Humans in a Landscape

 

Humans in a landscape.

Always on a road.

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Reading at Writer’s Voice Café

Provincetown TV has been videotaping the featured writers at the Writer’s Voice Café at Napi’s in Provincetown for the last few months. I was lucky enough to have my reading taped and here it is!

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Featured Writer at Writer’s Voice Café

Flyer for May 2011 Writer's Voice Cafe--DiasWednesday, May 11 at 7:00 pm upstairs at Napi’s I’ll be reading from Shoal Hope, including the chapter, “…Peter” that will be included in the Dark Mountain II anthology due to be published in Britain June 17.

Come early and let’s have dinner at Napi’s then head upstairs for the Writer’s Voice Café. PTV will be taping my reading to air and stream on their site.

Remember there’s an open mic following. Bring something to share with the group!

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Being, Not Becoming

Waves cresting sharply against a driving west wind.

Green drab, opaque brown, rising like a wall, curling,
sending a mane of spray, shiny with rainbows, up and
back as they collapse in a smother of foam.

Next wave rising up behind, ready to take its turn.

Quiet lull as water rushes out.

Big ones rise, begin to curl far out, rushing inwards in a
building crescendo, before spilling in a flurry, spending
force with abandon, creaming the surface, its visible
breath wreathed in prismatic color, hangs in air before
dissipating in a relaxation as it succumbs to gravity in a
falling sigh.

Place transforms before our eyes, low, confused in roiling
arrays of wash that hold their shape, their form, as they
walk inwards towards the shore.

Walls of water, like horses, vaulting themselves over barr-
iers – they take shape for a lingering instant before crash-
ing.

They present a moment of clarity. Being, not becoming.

A moment returning, repeating, inexhaustible, never
twice the same.

We try to capture them, to hold them in memory.

An impossible complexity, too rich, too fleeting to be
held.

This phase itself passing – calm will return, darkness, a
change of tide, of wind….

This phase demands attention.

Edges, surfaces, lines of force, each movement there in its
predecessor holding its following moment in an incessant
flow.

Curling breakers inspire, wind hard against their faces,
exhaling in great gouts of spray, leaving rainbows lunging,
refracting golden light into all its parts, colors scattered
over sea and sky share, feeding off the sun now setting,
source of wind, source of waves, of all that make up this
scene.

Rainbows arching, and falling, expire.

03.07.11

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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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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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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Breath

It takes
……..difficulty breathing
…………….difficulty speaking

To
……..feel the
…………….need

The power of speech and the
……..desire grows
…………….to be inspired

To breathe in
……..air and put down
…………….words

That can be turned back
……..into breath
…………….through speech.

It takes trouble
……..to feel the power
…………….of speech

A former
……..of
…………….the world

To lose
……..that inhibition
…………….– a stutter and a hiccough

In one word
……..one thought
…………….that…

Poetry
……..any poetic writing
…………….is a struggle

To bring
……..the word
…………….back to speech
To
……..structure
…………….breath

To plan…
……..wrought speech
…………….not simply expelled

A
……..spoken breath
…………….in vocal virtuosity.

Words have
……..the power
…………….to lead us to action

To activities
……..that drop us
…………….into contingency

From out
……..of the
…………….realm of what can be.

I am
……..wary of that
…………….power

Over myself
……..words have
…………….and can give

To me
……..or some other
…………….over me.

Fidelity to poesy
……..seems to be
…………….the only defense.

Crafting
……..written speech
…………….rehearsed breathing

There is
……..freedom
…………….from controlling

Freedom
……..from coercion
…………….– internal and external –

Not telling anyone
……..what
…………….to do

But asking
……..them to
…………….listen

To
……..take in
…………….breath

Through
……..the sound
…………….of words

Heard
or imagined
in voice.

The multitude is not torn this way

The Plenitude not done violence

01.07.10

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