Humans in a Landscape

 

Humans in a landscape.

Always on a road.

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Surfing an Empty Sea

Misunderstanding our world as a machine
We have brought about an empty world.
Complexity, a healthy living world,
Reduced to water, gas, and rock.

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Cerulean

Snow,
Low sun on water,
Golden rocks and dun sand.

Cerulean,

The color of sky.
Radiating off smooth water.

Scarce ripples,
Picked off in deep green,
Or indigo blue,
Where the yellow is used up.

Ripples of soft back-wash
Smothered in violet.

A play of complements and triads
Refresh the eye.
Maintaining an intensity
For as long as we can look.

It keeps shifting,
Anyway.
Reaches a peak intensity
Just before the sun touches its limb
To the land.

Slowly fading
Until the last ray-strikes are
Replaced by reflected refraction.

Glow,

Gold drops to dun.
Dun to tan.
Still the blue,
So pale,
Just a fraction darker than the snow.
Joins blue and gold in itself together.
Not making green,
The two together,
Distinct,
Distilling the essence of fluid at rest.

Gulls scratch across a sky
Too calm to glide them home.
A raft of Eiders float on
Clumped, chunky bodies
Impervious to the cold.

My eye wishes the man-made
Gone from this view.
Harder to do,
As the fading light
Dulls this moment’s
Magic intensity.

A surface magical.
Carved by coursing
Energy arcing and
Lapping.

The sound,
Foaming,
Tonal equivalent to

Violet.

Hovering over surface without purchase
To focus the eye.
Wavelengths too long
To capture whole.

The sky:
Clouds carved by contrails;
Colored by the soot of our
Constant fires.
Combustion so pervasive,
Massive,
Continuous.

Cloudscape of
Meager paint
Knifed on and
Chopped.

Not like the water:
Fat and smooth.
Fat and smooth.
Fat and smooth.

01.31.11

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Opthalmos

Opthalmos,
Greek for eye
the word the root for medical and
scientific terminology.

Eye has a range of meanings,
ways of looking into
or out of
the orbs of sight.

Opthalmos,
the word forms itself around
these soft, slightly oblate,
gelatinous spheres.

It treats the eye as a thing,
in all its vulnerability.

Saying opthalmos,
we can almost taste it?

We feel a goat’s eye, or
a fish eye,
something sitting on a plate
or rolling on the tongue.

We feel the wonder of something so
fragile
and tenuous
cradled in its bony orbit,
but open to the air,
to all kinds of dangers,
physical, emotional.

Opthalmos,
the eye in Buñuel,
laid open by a straight
razor.

Opthalmos,
the imagined feel of an empty socket,
dry or moist?
behind a patch?
or holding a glass eye?
cold, rattling, and blind
– dumb to sight–
everything a real eye is not.

όρχις, Orkhis,
another fragile,
delicate organ on the
edge
between inside and out.

Language calls one forth
in relation to the other.

Opthalmos,
works across distance
at the speed of light,
speed of sight.

Orkhis,
works across time
not space.

One takes in to see out,
capturing the past as presence.

The other replicates the past
to create a myriad of possible futures.

Both are profligate,
both precious to us.

Opthalmos,
the word cradled in age.

Opthalmos,
reflects history
and evolution.

Organs standing in for our entire
apparatus,
so fragile
– wet ware– it’s now called, yet
so tenacious.

In my mind’s eye
I see myself looking
into your
eyes, filling mine.

Opthalmos,
does not carry this vocabulary.
Opthalmos.

11.11.10

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Spectacle

Narragansett Pier: An incongruous
tow crosses from North to South. A
too small seeming tug – sure they’re
powerful – a derrick-crane barge,
low to the water, covered with stuff,
stepping on waves, follows close
behind. Close behind it a long –
three hundred foot – four hundred
foot – reef-like barge, just clear
of awash. The first barge’s cargo;
drums, boxes, cylinders, and
squares, in rust red or pale yellow,
dirty white in the angled light; fill-
in beneath the horizontal linked-Xs
of the crane at rest. The second
barge looks made of brown stone
with horizontal stretches piled
sedimentary. Impossible to tell
what they’re made of, rusty metal,
wood? Stone? Close behind, a
small, red-housed tug steering the
assemblage by holding it back. The
whole procession takes ten minutes
to traverse its own length.

Action! The after-tug has gone free
and is ranging up the side, overtak-
ing the larger barge, reaching level
with the derrick barge in the time it
took to write this line. It’s form
blends into the shapes on the barge
as it ties-up amidships. The proces-
sion continues its glacial pace, a
living lesson in inertia.

It’s hard to imagine why they are
here, so close-in along a rocky
shore, on a course with little sea-
room for miles ahead until Point
Judith is rounded. Its movement
can only be measured over time.
Each instant shows little change
from the last. Its course precarious,
its speed ponderous, their purpose
imponderable, their ultimate end
unknowable.

Have they stopped? Lights begin to
show against the dusk. White lights
on the white sides of the lead tug,
pale pinpricks. They appear sta-
tionary now, only moving against
the waves; low, flat, tired swells
that trip in shallow water to crest emer-
ald green and white.

Each of the three remaining silhou-
ettes seem ranged not in a line, but
in echelon. The lead tug appears to
be heading more towards the land
than the other two. An out-of-
kilter air presides over the entire
assemblage; old, ill-equipped,
poorly placed, and off-course.
These concerns written in the
scrawl of their profiles, in the angles
and vectors of their passing.

They haven’t progressed in all these
lines. The reason for such a stop
here at this time another mystery.
Beach-walkers, traffic, fire trucks,
yapping dogs; no one pays the tow
the least attention. It’s uncanny
their blindness. Perhaps a million
tons of bristling equipment mere
hundreds of yards away, where sea-
borne traffic is normally crawling
across the horizon, the gigantism of
ships disguised by distance.…
Would an invasion fleet be as easily
overlooked? Tojo’s carriers steaming
right into Pearl Harbor? An alien
spaceship pressing down its im-
mense, yet weightless bulk on the
White House? Perhaps, if their
coming were not beat into us,
broad-cast by so many electronic
repeaters. Any true import washed
away by the superficiality of manu-
factured interest and isolated detail.

I look, I always have, to seaward,
puzzling at the signs, however
much the land turns its back on
them. As the lights begin to distin-
guish themselves from the growing
gloom – in an hour their electrified
twinkle may attract the shoreline’s
attentions. Twinkling lights de-
tached from corporeality, the trail-
ing mass and tangle lost in deep
black.

They still haven’t moved in all these
lines. Sirens, blinking lights, rush
past behind me. Walking with their
eyes on their personal electronics,
muses and mediators combined,
clutched in their young paws; a
group of teenage boys walk by out-
of-place, out of time.

The spectacle engrosses from every
angle. Silent portents on the sea, no
way to know what it all means.
Attention drawn to dreads and
fears during this hyped-up season
of the dead, Halloween and the
Mid-term election. One lone surfer
dressed in black walks a white
board in the shallows, turns to face
the next wave, rides it quickly to its
dissolution, walks back out. Neo-
prene figure astride his white
mount in frigid waters in growing
darkness. Lost? Or merely awaiting
his three companions? Dark riders,
pale horses….

The spectacle looms over us all. Its
demands unceasing, its concerns;
draining, depressing, frightening,
and demoralizing; are inescapable.
No one controls it, though many
want to ride it to riches, to power,
to fame. There is the ultimate sign
of its proportions, when the great-
est ambition is not money or
power, but to be fed to the spect-
acle, to shine in its glow, to burn
with its fire, to be consumed; but
not forgotten, at least until the next
sacrifice reaches the front of the
line.

The Aztec seems cruel in hindsight,
his victims writhing as he plucks
out their hearts, watched by the
fervent multitudes framed in leery
fire-light. I can now understand
they may have been willing, as will-
ing as we are to pay the full price
for feeding the spectacle. The cost
blithely undertaken, accepted
without complaint by those wor-
shiping spectacle above all else. The
cost, hidden in plain sight, in all its
improvised contingency, out of
place, ill-conceived, its future, our
future, precarious…. The whole
implausible, incongruous thing,
looming in growing darkness, ig-
nored.

10.30.10

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Within the Tribe

Within the tribe

there are no commodities.

Within the tribe

no one is replaceable.

Within the tribe

effort is contextual.

Within the tribe

results are not quantifiable.

Within the tribe

value is intrinsic.

Within the tribe

meaning is clear.

Within the tribe

all that can go wrong does go wrong.

Within the tribe

there is error, abuse, tragedy.

Within the tribe

there is ignorance and stupidity.

Within the tribe

there is violence and cupidity.

Within the tribe

there is hope of belonging.

Within the tribe

there can be no worldwide hegemony.

Between the tribes

there can be war or peace.

Between the tribes

there is room for variation.

Between the tribes

monks and travelers intermingle.

Between the tribes

each place can be called a home.

Without the tribes

the world is devastated.

Without the tribes

we are all adrift.

Without the tribes

the people have no home.

Without the tribes

creatures, places, people are ground to pieces.

Without the tribes

everything costs and nothing has value.

Within the tribe
there are no commodities…

10.29.10

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Sea Horizon

Why is it when I look to the sea horizon I always see the
past? My own past, deep past, when I was growing up in
sight of a daily sea horizon. The earth’s past, when the sea
meant bounty, an infinity spread out before us, enormity
spelled out in waves, in depths, in breadth, in fish, and in
vistas of an infinite world, an immeasurable globe where
each horizon rolled away ahead and filled in behind with
the promise of yet another, then another, world without
end, ad infinitum.

Every sea horizon held portent framed in the mind’s eye
by the Pillars of Hercules, portals to the unknown, an
unknown of possibility and immeasurable abundance.
Second only to the sky as added attribute to rocky
ground. Sea horizons stretching back in time till our
minds are met by waves crashing in steaming gouts
against crusting lavas cooling from earth’s first coalescing.

Sea horizons perhaps one of the first reflections of rising
consciousness as self-awareness pushed outwards against
immensity. Sea horizons that held our deepest fears,
home to monsters, doubts, embodiments of the alien, the
other to our insignificance.

In the sea horizon I catch glimmers of a far-off future
fullness, a restored abundance, the sea has survived and
replenished after comparable disasters before. What’s lost
to me is a present, a sea horizon that is anything but a
barrier, distance made meaningless by squandered power,
a sea exhausted, treated not as kin of our blood, mother
to us all, a mere pit.

The monsters of imagination made all too plain, our roles
as witnesses twisted into that of executioners. The un-
countable reduced to the last, to the lost, an abundance of
scarcity, a multitude of forms of barrenness. The weight
of our insubstantiality compounded by our replication to
give us the unbearable responsibility for such complete
destruction, in a race to see if we can take down all that’s
left as we cement our own conclusion.

All that is on the sea horizon. Too long did we fear exter-
nal immensity, praying for its overthrow by our own un-
limited dominion. As we near the dreadful day when our
wish becomes reality I look back to the sea horizon, hop-
ing someday it regains the power of immensity no longer
shadowed by our delusion. There is no bargain to be
made that takes us out of life’s contingency without de-
stroying all that life might promise. All this I see, or yearn
for, looking out upon a sea horizon.

10.28.10

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Neaps & Springs

Cycles train
from Spring to neap
show us how variation passes
through phases of maximum and
minimum.
No extreme without
its opposite, no
average without extremes,
pushing the boundaries beyond
what is known. Finding its center,
it will return from prodigies
to the expected. The
only assurance is
that it will
not stop, unless
transformed into some-
thing else that
will carry
on the same dance
with different dancers, to be seen,
or not seen, by us, or some
other,
to go on,
to go
on,
to go
on.

10.23.10

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To Hell with Good Intentions

Thoughts occur
poems arrive,
these usages ring true.

Not as passivity
unless that of the
patient hunter.

The ancients called
the voices within
Gods.

They knew better than to assume
to own them merely because
they were inside us.

Ownership, Private Property
necessary evils?
Necessity gives them too much dignity.

Ten percent of the cells within us are us
the rest, the totality of which
“we” are but a tithe, belong to the world.

It’s not so much the world intrudes
but that we are mere infiltration
into the world.

Mere accidents of scale
keep us from seeing
the myriad of all that we temporarily invade.

We don’t own our own bodies
the space on or in
our skin.

We can own actions
if we chose
to destroy.

Destruction is
the only avenue open
to control.

I capture
thought
by writing.

It allows me
to string thoughts together as they come
to witness and reflect.

I know no other way
to – harness? –
thought?

Not so much
harness
as ride.

The paintings in the caves…
We have no idea how that felt to make them, to see them,
to descend into mother earth in darkness and constraint.

Bringing the idea of fire and light
into this realm of
darkness.

Finding the shapes in the rock and coaxing them to life
animated by the mind and the flicker of weak flame
in dank air.

No one complained then
of a lack of ease.
Such a miracle was a Gift.

The relationship of made to maker clear.
The only ambiguity was who was who?
Do we make what we find?

Does it make us?

09.23.10

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I Sit by the Shore

I sit by the shore
waves course in
the sun settles to the horizon
the light grows chromatic
and then fades away.

The sound of the waves
rumbles and simmers.

The moment renewing itself
evolving
never the same
riding fractal waves
of cycle and variation.

I’m here

I’m aware

I’m writing

It feeds me by example
by its amplitude
by its rhythmic
unfolding.

The Plenitude of Being

It draws

me

out.

01.27.10

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