Odes to Science
By Mark Koslow
I write these poems very slowly, over years in some cases.
There are others in progress not in this list. to be added later.
to our Lone Earth
to Outer Space
to Babies and Stars
to a Science of Sympathy
to Our Wounded Planet
to our Dying Oceans
to The Small Majority: The Science of the Overlooked
9. Eight Little Odes to Seeing Ourselves From Outer Space.
to Mother’s Milk
11. Ode to the Disabled: To Stephen Hawking,
FDR and Helen Keller
to Sun and Sunlight
to Moonlight and Henry Thoreau
to the Eyes
to the Elemental and the Wild
to Still Life
to Leonardo Da Vinci
to Wood and Carpenters
to Questioning Poetry
to the Weather
to Civil Disobedience
to Life Drawing….
our lone Earth)
I feel the globe itself, swift, swimming in space." To a Sunset Breeze
Dec. 1890, Whitman,
I don’t mean math exactly,
I mean what comes before numbers
for instance, in the way the reflections
on the inside of a bubble
made by a little kid on the street corner
hints the landscape of the global earth,
or how cells divide an unzipped twist of spiral helix,
or the geometries of quartz or spectrums of opals
or planets turning lonely in their regular orbits
are the living stones that distantly cause
what makes porpoises leap from water, gravity free,
migrating in paths no scientist understands yet---
or how waves arrive on the beach
falling forward in backward reclusion,
what precedes numbers as I look at
hanging in the geometry of spider webs,
or how the topology of honey combs
suggests the logistics of how bees dance out
distances to flower’s pollen
--stamens arranged above the pistil's gates--
to deposit golden sperm
on the bees hairs.
Oh, what ordered chaos coils in Jupiter’s stormy Red Spot ?
OK, to try to translate what I just said:
occurs in space, primal geometry,
the between and above, under and over
of towards and away from in position and prepositional spaces.
Not ‘above so below’ but everywhere the unfolding of light and space.
Not numbers, exactly, but what moves and is,
between the edges of living and nonliving.
How you and I came forth from bacteria,
mycelium of fungi,
water dripping, sun on hot soil steaming
developing at long last into
how otters roll coiled in each other’s arms.
I mean sweat in the terrarium,
fiddlehead ferns uncurling,
and green algae on ponds
or chloroplasts and stomata
on the surface of sun soaked leaves.
I mean science without cocky, corporate business suits---
I mean real inquiry, without science done to serve power,
without university 'junk' science
done to suit testosterone-poisoned hunters
and corporate profiteers,---
I mean the the kind of inquiry that makes
mothers know what their child needs--
the wonder of the mind, colored dust of butterfly wings
bright as aurora borealis, curtains of light
spreading like a multicolored tree across the night sky.
I see dendrite capillaries under the skin of my nose,
dendrites in brain cells, tree branches
and wetlands branching out the Mississippi Delta---
the same wet passion that holds your flesh to my desire
----the something that pulls tides into tide pools
----the light inside sea anemone’s tentacles,
barnacles clutching liver colored sea stack rocks
the eyes of sea lions watching,
the clear lens of the life living
between science, sex and wonder.
I measure meaning by bird sounds
singing crystals in the evening air:
20 Varied Thrushes singing up in the redwoods,
In Redwood National Park,
each with a slightly different note,
glass-harp bowls making tones
between music and math
high up the in the branches of sequoia sempirvirens
miracles of physical fact
between sound and motion.
Study the sun, study and think about it,
how sunspots dance in flames,
how it radiates our lives,
how this fragile membrane of life is all we have----
Crickets tell the temperature of firefly midnight.
I mean science is not just a method
but a receptivity
a way to listen and smell with eyes
or taste with fingers.
I came forth from the womb and am still trying
to figure out why I have five fingers
and what is the meaning of having eyes.
Even duck billed platypuses have bilateral symmetry.
They have eyes in their mouth
and can see feelingly in the dark.
Imagine seeing with your taste buds,
listen with your tongue, look with your ears like Bats.
I watch the lonely truth of starlight
the lonely beat of my own heart
knowing my life is limited and short,
but in the time that is left
the reality of life, earth, this--- this,
this is all that matters:--- to update Blake
”to see galaxies in a grain of sand
and the fragile loss of time in a flower;
how salmon colored sea stars cling to wet mussels
where whales spout mist over the aboriginal sea.
O, these African dreams I keep having of when my ancestors
were dark skinned persons of the Congo,
following elephant trails through the rain forest
stepping over the fertile Elephant pies
back before human genes
began Migration towards the drawings
of Bears and Rhinos in Chauvet Cave.
Let a science of sympathy blossom now.
I slouch toward no Bethlehem,
but lean slowly towards marmots and ground squirrels
and look for alligator lizards on the back roads....
15 years since religion fell out of the sphere of credibility.
how wonderful that science, my first love, came back to embrace me
and still holds my trusting hand,
like a child’s hand
feels like a chrysanthemum in my hand.
Her entire hand holds just one of my fingers.
That smallness is everything.
Ode to Science 2
Ode to Outer Space
The great Nasa photos
from the-Cassini-Huygens mission
show how the luminous rings of Saturn float, revolve
in a mystery of space whose infinite
existence has no explanation----
and I remember all the nights in which I’ve stood
looking up at the Milky way
over the curved horizon of earth or sea
and from somewhere in me deeper than bones or brains
such a huge weightless question arises
as to why,
why this existence and its immensity?
If the lens of Polomar or Hubbell were my eye
would it help me see why there is life is on earth?
I don’t believe anymore
that the universe
was ever "created".
Preposterous to imagine the limited evidence
we have now means much---
What if the Big bang theory is mistaken--- as maybe likely---
there must have been a beginning before the beginning---
and thus Existence always was whether anyone
was there to see it or not.
Gods are such dumb inventions.
Be wary of all creation myths.
No one really knows when time began or if it began.
Once I realized the gods are dead,
or rather never lived---were imagined figments---,
false entities, less than plastic dinosaurs---
I discarded them and
saw the earth is all the life we have---
this life that is “once only” is more than enough.
I stand without religion as a tree stands
feeling the way its being flowers cherry blossoms,
my watery eyes hold mountains and mist
and jungles full of parrots in them.
What amazements of fig wasps and geckos,
Yucatan meteor craters watery with multicolored corals!
I saw Andromeda Galaxy and the Orion Nebula
through the 10 inch telescope at the
Cleveland Museum of Natural History and felt them all
the way though my legs down to my toes.
To see these things in reality and not just in photo form
made me feel them as part of my own skeletal structure,
what I was born with….
Science is being opened eyed
to the hardly noticed obviousness of things---
listening and watching to the
the sky-pond of meanings
the lakes, forest, starry ocean currents of lives,
from stone and sea and sunny black obsidian
and a firey gash of molten rock in volcanic ash.
The planet breathes red tides and hurricanes,
snow caps and mustard seasons
the migrations of millions of birds every fall.
We study plants or stars
to learn to live with ourselves
star charting our own blood,
speaking like pollen to the wind.
To really know our world
means to know that my heart
is the wind that water chimes in my mind,
my eyes come from mountains,
your lungs breathe ages
and our bones are dinosaur relations.
The more you let earth into your mind
the more the heart
undoes the lust to kill, to conquer and to eat meat.
Seeing through the eyes of other beings
creates the desire to coexist
not just with those you love,
but with Lampreys, Manta Rays, huge Beetles
Deer Fly, dangerous Bears and a sea that can kill you.
I am pine needles, falling acorns, mangoes,
the flatworm in the muddy water.
I am cloud, dirt, wave crashing,
the hydras arms, reaching for more life.
How did I come to be, Oak tree?
Even when my parched old body is dying
let me remember
I was born with butterflies.
I come from where dew comes from.
I melt into glaciers and become crystals in time
to show a six pointed snow flake to the sun at dawn.
Butterflies land on my face in the morning and drink dew.
I am geyser ice and a lava liana.
Let these flowers of understanding breathe sun rising
on the miracle of the human mind
trying to love and see the earth in the same vision,
all at once,
Living the life of whales traveling up the coast
and Curlew’s crying in the mudflats and minnows
in the eddies of a summer stream
and how mice feelingly seek with whiskers in the dark
and how the mind of a child creates a new phrase
never used before by anybody.
What a marvelous world to be born into
how the eyes of a baby Pronghorns
trust its parents in the Nevada expanse
and so, so, so, so many babies, I think of them all---
Rhinos, Gorillas or Horses, kittens and my own child.
Now I am old enough to often be weary enough
to miss my young days when I could fly
and run for hours without fatigue.!
Even as my mother died I still kissed the lips of loss
and a fire of tears burned into a life of crying smiles.
My 3 year old daughter whirled
like a gyroscope on turning planet, unaware of my sorrows.
The Rooster at dawn crows the happiness
of the living earth spinning around once again.
I am still here, missing the truth of things that stares me in the eyes.
Saturn floats in the infinity of space
like a duck waking up on the midnight waters.
And the questions still need answers.
Ode to Science part 3
Science of Sympathy)
Those who say life is a dream are asleep.
Turning 50 has awakened me
with a clutch of horror
as I now feel the silent suffering
that screeched invisibly before.
Looking past the greening drip
of my mother's geriatric mucous
I've learned to see beauty
in the old woman's clawed and diseased hands.
I help change her diapers, change her clothes.
I learned to care for babies from caring
for my 80 year old mother.
Some days beauty rises like an orange sunset
smiling on the sobbing moan of what life must do to stay alive.
The bear caught in the bear trap does not abolish
the blooming pink of the redbud trees,
it merely creates the need to outlaw trappers
and game agencies.
The trappers in hospitals are called insurance companies
and it is those that must be abolished.
To profit from the sick is criminal.
In the midst of twilight air fresh with lavender
I wonder who will be forced to suffer next?
What cruel day brings so much terror to town
in the midst of so many spring flowers?
How do I accept the beauty of dying?
I fear the lightning that shatters ordinary lives.
Shall I take down statistics with a cool pen
looking down glasses at the end of my nose,
when mother elephants are massacred with their babies?
“That's not science. If that is science,
I don't want anything to do with it”,
Katy Payne said and I agree.
“But that is not science.” she said,
one of the worlds experts on Elephants.
If one who I love fell down on the trail and was dying,
what kind of science
would teach me to leave her behind
and feel no regret?
How do I study sorrow in the flight of falling flower petals?
How do I assess the pain animals suffer at the hands of men,
or count the deaths of trees against the economy that causes global warming?
How do I accept the sad old woman who is dying now alone
in the care of my hands?
How do I study that with science?
We ask our questions not to gain power or take possession
but to address the silence of so much suffering.
The wrinkled hand that quivers nearly purple on the fresh sheet says that
the only science left worth a name is sympathy.
never step outside science’s door again
but no science is outside sympathy--
I was wrong to think there was any inside or outside.
Everything is threshold--- the about to understand,
the receptive curiosity of a child.
I was born with science in my eyes, seeking.
It was the misuse of science that hurt me
and sent me the wrong way.
I’m getting clear about that now.
The “technical arrogance” that corpsed Hiroshima,
bloodied Einstein’s red-shifted fingers,
guided Mengele’s scalpel into the eyes of twins
looked forward, cross-eyed, from 1945
and saw today’s gene splicer’s and their grotesqueries.
The science that deforms fish for profit
and feeds cow parts back to cows
is something I don’t quite have a name for.
”Greenwash” and “Junk science” express mere complicity.
They claim science to profit from what they kill.
Real science is something else.
It is not in the corporate towers, not where green infects the university.
The only science left worth a name has sympathy.
imagine a science that refuses to wrestle with crocodiles---
refuses bombs and bloody crosses,
rejects bigots of human centeredness,
loves Orangutan’s hands,
loves the sensitivity of Frog skin,
the ballooning throat of a singing Toad,
the baby Oriole’s sweet begging out of the hidden bush ,
the crimson underside of a Kelp Crab.
What is the word for science in a Loon’s language?
The tongue that tree bark speaks,
echoes like copper leaves above the Grand Canyon,
like Albatross bones getting confused in driftwood.
For years I blamed science for
the dirty business of god’s greedy adventurers.
There was no science with Pizzarro or Columbus--
science was not on the Enola Gay—no---
real science walks with frog's feet on leaves
just below where the last Hawaiian Honey-creeper sleeps.
Wake up to what kills and what seeks to save lives.
Yes, I imagine a science without caged animals,
without inquisitors that turn inquiry into invasions.
A rainbow of Macaws flies in fear
from silver spears and Spanish Helmets.
The Spanish Helmets have become satellites,
hovering over the Amazon
looking for stock options.
as the rainbow of Macaws nears extinction.
the obscure because knowing is clarity.
Thoreau called it "intelligence with sympathy"
“Light on a bank side in autumn”.
river-light, the White-Tailed Kites red eye
or the red eye of a Black Crowned Night Heron
looking at me looking.
A science of sympathy that harms no harp seal
heals wounds, soothes cancers,
a science that whistleblows on corporations,
tree-sits to save Beeches and Redwoods,
touches Whale foreheads in San Ignacio Lagoon.
I love the science that looks forward to the regenerate
flower petals of children’s faces laughing,
Jane Goodall’s laughing chimpanzees,
Mozart’s finger’s playing,
Magnolia Warbler singing clear notes
up into the morning light.
The only science left worth a name has sympathy.
( Ode to
Our Wounded Planet)
dear lonely globe,
this most precious wounded planet,
a broken home to us all
grateful and ungrateful alike.
Im trying to take off my illusions for you
strip down to where skin meets fern spores.
I am learning to trust my senses,
reject traditional opinions,
test hypotheses in the light of day
let the sun shine on ‘clear and distinct ideas’.
I want to be strong enough to see you as you are.
I have already faced the loss of myth.
All the god’s are gone,
Jesus gone, Buddha gone, Plato’s dreams,
Hinduism, Thunder Beings, goddesses,
Dasien, Atma, all gone….
and gone too, a faith in capital and Marx and
all those figments, fictions
I look at wildflowers alone,
the beauty way is not Navaho---
no one owns it---
the tree frog calls out in the rain
and the earth under my feet, at last,
alone with our earth---
---try to really feel the lonely winter of this ---
the wonder of standing and existing on this exact patch of earth---
this, where you are, is all there is---
this endangered patch---
our earth and those who are upon it---
together, you and me and our earth
you and me and the baby and earth
you and me and swallows and clouds,
the sound of water
and the sad goodbye
to those who we loved that are dying,
our cat is dying, my mother is dying.....
is it, this is all there is,
a Jerusalem Cricket dying on our sidewalk,
no afterlife for a cricket or for me,
this lonely day and the flowers still blooming
and the strength it took to give up those illusions
to face the empty facts of my full life
and saying yes to suffering and beauty at last,
and this salt and sand chiseled driftwood
we brought home from the ocean
this need to make a place for our baby to grow up,
this love of sea life, octopi, sunflower sea stars,
here is where science begins
in the love of the sad sea
the infinity of a world that is not a dream,---
--- life was never a dream,
such expanses of unknown space,
cities with too many people, roadkills,
days lost in dazed memories
and the small hope that we will come
to understand it, make the world better
for the coming people, protect nature,
let forests return, save Madagascar Lemurs,
stop the meat crazed logging in the Amazon,
free rivers of dams
hold on to what is lovable
about this dear planet.
Only do science that does no harm,
refuse the rest.
Science begins where
we face the lonely earth
I open my hands open to the flourishing rainbow sky
and wake up to the preciousness of each being,
these days and lives that will never be again.
Yes, say yes to helping others
on this strange and fragile planet
so many sad faces suffering
so many flowers, and sunsets
under so many beautiful stars.
to Science 6
to our Dying Oceans)
If the water of my eyes could finally see its origin
and look at the ocean though a tearless lens
I could swim with hammerhead sharks
and watch Cuddlefish light up like auroras.
I’d like to spread my thoughts out
in many directions
like an Octopus’s suckered arms
and change colors, all at once,
thinking new thoughts
like multicolored lights blushing in the deep.
the seas skin is in all living things, and
even in death Valley hints of sand brine
and spiral seashell remain.
I am of such seaweed as floats my heart
like a sloshy boat headed for the isles of coral
where beats the winged fins of the butterfly fishes.
You too are that wind over water,
water spray and By-the-Wind-Sailor---
you are that jellyfish,
that Tuna's eye looking into infinite blue
and only a short time to live.
This ocean is the sperm that made you,
your rounded belly spun of Conchshell
and saltwind of ancient seas.
Maybe we could save the seas
if we could wake all up the dead Bison
under seas of waving Prairie grasses
and hear the ocean thunder in their run
----and we could trample down fences
all the way to the end of global warming.
What if a billion Passenger pigeons
swimming though the air pollution
that browns the Midwestern sky
could suddenly return and give America
a second chance to respect their existence?
O, I wish I could feel the pelt of rain
with a Silverback crouched in the
the Congo basin
or understand water as a whale does.
If I could stretch my imagination
like sunshine across the earth’s big belly
maybe I could fly home to the Gulf of Mexico again
like a long string of Whooping Cranes
and see the unpolluted Mississippi
snaking far below me,
returning to an Island in the sea to mate.
Id like to feel the day is done
after running all the way across frozen Lake Huron
and lay down with wolves
in a snowy scintilla of stars.
If I could teach humans to see
though the eyes of Mice in cages,
Beavers talking in their lodge,
a Fox sleeping with her babies in her den,
human life would be less blinded in traffic
lost and lonely , caught in the circuits,
unaware of all the death this causes.
Brazilian bankers shed no tears
for the burning Amazon
nor do Indonesian loggers feel the pain
when the orangutan falls,
its orange hair on fire.
The War on Nature cuts forests, rapes seas
and I wish I could teach feeling
to men who kill for wages or weekend pleasures,
shooting Coots and Cinnamon Teals,
or reeling in a Swordfish for an office wall trophy.
But what do my wishes matter?
It’s time I looked at reality
what does it mean to say “I’d like to”
or, “what if I could”, in a world
where wishes perish facing real corpses---
just as a shimmer of bluefin Tuna
corralled into a drift net, are
slapped into cans on processing ships.
Corporate flesh eaters ravage the sea’s buffalo
---Just as they cropped the land
with cornfed and voracious cattle,
leeched soils and spoiled streams,
so the waves of cod are sickled
and hauled drowning in air to wet markets,
bloody concrete in Boston and Seattle.
scrape the mother-womb of the sea with dragnets
scouring sea stars and flounder
skewering sea turtles
hooking albatross on long lines.
Industrial catch after catch
battens black the hatch of the mysteries of the sea.
It is like killing your own mother, Pearl divers,
violence against Abalone, Herring,
sea world prisons for dolphins,
cyanide killing endangered tropical fish,
We need to boycott pet stores, lobster sellers,
murderers of sharks and red rockfish.
I watch a desperate crab crawl out of a container
on a crab boats in Humboldt Bay,
and a fishermen stuffs it back in
to be cracked open in a luxury restaurant.
For millions of years Sealions gather on beaches
sunning on sea sprayed seastacks,
Or flying through the liquid kelp beds
lithe birds of the sonar deeps.
Fisherman scapegoat Sealions to hide
their own guilt for overfishing the seas.
They illegally shoot them swimming behind the boat.
I pick up a dead sting ray at the fish packaging plant in Eureka
And feel like evolution has become the liquid of my fingers.
I am less and less alien to the sea-liquid of my cells and eyes.
The ocean precedes my 'essence':
The sea is wet in the slosh of my subjectivity
diatoms wash out the gods in the sea froth.
The sea wakes its razor of motherhood in my salty veins.
But just as the sea has begun to remember itself in me
I realize how threatened the oceans really are.
I eat no fish, because I know they are killing the seas.
The sea is our mother and she is looking though me at you.
I find myself saying over and over in my head:
Eat no fish: oceans are dying
Eat no fish: oceans are dying.
think it is six or seven years now I have eaten no fish.
The Small Majority: The Science of the Overlooked)
will I learn the things my cells already know?
The question my body asks
is about what science does not know yet,
that something out there that is also inside me
far ahead of my slow wit
yet still behind me in paleohistory.
I mean nothing spiritual but nothing cynical either,
I have no complaint about the impermanent grit of sidewalks
or holes in my raincoat that leaves you drenched.
No, I mean, we are all born under the same sky---
--- the ocean is under all of our skins---
what jellyfish through their own diaphane see
what otters though kelp forest intuit---
shake free of sandgrains like a worm on a sidewalk
and feel the rain slap the silver puddles.
Imagine that, I say to myself:
there is no glass in this looking glass,
there is just looking itself, without glass
through the senses at a world more than human—
yes, not supernatural but natural---
natural and more than human:
the meaning of the world is frog skin:
imagine how earth wide life and minds
sprang forth from archebacteria and
here and now the ‘small majority’
of frogs and insects reign unseen.
The world is the opposite of what you were always taught
and I have gone over to their side
these little beings ignored and abused by humans,
scythed down with lawnmowers,---
the Amazonian tree canopy mauled by tree mashers
--you can see the Amazon burning form outer space---
making land for hamburger’s cattle
until Katydids and so many others go extinct
and all because humans are shut
in their own mental-nets,
inzoned in the intrazone
trapped in ignorant arrogance
synced to the social web of car phones
corralled in computers of boxed perceptions
making themselves and all the earth
into products to be consumed.
Don’t let poetry be a “shopping experience”
or an eco-tourist’s holiday---
say no to the spiritual muzak
that holds you in a stylish cocoon of cool.
mind all that.
I go back to the question:
When will I learn the things my cells already know?
The question my body asks
is about what science does not know yet,
I’m asking what I share in common
with flatworms, milkweed beetles and dragonflies?
Down to where biology meets existence in the question
what do bird tongues have to do with my own speech?
what life in me looks when I look?
what science begins there,
where science is threshold
understood in a new way
and nothing has been measured yet?
where imagination is not yet
beginning where Endgame ended:
beyond Beckett’s lost world.
what is there is all there is here
in this tiny part of the world
aside from the sidewalks
under these rust-belt leaves,
in my own heart and yours
under this only sky,
nowhere but us and here now.
find yourself at home in the very place
that you most wanted to leave,
and you look without imagination at what actually is
at last you will learn to accept yourself
as the lost seeker you have always been
looking for a science of the overlooked
close to the ground and up close
to beetles, peepers, chipmunks
and snow fleas---- not as metaphor
for what really matters
but as what really matters.
Earth is the all of it:
even when I turn back and look at myself looking
I can see there is no way but here
however cramped and cruel the facts are
however noisy the insults of sidewalks
however the horrors unresolved
and the burning being of questions
there is only this earth
via the wonder and pain of the obvious
and the given present of the tragic miracle
of our existing evolution together.
Ode to Science 8
to Evolution )
Even if I did photograph the new wrinkles on my hands,
it won’t stop leaves crumbling though empty time.
A least my babies hands look a little like mine
----that is some consolation.
The lunar eclipse I saw Aug. 27th 2007
a few weeks ago
showed me concretely
that the earth spins around the sun---
since I could see the shadow of the earth
pass over the slowly-turning-crimson-moon.
eyelid of a lizard blinks tearlessly.
Flower petals under moonlight,
are like the closed eyelids of a snow leopard.
felt the huge rocks of Southwest Wyoming
lift up their heads
like giant Iguana and reveal an underbelly
of mouth opening sandstone
red as a throat of gulleted terracotta.
paint serves a purpose like the red gula pouches
of Frigate Birds, red and blue Mandrill Butts
look like blue and red Mandrill Faces from far away.
Perfect replicas of Owl eyes or Monkey faces
look out of the design on a Butterfly or an Moth wing
with no one being able to explain exactly how they got there.
Natural selection’s amazing artistry is
far older and better drawn than Chauvet caves.
Let's value Manikin Dances, Turkey Wattles or Chameleon skin
as much as Rembrandts.
alive here on the earth,
seemingly still as pitcher plants
yet that is an illusion---
because earth is always shifting
and sliding over molten pools.
I recently saw geysers,
‘Artist’s Paint Pots’, and other places in Yellowstone,
boiling a palette of primary blood oranges
sulphuric ochres, beryl blues.
Our humble beginnings are in
Cyanobacteria and thermophiles,
originated in these rainbow-hued steam vents
in a boil of starry elements, amino acids
Blue green algae created most of the world’s oxygen
Sunshine and cell patterns precede creation myths.
Life is not the creation of fictional gods
but of colored minerals, sun and calderas.
These prismatic springs
Burned rainbows into the corners of my eyes
and I look godless into the sad and steaming future
like a Midnight Chameleon about to burst into a flame
of meteor showers raining stars over ancient jungles.
Bloody toothed T-Rexes
might seduce you into a Natural History Museum
but sensationalism is not what evolution is about.
Evolution is the hump of the buffalo
or the split lip of lamas and Guanacos
the ring shaped brains of star fish
my own fingernails or my longing for my wife.
The sternum of birds grew larger than any other bird bone
to support the huge muscles that flap the wings.
How the galaxies turn in their spirals is one thing,
but that does not yet explain
tree fern spores on sand grains,--
how life is different than non-life.
Does my small finger relate me the three toed sloth,
who doesn’t have one?
I need to think a lot about this to understand bodies:
Bryzazoa colonies, Radiolaria, Jelly fish, Horse bodies,
Horseshoe crab bodies, cat bodies, human bodies,
bilateral symmetry, dendritic patterns of veins and arteries---
what are bodies about? Life's math doubles and quadruples,
organizing complex structures to stay alive in spite of entropy and chaos.
Splayed sections of an oranges ooze seeds to make new trees.
What relates the throb in my head to Watermelons---
to water pouring off cliffs--
or to thermophile bacteria on under-sea vents?
My fingernails know baking deserts
and my cheeks flowering Rabbit Brush.
Eyes are plush mosses gone crystal:
a vegetable clarity of seeing and mind.
life has to keep moving, if we want to live.
What cooling molten earth crust we live on
floating plates over seas of lava,
shaking subduction zones.
Crater Lake blew its top off only 7000 years ago.
unconsciously quiver while sleeping,
the mind racing unknown to itself
quick as hagfish on the deep sea bottom.
Snakes pause and then move under grasses,
the osprey clutches a fish glistening sliver---
---Think and feel it through---
like Lichens we can stay in one place for centuries, eons….
if the families will only remain---
but nothing is static,
even the self I thought I was 10 years ago is largely gone,
It is true that life opposes entropy
since reproduction is all about not being
killed right away by time.
DNA trumps time,
twists against the spiraling of galaxies,
fights to keep the children alive.
Yes, what a marvel of stiff emerald or ruby strength
holds up the primordial dragonfly
still hovering today over the Jurassic pond?
Dragonflies are one of Evolutions best creations,
much more stable than upright posture, and large brains
both of which makes human birth so very painful and hard.
A half hour after my mother died
I felt her cold forehead and then
gave her a hug and her back was still warm,
all the warm blood still pooling there.
Days later, her poor bones burned into ashes,
looked sandy still and the hush
of her absence cast dead time
over my silent wishes
that maybe she could live just a little longer.
---- life after death is a lie
I realized in the look of my dead mother’s eyes
---only species survive---
How fragile our bodies are
and how we float in the world like jellyfish,
membranes of cells quivering
and always moving to stay alive in spite of space,
in spite of the press and downward pull of a cold universe.
Come then, and touch softly
this tingle of gelatinous being---
this flesh that is all there is
the delicious hope of the sex act
that takes place in mind and body free of Christian lies
gravity and decayed corpses?
marvel of evolution flows from fern fingers,
to my spread fingers open as a fan of bright flowers
and my glad smile, radiant as Golden Tamarins,
leaping in the tree branches.
What a marvel is evolution, this painful prism of glory,
this rainbow array of threatened
beings who want to be safe.
Survival of the safest.
What harm are mollusks at sunset,
dreams of Delphiniums or pots
of plants on the stairway?
Go wherever you like
this is the flower of your feeling, this earth---
this fringe of the leaf that keeps you alive
this curve of your eye on the arc of the horizon
that calls you to the pulse of your own heart
a way to want to live a little longer.
Come out of the sea at last, and embrace
the cold cruelty of this beautiful earth, blindingly awake
dreamless in a sharpened point of loveliness and fear,
only one life
and this exuberance of sweat and leaves drenched in colors and sorrows.
Heartbreak is the rounded shell of new lives coming forth.
This is the essential shape of all necessary shelter,
this round revolving place, earth, evolving
where my daughter’s determined and wild hair
reaches me back to days when chimps
chased ancestors up the squirrelly trees---
Lemurs at twilight were about to leap into language.
Language grows like Sequoia still where raven-speaks,
Scissor tails fly and the howler monkey’s dark green screams.
Why do you think baby chimps, fawns and baby squirrels
are all so leaping crazy?
Evolution crawls with salamanders out of the forested
streams and Life like crystal
laughter is something that is smiling in silence
precious and pulsing with blood, pain and joy
and the difficult and musical earth turning a million years fast
With all our variety upon it, nurtured.
Yes, I say yes.
Little Odes to Seeing Ourselves From Outer Space.
“nothing more” than matter that knows how to think
Im proud to be this “nothing”.
It is really something to be that which
religion has no knowledge of
—with all its denial of the earthly---
I’m not ashamed of Descartes anymore.
The “nothing more” that I am is nothing less
than this amazing something
that knows that no one knows what it is---
this delicate membrane of life on earth---
this amazing flutterwing of moments
this still beating warmth of life
This mind that accepts being part of matter
this is the endlessly short span of my life.
I woke late from my favorite delusions,
my never-returning youth’s vain castles of sandy thought
fell down in a rain of medieval vanity and waste.
I left behind religion’s ephemeral onion peels
stinking of an a delusional eternity that never was---
I started looking at the obvious,
and I opened up like fog parting over the continents,
river cliffs suddenly appeared,
jungle flowers, and the sea showed me
blow-hole mist from a whale’s spout---
showed me how breathlessly wondrous it is
that anyone can breathe at all.
Fragile as a turtle on its back, trying to right itself,
I flounder and fear
the creaking hinges of my own perceptual doorways.
Yet, even as the Arctic ice shelf is slipping off the Arctic
while no one notices all the birds and frogs dying
and in the midst of my failing body and the wild world
dying all around us unnoticed
I still feel the Milky Way pulse in my brain.
I didn’t quite use up my life for nothing, did I?
I inch toward now to dim understandings.
I try to hold to the factual and the actual.
I am one whose confidence in his own kind collapsed
like the lungs of a bullet punctured animal---
yet the lonely rag of wonder flaps against my face
like a shred of silken galaxies.
The web of earthen relations hangs by thin threads
from all our faces, barely holding onto existence.
People who don’t respect what I have to say,
used to make me want to talk less or hide.
But one must cast a cold eye on slander
and assert a ragged and forgotten beauty.
I learn to ignore those who hate me.
Society is a kangaroo court, ignorance abounds
and is full of intense purpose.
I don’t want poetry to be a slave to an audience.
I want to give my feeling-mind to inquiry, not popularity,---
to give it to science, not the rule of an arbitrary and superstitious tribe.
Science must move slowly and imitate nature
and nature is about hiding spaces and evolving unseen,
plodding along with facts, dripping slowly with the actual.
There are plenty who will offer you entertaining escapes.
But it is another question I am asking….
--does art matter on a planet floating through empty light years?
Yes, well then, what does it mean to be thinking matter
feeling into vast spaces? ---
Sometimes I can hardly stand
feeling the sorrowing mysteries of earth’s tragic turnings?
Sometimes I exult in the facts if it.
How do we create an organic art that will help preserve nature?
I think of the pain that went into the art of bird wings;
the pain of extinctions during the Cretaceous; of the
17 species of Lemur and primates now extinct in Madagascar
---and I used to think I knew where I was going---
but now all I know is:
that earth is all there is
and I create beauty while in the midst of mourning.
When the road begins to steer itself
the sad song sings blue.
The forests of Madagascar, Papua
and Brazil are being cut down
Blue dust is overheating the earth
blue dust on violet moths at twilight,
blue fungus killing the frogs
blue dust is falling over our blue planet
Sad stars in the blue dust are singing.
From the red planet, Mars, this earth where I am
looks like blue sorrows swirling
in the dust of beauty’s invisible glass.
The Blue Whale is crying in the blue mist
there are only a few thousand Blue Whale left
---I wonder if the whales know that?
The blood of the sea was heaving
with Whale deaths slung against ship sides.
How do explain these murders in the midst of so much wonder?
Humans are sickening the earth with so much killing.
This blue globe where I am blue dust
is like a tiny dot in a vast landscape---
this Sahara and Amazon of all that I don’t know---
this fallible grasping at knowing the unknown,
this faint rainbow shinning on frozen cloud crystals;
this globe of dying hope.
It is this subtle love of between facts that keeps me alive.
It is not the fictional "Self", not not self,
but the reality of the salamander
and the killer car that races toward it.
It is part of the streets now,
part of the suffering of Rain Forest animals,
part of the fact that the human species is killing so many
part of my own failing face is falling
blue dust is raining
like my innocent childhood seen from outer space,----
---I can see my childhood betrayed
I can see the healing bones of my broken and adult hopes,
now like an ant walking on the edge of a tin can
like the way I keep trying to create meaning
even though I know the end is coming---
ashes and blue dust on my own dead face
the ashes and blue dust of those who abuse science
and then suddenly comes the awareness
of the fact that it is not all an illusion,
and I know “maya” is what never was,
----row, row, row your boat because life is NOT a dream
Hinduism is a lie—Taoism is a lie
and only the ‘ten thousand things’ are real,---
these same Beetles and Horse flies,
these very leaves and chrysalises---
and then I know it all means something
and, in fact, just at the moment when the meaning
seems to come crumbling down again
I build it back up again and
I give up blue dust and
I realize Tree Kangaroos matter
and rare fish (cichlids) in Lake Victoria
are the meaning of the world’s map.
I am so glad that they found
the 400 million year old Coelacanths
of the coast of Africa and Indonesia.
not just the helplessness of the earth’s
relentless rainbow turning sun into sunrises and sets
nor the anxious dread of knowing
that you can’t ever get out of it---
No, I do understand that
no matter what I do, there is no escape from earth,
and I want no escape
there is only the ‘here’ and the fact of existing
and that is OK.
It has to be OK--- there is no other choice.
it is not just that this
grief over how they are killing the earth,
must sing itself out,,
I see the beauty is dying all around me
even as it is dying inside me.
It is a question of accepting this at last:
accepting and fighting it as best I can.
There is no point in running away from the obvious
since I can’t run away from my own legs.
I am learning to live a little distant
from all the unreasonable stars that sink
skyless into my gut
when I realize I will one day
I not be able to see this sky again.
I am a little less of a coward lately.
I don’t know what it is all about
but I do know that when surrealism is your waking condition
Dali, Ernst and Duchamp seem silly.
I am on the other side of the unreal at last
looking for the clear and pragmatic facts
sick of blue dust and Plato’s figmented dreams.
I am on the other side of Nietzsche’s eternal return.
He was wrong. I know we never return.
This moment on earth is it.
Celebrate these eyelashes, flower petals
and the secret dancing language of bee wings.
This earth you stand on is all you will ever have.
this owl at twilight is the secret of being alive.
I count the wooden ties between the train tracks.
I count snow flakes that fall on falling leaves.
I refuse to sing you songs of escape anymore.
I am recovering from spirituality.
Do not come to me to hide behind a Buddhist calm.
I am vegetarian and will not stuff my mouth
with the fat steak of the Holy Spirit
I am going though myth withdrawal.
It is painful to remember why life
used to matter to me so much.
It matters more than ever, at the same time where
I see in old photos,
how nobody seems to notice that
in their white, delusional minds,
the black man hanging above them was lynched
just as now no one cares as men chop up
a Chimp’s body as bushmeat for loggers.
It is raining suffering all around
from the Iraq War to the person right next to you,
Who will stop the hand that holds the machete
who will break the cage for the Scarlet Macaws?
A thousand rainbows made of birds
are flying trapped in fear around the earth.
I am on the verge of understanding
that the meaning of beauty is
the turning and turning of the planet---
all the rainbow birds set free.
"Somehow I feel the globe itself, swift, swimming in space."
Walt Whitman said in 1890.
Yes, you must feel that the earth’s fragility
is what your own body and being is all about.
So many refuse assent to the delicate membrane
of the earth.
So many are tele-marketed into the closed circuit
self-regard of human centeredness.
Just when it all seems hopeless
I begin to grasp that it really is just us.
No one else. I am alone here with Chipmunks,
Aspens, Anteaters and Polar Bears and you.
There is only the turning earth and up till now
I have been buried in delusions of my own making.
I am waking up, at last, perhaps a little too late
and realizing for the first time
we are alone on this planet
alone together with other forms of life
and it is up to us to keep the beauty alive.
Science # 10
To Stephen Hawking, FDR and Helen Keller
education system enables Biblical con-men
to seize some American minds with phony miracles
that cure no one.
It was not these snake-oil merchants but
science that helped the lame walk
when it eradicated polio
and it was science that made vaccines
against measles and chicken pox.
It is science that replaces arms
and is learning to give sight to the blind.
So many believe fictional biblical stories
that never happened.
I admire FDR for his reaction to polio.
It turned him away from Gatsby's wealthy escapes
and from preaching the spiritual interests of his class
toward an understanding of those
who suffer mortal pains under "immortal corporations".
He felt for the sick and the maimed
and knew religion would not help them.
Keller found her lost eyes and ears
because of Anne Sullivan and spoke out
against working conditions and
She was a socialist, belonged to the IWW
and was an activist for the poor.
Stephen Hawking too,
locked for years now,
in a disabled body,
Motor Neurone Disease),
has fought himself over his disability
and refused the bitter escape into religion
With a mind that has touched the infinite limits
of space and time,
he does not believe
in Taoist fantasies or
Jesus and Buddha;
he does not sound a ritual gong
to announce himself before lectures;
he does not see Zen emptiness
behind everyday phenomena in life;
he does not swing myrrh censers at
Zen was the religion of the upper class samurai
and it supported the unjust Japanese state.
Zen in America does this too,
enabling poets to dream themselves into Buddhist fogs,
making them oblivious to the reality of our lives.
Unable even to talk, except though
an amazing computer attached
to his wheel chair.
Hawking is the only man
I know of who is able to say
that Einstein wasn’t that good at Math.
Despite his restricted isolation
he joins no monastery
and does not condemn the
the misnamed “secular world”.
There is no real spiritual/secular distinction,
as if the two terms were equal.
Only the secular is real,
only the earth and sky matter.
Non-existent spiritual worlds do not trouble him.
He’s no love-sick Rumi
longing for an non-existent lover behind the sky.
He refuses metaphysical confections.
He accepts the facts of his hard existence
with a certain humor that reaches
from Kew Gardens
to far distant Black Holes.
In him, science has finally defeated religion.
Hawking has said
"We are such insignificant creatures
on a minor planet of a very average star
in the outer suburb of one of a hundred
So it is difficult to believe in a God
that would care about us
or even notice our existence."
fabric of species on earth
is amazing and self-generated.
Precisely because there is no god
species alone deserve the credit
of having arisen through evolution
on our own. On our own!! Think of that—we did it ourselves!!!
Life needs no fictional gods to begin us
or to continue beyond us!!
We need no priests to direct us.
We are the self-created, the self-perpetuated,
the proud children of a spherical-sapphire
of the earth.
Hawking loves his daughter and math and
the mystery of existence
and that is enough for him.
I admire his clear mind and doubt
he would want me to praise his “courage”.
I admire his hard struggle with a self-pity
which he has not yet conquered
even as he might pretend it is not there.
He has refused to turn his bodily sufferings
into a metaphor for a “spiritual” hatred or the world.
He shows me the poetry of a world
that is not metaphorical:
he enables me to imagine
a poetry without metaphor:
the plain rhymeless poetry of science.
the Origins of Milk
Where do breasts come from?
Platypuses are born from eggs like a bird
but feed their babies from breasts like a mammal.
Someone said breasts come from the brood patches
ancient part mammalian pre-dinosaurs
secreting fluid to protect
the newborn from infections---
I don’t know: nobody does, for sure.
Breasts are not there merely
to deceive the male imagination
into thinking maybe they are buttocks.
Though they do that too…..
but that is a peripheral advantage.
They are there to feed and comfort a baby.
Gorillas have breasts and tenderly
feed baby gorillas
Raccoons feed raccoons
Coyotes feed coyotes
Dolphins feed out of slits in their abdomen
and the mother controls the amount of milk the baby drinks.
Human babies regulate how much they want.
Whales milk looks like cottage cheese
Human milk is sweet and light,
babies crave it with fondling hands,
pinching and biting with new teeth.
It’s not heavy and creamy like cow milk
human milk for humans?
Cows milk is for cows, of course---
Imagine if the orangutans in Indonesia
started caging human females and
attaching their breasts to milking machines.
Only humans abuse other species’ mothers.
Chimps are attentive mothers
who feed their babies up to four years—
as humans did until formula makers started
convincing women they need canned milk.
Nestle and Carnation corporation
started conning women into using
cows milk a hundred years ago..
except perhaps in cases where mothers
with AIDS pass their disease to babies
In that case, other mothers could donate
milk to the needy babies
or formula can be used in nothing else is available.
A mother seal or sea lion gives birth on land
She soon leaves her baby for two to five days
to fish out at sea
It must be hard to leave her baby
Some of the babies do not survive
mothers could return and find the baby dead,
or the mother can be killed at sea by a shark or Orca.
I found a dead baby harbor seal once
lying lonely in the sand dunes.
No mother returned to feed it.
Brutal nature is a cat’s claw
shaped like the moon with a drop of blood on it.
Just so the cat too has breasts to feed helpless kittens
soften the cruelty of the claw
with sweet milk coming from a soft breast.
The cute pucker of a babies mouth
is really the shape that suckles a nipple.
Breasts are what give life
I like to think the origin of milk is love
But quite possibly I am wrong again and
have it backwards,
love has its origin in milk.
to Science 12
the Sun And Sunlight
(for my daughter,)
The sun's exploding tumult,
a roaring sea of furious fire
sends out huge loops, solar flares,
luminous daggers curving into dark space---
and reaching 93 million miles away
the sun's invisible spectrum illumines our aurora borealis,
and delicate curtains
dance in diaphanous waves:
midnight sheers of rainbows
rippling against the Milky Way.
Copernicus said that "Philolaus believed
in the mobility of the earth, and some even say
that Aristarchus of Samos was of that opinion."
"And yet it moves!" Galileo said
The sun does not move, and yet the earth and the other planets move.
Actually the sun revolves and moves in an arm of the MIlky Way. But the it is
the earth that moves around the sun.
Galileo was condemned by the Inquisition for seeing this.
The Church wanted to repress
the fact of the centrality of the sun
to hide its own deciet from the light.
It does not matter what the Church says,
enshrining ignorance in a golden tabernacle.
We exist only because of the sun,
yet no one knows why the sun or other stars exist.
Light is the origin of everything that is visible,
or more exactly,
for want of light nothing would be visible;
or more exactly
there'd be no one to see anything that might be visible.
Without light there is no life, no self or other,
no leaves, no palm fronds, spider webs,
no drifting diatoms:
there is no knowing without light,
yet, light itself is not well known.
How do I write a history of something so ubiquitous
yet whose nature is not well understood?
Everything depends on it
yet no one knows just what it is.
when light shines on everyone
and neither favors or denies anyone
it is odd that no one has yet written
a fair history of light and color.
Where is the anthropology of the photon?
The light of the sun favors the smallest plankton
as much as the blue whale--
miles of plankton,
hanging like green curtains under the sea---
Sperm Whales and Giant Squid
swimming through the emerald silences---
and the curtains rising and lowering every day
as the sun ascends and descends....
In the deep sea, blue or pink lights blink,
blinding floods of green phosphor,
hidden geodes of spectrum's splendor----
---the light of the sun on shinning mountains
sea-twilight rising up on whitened crystals
just as the valleys glow blue
in the shadow of sapphire mountains.
Then, in the kelp forests, plants with billions of leaves
holding unimaginable amounts of light.
To the sun we owe our cells
blood red like the earth's own burnt adobe
spiral currents of blood through our heart valves
like lava soup sliding down fountains of fire,
the volcano's boiling dry land up into the beginning of life.
The human heart is an grasp of sunlight, fist of being,
clutching and pumping mysterious red plasma.
Light grains travel through atoms
like wind through fields of wheat---
waves of wind light blow through the prairie grasses.
When I look at chameleon skin this closely,
---Colored wheels within colored wheels turning:---
or see the silk of ultramarine skink tails, I grasp that
human hierarchies are a lie against the equality of light.
Light is the luminious eye of fairness.
Maybe that is why there is no good history of light---
most histories have falsified nature
and favored cruel social ladders,
whereas the sun gives freely to everyone.
The history of the sun encompasses all of evolution and beyond.
Who can tell that story?
Put this more simply; prose-poetically:
a sunny generosity is not good for business:
greed likes putting people down
in darkness and toil---
and those who need power are possessive and intolerant
and would deny others unmolested ease of living.
Under the generous California sun
Indians had a relatively good
and easy life between the Tule Reeds
and the Live Oaks covered in Acorns.
These good people, falsely accused of being 'lazy savages'
were largely wiped out by darkly dressed priests---
businessmen who claimed that all good light and life
was either in a Black Book or in the Bank.
I know, that if they could, the corporate misers
would charge you for breathing and extract a tax
on the seeing of your eyes.
They will force you to pay for water,
and what price, sunlight?
These trolls perch on the bridge of being
ready to exact a toll for light---
that must be why the churches charged for sins
the price of a future payment in light
or darkness-- this was moral blackmail of being
"saved or damned".
"The wages of sin are death" the priest would pound
with his fist on the lectern.
The priest and the bankers
want you to sign their papers
to insure your redemption.
as if your life were merely on loan
from a divine Insurance company---
Obviously, don't sign or trust these divine Con-man.
That is why I don't go in churches anymore
even though I once loved Byzantine resplendence
and the mosaics of golden domes
arched above a diamond chalice.
I realized at last that the light
that the churches would charge me for was stolen light,
sunshine sold it as luminous fakery.
These thieves stole light as a metaphor,
dressed it up as gold furniture and pocket watches,
pyramid tops and virgins
real light was abundantly free to everyone
just outside the church doors.
I believed all the tall tales for a while
until I realized that most of the histories
and philosophies of light are biased
and attempt to seize light for one sect,
religion or Pharaoh.
The Egyptian RA depended on slaves,
carved brown muscles carrying desert stones
whipped under the impossible heat
for the Pyramid of Khufu.
Knarled hands and an early death
was the price French peasants paid
for Louis the 14th's golden garments.
The Sun King had a wedding cake smile
that dripped with the blood of the poor.
The Sun Priests atop the Aztec pyramids
cut out our beating hearts as the price of light.
We were made slaves to a calendar.
I resisted the power of what the Masters of Light
claimed to know.
I grew weary of their temples, fake crystals,
phony towers of the Intellect,
beautiful lies in myths and religions
and I realized:
No one owns light
no one owns the sun.
So then, given that the history of light and color
is patterned with blood, delusions and projections,
I ask both myself and the universe,
what can I know about light and color,
since, in the past,
I have fallen for or endorsed many of these illusions myself?
I wrote my first little history of light and color
and finished it on Aug 20th 1983, .
I remember the date because it was the day my stepfather died,
and I liked him and dedicated it to him.
His name was Dave Davis.
He was a traveling scissors doctor
who went from town to town,
fabric store to fabric store
where women sought his services to help them
make curtains and colorful clothes.
He loved this job.
He and I had painted my mother's red house together,
during the months I meditated on the history of color.
I was learning to weave many colored yarns at that time,
restoring oriental carpets.
My mind was dyed with vegetable blood,
purple saps, crimson roots, ochre and topaz,
hued minerals, earthtones,
bone blues and starbright yellows
skeins of many colors, twined yarns, woolen prisms
a rainbow of wools hung on my wall
next to my needles and my bee's waxed threads.
Dave was strangely happy and hallucinating
the day before he died
and he told me he
saw a clown smiling at him,
which appeared out of the hospital wall.
Yes, I should have known,
the secret of color
is not to be found in the high flown
metaphysics of "disembodied light",
as propounded by otherworldly Plotinus,
Ibn Arabi or Jesus
the secret of color is in
the colors of a clown's costume
making a dying man smile.
I wish I could tell my step-father,
I understand something now,
you and the clown were right
it is life in the moment that matters"
Now that I am old too, I love children and rainbow kites.
Sometimes it takes years to learn the obvious.
The history of color and light is not black and white.
Blake and Goethe didn't like Isaac Newton
and his theory of color, for instance.
That is understandable given that both
Blake and Goethe had some notion
of what it means to look into the iridescent eyes
of the spread tail-feathers of mating Peacocks.
Goethe thought of his theory of color ( the Farbenlere)
as a Seven Colored Princess
and he imagined that Newton, the mean, dark prince,
in Goethe's eyes
had dragged his beloved Princess into a cave
or a dungeon, to study her rainbows in a damp, black room.
A delightful story,
but I'm not sure Newton was as bad as all that.
It is true that the public Newton and his theories of color
are reductionist, which means that they might be useful as spectroscopy
-- meaning that if you happen to want to exploit
the minerals of distant planets or stars---
or go prospecting for some extraterrestrial profits---
Newton's theory of color is just the thing for you.
But honestly, there is beauty in Newton's spare prisms
casting rainbows on darkened walls.
There is more to the theory than its ill use.
It is true that Isaac was paranoid, and taht he was
Master of the Mint of England, lion of money
and friend to slave traders.
But the private Newton was a different story.
He was a confused eccentric,
not much different than you or me
dabbling away at a strange, but hopeful alchemy
and dreaming of the beloved's eyes,
iridescent as Peacock feathers.
We are all reaching for Pebbles on the shore of truth.
have always been grateful for a world of colorful eccentrics.
Once I preferred
Goethe's metamorphic red flowers
and Blake's childlike wings of imagination---
his colored verses and pages dipped in rainbows---,
but now I see Newton's simple prisms,
shine an aurora of colors beyond
all the gold coins minted in England.
Science begins in beauty of vision
and beauty is multicolored.
All there is is our planet, the face of earth and our sky.
There are no gods. Blake, Goethe were
wrong and right in their own ways
and Newton's yellow covered Opticks is glass of clear colors.
Color comes from the sun shinning though our atmosphere.
Flowers are the fruition of the fact of intelligent cells
responding to the luminous facts of existence.
I begin in the simplicity of light falling on earth.
There is no beyond the real and actual color of a planet
floating alone 2 million light eyras form Andromeda.
when I gave up the 'Uncreated Light'
I became blind to the next world
and started to see this one.
The global facts large landscaeps
of Deltas and Rivers, Obsidian plains and Ocean Trenches
trumped the delusions of metaphysics.
I realized Lao Tzu and Rumi were mistaken
The five colors do not "make men eye's blind"
as the Tao Te Ching and the Mathnavi had said.
I will not denigrate women, as they did,
as being merely about “color and scent” as Rumi said.
No more longing for transcendent fictions,
male dreams of glory and exclusion.
I saw that "Mythic Enclosures", as I called them,
is what make people’s eyes
Religion is willful delusion.
When I gave up "divine visions"
I realized I needed better glasses.
I have better glasses now
and try to see as best I can,
even when sea salt prays my lenses at sunset.
Things I once believed, I believe no longer,
and things I once shunned I now accept.
Experience changed my mind.
I leave behind some of my old favorites
like Johann Scotus Erigena,
who was almost my Irish grandfather,
Ibn Arabi and the misnamed Dionysius the "Areopagite" --
the 4th or 5th century Byzantine thinker
who taught me longing for other-worldly crystal,
Dante, and his trinity
of interlocking colored circles
at the end of the Divine Comedy;
Kukai,and lovely Rumi,
a friend of my failed romances,
Nagarjuna and the strange negations of
night-bright and hidden-faced Niffari,
the priest of invisibility:
I give up these and many other obscure elitists
of hidden lights: symbols in mirrors
twisters of antinomial knots;
Haters of earth, misogynists.
And when I leave their gods behind
I cover over their fictive mirrors with black cloth
and put their books up on the shelf
for a reference I am unlikely to need
and now mountains are not walking upside down
in the rivers that stand up flowing onto their heads---
and I smile a little at the games that
all these word-jokers like Dogen liked to play.
If you want a good laugh
just look down the aisle at the rows of portraits of saints
all lined up like portraits of the corporate founders
in a law office, in a drawing by a Honore Daumier.
Never mind the magicians of power and aesthetic fireworks
that dazzle you into belief in delusions:
never mind to Chartres windows and
The multi-colored marbles of Athena's statue
Ravenna and Hagia Sophia:
nevermind the colored symmetry of Isphahan or Fez:
Color is not metaphysical or symbolic.
I learned the hard way that I have to look for myself.
A little bit of abalone shell among all the various pebbles
strewn where the sea-water washes up on the beach
is enough of a miracle for me.
Life is not a dream.
Color is the joy of existing
and this existence is all there is.
I realize that so many times I have been wrong,
and proved myself wrong, and in the end the light still shines on me
and I still wake up in dreams of vivid color and
still nature opens her many colored book into my eyes
how else was I to learn if I made no mistakes?---
the water still falls in the waterfall
and the birds are flying
and you can always come back to the simple truth
right in front of you.
I hold on to the multi-colored world worth holding on to
this intimate air around the flower where the bee loves to hover
and I know little except this sense of existence,
the light on the leaf here, the light on my hands,
the light on the dirt road beside me where I walk---
this world that glows in color and light around the edges of my eyes
this space in which the colors of my heart feels the warmth of a life worth
the way the sun holds itself in the glass of my glasses---
this white star glowing gold on the silver sheen of limitless space
or given candlelight in the wine glass, or a red flare of sunset glowing,
or dawn light through the window shinning through the jar of honey,
or how the sunlight in the top of the wave looks
as the wave breaks into emerald ----
or given the morning when all is clear and my childhood is
blazoned with a white California sun,
and I looked up into the ecstatic sky and understood
that adults have made a mess of the world
and they have forgotten the obvious meaning of sunlight---
and, long ago, that was a day of real seeing,
that was the way I knew then and know still
that the world
is a mirror of itself that needs no mirrors,
it does not need gods for its glory---
----that it has no reflections
that it does not refer to anything beyond
or outside itself, and that all the fancy language,
abstract entities, words and gods are in some sense delusions----
Yes.... once I forgot the mirroring---
once I stopped looking beyond death---
stopped looking at the mirrors and reflections
gave up metaphysics and Marxist dialectic
and started looking at the things themselves
life has been simple and the world is its own praise
and praise is a form of knowledge, after all,
and light is its own amazement in its simple glowing.
that sky is sky and not a metaphor for imaginary "heavens"
and my mind sees the light in the clouds
enveloped in infinite horizons of colors,
I begin to understand that the sky is a prism that turns with the earth
and this Spherical Spectrum
of being-now-becoming is what we all are
and the translucent rainbow of of the turning globe of the sky
is kin of my own seeing
---that the way the earth turns in a spherical colored prism over my head
turning everyday as the day slides in space from morning till night--
that this turning sphere of color is kin of my own seeing---
kin of my eyes looking into the meaning of light and space,
simple as sand grains and the lonely light of things
and this makes me realize that the
companionable magic of the world
is so lovely I can hardly say what lovely is.
Given that St John's city of Invisible Light
and Plato's vision of colorless essences,
were good fairy tales, curious fantasies,
dreams of power and glory
that served some empire builders,
it is time to give up these dreams of intellectual empire
and come down to the lovely earth.
I realize now that color is not
"a metaphor for the Lightless Light" as I once said.
I was wrong and I find some joy in admitting it.
The light that has glowed inside my chest since childhood
must be the same light that I have seen light up
the eyes of Seals in the sea
or the eyes of Marmots sitting up alert on rocks.
It is the light that warms the fur of chipmunks
the light in Louis Armstrong's trumpet----
the light of being that lights up the plant Anemone
also lights up the sea Anemone,
glowing in its translucent green tentacles.
The light that lives in me illuminates plants
and I am not better than Armadilloes,
or multicolored fish swimming in a school
beneath the luminous surface of the sea.
There is me and you and the sea and the birds
and the birds of many colored feathers are flying
and the fish are bright lamps of primary colors
and all of us belong to the
community of a rainbow-world
and all of us are beings that love light.
Given that I realize that neither the mind
nor nature is an empty void
nor is there an invisible spiritual plenitude
or "imaginal" world
and that Dogen, Milarepa and St. John made some nice myths
about mind and light
but that reality is just not like that---
I am at last
free to wonder at the transparence of the veil of the air,
and to love air and light itself,
and to love the way light through water
spreads the crystal edge of liquidity---
and the way mist at twilight gathers
the greening hints of lilac roses
or all those mystic evenings where
the sun sank into a rainbow sky
and the rainbow wrapped itself into my mind,
and I know the warm light that I feel in my body
is the same warmth that lights up colors in the sky---
and the wonder of colored space in the sky
is the reason why my eyes are round
and that is why I love this world and abjure religions and
beliefs that ask me to give up attachment to the world.
I know longer love death or the chimerical fictions that arise
out of the question 'what is beyond death?'.
I love this world and the light falling on the edges of my fingers
the into the light of my wife's green eyes,
I love this life and hope for more time ---
and I hope---
for the life and time of my children's eyes
and my children's children's eyes
and may we all have many years
of grateful seeings and intimate embraces
and endless sand grains, minute and multi-colored jewels
falling toward the final days
of my seeing and your seeing
and the gathering community of seeings
glowing out of a wonderful earth
where being is rainbow.
Ode to Science 13
Five Odes: to Moonlight, Henry Thoreau and the Night Sky
Pulled toward the depths of the mystery of beings
I had to go, I couldn't stay away from looking
through the large telescope
in the Cleveland Museum of Natural History
drawn by the intimate infinity
of planets nestled in the endless.
Mars floated so lonely in such a vast space,
dry red brother to earth
hints of "canals" and palisades
under its yellow sky.
Another visit to the telescope and we saw Saturn,
just at the time
extraordinary Cassini-Huygens photos came out.
I climbed the stairs to the telescope in a spiral
traced not by my feet but by my mind
turning my eyes to the zenith
and through the glassy lenses
clear as Galileo's refusal to deny the earth moves
the moon glistened white powder
and I could see the mountain cliffs
glowing on the edge of the cratered night.
So amazed by this sight
by implication, I could see back to the earth,
and actually feel the tidal light mirrored back to me
and for the first time
the image of the earth as a globe, floating
cloud covered, in the limitless ocean of space
was not just an image, but a fact I could feel in my feet.
Dante's cruel universe falls away
like an over-written comic book
I was at last a child
a physical universe
unashamed of the love
felt for the furthest stars
clear as a tear of joy in my eye
with moonlight on my face
am happy to be home.
I don't know how long it has been,
since I was a young man in my teens, perhaps,
when I noticed, every month,
the moon wax and grow toward me,
filling me with a thrill of strange expectations,
a bioluminescence that makes my arms hairs quiver
a promise of transparent fruits
and the brilliant glow of silver mirrors,
and then it wanes and goes away
leaving me alone to myself, and wandering.
It is not just the mystery of the tides---
opening littoral zones for mussels and starfish,
bathing the tide pools in pearlescence,
exciting the sand grains with seminal light--
It brings a tide into my mind, and deeper,
touch my heartbeat, and stirs my cells
until my body feels as delicate
as the arms of an Hydra
or a Jellyfish drunk with phosphorescence
almost as if a bioluminescent twilight
turned my body into a colony of kelp
and I drift and dance like an otter in the waves
swelling and cresting
in an opalescent dream.
The froth of feeling swells on the waves of half lit sleep
just now waking up
like new thoughts in the midnight surf.
But the moon is no
nights are lonely without it
and when it waxes full in spring,
the new leaves are nearly electric with desire
as if a pale blue mist powders all the flower petals
and I think feelingly into the dark
delicate and translucent,
the whole world is my skin
fragrant with midnight awareness,
and almost laughing with a joy of being,
as if covered with a pollen of sapphire light
and longing to be pregnant
longing for the pain of fruiting
longing for love and the mingling of fish-- the
water splashing miracle of spawning--
until my eyes feel as full of life as candles burning
and the night air is a rain of magnolia petals
and the embrace of the world surrounds me
with wildflower starlight
as soft as the skin of my wife
and all around me in the blue lustre
is the meaning of life under the moon.
I am aware there are those haunted by the moon
and think it lunatic and mercurial.
But the only thing haunting about the moon is its beauty.
Those who associate the moon with commercialized witchery,
the Halloween industry of goblins and gore---
that exploits fear of nature for profit---
have mistaken the strange, basalt loveliness of the moon,
the silver aura of its fragile hopes,
for their own guilty conscience.
The fear of the moon is the fear of life,
the fear of grunions glistening in the sea froth
as they mate
the irrational fear that puritans have of a 'wilderness'
that their ignorance makes them despise.
The "evil witch" and the "savage beast"
are mere images and creations of a repressive arrogance.
Those who hated nature, hated ordinary people,
hated the harvest festivals,
where unjust powers were lampooned,
hated the Indian and the female
and created these images of their own hate.
The "evil witch" is the hateful heart of the Puritan
The "Savage Beast" is the behavior of some Euro-Americans or Asians
who want power and make religions to justify themselves.
The way of nature is threatening to those
who live in sterile glass boxes of imaginary perfections.
The life of alien abstractions,
religious utopias or divorced steel cities,
delusional suburban havens,
creates the lie of human exceptionalism
and this demonizes nature and animals
and turns the moon into an object of fear.
A midnight scarecrow frightens no one,
not even himself, standing lonely in the corn.
There is nothing to fear in the moon.
Love of the moon is the love of life.
It is an orb softer than the belly of vegetables
and its light brings seeds into delicate shoots
fashioning innocent mushrooms out of the loam.
Ode to Henry Thoreau's book of Moonlight
Henry Thoreau wrote what is probably the best book
ever written about the experience of moonlight,
far more accurate than the romantic paintings
of Ryder and Blakelock, lovely as they can be.
I discovered Henry's book over the course
of a number of years, digging through the wild vastness
of his journal, which wanders everywhere, like nature,
over hills, cul de sacs, past glistening lakes---
Henry's thoughts ---
like twilight gems, invisible mushrooms of insight,
glowing in the forests.
Henry read the Moonlight manuscript out loud as a lecture
in Plymouth Massachusetts on Oct. 8, 1854,
and appears to have amended it over succeeding years.
Sometime after Henry died in 1862, some foolish person
bent on profiting from manuscripts,
sold off pages of the Moonlight book
and the order of the manuscript was lost.
No one has, as yet,
been able to put it back together again.
It is scattered like dappled moonlight on the forest floor.
I gathered all the pieces I could find
like silver leaves fallen from a lunar tree
and tried to intuit his meaning.
I opened the hidden cover of Henry's book and
luminous Luna Moths came flying
out from the green pages, their flying wings
lit with ecologic phosphor and night-candles of the sea.
You were right Henry,
when you wrote that attending to the "hints and suggestions"
of moonlight will result in something different
than anything in "literature or religion of philosophy".
Even in its current scattered chaos
your Moonlight book throws off
the bone-chilled and bitter falsehoods of
the history of conquerors,
and is luminous with the fresh light
of the humble and actual.
Henry , you are the
brother I never had---
comrade of what looks out of my eyes
and what the looking sees.
You grasped that the meaning of moonlight
is a "dreaming frog"----
Yes, a dream of frogs,---
the high trill of Chorus Frogs twines in time
with the crystal bells of Spring Peepers
and the long pulses of singing Toads---
the unfrozen heart-beat of spring beating--
in a musical rapture of struck glass and
a dreamtime throng of Frogs in a water world,
over the melted ponds and wet meadows---
like a vegetable clock, a crazy, verdant metronome
strangely set to moon-time
and white wildflowers
and the dreaming Frog's recited pulses,
erotic with midnight and unseen growth
and the whole world
is a transparency of plants
and the glistening skin of Frogs--- a permeable membrane,
of sand grains, mica-gems, swept-sandy stars breathing
----a skin delicate with listening
like a Medicine Man's mind drunk with receptivity
telling the earth of its health or sickness.
The moon is a frog's skin rapt with intuitions.
The moon that pulls the tides
is as pearl-soft as a Frog's skin, soft as a tiny flower
brushing against the pregnant belly of an Elephant,
soft as a pink Jelly Fish sliding in accidental caress
along the belly of a newborn whale.
Henry, you knew that a Frog's dream
of what the world means
is a more accurate representation of what is real
than many a human-animal's assessment.
You did not suggest we "derange the senses",
as Rimbaud did, as if that would help anyone:
"Clarify your senses" , you say,
look with more than just your eyes.
The magical crystal tones of Peepers and Toads
make evening into concert of Glowworms.
The silence of Firefly music surrounds
the silver branches of Pine trees
and dark green hands feel
into the still poetry of space.
Moonlight is simple like "water and bread", you said,
and you hoped people would take nightwalks abroad
so that the mysteries of midnight
might teach them to open their ears and eyes
to all the simple beings and things misunderstood
in the habitual inadvertence of daylight.
You thought, rightly,
that only if they really understood
the secrets of fruits
or the meaning of the colors of autumn leaves,
would they see the need to free the slaves,
and let birds go from cages,
and abandon the halls of unjust knowledge
and subscribe to the library of forests.
If only vain princes and forked tongued politicians
could be as handsome and honest as frogs !!
Knowing a single pond with sympathy
might undo the corruption of institutions.
Henry, I meet you in the Civil Disobedience of Frogs----
of Kangaroos and Pronghorn leaping over fences.
I meet you
in the over-brimming diversity of forests and jungles
and the unhindered breach of whales twisting
into a splash of exultant waters.
I meet you in the social justice of twilight and blue snow
and the equality of tides and sunshine.
I meet you in the biology of fairness that children
and Armadillos have not yet learned to forget.
I believe in the Declaration of Independence
of Caribou and Tree Frogs, Pine Martens and Minnows.
I believe in the right of Walking Sticks and Woodcocks
to privacy and invisibility.
I believe in the furious journeys of Salmon
rushing red and silver up impossible creeks.
I believe in the revolutionary serenity of tree trunks
and the consciousness of ignored plants.
I believe in the intelligence of climates and cellular growth
and sunset over the Beartooth mountains
and the non-cooperative non-violence
of 'weeds', Newts and Salamanders
hovering in the balance of waters
and condors rising up on tipped wings.
Henry, I meet you where the Loon laughs
into the bright mirror of the erotic moon.
You were a character Henry,
bending down to look through your own legs,
to see the moon or trees upside down----
like an owl with its head upside down---
always trying to get a different perspective----
if only to grasp with new eyes,
that what the world says about itself,
is already apparent,
if only one would try to be open
to all the meanings of
"sunlight on a bank side in autumn"
or moonlight reflected in the lens of a rabbits eye..
In moonlight liquid imagination,
liberates feelings in the dark
and in the wide eyed mystery
of seeking more to be revealed,
the mind creates a magic world
or rather uncovers the magic of reality
that was dulled by old habit.
Trees breathe starlight through the blue mist
and Fireflies blink moving patterns of light---
echoing of the emerald stars above---
and seek a discrete and phosphorescent love
over the hushed excitement
of the ghostly green
and glowing meadow.
I have heard Wolves in the mist and Coyote duets
under the moon
and my own beloved dog, a white Shepard,
would remember his wolf origin when the moon was full
and would let out the purest liquid cry of longing I have ever heard.
I learned my dog had the heart of a poet
and a coyote's understanding of the moon's reality.
What the moon has to say
is not an easy thing to hear:
The meaning of life is life itself.
This is what Coyotes know
and those that cannot hear this
fear the wildness of Wolves and Coyotes.
The moon is about longing
about blood and sap flowing
about the longing to be together
and the hope of holding on, holding out,
holding on to others
until one can get home.
It is about crossing over in the dark
through the forest and over crystal mountains
to where we have always been
and where we belong together.
The song of the Coyote is the song of the earth
longing for more life,
just as the wild bugling of Elk
sounds a cry for the females over the hills.
The silver mourning dove
sleeping on a twig in the moonlight
is like my own heart
remembering why we are alive.
I am aware that for
the meaning of the moon was a bag of rocks.
But rocks can be the meaning of what is soft,
since the earth and the moon were made of molten stone,
agates and jasper, carnelian and turquoise
bringing stones to life in coral reefs
and lichens on boulders glowing green and orange.
Understood from the earth,
the moon uncurls the fronds of ferns,
the hair of my arms stands on end,
and the push and pull of the waters
calls me to where my speechless talking
asks the question and tells the answer
of why clams are crescent shaped,
why the lizard tail curls in sleep
and why the abalone shell reflects color inward
and that the full turning of the Owls head
tells the forest why it is.
The silence of the long mountains
signals to the stars
the meaning of why light lies down
in the valleys
and persuades the plants to flower.
What there is is
coming, and what there is is gone.
There is no paradox that though I sleep
I shall awake.
What there has been while I have been here
is the moon above my head, feeling my extent
and the earth reaching out below my feet,
and everything is in the reaching,
the feeling, the touching.
I feel the stones of the earth
reaching through my fingertips
and distant stars look out of my eyes
and I feel the growth of plants at my feet
as if it were my own blood flowing in them.
The moon that flows with my feelings
follows the wind that comes and goes
and brings me to an earth that holds me
even as it leaves me alone.
The moon that is lost
will come again
and all that is past will return,
changed, but the same.
Let me not forget that the tides come and go
and the sea that passes me over
will one day reveal me at last.
All that lives seeks light, even in the dark.
I have followed the moon for years now
until I turned myself around
and then it followed me. It is all of ours.
But it does not matter who leads or follows:
everything depends on the cherishing of what passes.
The moon has always been my mime and mirror
reflecting the delicate sadness of beauty.
When the moon is gone, I miss it,
and when it reappears, I am glad.
I have loved the moon most of my life
and those who love me will see something of me there,
even though I might be gone.
Because the moon was once part of earth, ripped off
by a planet that hit us billions of years ago, it is part of us.
The moon is a remembrance of those who have loved.
Whenever I see it
and even if it is hidden
I must remember to cherish more closely
whomever, and whatever
I love and am intimate with.
The moon is the mirror of what is lovable on earth
and when you see it,
cherish the plants that hold its light
the water that washes you,
the places where the birds are flying
the hand that holds your hand,
the animals by your side.
The moon is the memory of what you loved.
Hold it in your eyes and heart
as dear as those that went away
never to come back,
as special as those you love
who will return to you
their faces glowing like the moon.
Ode to Science 14
Ode on the Origin of Eyes
Why did eyes come into being?
What cell of waters began first
to tell day from night or feel warmth of light?
What worm first the soil shunned
to learn to see sun and air?
How did the sense of looking
learn to feel that others, too, are aware?
How far from holding earth in ones hands
is holding in ones eyes
the learning of the land ?
Chomsky says that just as the eyes evolved over time
language became the organ of the mind.
Being as that might possibly be
saying “Tree” is not seeing a tree,
seeing a tree is not the same as the name.
Never mind that words are an abstract, confusing game---
the eye is not a metaphor for god
but an organ grown from earth, sun and clod:
yet the eye is not just a mechanical gland
but a way of trying to understand.
The eye is not a universal mirror
but a way beings of earth can see existence clearer.
In the eyes of birds and animals I see the meaning of the verb ‘to be’, looking
back at me.
In an otter’s eyes is the meaning of life searching for the next pond,
or a whale's eye in spring seas glancing up into a starry night.
To see is to reach into space
and share in another's being between our faces.
To learn to see is to touch a world within
that is far away.
To hold life's braided vine,
made out of rainbows,
and for a moment,
steal it from time.
A Bitterroot Antelope in Montana was seeing
a distant fragment of my lone being.
Its eyes were dots I could hardly see
But still I could see it was looking at me.
And what else is all life about
except to see into the eye of a rainbow trout
Neither fishing or frying or cutting meat,
but instead to thrill and exult
to see a bird in a late summer moult
and gaze into its overheated eye
and catch of glimpse of its precious life:
To see for a minute what it might see
and be non-human for a little while
a newt, a bull frog, a crocodile
and escape, however tenuously,
the selfishness of species, kinds
to leave the prison of the human mind---
enter into another’s being---
and see the world from their seeing.
How does the Sand Dab see the sand
or how does the Whale view land
how does the otter consider water
does the pond-building Beaver know
how it helps so many other species grow?
what comfort is a Fox’s lair
and what do Elephant’s consider fair?
The Mountain Sheep sees far below
a world safe in infinite snow
to see Manta Rays mating is a delight
no less lovely than a Whopping Crane in flight.
If I seek in the eyes of an animal or bird
a hint of the origin of life is heard
a glimmer of where life’s sweet song
ties together a braid of hidden bonds.
had been a teenage sailor too many months
on the Great Lakes, land-lonely and homesick
and finally touched earth near Marquette, Michigan
to stand among white birch trees around me
I fell to the leaf quilted ground
and there hugged the trees---
these keepers of the land I missed.
First time I felt the earth is more than mother,
it was dear lover too and food that makes my flesh—
it’s part of my skin--
so deeply missed soil and life upon it.
That is why I am jealous of Forests
jealous of green arms reaching unmolested into sunlight
jealous against the frightful greed that fells them.
Trees are mist makers of weather’s moistured management
keeping the earth’s living envelope breathing.
Let all our green peoples stand tall
and keep out your damn saws
away from these emerald arms,
providers of oxygen
that feed the lungs of all breathing things.
Keep your damn slashing inside the axes.
Keep your flames hidden in matches
and stop forest’s burning,
---- you can see the Amazon burning from outer space,
fueling the growth of another stupid city
it were better we did not live in.
Damn Logmovers twist redwoods like toothpicks
and loggers cut down eons of wild history
for some cheap cash-cattle and meat-cows
and turn real forest wealth into a wallstreet deserts,
Unbelievable publically privatized wilderness
clear cut in speculative gambles.
Gone then gambol of Elk and Otters
between the ancient Sitka Spruce
gone the Live-oak leaning
into a child climbing its trunk,
gone the Hickories I have loved
These were my green peoples standing tall
you have killed.
I remember once under the glass flute
song of the Hermit Thrush in Canada’s forests.
I heard the Varied Thrush,
more like a glass harp
in Glockenspiel winds,
these wondrous Mozartian birds
singing trills into the white-wine lavender
of the Redwood evening’s green aurora,
a mantle laid around my shoulders
like a shroud of morning forever belonging here
same as ten thousand years ago
and me in the midst of it like
finally where I am meant to be
what I imagine ten years ago---,
It was after my heart attack— I wanted to be at last
among the last remaining redwoods on the lost coast,
lonely for these last trees in days that might just be my last
finally alive with the deepest life I have loved
being here in this forest place I always longed for ..
home at last.
Ive seen these beloved trees grow species of banana slugs
large as real bananas and
cherry red rhododendrons not far from nearby
Oxygen rich seas where Whales leap—
and this is our earth
where all these green peoples wish to stand,
holding onto the fog shrouded hills,dripping moisture.
Do not forget what matters---
you know these Taiga secrets only wolves know---
you know them too, in the dark--
under the lustrous opal rainbow borealis
where the Milky Way
reminds me of Forests where I ran with my white dog
and other Forests where I slept under choruses
of whippoorwills, next to Trillium creeks
and the Dogwood blossoms floated on life rafts
like stairs above a dream listening to spring frogs trilling
the beauty of earth singing the song of life.
I say the names of ones I have loved:
Hickory, Beech, Oak, American Chestnut.
Sycamore, Cottonwood, Redbud,
Sequoia Sempervirens, Manzanita, Madrone,
and me a wind and a green mist in their branches
green water at their roots,
green stones in the streams
and so in memory forests gone and still to come
in hope that all these green peoples will stand tall again,
We give our new baby son a precious name
in praise of trees we call him Forest Rain.
Forest rains make the whole world breathe.
Let forest rains bring the forests back.
Forest Rain, rain on us, make us grow,
bring new life to the failing earth
and stand tall together
viridian, terre verte, sap green
with all these leafy peoples:
thank trees when you breath and thrive.
May- December 2010
Odes to Science 16
the Elemental and the Wild
you hold the face of living so close
to you when it is slipping away?
You can’t ignore the cracking mirror of time
that image of death’s silver nothingness.
You can’t ignore the sadness of your face
or the darkening ring of age that closes around your eyes.
All you have is memories of all that you loved.
I remember when I ran away from home at 15
when I thought no one loved me, wrongly.
I had no place to sleep
and I laid down next to the highway
and the grasses smelled like car exhaust
and the car lights whizzed past,
blinding my eyes
and "there was no place like home" was a cliché
but it was true and I was lost and homeless
longing for those who care
just like I am now, 30 years later
holding on to an inner homeland
in the midst of all that is lost.
So many beloved hands are lost to me now
and still I keep I keep on reaching.
a coyote then as now
and in the end the coyote runs in front of the car lights
and he escapes the cars and the definitions of the city dwellers
who know nothing of the strength it takes
to accept the loneliness of starlight
the emptiness of the wind that blows sand in your face.
What does it matter
that who they thought I was,
was a person I never knew?
As Cat Stevens said in a song,
“if they were right I’d agree,
but it is them they know not me”
They condemned me falsely for things that they actually did,
Im still running from the car lights like Coyote,
and I know the sting of their slanders
and the way their lies still
come back to me years after they were told.
I know how they steam their mirrors silver
with the breath of their hate.
I have known the kangaroo court of their justice
the fake democracy of their government
and the pressure of their lies,
meant to preserve the status quo.
What do they have to do with me?
My hair bristles in the wolfen twilight.
I am not ready to give up caring
I know what it means to have what you love
stolen and denied to you.
I have fought against the killers of hearts,
the jealous conspiracy of the greedy,
the preservers of the old ways that no longer work.
I felt it after my heart attack too,
the loneliness of the elements,
the freedom of matter in a universe of no gods.
Here I am at the threshold of everything
holding on to just a few beloved friends,
So I remember all the hands that have been taken form us
and ask you to imagine this then--
Imagine finally being free
of the lies of the critics and the overlords of restraint.
This is the way it really is,
We are not alone on the road.
I want you to join our resistance.
I want to run with these coyote-beloveds
and be strong with sage plants in the desert.
I want to run with the pronghorn
contemptuous of trucks and human highways.
Never mind all the harm they have done
It is the desperate strength of this loneliness
that loves the smell of wildflowers.
I blossom in the fragrance of defiance.
Let our love of beauty be our revenge.
Ode to Science #17
Ode to Still Life.
The dearness of things: I find myself saying “Dear”
and mean so many different things. My mom--- who is dead 3 years
or “my dear mom….”
---talking to my daughter
or my spouse when they are not there…
I want to say
“dear sweetness of living” or, even “dear tears”,
dear hands now getting ‘old guy’ wrinkly skin unstoppable aging---
“dear bedtime stories” I love to tell my daughter
“dear food on the dinner table”
and the dear way at the table
we say thanks to the earth, my six your old starts it off.
Yeah ---look at the apples and bananas, dishes,
the jar of home made maple syrup form our own trees
with liquid sunlight in it
Still lives aren’t natura morte at all.
Not dead nature, not memento mori, far from that
death worshiping nonsense
scouring the natural love of life
with obsessions of death---
no, stll life art should not be that at all-
but rather like Frida Kahlo’s Watermelons on which she wrote
said “Vive la vida”, long live life and no to death death death.
This candle light of my life flickering
for what really matters but
the moments of what was loved—this delicious cluster of grapes these
Intricate Intimacies: what’s is close at hand:
the nearness of dear things.
Your hands, your dear lips,
dear socks and orange slices
and sour crème on potatoes I make for my two year old
his smile, all the things corporations don’t own---
slim zucchini and fat tomato, purple onion and red radish
friends of the table
where we share what our garden’s grown.
Yes. Still Life is this failing so beautifully
the effort to grasp the obvious:
to make semi-permanent what passes so quickly
the effervescent joy of all these dear things:
thimble that I used to sew carpets with,
old box I used for gouaches I did by the Pacific ocean,
water drops on the silver goblet I held as a child at the Sunday dinner my Mom
pours cold water in it---
trying to fix in stillness the life that there and is now going--- gone
in the moment of its exact existence,
right where I kiss the lips of time and blink
when a feather drops toward my eyes and…….
What did Isaac Newton’s desk look like
when he wrote the Opticks?
Famous not famous all the same love of what is.
Hypatia had a brush on the night stand next to her bed
when she lay there at night thinking of the earth
going around the sun?
Einstein’s pipe sits on a page of of the last calculations
he made before he died: he was still not able to grasp the whole
after all those years
of seeking a Grand Theory and failing…
Giving up that Christian obsession with death at last
things I live with in this only world there is:
the sad stars that light my eyes with hope for my daughter
the only world that will ever be, now as in the 16th century
when Otto Marseus Van Schrieck did some
of the first Natural history paintings of Mushrooms and
salamanders with flowers with frogs.
records of the real world.
And his female student Rachel Ruysch
did her resplendent flower studies and “forest still lives”.
Yes, that science wedded to a fascination
with the poetry of the small
the Haiku of ordinary things, the existence
finally void of Buddhist voids.
NO more sunyata or emptiness
or abstract heavens trumping ordinary reality
the absurd vanity of phony transcendence is what I give up.
Away with religious bosh and bombast:
finger wagging priests condemning the ten thousand things.
Those ten thousand things are all that matters.
Still life comes of age with science,
once it gave up Christian doom and “vanitas”,
--- religion itself that is vanities --
Zen narcissism: skull worshipping book burners.
Vainitas is the utterly false idea that life is vain
and all that matters is the fiction
of an unreal “after-life” and illusory gods.
no more skull on the stack of old books urging you to go to Church, the time
in the middle of coins--
telling you flowers only flower so Christ can die for you sins.
These images of vanity are the real vanity.
The “floating world” is a lie, samsara a lie,
the ten thousand things is a lie
The real “vanitas” is religion.
Once you give up religion objects become ours again
and the world is loveable for itself, abjuring all symbols.
The crucifixion was merely a psychological exploit
sponsored by a corrupt state-church.
Done with all that at last,
it is the dear self of things that matters.
Science is about home and the actual existence of
things and animals, the exploration and the seeking:
shedding the dead skin of wishful thinking
and slithering superstitions,
seeking to know this planet in close proximity,
close enough to see the facts of it, under the tree canopy,
under the fallen logs
on the table, in the microscope, on the window sill
next to the carrots and the glass of wine
the wind on the rare tulip’s petal, the gleam of a silver cup---
l think of Rembrandt’s shimmering chain on the breast of Aristotle
which is really about Rembrandt--- and actually goes far beyond Aristotle
whose longest book is a now an unread book on animals.
I praise Aristotle for that, but that chain in Rembrandt’s work
is about love of the actual, not the “potentia” of the Stagyrite’s imagination.
the actual is where still life begins….
In this mysterious tactility, the fragile present
is where the tear grows and waits
to fall from the edges of the eyelashes—
there is where
Rembrandt came to understand something about observation,
--- seeing what is as it passes and loving it as it is:
Vermeer too, with the bread next to the brass water pitcher
or the woman sewing
next to the window with the light streaming
through onto the pearl earring or
the tiny delicate golden scale,
weighing the poise of consciousness,
the golden air of being alive.
Science in the Chinese teacup,
the painting of the oyster opened up and still salty
with seabrine, De Chardin’s copper pot,
or Breughel’s array of blossoms.
Yes, Picasso did satires on still lives, cubist jokes—
not really very interesting anymore, ---all that art about art---
he did those partly because he thought “art is what saves the soul
from the dust of everyday life”.
Bosh again, and puuey,---
is what art should honor---
and thi is not an escape from it at all, but an avid embrace of the table cloth
and the apple and the spoon reflecting light from the open window.
Forget about “souls” what is here is light in the amber necklace,
the plaint sky-like-skin of water on the river,
the grains of sand on the soles
of a child’s feet running toward the waves.
Yes, not the airy ficton of ‘souls’ but actual
soles of the shoes of children is what matters.
Frans Snyder’s tables of dead animals remind me
of the cruel princes and Lords who outlawed hunting
for all but themselves and heaped up carrion on their tables to show off.
Dead Native Americans and extinct species follow on that.
“Throw down the vanitas. I say throw down”.
I mean this opposite of Ezra Pound.
The important thing is to try to see things as they are.
No Confucius, No Sufism, no zen, just you and the world as it is,
raw perception, detail---
the miracle of a world where there are no miracles, the love of fact…
Begin with a painting of a seashell, an egg….. a flower in the seashell
an apple so red you want to share it .
An organic egg, not exactly brown
but almost the color of a sunrise in August.
Odes to Science 19
Ode to Leonardo
My dear Leonardo.
It was your openness that thrilled me,
drawing as a means of inquiry,
painting as a way to knowledge.
Where the deep cave opens into an infinite vista
into the lapis lazuli distance,
where stone ceases and melts
into an airy sea that holds in the depth of your paintings
a love of the earth so deep,
my blood thrills thinking of you---
and then I think too of
your love of mechanics- the ability to see
in the turning of a gear,
or the way liquid moves against a creek bank,
hair curling—those perfect drawings of bubbles coming up from underwater---
or a heart valve as being as interesting
and beautiful as the delicate Sfumato
on the corner of Mona Lisa lips
or mistiness in the the Arno Valley.
In the drawing for the hand of the “Lady of the Rocks”
the lovely recurves of a hand pointing into mystery
the fingers coiled into the palm,
that roundness and proportionate ratio so balanced
and hovering like birds wings
on the gentle curve of the shoulder of the air.
Yours was the delicate aerial perspective
that softened my past and looked into the future
and held me in the blue distance of your enigmatic smiles.
I loved you Leonardo, that still smile on Mona
like a whisper of recalling life’s ineffable morning,
or those primal mountains in the background your picture
showing me a world would not come until after Darwin
grasped the meaning of seashells on mountain tops.
You glimpsed that 400 years before him.
In my teens, gentle Leonardo,
you held me up on your designs for wings
gliding above my troubled adolescence
like a beacon of science,
aloft in open eyed love of the actual,
calling me out of the muddle of religion
into curiosity about the precise
measurements of human illusions.
You showed how
the clarity of water was half made of starry night
and my own best thoughts about the wonders of the
the world as it is ---in its exact hairs and muscles, and lenses
ground to a fineness that loves the tiniest Lily of the Valley,
yes, the curve of grasses, the light in a woman’s cheek
holding a distant candles glow on the arch of her eyelids
no longer dreaming and at last awake
to the earth’s myriad vistas of endless study
and insights to be gained on the frontier of honest seeing.
It was there in how the horses flank quivered;
there in the eyelid that hides a that smile:
there in the endless knots you wove behind tree’s leaves, the first topographic
maps ever drawn,
there in the first anatomical art showing multiple views;
there in the backwards writing
there in the late night studies made of eyes, muscles, skulls
so delicately drawn in candlelight,
and there at last in the drawing of
the first child ever drawn, still in the womb,
as if the longing for children you denied yourself
had to be shown in such wondrous delicacy
such lovely inwardness, such gentle perfection,
that you understood birth as a woman could,
in the round actuality of things,
horrible and so beautiful it makes one want to weep.
Oh Yes, Leonardo
I understand, I loved you at 16 when I spent months
studying all I could find about you
and I love you still, as you live in my looking out
of my eyes as I see acorns nestled amidst oak leaves
or consider how clouds curl in the lightning and the rain.
It was you who brought us out of cave of Greece
and took off the illusory halo of Byzantium
and opened the world to the demythologized earth,
laying before us exact mysteries in amazement of hands
that touch the intimacy of living soils at our feet
and between us an life intricate with thought.
It was you who let the caged birds go in my heart
and they are still flying free
up in a blue and cloudless sky.
Odes to Science 18
Ode to Rivers
I wanted to understand rivers,
those water trees that capillary to the sea
and began as a kid with the San Joaquin:
I walked behind my dad as he played golf
along the fairway next to where the mothballed
World War 2 ships
sat grey and rusting next to the golf course.
The San Joaquin is low now due to global warming.
Next I learned the Mokolumne River:
a glass lens of wild, calm waters
made of Sierra mountain snows
on the way to San Francisco Bay
and opened a crystal flower into the wonder of my childhood.
I swam with rainbow trout against the current,
deep down in the brown world of glass fish holding
opal sunsets in their scales, call them aurora fish, the color of autumn in the
midst of spring.
And the Van Duzen still had redwoods along it
and my brother and I swan into cold pools or pure being
before the six rivers or Northern California were overfished and
dammed with silt from greedy cutting of redwood trees.
There were so few dams then destroying
migrations of fish and weathers.
All my early memories of rivers run down the hill to sea stars,
green anemones, foggy wetlands and the enshrouding sea.
My father dominated my early rivers.
The Sacramento taught me about the power of water
when we lived for a crowded week on a house boat
and stopped at a wharf that sold bait and liquor---
and Dad let us row out alone
and we were nearly swept away in the row boat,
my sister crying as my brother and I rowed
with all our strength against the current
And she wouldn’t help, and we lost an oar---
and we still failed and my father Laughed at us
satting on the far dock watching us
nursing a cocktail--
and he sent a man in a outboard boat
slapping on the waves, and saved us---
Shamed by a the Sacramento like whales
that sometimes swim up mistaking it for the sea
We once found an abandoned boat
in the willows along the sloughs of the
rare inland San Joaquin river Delta
and we repaired it enough to row it for miles
along the dykes and levees that keep
the river in chains---
these chains have made the San Joaquin-Sacramento river delta
America’s “most endangered waterway system”
Some years later, in a birch bark canoe,
my father showed his warm and kind side
we dripped oars into Maine’s shaded Saco River,
swiftly down the steam and I tell my daughter now
years later, that the song is mistaken Meerily Merrily Merrily,
Life is NOT a Dream.
The river of life is no dream….
and I won’t force her into a current she can’t row against.
and there was the Ramapo and the Delaware Water Gap,
and the Youghiogheny at Ohio Pyle
and my dear Rocky River,
whose companion seasons
gave my hands memories reaching
into the years from out of my heart,
holding nature to me as a close companion of
intimate knowing of the lives of other species---
and Heroes Wetland
embarced me with Yellow Iris and Yellow Warlbers
next to the river
in a place of closely studied wonders.
And then there is the Chagrin, where we
loved one another and swam nude
under the herons and Red tailed hawks
and the Cuyahoga,
whose pollution is
a little healthier now-- but still far to go
and years ago
the crooked Cuyahoga
carried me home from the Iron-ore ships
where I looked out over the St Mary’s River and longed for birch trees
my heart breaking with autumnal love for lost land
and now I know at last
earth has no other reality than itself,
earth at last only itself--- yes, repeat that…..
Earth at last, only itself---
nothing “ahead of all parting”
as in Rilke’s dramed up delusion,
No Tao underlying, no void or heaven beyond
and no other meaning beyond earth,
evolved and not created,
like the shapes of fish,
and all lives on this blue and sandy sphere
dictated by the course
of cerulean seasons and rushing times
green water and the spiral motions fo ferns curling into being tself,
branching then into waterfalls and turning into a ragged sun
and harsh sandstone sculpture of winds and pelting rains
shape the spaces of history in the changing face of evolution.
Earth is a history of rivers
that starts form where we come from
and moves to where we are now,
earth’s history moves in inclined valleys
and continental rifts between tectonic plates:
to remote Green River canyons
where the Western Inland Sea once held ichthyosaurs
and the Blue Nile.River now
flows by dilapidated African shacks
and the hands of begging children in Cairo down to the seeps of the
polluted Nile Delta.
The Congo flows on just as Congolese generals order the heads of Mountain
Gorillas to be lopped off for bushmeat:
Rivers are political: polluted by apolitical robbers barons,
and the innocent flushing of unnamed toilets,
too often clogged with trash and diseases
The bivalves and the frogs are all dying off.
Rivers are weather veins, water veins,
cycling the blood of life through of the body of the earth, tumults of turning
molecules hidden with mysteries close to seaspray and mist so wind blown
waterfalls--- salmon tumbling waters
turning oceans into rivulets, cleaning the foul wastes
to feed trout streams, and jungle orchids.
500,000 Sandhill cranes
and hundreds of thousands of ducks
and geese converge
on the River Platte every March.
Rivers die of religion and pestidides
and trickle like the Colorado into dead sand
before the golfer who hits his white ball near the Gulf of Baja.
The river is not a strong brown god,
as Eliot said, not intractable
no god could symbolize the beauty of
this early morning river’s misty hushed magic of.
water reflecting the clear glass rainbow of an unspiritual sun.
Light glints like fish scales on the water’s scalloped surfaces. This river
steps into itself everywhere in the same place, this river is the meaning of
moving the electric veins of the worlds pulsing heart
The river is life!!....
and the river of life is not the “guilty river god of the blood’ as Rilke
in a moment of silly Christian contrition---
and no gods swell the rivers unholy banks,
its butterfly shores,
no goddesses explain
its otter twisted doublebacks and scouring crookedness
its tumbling Colorado, canyon drilling, fish swilling, Nile fecundity.
The “river of life” is no illusion, not the vain opposite of the eternal, the
void or any imaginary infinity---
The river is not a stream of Taoism’s the thousand things, not the river of “maya”,
not a Tibetan wheel of birth and death
nor a tumbling Jordon of Eccesiatical vanitias sweeping Mississippi river mud
the monastery dining room’s spartan denial of life.
No Pharaohs there, No Heraclitus stepping into a firewater looking for the
immortal diamond of eternal refusal of the facts of life
There is only the river of facts--
just rapids, just the thunder of Victoria Falls and Niagara now turned into an
electricity factory for New York City:
Only this: just these Botos leaping, mayflies dancing,
Baboons troops walking along the Zambezi.
Only these Yangtze dolphins now extinct because of dams and greed,
and they’d still be alive if not for Marx and Confucius and the silly idea of a
No ineffectual prayers at the Ganges near Benares,
rituals mumbled at sunrise
propitiating smoke that rises to nothing, endless wastes of poems and language
that mean nothing at all and save no one
wishes wasted against the real, polluted Ganges
that flows on
all the way past Calcutta into the human misery of Bangladesh.
“Come ye Gather at the River” when the Mekong was bombed
rivers have gone wrong since
they dropped the atom bomb,
some were crying for help
among burnt corpses
that filled the river Ota in Hiroshima
The caged Hudson is in prison between Manhattan and New Jersey, and Pete Seeger
is still singing against the
polluted river bottom polluted by General Electric
Seeger is 91 now and is Old Man river, who just keeps on movin, he just keeps
like the lives of slaves that need liberation
the Ohio sweeps huge flat arcs of water
between the biomass of shadetrees
that once witnessed Indian birchbark canoes,
oars dripping river water over sturgeon backs, now gone---
past the avenue of Indian Mounds
where the Ohio merges with the Muskingum
or further south to Pomeroy and Galopolis,
where the green hills roll into areas where Mammoths walked.
The Ohio is the Seine of Monet’s Boat, only bigger,---
or more like Mark Twain’s slavery-opposing
Jim’n Huck Mississippi
like the Amazon that spreads its bleeding green fingers
across a continent,
the Delta opening like a birthing canal into a fish-dying sea
And forest created rivers start as rain clouds
that tumble up and over a quarter of the planet,
watering Brazil and the Congo, and feed Forest Elephants
and Okapi giraffes whose stripped legs
hide them behind jungle leaves.
Veins of watercourses in rain soaked earth
rivulets dripping down to the sea:
fresh water arteries in weathers that evolve all lives that live
rivers created life to sustain themselves
forests keep rivers alive to feed the sky with rainclouds.
Forest Rain, my son, Forest Rain that sustains us all, Forest water dripping
into wet humus and
Forest Rains feeding the forests, steaming mists that burn off
in the sun and float toward the trade winds of the next day on the continent
all over a world sustains by your flow
Like little penguins or Gannets fishing,
Dippers dip between rocks into the froth.
and they that go down to the sea, see no works of the non existent gods
but the folly of men who believe in them,
the masses of illusions that rule the crowded worlds of men
and the fall leaves adrift toward the sea and redwood snags, and harbor seals
swimming up river
“Roll on Columbia, roll on”, sang Woodie Guthrie as the Lewis and Clark go up
the Missouri towards the Snake and I have followed some fo their travels across
the continent, camping beside the Clearwater river or heard coyote duets where
the Snake flirts with the Tetons
Odes to Science 20
Ode to Darwin
On May 18, 1832, Darwin wrote to Henslow
“ I am at present red hot with spiders”
and it was that love of spiders and plants
and every other green-winged or gelatinous or veined,
clam-shelled or walrus-whiskered thing,
that made Darwin as close as his white whiskers
to secretive barnacles,
close as his tired eyes to the Jungle’s belly.
He unifies man and nature
in an age that was destroying whales and egrets and still
tracking down escaped slaves.
He was opposing vivisection and asserting the unity
of nature against the dividers of spoils
and chain surveyors of property.
Darwin married his cousin who was a Wedgewood.
The Wedgewood’s had helped
William Wilberforce abolish slavery on
February 23rd 1807.
"Am I not a Man and a Brother?" Wedgwood
had written on an anti-slavery design.
Darwin's science is part of the world that abolished slavery.
Darwin knew already in 1835
that if Evolution is real, religion is fiction.
States that claim divine rights
for people and churches were lies,
since churches were made of cut down forests
and people made of the stuff that makes jelly fish,
and no otherworldly god dwells in either.
On a planet where dying corals choke
on the pollution we have created.
The great species die off is
singing a grieving song of sadness
to a world that refuses clear unmercenary science.
I begin to understand your terrors, Charles:
throwing up in the bathroom at Down House,
sweating over the fancy Pigeon’s
fearing the ignorance of an age still trapped in old dogmas,
when even your wife in some measure was afraid of you.
But you did not give up. Nature always led you.
150 years late I’ve been learning it these last years.
It means looking really hard,
turning off the chatter of the habitual mind
and seeing how my DNA limitations interact with space
and let me live a
and allow my eyes to see mushrooms,
or my mind to see how horsetails and mosses relate to
dinosaur bones and they all evolved forward
from early fish in ancient landscapes
and ancient minnows swarmed into sun beams
dancing on the surface of the sea.
Look at leaf vein fingers reaching up
to the lofty limbs and above them
nimbus clouds losing a spray of water diamonds
hurling toward the forest canopy where a howler monkey
one day will call forth the sound of what matters….
what matters is
down under my own blood
where are the origins of where language
merges words to worlds, and
whales whine and twist up though curtains of brine
and mist rises on salamander creeks
and pelicans dive into the midst of a school of fish.
Who knew it would be a double dance up a spiral stair
that twists between all our cells, uniting cell to cell
and grasping need of life to grasping need,
hand to hand through the ages,
trying to find a way to understand who and where we are.
Beyond Mendel’s genes and Herbert Spencer’s forgery
the terrible misunderstanding of Social Darwinism,
miners with black lung and
tenements in blackened air of Manchester---
beyond the Robber Barons who wrongly thought
it is might makes right,
it really comes down to small changes, not rich men,
and minute strategies of the tiny,
diatom species pattern the seas
not big predators ripping out meat hunks
or chomp of the sirloin slapped on the new shiny steel barbecue.
Mega-fauna disappear quickly when trouble comes
or a giant Meteor falls, provoking a little ice age.
Darwin doesn’t just replace Genesis or Tao
with another myth,
he abolishes myth and sets us again
on the messy factuality of the earth.
Koran gone and Bibleless at last
next to sturgeons, centipedes and sea lettuce.
Here on earth is where gods are fairy tales
and Grimm’s stories are no longer told
to make children abdicate their minds early.
Many poets are to blame for
making smoke in literary mirrors,
fogging up history
with tales that lied
about sun and moon and phony creation stories.
Your painstaking perceptions are holding us up,
you worked so hard
breeding barnacles, rare pigeons
and all the children around you at Down House.
Wise man: You knew we would misunderstand you, and you feared us.
I’m sorry Charles, I misunderstood you myself for many years,
I understand now that evolution is REAL
and religion is merely fiction.
Illusions and superstitions get dressed up
as Jesus or Tao to comfort an old woman’s sorrows,
or fill an art museum's clerk’s childless bitterness,
comfort a business man’s mid-life crisis.
Dirty tree-roots and squid tentacles trump Plato and Aquinas
and Augustine’s City of God floats deadened in Sargasso seaweed
in the wake of the HMS Beagle.
The grateful glow of sunset falls upon the Galapagos
and the mythic dreams of the Middle ages are finally over.
Now if we can just restrain the loosed populations
from destroying the seas and noosing the lands with highways.
I want to thank you Charles for waiting for me
to unlearn the myths and look anew
as I put my shoulder to the facts
and push as hard as I can against the superstitious hoards
still pouring their pollution into the face of the wild rainbow.
I honor the chaos that made life into order
and the fragile tissue that sustains a planet blue with rains
that keep a shield between us and the destroying sun.
Odes to Science 21
Ode to the Wood and Carpenters.
I think about snails houses and how they grow spirals on their backs
and those silky trials of mucus left behind them
like the chain of light over Aristotle’s breast
in Rembrandt’s great painting in the Met in NYC.
Yeah, I have studied wikiups and tumble-weed forts and redwood bark teepees
and 19th century Japanese, Swedish or Pueblo houses.
We built tree houses when I was a kid.
Architecture begins with Gorilla leaf beds over 6 million years ago.
I love the Tepee and the earth house, the skylight and a steep pitched roof.
I emulate Orioles nests of milkweed, lodges of beaver.
I wished I could make a house in the woods overlooking the sea.
But get real, I need to build for my kids in the place that I am, with amterials
we can barely afford over many years in debt tot the bank.
Im not Frank Lloyd Wright building for the rich
or making Usonian paradises in
I don’t like glass boxes either,
nor post modern houses that defy gravity
and seem to want to lift into a silver streamlined comic book.
None of that.
I’m building our house with cedar and pine,
piles of 2x4’s and 2x12’s and sizes in between
sit in the yard.
I try to keep the rain and ice off them.
Put tarps over them in the storm,
out late getting drenched to save the wood.
I count the rings in a 2x 6 stud
I am cutting---twenty one rings and that many years this tree grew
and there are thousand upon thousands of years
in all these studs and rafters, joists and plates
I am making my house with. So many trees
in so many houses and never before have I realized
how many eons of trees go to give me
the feeling of home in my own house.
My house is a forest and I need to spend
more time helping conserve Forests.
I feel sorry for so many tree lives cut short and waste no wood.
I love to live among so many knots,
echoes of live braches that once held
Hummingbirds in their lichened nests
I’m grateful for the forest making
my children a secure place to play and learn.
I use no unsustainable woods, like redwood,
and buy no woods from areas being
harmed like Brazil.
I try give my children only wooden toys too.
The ridge beam of my house was so heavy
me and the carpenter I hired to help me
nearly fell from the scaffold we were on.
The rafters lean into the center beam like a May pole mountain
or swans in love and they come down over the deck like
a California Fir tree, giving us warm shade as if under Redwoods.
I learn the fear of fire in my little
tower of wood even as I come to love the forest
more than ever and wish I could tunnel like termites
or peck like Pileated woodpeckers.
I too love and depend on trees.
Tree branches remind my fingers of the dawn
where dinosaurs roamed and my house is a place
where I think Cretaceous thoughts
and mossy memories of the long life
now shaded behind me. I teach my children
the meaning of evolution.
spell, and use grammar, how to deduce numbers.
I dug the post-holes for the deck with a spud bar
and a saw to cut away some huge roots
of the silver maple in our back yard.
I like the arm-muscled hand saw
and the long glide of the plane.
My wife and I made the spiral stair ourselves,
our own design, like a DNA
molecule in our family room.
I use a chisel like a dentist and make frames for my paintings
My hands meet, praise and question the world in wood
and paint and I love all that I can touch.
I learn to lay stones for the garden now and
and write this to honor all the woods in used in my house,
Before he died my dad said to use my brain and my hands.
Like my gorilla ancestors I have done just that:
my kids have a place to sleep now.
ODE TO SCIENCE
Ode to Questioning Poetry
“To be completely alive is to be aware of the rumble of terror that underlies
People want me to write about what poetry should be
but I am no poet, if you can’t tell, no prophet.
I just try to tell the truth
about sycamore trees and my own frustrated
effort to understand the obvious.
But Poetry lies too much and so do poets.
I failed over and over at it and finally gave it up.
I don’t like it much.
I am after historical questions,
tracing back the chains
poetry drags behind itself into Temples and Churches
into the mouthy cave of arrogant fictions and priestly myths--
historical catacombs of dead whose webs
thread back into self-negation.
I’ve thrown over those chains and look back at these links,
looking out the dead cave of Platonism
or a way to see science as the poetry of the real.
Poets sit in their mystical closets trying to dream back faith.
This backward slide into Imagination is a “the leap into the open”…………
like the phony fling of Heideggers flames
—calling forth Nazism out of the Samurai void.
So many hands clapping to empty flags
waving over the heads of Buddha’s dead dogs…
Dead catacombs under the streets of Rome
are the Heritage of Hegel and the futile art of the dead.
It is life that matters and not all these words
that made Hart Crane jump off the back of a ship
straining after the vanity of the invisible .
Let the invisible drown….
It is only the ordinary and the visible that matters
Poet’s communities are tight little medieval worlds
where dogma poses as freedom.
Sometimes they are zoos of egos too
and I rarely venture into them:
too many cliques and chains.
I question what poets do: myself included---
I made my own attempts to write great poems
I created vast immortal eternities ---
I’ve done that fake conjuring,
Homeric magic of analogies, inklings,
intuitions, Zen vanities, bilge and firewater
rotten Rimbaud’s self regarding infinities
jeweled slop of linguistic trickery,
moldy metaphysics of dead gnats.
I prefer my child’s hands.
I mean I prefer to clean diapers
and care for kids than read Rumi or Dante,
those inflated architects of the fictional:
sellers of the bogus afterlives.
I built some doosies myself-
so many vain dream sentences
trying to create the non-existent and eternal “Word”.
The shopworn effluents of my sincerity
are buried in bookshelves now.
There are so many perfect styles made with
metaphors for romantic infinities floundering in irreality---
No more of these Mallarmean jewel boxes, thank you.
Intricate self-mirroring texts.
Dogen’s lies about Mountains Walking in the Shobengenzo.
What were these props and poses set up for exactly?
Fame? Fantasy, Priestly allure or the elixir of infinity?
Actual people and animals suffer
and what does poetry do for them?
That was Neruda’s criticism of poets
in his “Impure Poetry”. Pablo was right.
Eternal oceans are lies
when the real oceans are being destroyed.
Li Po’s drunken moon does not interest me,
nor the way Sylvia Plath cut the red poppy of her own throat.
A poetry of science that praises those who cure for Scleroderma.
That might be something.
The poetry of the sea has been there millions of years
without a single line of poetry.
Everything that is truly poetic is plein air,
in the open, not ashamed and not clever enough
for ironical and elite art fashions in NYC to notice it.
Who needs parasites of absolutes when nothing is absolute?
Ticks on the nothing.
Where are the poets of earth
now we know for a fact we are alone in space?
The heroic gods are gone and that is a fact.
All your friends will die as you get older.
That is a sad fact that is also a poem.
I dream of a poetry that is only facts,
not all of them sad.
Throw out all the fictions.
It is telling the facts that matters.
I imagine a poetry of daily life, haiku journalism, shorn of all
fake sublimity of spiritual edifices.
It is the kids that matter,
the head of an asparagus spear.
Who needs poetry, anyway?
I don’t much like it and write it
only out a some neurotic need of creative precision
a love of fallibility.
The poetic impulse comes closer to a love of wrinkled skin
or rocks and beetles than dreamy nightingales.
Worn doorways and old cups.
Imagine a poetry that learns from its mistakes….
Poets don't learn from mistakes
like scientists do. That is why I prefer science.
Most poetry is closer to fashion and wedding cake then to science,
poets hate criticism, whereas science internalizes it
and makes it a part of the process of gathering insights.
Why can’t poetry learn to do that too.
Quantum mechanical confusions about numbers will not help poets.
Just say “No” to Wittgenstein’s pretentious “silence”.
Was poetry merely a sideshow of religion?
pretending to create an eternity that never was
the eternal as a machine of illusions?
A poetry shorn of romanticism, against the ‘sturm und drang’
illusions of Schiller and Schelling, Basho and Hindu otherworldly poets,
the strain that goes back before Eschenbach and Dante,
from Shelly’s zephyr to Coleridges’s opiates, Orphic Platonists
dream of moony worlds that never were.
The Bards of Bengal smeared their heads with ashes
singing to a god who does not exist. Van sacrifices,
dead children and goats wasted on a god who does not exist
I prefer the vernex on a just born baby and say poems that are about babies or
animals and the arguments I have with the world.
The caste system made such expensive
mistakes of pretend poverty.
The polluted Ganges cannot purify Kabir’s and Tagore’s
bramanical or Muslim pretenses.
Ghandi diapers are irrelevant, all that mattered was civil disobedience.
Babies are not born to glorify god.
The poetic color of Indigo turned to blood since Bengal
was starved to grow it.
O, why is so much poetry just this indigo,
meant to hide that starvation?
Words dressed up like Orphical blues in
Purple pages of escapist doggerel,
iambic Platonists with bloody feet walk on fake water
under a charlatan’s moon.
Monastic longing for the beloved is a lie against life,
unforgivable hatred of the earth.
Mystic merely turn myth into magical thinking
and other kinds of nonsense.
What is the point of birthing your inner life
and magnifying it in the mirror of exalted language
to create myths or religions that serve a state?
No point in Gibran’s and Rumi’ s appeal to (exploit?)
the adolescent need
of inner certainty to fight the thrush and chaos of hormones.
At this age of sexual insecurity I had no clue
and needed ancient “wisdom” to pacify my ardent confusions.
How was I to know all those “great books” were merely power trips?
I wanted to know and understand a world that made no sense.
How could I have known, when no one told me
as I am telling you.
But chances are you are not listening
but will only learn this when you are forced to,
as I was forced to. Why does literature fail?
What is the truth of the matter?
it is time to take poetry apart with tweezers,
put it in a beaker,
examine it with its clothes off---look at its motives
in a microscope.
I don't want to put it to the rack, exactly
like Francis Bacon wanted to do to nature.
I just want to apply the unjustly hated
implements of science
and see if I can reveal some interesting details and tendencies.
---It is not that I want to shave realities head
or put it up on a cross or even throw baseballs
at it and watch it fall into the water like a fat cop.
I just want to excise dreams and evocations
with the scalpel of the truth.
I want to teach my daughter to be a scholar of the actual.
Poetry served emotional needs and projected them into destructive fictions,
it was early “info-tainment”
before reason and evidence could be sought.
Charlatan poets on the roads went from town to town, carry gossip and fictions
John Dewey comes back to me and stands in my shoes
like Manifest Destiny undone
and looks at the desolation of corporate culture here with new eyes.
Overheted skies, dead animals on the roads, choked rivers
and CEO’s living in untold luxury.
I looked with Dewey’s eyes as best I could when I was a teen
I am this physical body and am not ashamed of it anymore.
I am my viscera and ailing coronary arteries.
I am my over weight stomach and the
stretched and wrinkled skin on my hands.
I am the lost teeth of the illusions
that I believed but abandoned.
They nearly killed me, but I stood beyond
them and accepted no god or delusion
as a crutch to hold myself up above others.
I let the illusions fall like old butterfly larva,
I was a pupating metamorph beyond the lost cause.
I think I have given up poetry, or rather,
I have given it up dreams of a unreality
What was Basho doing dreaming himself hovering
over of stubbled snowy fields
in the moment that he died?
Did he think he’d still be there in our imagining,
like Andrew Wyeth’s dying old man,
melting into the spring light.
It was a vain hope of his.
Why write your dying song
What a mistake Basho made.
I only started questioning poetry
when I realized my divine longings
were merely cultural delusions, throw outs,
forgotten books I’m sorry I read
scrabbled hand me downs from the culture wars--
left over make believe spoon-fed to us.
The pablum of myth dribbles out of our mouths
decades after the damage done
by parents and well meaning teachers.
Teaches abuse children when
they teach them lies.
They didn’t want to face the hard cruelty
of a world that is poetic in its factual thereness prior to
anyone inventing myths.
Face that hardness if you can….
without ducking behind the nearest T.V. Cell phone or
new age escape artist.
Without reading escape novels,
without going to church and crying in confession,
without pretending life is something else, look at the obvious without myth
colored sunglasses on your eyes.
I gave up promises of a non-existent Jesus
and Buddada paradoxes years ago,
and kicked out the utopic shamans I had let into my life.
Ive met too many wanna-be Hindus
when the real Hindus
have given up Shankara and Vivekananda
for Blackberry phones and Microsoft.
Both Nagarjuna and Microsoft are merely facts
in a world that favored them unjustly.
I note the injustice and pass on.
I long for a Poetry of earth
that questions itself as science does:
most Poets run away from Newton’s rainbow,
afraid of Einstein’s logic
in love with cliché feelings.
they are bright-sided by bogus soft touch spirituality
Hallmark card Christians or
Sufis Zen-ing themselves in the California hills.
Colorado shamans in sweat-lodge suburbs
grow fat on monetized metaphysical capital
like Li Po moon drunk on Saki,
or Rumi drunk on the rum of self-delusions---
self-hypnotized on a beloved who is not there
spinning in a Mevlevi trance of self-negating abstractions
whirling hypnotized in a self-magnified air of fictional gods.
Even Ginsberg got bloated on Buddhism,
If only poets could 86 Nagarjuna and Rumi and the foggy mirages of religion
and care for the a real baby that has only after-birth
and no after life:
be part of this dirt and detritus, part of the mess of reality
part of these mistakes and failed guesses,
learn to look before you speak and seek no transcendence.
The here is all that is here.
Stay away from the transcendentalist technicians.
Basho’s dreaming ghost was wishful thinking---
only the winter fields remain, scrappy and stubbled.
Look there for signs of a real spring,
accept death if you can, there is no returning
all there is these cells that strain to multiply
and bird’s migrate home to give birth before they die
I imagine the faces of Poe, Rumi, Coleridge and Blake
bristle and start to curse me.---
so what?, Let them bristle and spit.
I am not looking to other worlds anymore.
I’ve seen through my share of New Age prophets,
wanna-be poet priests,
zen or Voodoo communists, esoteric autodidacts.
I have seen Punk Dada Hip Hop toe jamming crooners
and sad dogs howling out satirical news items.
Silly really, part of the fabric of a sad society
a madness that moved me once.
But what if poetry actually started grappling
with the reality of facts?
I think Richard Dawkins is right: poetry
has failed to be responsible to reality.
What was all that longing about if not
a sort of lie against life--- Pascal wagering emotions
to win back a soul that itself is a poetic fantasy?
For them the wages of sin is myth.
Isn’t it time we poets stopped lying about life?
Keats and Shelley, Rimbaud, Stevens and Bob Kaufman
were dying flowers, yes, sure,
but bleeding lilies is not all there is to it.
Please, no more bloody poets hoisting themselves
up on self built crosses claiming
they were born more brutally murdered than the next martyr.
Bertrand Russell observes in his History of Philosophy
that Byron and Rousseau led up to Nietzsche and Nazism.
There is truth in that.
What is the point of seizing the marrow of life
when you support so many ideologies that break so many bones?
As Pablo Neruda said of Rilke: Rilke was just too
and full of effete, ecstatic dreams to see the suffering around him?
You were too busy playing fancy word games, Joyce, Dada,
that helped no one and
were merely designed to show how clever you are.
To tell the truth, Yeats’s prosody is lovely
but what is that worth?--- look,
Hitler was an early slam performance poet,
one of the best, better than Ronald Reagan.
Face it, there is truth to this.
Poetry has favored the irrational, the delusional,
sometimes the reactionary, consider Pound’s fascism.
His worship of Confucius and coinage backed up by religion
or Eliot’s monarchist, anti-semetic catholic/ Hindu wasteland---
or worse----Dante’s delicious sadism in the Divina Commedia.
Think of Ovid’s and Shakespeare fawning over state powers.
The Great Chain of Being is a monarchist lie:
“All creation leads up to aristocracy!!!”
It was Plato who wanted poetry to serve only his tyrant guardians.
He didn’t hate poetry,
he wanted all poetry but his censored.
Poetry for Plato must conform to Nazi-like state he designed it he Republic
like Mao’s little red poetry book.
Plato upbraids Homer for not propagandizing
enough for non-existent gods.
Homer himself glories in war.
In other words Plato wanted poets to lie about reality better.
Mohammed too, claimed to hate poetry, he said poets
“wander about bewildered in every valley?
And that they say that which they do not do”
well this describes Muhammad himself pretty well---
he himself wrote one of the most blood spilling poems
ever written. He was a poet who, in fact, killed other poets.
His lies are told in every valley now.
The poetic language of Christ and Mohammed
created Inquisitions and lead even in recent years
to bombing Bagdad,
killing a million people
or flying airplanes into Wall Street Towers.
Poets make stuff up too much,
like Blake and his imaginary tiger.
I like Blake for his friendship with human rights
and Tom Paine, but his hatred of science
and Newton was silly, even stupid.
Keats was wrong to say that Newton destroyed the rainbow.
On the contrary Newton released
light and color
from Taoists and Lhasa prayer flags and Byzantine churches
and gave it back to the sun and rain where it belongs. He realized the rainbow
for Keats’ own ignorance.
Thank you Issac.
The history of poetry is an error from which I and starting to awake.
I love Whitman for his care of the sick
as in his great poem the “Wound Dresser”
“I thread my way through the hospitals,
the hurt and wounded I pacify with a soothing hand,
I sit by the wounded all the dark night,
some are so young, some suffer so much,”
This reaches beyond literature into the heart of the actual.
But Whitman fails in his seeking to be everyone, the fallacy of misplaced
What Lilac last bloomed in the fields where dead native Americans or dead Bison
lay. Whitman embraced the horrors of manifest dentiny.
Mayakovsky, Russia’s Whitman, was priest of another kind of religion,
he wrote propaganda for Stalin, who killed millions
including the poet Osip Mendelstam.
Once I was raptured by Jesus, Blake, Shelley, Rilke and Tagore
in my youth,
under the spreading Chestnut tree
at Longfellows house in Portland, Maine or
the oak tree in the Botanical Garden in Cleveland Ohio,
but really, everyone makes mistakes.
To tell the truth, ‘I too dislike poetry’,
as Marianne Moore wisely said.
I am not much of a poet,
I care for reality too much
I do not want to die for poetry as Keats and Shelley did.
I want to live for an earth not die for a beloved who does not exist
or die for a religion or a country that could care less about me.
Truth is often denigrated by most religion and poetry
What matters is air and light and dirt.
Longing too much for what has never been,
the sylvan mist, the ethereal clime, the red future,
eternity’s fictive Never-lands .
“I have been half in love with easeful Death”,
John Keats said and yes, that was the problem---
you never really faced life John, Percy, Arthur.
Silly ‘seasons in hell’ trying to derange your senses
rather than looking at life as it is.
The biology of life here on earth, the actual, is what matters
You died too young in a heap of illusions.
Transcend transcendence I say.
There is no secret west-wind,
no intimations of immortality in daffodils or the Lake district.
Poetry is not Zen or prayer, and poet-priests like Synder,
Ginsberg and Hirschman are useful when they stop the dreaming and
report what is actual.
If you want to be a poet leave poetry behind
and give up all that
and accept only the rubble
of largely ignored and unpoetic facts.
Face the facts and accept as poem
only what is consonant with facts:
earth be my eyes, the truth as best I can see it
with a journalists heart and science alive with questions on my mind.
What is prayer anyway but a wasted poem said
to a god who does not exist?
Stop talking fictions to the non-existant,
start talking about reality to real people.
No more poems longing for power
or trying to express the sublime states, mudyamika,
tyrannical dreams, paean to Brooklyn Bridges,
poet prophets floating around with Clouds in their Trousers.
Try to understand of the cruelty of bricks and facts and numbers
and do not deny the pain of existing.
I look for poetry made of the science and earth,
a poem of earth, for earth, on earth---
a poetry that questions itself, accepts
no system of belief and lives
the raw life of animals on earth.
Questioning power I like poetry like bent birdfeathers and whistling bones on
the dry beach.
Poetry comes of the breath of actually living, on the edge of childhood or while
realizing life does not go on after you die. All there is here and what better
we can make of it for the next generation.
These are the last days of our lives, and poetry should tell of what mattered
to you most.
The world is full of forgotten hands
and I give up poetry for bed sheets
and wrinkled palms
turned sheet side down,
like my mother’s just before she died
hardly able to lift up anything,
much less “transcend the world”.
Poetry is all the hands that loved you
and have not forgotten who you were then.
Odes to Science , 23
Ode to the Weather
There was a hurricane downgraded to a tropical storm
that came to Ohio this year. That never happens.
In the Spring the Vernal Pools had less water
because there was no snow pack melting in March
Salamanders and wood frogs spawn
in shallower waters.
For eons fireflies come to Ohio in June,
but this year they are two months early,
and the dragon flies came way early too
and the carpenter bumble bees
thought it was May in March.
My Forsythia Bush which bloomed last year
on April 29th is out this year on March 17th,
5 weeks before time.
No one has seen Butterflies in March here in Ohio before.
Many Birds migrate north with the sun, not with temperature.
This is called photoperiodism
What will they do this year, now June came in March,
and the order of the seasons wobbles in human-created confusion?
The insects that many migrant birds feed to their babies are already here.
Will the insects birds feed their babies be her in the kind and number that are
Must more Orioles babies die so oil executives can be richer?
CEO’s are frying the world and don’t care if polar bears die.
Why does nobody put them in jail?
There are many CEO’s who ought to be jail.They are pyschopaths
Mark Twain was perhaps speaking of them when he siad that
“Isn't human nature
the most consummate sham & lie that was ever invented?
Isn't man a creature to be ashamed of in pretty much
all his aspects? Is he really fit for anything but to be stood up on the street
corner as a convenience for dogs? Man, "Know thyself --& then thou wilt despise
thyself, to a dead moral certainty."
I wish I had Twain’s sense of humor.
Maybe that was only possible over a hundred years ago, before cynicism became
such a norm that escapism from facts is now ubiquitous.
I wonder if LA will burn down some years from now,
that city in a desert
that should never have been built
Will they still deny Global Warming
when the flames again engulf the city
of too many cars and swimming pools?
Christians lust for the imaginary end of the world
they were taught to despise and it might just come
by way of their own greed for gas and electricity.
When profits matter more than reason, ice caps melt. The Stock Exchange gets
Wall Street will be overflowed with the tide
of the results of own fiduciary obsessions.
The Board of directors will be drowned
in their own responsibility to shareholders .
Will they still call the trashing of the weather an “externality”
when water swamps the buildings on Wall Street
and Manhattan drowns?
Too many show offs driving gas guzzling cars.
Too much coal burning in China
and the fires that burn slash in Brazil can be seen from outer space:
Too much pig and cow sludge in cruel meat farms.
Too much air conditioning and green washed lies.
Life evolved between the spinning earth
and frigid outer space.
Life is a self-created membrane between extremes
of temperature, which life has learned to regulate.
The cycle of evaporating water rising
into rain clouds and rivers washing down
to the sea to evaporate yet again
was partly created by life itself.….
Life created the atmosphere for sustain itself….
plants and animals created this exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in a give
and take of breath and respiration….
the great forests create vast clouds of moisture and breath.
the air of the weather is literally the breath of billions of years
of plant and animal breaths creating a gaseous shield
against the sun and encouraging rain and self-cleaning.
The weather itself is Earth’s Darwinian envelope of survival.
No one has the right to mess with it.
By what right dio they destroy this?
Water, air seas , lakes, weather and atmosphere have rights. Nature has the
rights that humans should not abridge.
Where is the power that can stop this?
father lied to everyone for years, when he was drunk
them he was an Ensign in the Navy,
implying he was part of it---
sometimes saying he went overseas.
He didn’t go anywhere but Chicago.
His father pulled strings to get him out of going.
My grandfather’s other son was killed in a plane over France,
1943 I think.
A waste of young life,
dying at 22 before life is fully life yet.
Why did my drunken father want to die like his brother?
Survival guilt makes no sense.
We need to culture patriot guilt.
Shame on those who want kids to die for nation and god.
Praise to those who refuse to go and live.
My grandfather let his oldest son be killed off
and then humiliated my father by forcing him off the hook.
That was the grandfather I didn’t like.
He was mean and cared about money too much.
He reminded me of those four and five star generals
telling the young to die for god and big business.
but at least he saved one son
--- I wouldn’t be writing this if he hadn’t---
even though the way he did it
taught my father to despise himself.
What a great thing it was when the rebellion of the 1960’s
called in question the drill sergeants and generals.
The Patriarchs of big business hated the hippies.
my father hated them too.
He drank more as the Vietnam war continued.
Three million Vietnamese were killed in that war.
No Black Wall in Washington for them.
How the hatred between fathers and sons
keeps the blood gushing on the battlefields.
My father died of overwork, alcohol and cigarettes,
as well as bad heredity before the war ended.
His father killed him, in a strange round about way.
What is the matter with men?
Why can’t we listen to each other and try harder to get along?
In 1970 Bob Dylan sang “Lay Lady Lay” on the Radio.
I remember the older boys on Friday night,
outside the youth center where we were playing pool
holding up their flaming draft cards
like a candle of pride,
showing it to other boys who cheered in the dark.
we won’t go”
I was too young to go but I was proud of them too.
Glad to know them.
I knew another person who skipped the draft and went to Canada
and learned to repair bicycles there.
I was proud of him too.
just like I’m proud of Gandhi and M.L.King and Thoreau.
I need to ride a bike more often.
Get healthy and live a good life.
Resist power, don’t be ashamed when the bosses tell you they are better than
you, they aren’t.
They want you to join the army and make
it impossible to go to college unless
you wager your life for them.
They have made college so expensive.
College should be free.
It is a bad government that does that.
Money is on their side but truth and history are on yours.
Go to the community college, work your way,
study on your own.
Do not join the army.
They even want to convince your parents
it is an honor if they give you away to death.
There is not honor in it. When you are dead you are nothing.
Love your sons and daughters and don’t let them go.
Resistance is not futile.
We need to all work together to restrain the old men
and the so called ‘leaders’ from starting wars.
How do we find a cure for testosterone poisoning?
My father has been dead so long I hardly remember his face.
If only his father had been more caring……