November

The ninth month of the year,
before the Julians changed the calendar,
promoting their household,
claiming the glories of high summer for their own:
Julius,
Augustus….

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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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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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There Are No Landmark Days

There are
no landmark days.

We grasp
at dates,
divining the auspicious.

We struggle
to give them
significance.

We tremble at days
marked by
uncommon disaster.

We forget each day
holds endless, chronic,
habitual destruction.

There are
no landmark days.

Our birth
or death matters
to those who care.

All of them
do
to someone.

We quail
in anticipation,
in premonition.

We await them in
expectation, of a moment
of sharp transition.

There are
no landmark days.

We tumble
hope, prayer, dread,
and fear.

We scramble
after
finality.

This vaporous
identity, all
anticipation unrealized.

No day, so far,
has fulfilled
its hypothesis.

There are
no landmark days.

Is this
why we fixate
on End-of-Days?

Are we
so tired of life’s
contingent continuity?

No matter
what changes take
place?

We maintain
our fascination
in morbidity.

There are
no landmark days.

We wait for
all-encompassing death
to wipe away all transience?

We crave
the ultimate
Will-to-Control.

More dear than
the drip, drip, drip
of life?

Wishing for a
deliverance wrapped in
a terrible ecstasy.

There are
no landmark days.

Wishing for annihilation,
symptom of our loss,
trapped in our inability to accept.

Unable to inhabit
now, when every
day trembles with Being.

There are
no landmark days.

10.11.10

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Loom

This fall’s
first day
of loom.

Water warmer
than the air.

A thin
layer,
warmed by contact,
a lens,
bending light
over the horizon,
magnifying
whatever lies beyond its limb.

Distant ships,
land,
float mirage-like
just above the edge of the sea
sawtoothed,
crenelated
by loom of far-off waves.

Headlands appear taller
then break up into
blips and blobs reflected,
surrounded,
top and bottom, by
bright, light
sky.

Distant,
half-glimpsed, vertical strokes
line the eastern horizon,
reflections of a grim future
girded by spinning blades
passing themselves off as flowers,
or gannet-like wings,
as benign as over-sized children’s pinwheels,
demanded by over-sized children,
determined to hold onto
all of their toys.

Red, green,
and blue
blossoms burst from this line of
distant spear-points,
vanguard of this year’s Bermuda Race,
recapitulating the Triangle Trade,
in reverse,
overlooking that Gold Coast,
Slave Coast, where rum from Caribbean sugar
bought more bodies,
to grow more sugar,
to make more rum,
to make the merchant ancestors of these adventurers,
in spirit if not in flesh,
rich enough to continue to play
at sailing,
riding to Bermuda
in the closing days
of warmth.

A distant barge
slowly coalesces
impossibly far behind
a ridiculously tall-periscoped tug
carrying today’s slaves-in-a-barrel,
progress over the old system,
a mainline hit,
its true costs payed for along
other, darker
shores.

Scattered,
three decrepit draggers
mop-up what’s left
living in this local sea
while surfers drive many miles
to slice through
empty waves.

Sailors, fishermen, towboat-men, surfers,
and strollers upon a beach
strewn with subtle plastic,
microscopic flakes and nodules,
our new plankton,
discarded toys, bottles, bags.

They call those, like me,
who call out what’s looming
“Doomers,”
spoilers of the fun
that holds them to
their grim work,
consuming and destroying
the last scraps of a
viable world.

Ignorance abounds,
innocence?

I don’t see
how it can be claimed.

Who is the Doomer,
when they give up on
what is looming
to push on doing
what they’ve “always” done,
watching world retract and crumble,
pushing to
do it
yet more
and more?

Consuming,
in their optimism.

Breeding,
in their optimism.

Blinded,
by their optimism,
of any way of telling
hope from wishes.

10.06.10

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From Wood End…

From Wood End, or Herring Cove, looking west on a clear autumn day.
The hills of Plymouth break the western horizon.
Like a high island, lifted by the loom.
Floating above a glittering shimmer.
Sky encroaching from its edges, reaching
beneath looming land, curling in at each end.

From this sand spit, after its first impression,
from the east of a high bluff shore.
It could be Dover’s Cliffs, or Devon
or the last lingering view of Cornwall’s Lizard?
Until all its monumentality evaporates away.
As proximity brings it into focus.

From this sand spit, once explored.
It did not take long to see that it was an ephemera
of sand and wind. A plaything of the sea.
Not a new land, a new continent.

From this sand spit, first looking across at those hills,
on a clear day in late November or early December.
The harshness of the season closing in with the idea of a new land.
The single touchstone behind this perilous journey.
Those hills, floating above the sea.
A smudge of dark, more solid than the clouds.
Immovable, against the scend-of-sea as the light chop
crossed from southwest to northeast across the view.

From this sand spit, those hills stood for a new land.
The yearning that had been barely tripped-up
by this strip of sand.
Lodged on this promontory.

From this spit of sand, here was glimpsed the first
of the “Purple Mountains’ Majesty.”
That would continue to beckon westward across this continent.
New, or not new, to those who felt its tug.

From this sand spit today, knowing what lies beyond,
long enough for that yearning to have circled the globe entire.
Rubbing off every potential new promontory
any vestige of that naive,
yet hopeful, wish.

From this sand spit, where now too many come to visit,
or, to stay.
Longing for the very qualities
that appeared to have no value to them then.

From this sand spit, looking west.
Ticking off the meridians lost to date:
The misty forests of the Lebanon. The glades and bowers of Crete.
Green plains of Tripoli. Syracuse’s pines.
Carthage and Nova Cartagena desert now.
Lusitania, land of light!
Where the wide sea met deep forests along abundant shores.

California!
This word has held all that remained of that hope for a paradise to the west.
Burning, consumed by billions of greedy eyes around the globe.
The last of its promise lost in acrid, orange flames.
Visible from space.

From this sand spit, looking west.
Is it too late to take a stand?
To say that here is where I am.
That promise is not a place. That no idea should enslave.
Driving us to miss the point of what we have
and feed insatiable appetite
for its perfection. In a place that does not exist.
At least from this shore, it cannot be seen.

From this sand spit, looking west.
The elemental is all we have:
Air.
Light.
Water.
Sand.
Gulls that fly.
Transcending their gulled natures by that miraculous accomplishment.
Floating on air.

From this sand spit, looking west.
Earth reduced to grains worn down from rock. Laying at repose
where wind and water left them.
Anything upright is alive or human-made.
Water lays over half the visible world from here.
That already an understatement. More like seven-eighths, the truth.

From this sand spit, looking west.
The clarity of winter sun,
low all day, has lost its pull.
Can we resist, and not yearn, to follow
it west, and west, and back again?

From this sand spit, looking west…

10.30.09

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