Paradise Lost

The death of the last Paradise Parrot

by Sarah Thorne

It is dawn, and the soft, milky light of a newborn morning gently rocks the forest awake. The birds are first to stir. Their songs peel away the early mist like a blanket and conduct the forest to an impatient crescendo. Scurrying paws soon crack and snap through leaves and dead wood and insects splash loudly in their pollen-baths. Seeds explode into fruits in time with a deafening cicada chorus and the forest’s animals shout and scream through the thickening air to make themselves heard.

But the Paradise Parrot hears nothing. He sits alone, pressed thin against the sides of his bare ground-nest, and his is now a silent world. He is dying, and his sense are dead already.

How different it used to be. His song was once the first to fill the forest with the breath of morning, taking centre stage in an ages-old chorus, and his rainbow wings would mirror the first light to the dark forest beneath him as he darted and flashed through the trees in celebration of the new day.

He had grown with this forest over thousands of years and generations. He had come to know every one of its plants and animals and physical elements at the deepest of levels, and his relationship with them was so intimate and so instinctive that it was not possible to speak of bird and environment as separate, but rather as continuous in energy and spirit.

He was this place. He knew the intention of the rain from the way it fell on the grass-blades sheltering his nest, and could feel danger vibrating through them the instant a distant foe took a first step. He could glide on a pre-empted breath of wind to a seed that flashed its ripeness to him like a beacon, navigating through the tall trees by feeling – not seeing – them.

But this is now a distant memory. The change when it came was swift and brutal. Overnight, it felt to him, the very fabric of the forest had been ripped apart. Its structure had changed beyond all recognition, its familiar plants and animals faded and disappeared, and even the elements seemed to change their mood. And each time a part of his world was taken away, he lost a connection, a meaning, a piece of himself.

The new and unknown took the place of the familiar and the intrinsic in the forest. But his senses were so sensitively attuned to the subtle nuances of life in the forest he had known that it was as if he was blind and deaf and dumb to the newness that now spread around him like wildfire. A plant whose form he could not recognise and whose seeds were hidden to him; an animal whose attack-cry he did not know; a bird that did not recognise his call; a breeze that no longer sang to him of the coming rain.

The vibrant, pulsating canvas of the forest – of his spirit, his experience and his existence – was in one stroke painted over with the blankness of a newness that had come too quickly for him to understand. It was a fatal blow.

He began to close down. Nothing could be instinctive in this new canvas of the unknown, and every basic action drained him. His flight became painfully slow and deliberate, and so he stopped flying. He learnt that the forest no longer recognised his song, and so he stopped singing. His senses gave up the struggle to find meaning in the blankness, and so his world became black and silent and still, his sensory input limited to the hunger devouring him and the deep ache in his soul.

And so here he sits; the last Paradise Parrot. The once radiant mirrors of orange and turquoise, of scarlet, aqua and brown that streaked down his wings are so dull now that they reflect no light, only pain. He does not know how long he has been sitting here, but he knows that it will not be for much longer.

Suddenly, unexpectedly, he feels something stir inside of him, something he has not felt for a very long time. It is a memory, a spark of life-energy that trickles almost imperceptibly through his lifeless body. And like a single drop of water that falls on the tongue of a man dying of thirst, it gives him the sweet taste of hope.

He knows in this moment that he must try one last time to stretch his withered wings and search for something familiar in his dead world. Without hesitation he makes the jump from his nest out into the unknown and his wings painfully rise and fall in uncertain half-flight as he skirts low over ground that seems to hold no solidity to him.

Out of the misty corner of one eye, he makes out the blurred and familiar outline of a seed a short way in front of him. He feels a little more energy pulse through his wings with relief and joy and the tall grass beneath him waves in sympathy with their shaky plight.

Slowly, falteringly, he moves closer and closer to the seed. It appears so huge in front of him now that it obscures the sun behind it, and his world once again goes dark. He can feel his energy leaving him too, and cries out one final, futile, beautiful song that is reflected back to him by the forest as the silent echo of time. The beating of his wings grows slower and slower and slower. The seed is so close, but he cannot reach it. His spent wings miss a beat and he falls to the ground with a mighty thud at the foot of the stem that bears it, his rainbow wings crumpled beneath him.

The seed that almost saved him is shaken from its ancient grass-flower and hits the ground next to him with fury and with rage. The Paradise Parrot is dead.

Published in: on July 28, 2010 at 10:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

Eulogy to Bombus Franklin bumble bee Extinct 2009

Bombus Franklin, you were mostly all black, unlike other bumble bees. Your death as a subspecies was so sudden we had no time to say goodbye.

So sad, so sad.

Beautiful black yellow, we will miss your flower kiss.

There are other breeds like you but none that are you.

In 1998 you were all over North America. By 1999, you were beginning to disappear. Only three of you were seen in 2003. You were killed by us humans – we brought in alien bees for commercial tomato production and they carried the parasites that killed you. You see, we wanted to make money – honey is an industry that is worth billions of dollars.  We went crazy. We bred other bees – sent them to Belgium and back to greenhouses near you in America Our honey bees were used and replaced like objects. Some of them escaped and infected you. We are so sorry for our crazy people and for all the ways we might have been a part of your death. And we feel scared because other bee breeds are going, and Einstein said that if bees die out then humans will be gone four years later.

You see, we need you bees, our lives depend on you.

You are gone and there are none that are you. We didn’t know you while you were alive but we miss you anyway. Maybe your loss will teach us something and serve as a warning – maybee.

All our love Rachel and Luc (5)

Published in: on July 28, 2010 at 10:36 pm  Leave a Comment  


Not even on prime time tv

But on the minority interest channel

I saw a scientist break open the heart of a mammoth

‘It is very rare’ he said

‘There are only two in existence’

We were never told if

The other mammoth’s heart

Had yet been broken

by Henry Normal

Published in: on July 28, 2010 at 10:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

Eulogy Song for the Hawaiian Po’ouli


a human in a city in the


wants to think about

a little bird


oh po’ouli


oh oh po’ouli



oh oh po’ouli


we found you in the 70’s

and brought your species to its knees

po ouli


oh oh pouli


you are a lonely bird

you are the only bird

with that kind of bone structure


we knew you

we knew you

we knew knew knew you

we knew you

we knew you

we knew knew knew you

now you’re gone

Katie Shook

Published in: on July 28, 2010 at 10:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

Eulogy to The Essex Emerald Moth


Whereabouts: unknown. Last seen in an Essex estuary, 1991. No record since.

Description: Small, green and furry. Wingspan: 35 mm. Well- camouflaged so vulnerable.

If sighted please contact me.

I miss it.

Sarah Munroe

Published in: on July 28, 2010 at 10:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

Extinction song

by Deborah Grayson

The holly and the ivy

When they are both full grown

Find themselves in poorer woods

Than their forebears will have known

The humble Scottish crossbill

In highlands far too warm

Sets to the north to seek the cold

But solace finds there none

Now the King Protea

Is withering on the stalk

What will Azania think of us

When their flower grows no more?

Virola sebifera

The giant of Brazil

When our children walk in future woods

Will it tower o’er us still?

Red grouse and ring ouzals

Boyd’s forest dragon

And the checkerspot Bay butterfly

will all soon be gone

The white lemuroid possum

Is gone from its domain

And the Panamanian golden frog

will never spawn again

Published in: on July 28, 2010 at 10:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

Eulogy to the Great Auk

by Angela Pell

The animals went in two by two. But not you. Not now.

No colourful children’s picture book will portray you. No funny cartoon. Maisy Mouse will never meet you.

Your name will never be uttered with delight as a four year old points at you in their Animals of the World Puzzle. There’s a gap where you should be.

You cannot buy a Great Auk from the Early Learning Centre.

So…  the Tiger will have to continue To Go to Tea. Alone.

And you will never visit Pingu….  despite the fact that with your patched eye – you could pass for a ‘bossy-distant -pirate-relative-come- to- visit… who-teaches- his nephew-how to-find treasure’.

Your beauty and majesty are lost. Long gone.

No Youtube clips of you will ever exist.

No one will snap you with their mobile phone.

The Great Auk is gone. Plundered. Eaten out of existence. Rubbed out like a drawing gone wrong.

Published in: on July 28, 2010 at 10:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

Eulogy to the Great Barrier Reef

by Rachel Thomas

We grieve for you, Great Barrier Reef. Who were we to rob you of your greatness? Who were we to pollute, stress, bleach and degrade you to the point of no return?

We will never grasp the extent of our loss and the ongoing ramifications of your sad demise. The ripples of destruction will move eternal … irreversible and unstoppable .. growing ever outwards. Echoing forever.

The death toll can never be counted. Vibrant, precious, living coral, fragile ecosystems and beautiful ocean creatures … colonies and colonies of tiny, wondrous and mysterious animals. Thousands of species of fish and hundreds of species of coral. All brought to the brink .. and then tipped over the edge, as if without a care. Human beings have erased earth’s largest living organism. An underwater universe; a majestic kingdom; a liquid rainbow.

And now we pay the price. Not only our sea-dwellers, but our land-dwellers .. not only our oceans, but our islands. Not only our animals, but our people. Ecosystems and economies. Lives and industries. Adults and children.

We grieve for you, Great Barrier Reef. What have we done? Who were we?

Published in: on July 28, 2010 at 10:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Lament of Small and Brown

by Sam Laurens

Small and Brown, I was,

And you did not notice me,

Scuttling in the undergrowth.

Now I am gone I am not missed.

Yet I and my kind were legion,

As you are now.


You will surely join me.

Published in: on July 28, 2010 at 10:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

Eulogy to the Irish Elk

by Emily Richardson Laurens

“I would like to say a few words about my old friend the Irish Elk (megalaceros giganteus).

You may think it strange that I give this eulogy as I have been implicated in his death. But there were other factors at play.

The climate was changing, the endless plains becoming islands and then, later, ice, grinding it’s way down from the north, pulverising rock.

It was tough for all of us.

My old friend was naïve.

When we came we were expert hunters and he didn’t know that he was the hunted. Why should he? He was the largest deer that ever lived, with palmated antlers spreading 4 meters.

Did we block his ancient migration routes to the south?

Creeping through the cold tundra with our bone tipped spears and arrows?

I don’t know, I can’t remember, it was a long, long time ago, is it relevant now?

Was it the ice and cold?

Was it just his time to go?

I don’t know.

Is it relevant now?

Anyway. Here lies an old, old friend of mine. The Irish Elk. 400, 000 – 7,700 years before present. Lying in the cold blue clay under the peat. I hope you rest in peace.”

Published in: on July 28, 2010 at 10:24 pm  Leave a Comment