This poem was inspired by prompts from lb_lee</lj> and thesilentpoet</lj> who have also teamed up to sponsor it. Among my ulterior inspiration: the farmer/hunter theory and various people's portrayals of Neanderthals as differently civilized. So I got to wondering what it would be like if these two branches of humanity worked kind of like the tortoise and the hare...
The thing about Neanderthals
is that they never stopped going.
The Cro-Magnon would run here and yon,
doubling back on their own trail,
exploring dead ends and crossovers and clues
that turned out to be not so useful after all.
The Neanderthals would stand back and watch,
wait until all the running about had been done,
then pick up the correct answer and use it.
Once they had it, they wouldn't turn loose of it,
no matter who said it was unfashionable or no longer holy,
or whatever other fool idea had the Cro-Magnon
dropping yesterday's technology today.
The Neanderthals just kept going forward.
They had started with stone
and learned that in addition to making weapons
you could also get quite a fine spark for lighting fires.
They couldn't quite figure out how to make a tool for that
but they were working on it.
The Cro-Magnon found out
that if you left a certain kind of mud in the fire,
it turned into something like rock.
They made some bricks to line firepits
and then wandered off in search of something new.
The Neanderthals took the clay
and made plates, jars, and figurines.
They made masks and painted them,
grew annoyed at the paint wearing off,
baked the clay masks and created glazes.
They wore the colorful masks
and spoke of religion and philosophy.
Meanwhile the Cro-Magnon discovered
that when you hit metal with a rock,
it bent instead of breaking.
Well, that was interesting.
They whacked some gold nuggets into jewelry
and went off to find the pretty girls.
The Neanderthals whacked some gold nuggets
into fishing weights and went off to catch supper a little quicker.
Then they explored copper, and lead, and tin.
Eventually they figured out that if you combined copper and tin
you got bronze, and that if you put bronze and flint together
you could make a clever little firestarter.
Then the Cro-Magnon started playing around
mixing piles of stuff together.
Some of it blew up and singed off their eyebrows.
The Cro-Magnon abanoned chemistry
in favor of cooking.
The Neanderthals picked up chemistry
and refined gunpowder.
They invented guns and went hunting,
then hired Cro-Magnon girls to do the cooking.
The two branches of humanity
never did get around to killing each other off.
The Neanderthals appreciated that the Cro-Magnon
did the frustrating work of going through all the new ideas
to find the ones actually worth following up on,
and the Cro-Magnon appreciated that the Neanderthals
did the boring work of developing ideas into useful technology.
Humanity's twin species
keep going forward.