A Continuing Discussion about the Seeds and Pods
of Sculptor TJ Mabrey**
Poppies have been referenced in literature since Homer’s writings in Ancient Greece. Papaver somniferum renders brilliant, blood–red flowers, while others are pink, like the soft cheek of a child. These flowers are some of nature’s premier beauties. But that beauty belies the black nature of humans who put the pod of the poppy to malevolent use. The milky latex extracted from the seed pod contains naturally occurring opiates and alkaloids whose pharmacological use, in the form of opium, has been documented since the 16th century. Working in The Golden Triangle of opium trade, Britain engaged in Two Opium Wars during the 1800s that resulted in a lucrative trade agreement with China that would last for 150 years. Greed, power, money, control.
The Chinese government’s eradicating both consumption and production of opium during the 1950s drove production underground where the trade emerged in the expanding Golden Cresent - Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Countries engaged in brutal wars of destruction that cost more to humanity. More and more.
The Soviet-Afghan war of 1979 lasted 11 years, leaving a succession of three unstable, interim governments. With the scorched-earth war policy of the past, Afghan farmers found a viable replacement crop in the poppy that was well-suited for survival in bad soils and in high demand by the underground drug trade. With the US-Afghan war beginning in 2001, propped up by a government complicit in the industry, opium production escalated dramatically with consequence for all humanity.
The United Nations 2020 Drug Report states that more than 58 million people worldwide have opiate addiction; 4% of the North American population has drug addictions attributed to the poppy pod. From our pop culture, the Golden Crescent probably paid for the movie, Man With The Golden Arm featuring Frank Sinatra!
About POPPY POD: The iron element that crowns POPPY POD is there to
remind us of that country and ancient culture of Afghanistan,
which been blasted back into the iron age.
My indignation grows as I hear the music WAR, a 1969 Motown hit sung by Edwin Starr. More Songfacts about WAR. To end on a softer note, there is a line from Joni Mitchell's song, Clouds, that resonates with me. Listen to her song here
but substitute the word war and love for the word clouds.
I really don’t know war at all!