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ORBITING OBSERVATIONS

poems, subpoems, & mirrors

Emptiness

EMPTINESSdry lake.jpgEmpty, evaporated, greatness
is emptiness. It is barren land,
dry lakes, dusty wells and mines
ravaged for the building

of night stealing cities,
towers worshipping power,
stretching fingers to self-same gods.

How can your satiate emptiness?

How many crops, manufactured
consumer items can you plant
in its poison soil, or offer
to its warring, spoiled void?
Might fullness be lack,

grasping at nothing and beholding
the abyss of possibility,
and from there loving?
Love opens the wounded womb,

the watery chaos,
the measured, humble acceptance

that yet refuses the esteem
fueled by purposes glib,
that glint with sophistry,
but are ruled by fiat
and thickly, proudly
in denial of what is beset.

Would you, whales and turtles,
beasts beautifully aware
of your submersion in the water,
air, and, for you, dear turtle,
the land, teach us separated

from our wombed emergence,
from our growing division
within the amniotic sea
how we might touch well,

how we can breathe in nothing
and all in all?

Would you, lover, share me
with the world, as I would
welcome you to share yourself,
and in that loose vesting hold
with the lightest and gravest

entwining? Together in binding
and in letting go we seek
to be walked by the ground,
breathed by the wind, and swam
by the deep.
Inspirations: Isaiah 35, Ecclesiastes, and Catherine Keller’s The Face of the Deep

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In the Days of the 2016 Southeast Wildfires

IN THE DAYS OF THE 2016 SOUTHEAST WILDFIRESwildfire-haze-nov-2016IN THE DAYS Rejoice, you lumbersexuals!
The hills are making their holocaust
to the god of consumer goods,
putting your manly-scented candles

to shame. Breathe in the taste
of wooded particulate,
wash in the waters, evaporate.
No, no, it’s not your fault,

but the wild playground
as a living, breathing, crawling entity
has been forgot as such.
I’m not saying I remember,

raised in a suburb.
We tract home and city dwellers,
with our suits and words,
our algorithms and television,

our schools of excellence,
wouldn’t survive a day in the woods,
couldn’t shave our beards with an ax
or skin a rabbit, find edible roots.

I’d die of poison mushrooms out there
as a result of my comfortable,
air conditioned indoor upbringing
drying out the forests

with electricity generation.
I’m reaching out here
to friends I don’t yet know.
Shall we join in touching the earth

by canceling our raids
on her trusts, her blood and bones,
loamy and dusty skin?
Meanwhile the albedo refuses

to regenerate under the cover
of Polar Night unlike any melt
seen since before the Pleistocene.
Come next summer

heat will seep deeper,
glaciers pour out cold oblations
to their suffocating sister seas.
Everyday forward, brothers,

we’ll need to sharpen our blades
to set to cut away at the habits
and habitats that bind
be we in flannel or robes.

 

Inspirations: How big droughts, forest fires could be the new normal in Appalachia by NSIKAN AKPAN, PBS News Hour

Friends

FRIENDS

In some way are the surprising things unfolding
with Trump, especially internationally,
simply the same as they’ve ever been
except now Russia might be a friend? And is it
perhaps the case that politicians and pundits
are upset about such an alliance

because they don’t know how to accept
this new reality since for practically
70 years they’ve lived in a world
in which Russia is always meant to be the enemy
lurking, the easy entity of distinction and distraction?

The war won’t be quite so total
as early as they’d like, not beginning
on their favorite front. They are caught off guard
because it doesn’t quite line up
with the emerging Asia pivot, which was intended
to appease China a little longer, despite the obvious signs

that the American military and its allies
have been building up a presence surrounding
the People’s Republic. But now
they have a potential ally in Russia.
After that sets in, after they accept

the new Trumpian Fascism by way of acquiescing
to his and his advisors capricious orders
so far as they remain alive and television standard
comfortable, they will recognize that really this is
just the next logical phase of the American project.

Many are likely to be tickled by Joe McCarthy’s ghost.

The country after WWII was proto-fascist even then
with its militarism and anti-communism,
anti-poor, anti-black,
anti-anyone-who-refused-to-do-business-on-American-terms.

There’ve been slight moments of resistance
that’ve always managed to be co-opted, presented
as proof that really the United States is a diverse,
welcoming, and benevolent force for good
in the world, when in reality it is the scourge

of the earth, the bloody evil empire.
The narrative of American virtue is going up in flames
and the id is being revealed. Still, some are surprised.
Many horrified. Others have seen it all along
and never allowed their protest to be neutered.

But in the end dissent was always drowned out
just enough to suppress it, to dampen its cry,
to bully its hope into a numbed anxiety
of creative endeavors. The state taunts
the non-violent and the oppressed

and the seeing, often to the point of actual murder.
It has done this nearly over the entirety of the globe
for the sake of entrenched businessmen, kleptocrats
dressing and written up and published
and broadcast in and under the guise of innovators,

philanthropists, hard workers, benevolent overlords,
job creators, movers and shakers. And now
one of their own who like them is only out for himself,
perhaps to an extent just that much more
than the others in their small cabal,

speaking in terms just that much dumber
and embarrassingly banal, is at the symbolic helm
with a few new friends long consigned
to an arm’s length optic relationship. So the composed
elite are flipping their shit for a bit,

but they’ll find a way to keep building the maelstrom.
Others must continue to fight against the squall
of the war machine and its many fronts.
Primarily this will be through the work
of solidarity with those most directly targeted

by the empire of death. We must seek to be shelters,
proclaimers of peace and love and justice.
And we must be honest about how foolish
it must appear, to stand up against the invisible,
fiery, iron fist of state sanctioned hate and oppression,

but opposition is best done in the opposite way
to the modes of the oppressor. Yet, others of us,
like this comfortable white guy musing
must humble ourselves and recognize that not all
will react like that and can yet be friends,

allies, partners. In the end I don’t know what’s coming.
I’ve worked hard to see what is in front of me,
and where we’ve come from. My vision is imperfect.
May I simply be an instrument of peace
in whatever capacity I’m needed. For you. For strangers.

For enemies that could be friends. My sway is little.
Your influence is small. How shall we join in truth,
find ways to emulate harmony, radiate balance?
How shall we be vigilant and plastic,
sturdy and a cushion, just and forgiving, connected

and unfastened, passionate and discerning, life giving
and sacrificial? How can we know unless we ask?
How can we hear the answer unless we quiet ourselves?
How can we speak peace unless we have listened
to its deafening silence

that calls violent acquisition to account?
How can we demand others to let go
unless we too have let go? These are nervous words
reaching, for even with as much thinking
as I’ve done, as much sitting with the sick and dying,

our time now feels different, even after I’ve recognized
in many ways it’s the same as it’s ever been. The veil
has been lifted anew and we behold what is behind
the curtain and the flags of which its folds are sewn.
There’s no more room for denial,

only invitation out of the noxious smog,
a muted listening to the siren song.

 

Among the inspirations: Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States

Subpoem

SUBPOEMPOEM.jpg

Training prose into lines
of poetry is a practice of
freeing oneself from
the arbitration of the order
imposed by law.

Disarm the threat of the boot,
the book and the rifle and
the bomb and the imprisonment
with praise of peace
in its full blossom of difference,

its palate of color and dance,
its detachment which creates
space for truly touching
the earth.
Your poems may be deemed

sub, but no matter if
you accept their transience
as well as your own.
And your lines are merely
reflections of a long

sketching of lines, be they
by brush, code, pen, or picket
protesting brutal disregard
made guiding star.

 

Inspiration: Jonatan Bäckelie‘s concept of “Subsecular arts”

Orbiting Observation

ORBITING OBSERVATIONbeet-drop-in-oil

Wise ones waltz with Sophia
through counter-rationality
understanding
that she choreographs at the margins,
never pressing her way into the masses,

—though she passively
offers them the balance—
recognizing her offerings
would be given away in vain
at the center always ready to lose hold.

Right there in the middle,
that dot of precise gravity,
rests the incessant potential for a Bang!

Satellites orbiting observations,

voyeurs speculating about the dark matter,
poking it with sticks,
prodding it with computations,
fashioning it with metallic and plastic beasts,

observing, without really observing,
and managing to threaten
the viability of life
in the sea, on a bird’s wing, on the ground,
the hummus from which the work woke.

The narrative was published
and reviewed by competent peers.

But at the margins
you can finally begin to see that dot as a dot—
a blip so small its comprehension without
distance from its enormity

will draw you mad with grief
as you recognize your insignificance.
But at the margin of error
that triviality of mere existence
tastes of extravagance.

And stepping off
that razor of madness//bliss
you can float dead in pools of sorrow
and resignation and anger
and rage and disregard

for the mereness of it all
or sit breathing in wonder and stupor
and grace and care
for the sweet vapor of it all.

The beautiful fugue whispers
its discordant themes melting,
lending solace in the transcendent quiet
of the unwritten plot

being played on the horizon.

 

Inspirations: Noumenautics by Peter Sjöstedt-HCloud of the Impossible by Catherine Keller

 

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