
there is trouble
with the feeding tube
her mother struggles
to provide some relief
as the hours pass
she barely improves,
exhausted they arrive
with the light of morning
at the place where
their appeal is intended.
They are barred from entry.
The office doors
are closed to them.
They are still hoping
to meet with their




1. Dionysius: he begged
“everyone try harder”
but the killing did not stop.

2. The Poet: he was compelled to tell the world.
He stood on the usual street corner
making his impassioned plea to
love one another. Scoffed,
sneered at, passersby name-called
and cat-called.

3. The Gamer: it was not just a game to him.
I have an overwhelming urge to win,
he told anyone who would listen
he would never give up, if it took
the rest of his life, and he didn’t
have much time, the cancer
was spreading.

4. The Visitor: trying to return
was fruitless, it was too late,
there was only one door left to try,
it was bolted from the outside,
it would not budge.

5. The Outer Regions: defoliated, smothered
in soot from firestorms, carrion-laden.

6. The Protesters: massed in the streets,
shouting, lifting signs high in the air,
all to no avail. It was over—they just
did not know.



Howard Richard Debs

Howard Richard Debs is a finalist and recipient of the 28th Annual 2015 Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Awards; his work appears in publications such as Yellow Chair Review, Silver Birch Press, The Galway Review, New Verse News, Cleaver Magazine, among others, his essay “The Poetry of Bearing Witness” in On Being's blog, and his photography in select publications, including in Rattle online as “Ekphrastic Challenge” artist and guest editor; his full length work Gallery: A Collection of Pictures and Words (Scarlet Leaf Publishing) is forthcoming in latter-2017. He is listed in the Directory of American Poets & Writers.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Thursday, September 7, 2017 - 23:02