Archive for July, 2010

A New Mantra

I have been trying to etch this into my subconscious. How effective I will be at this endeavor remains to be seen. Goes against the grain.


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Highland Stare

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The Near Distance

At this precise moment,

(well, not now, if you are reading this;

that precise moment has long passed)
a fire is flaring brightly in the outdoor fireplace
On the patio where I am house sitting;
Curled, Chloe is snoring in regular
at my feet.
I sit on a folding faux-iron chair
Staring at a glowing computer screen
pondering the arc of my life
up until
A glass of French vodka
With floating ice cubes
Sits at my right hand.
When I was 20, there were no computers,
Just typewriters to beat
or pencils to scroll thots onto a piece of paper.
When I was 20, I would have had
A glass of bourbon, no ice,
Sitting at my right hand.
And instead of paneling smoking on the hearth
I would have fondled a cigarette,
part muse, part pose,
To add to the aura of authoring.

Through the window
I see the fire;
Through the open door
I smell the scorch of lacquered wood
Just before it bursts into flames.
Every five minutes or so
I go back outside and feed the fire
With scraps of paneling ripped from the walls
Of the basement entrance to this flimsy house.

This place was built in a rush
to make a profit from the flight to the suburbs.
Now the burbs are dying,
Slowly, relentlessly.
But so are a lot of other things.
Like frogs and owls.

I am burning the past,
I think.
Setting the wood free
to be its component elements
Once again.
What else can I burn?
I wonder,
As I reach for my glass.

Our ‘culture’ is doomed,
Our way of life is going the way of the dodo,
Were we humans meant to warm ourselves
By burning wood?
And were there were meant to be
Fewer of us,
handfuls in small tribes,
Clustered here and there,
And not everywhere on the planet.
Some places were meant to be free of humans,

I take another swallow of vodka
What else could this fire be doing?
Cooking a meal,
Firing a pot or a bowl,
Setting the savannah ablaze,
Or even bringing comfort
to a cluster of cold
hungry, humans.
The last of their
Species on this ruined planet?
Perhaps we really are meant to be
an evolutionary
Dead end?

This fire needs a tribe gathered around it,
dancing and singing and drinking,
celebrating the mysterious presence
Of those randy, frisky unseen spirits who share
This space and place with us.
Now and then I have been lucky
Enough to chat with them —
Once, I recall, long ago
on a slab of naked granite
Above the timberline in Wyoming
Staring a full moon;
And recently, on a storm drenched beach near by.
The beings I’ve talked with tell me
We’ve messed up our opportunity;
We’ve trashed our home.
Sooner or later
Gaia will shrug us off, and
She won’t weep about our passing.
Our probationary and temporary
status at the top of the food chain
Is about to be rescinded, revoked
irrevocably, maybe in a bloody spasm,
I think.
But perhaps that is only the creatures
in my small intestine
Voicing their unanimous collective opinion.
“Stay tuned”, they chant.
I should probably remind them
that we are symbiotes.
Without us they would have no voice;
Without us they would go unsung
And unremarked, even unnoticed.
Why is it that no religions
celebrate their marriage to humans?
It is a civil union without recognition.
Who am I without my bacteria?
After all, they hold me together;
There are more of ‘them’ than ‘me’.
Maybe they will save me?
Probably not.
When we pass on
They will find less a dangerous species
To share life with,
A sweeter and more peaceful species.
They will be as indifferent to our passing
As the winds across that empty beach.
Or am I merely dreaming through the vodka.

Am I unwinding or unraveling?
Does it matter?

Maybe one small cluster
of the bacterial beings in my gut
Carries a code for my re-assembly?
Perhaps they are tasked to be some microbial
Millennium germ bank to replicate me.
Nah! NAC! No way!

What have we done and to what end?
Why? Or are those meaningless questions
In the end?
Answers lie within the soil
From whence we came, or,
In our guts.
Right now,
it’s time to quench the thirst
of my hungry one-celled friends.
After all,
Their health is my responsibility.
Do they like vodka?
Ah, yes;
they seem to.
I can faintly hear their tiny, tinny chorus:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Right now, for this moment,
I am a sort of god to them.
If only they knew the truth.
Next time I hear them
They’ll probably be humming
“Thanks for the memories…”

This piece didn’t come out of my road trip (sadly shortened), but emerged about a year before. Yet it seems, somehow, necessary to include it in here right now. The thoughts that gave it birth and berth, are still circling around and nudging up against the collection of impressions I brought back from the near south. These impressions are beginning to take on some form, though they are still, mostly, a moving mass; I hope to net at least one of them, soon.

So the ‘trek’ and the foray continues, but not from the road for the moment. I honestly began to run out of fortitude and certainly $$$. That merged with the urgency of finding and securing a den for the next few months outweighed the desire to push on. Emotional and physical reality began butting heads with ambition and desire — and for now, no contest. I would have to admit that I am disappointed, but not deterred. . Meanwhile the thoughts and feelings that inspired me to launch this somewhat rickety concept to begin with have matured and solidified; they certainly haven’t lost any muscle mass. There will be another expedition in a few months. The next one is already beginning to take shape and the destinations are surprising me.

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