Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Solstice 2007
I. Nature reacts to Us
TV sz Dead Sea elevation down 
300 feet over next century:

Sinkholes 30 foot wide 
open without warning.

Breathless, a dispassionate observer observes:
--Here’s a new one, absolutely new, on a line of sinkholes, you can see the line, you can see the bell shape, you can see, not so wide, not so wide, yea, quite new, not older than two weeks.

Big underground spaces . . . 
suddenly and without warning . . . 
the surface does not hold. 
Last year a woman was killed.

In this geography of cataclysm it is
not unnatural that natural history
would give birth to fear
of a vengeful god

II. The Story of Lot

This is pretty much where 
laid it on Sodom. 

But the fire came not 
from the heavens, 
but from below, 
from Babette Draw.

There’s all that gas there, all 
it takes is a spark. The flames are 
not the natural orange of natural fire.

III. Lot’s Revenge

200 centimeters (depth, not cubic) of water 
pumped into ponds for salt

All fresh water pumped out for salt
(no one could drink it anyway).

There is a new theory:
“Nature” reacts to “Us.”

IV. Ancient Civilization, Revisited

Petra, ancestral home of the Nebatines. While 
they were allies of the Romans 
they flourished a bit, power 
extending along the Red Sea to Yemen.

For then. While their 
City remained a marketplace
until the commerce got
diminished by an Eastern trade-route 
from Myoshormus to Coptos on the Nile. 

Under Pax Romana they lost 
their warlike nomadic habits
became sober, acquisitive, orderly 
wholly intent on trade and agriculture
and did OK for a while. Made it
for that while as the bulwark separating 
The Romans from the wild desert 
and its wild inhabitants.

Might have done it longer except Trajan reduced the City, broke upNebatine nationality
made the territory a short-lived 
Roman province they called Arabia Petraea.

In 300 CE the Nebatines stopped 
writing Aramaic & switched 
to Greek & in 400 CE 
converted to Christianity. 

Arabs pressed the Nebatine’s sense
of place & turned them 
into peasants. The City lay hidden
to The West until discovered 
in 1812 by a guy named Burckhardt.

V. Passages

Try to imagine Nebatine civilization, ca. O CE. 
Narrow winding passages prefigure
cinematic bazaars in the Tangier or Casablanca. 

Heat absorbed in chasmed shadow, 
current-carved stone cooling 
the angry desert sun, heat further 

moderated by prevalent breezes wafting 
off the not quite dead yet sea. Breezes that
waft through shaded columnar passages

conditioning air as a mechanist 
could only hope to dream. A plausible 
place anyone with hope might
think of for a way of life. 

VI. The TV sz, again,

Without that awesome landscape of
the Dead Sea and the religions it inspired
history would not be the same.

VII. Medicinal Purposes

A cure lives in a dead sea 
salt and mud marketed at least
as therapy for Psoriasis
and its heartbreak.

A certain number of feet 
below sea level (and water), sunlight 
neither burns nor corrupts, but 
gawd almighty (not his real name) heals.


The TV sz, to repeat . . .

In this geography of cataclysm it is
not unnatural that natural history
would give birth to fear
of a vengeful god.

And what the TV, and the analysts, and the Christians
and all their related desert religionists 
don’t quite yet have a handle on 
in thought and deed is 
an imagination
of a merciful god 

making them more acute observers
of the way things are than they let on,

Oh Well.

IX. Analysts Predict

The war in the Middle Zone 
after this one ends 
will be about water, not oil.

X. You Can See 

The Dead Sea vanishing. Udi sz 
--Y’hope everyone might be able to live without the urge to destroy it. Oh, my God, y’can see this wood is part of a coffin, Oh, my God, cigarette packets from last night . . .

Tomb robbers trade human bones . . . for what? TV does not make 
that WHAT particularly clear . . . Someone else sz

“Their arid country was their best safeguard, for the bottle-shaped cisterns for rain-water which they excavated in the rocky or clay rich soil were carefully concealed from invaders.”

Solstice (both of them actually in) 2007, San Francisco

On first peering into the collected poems of Philip Whalen

Astonishing that voice all
but 50 years distant (backward)
not much thought of
less even recognized
in some long time.

                Although another sense that
                it’s been there all along
                conscious thought of a mind
                itself unconscious

Hits true on BART
in the tunnel right THERE.
Brain & Heart.
Primer for a Poet.

Snake River Blues    

                for Chris

Anyone trying to jump
that chasm on anything

but Icarus wings
should have died right then

let alone hereafter. I
think sometimes about the kitten

you heard in the sage
wanted to take home, no

matter what.
And I, sensibly,

said no. Said it
emphatically, so emphatically

the other pilgrims on the bridge
took your side as I routinely

oblivious marveled at the sight
of a golf course

on a spit of land
Way Down There.

Kitten no doubt dead by now too
let alone hereafter.

Dead like the marriage
of the friends we’d just

left somewhere back in
Idaho, dead like

that old Evel, who turns
out to be mighty dead

tonite, just now. So It Goes.
In the next life

I hope to see you again
even if as grievous angel &

that kitten as scorpion,
but high lifted high

high in her constellation, &
our friends in the scabbard

of The Hunter’s sheath, nebula
burning desiring something that

can’t be quantified
contained and in certain

religious traditions
even spoken of.

All that Said.
I love you.

Someday, maybe
baby, another cat from a universe

other than mine
will whisper

in yr skeptical ear
and tell you it’s true.

Why I am Glad

I am a poet
not a football player.

Commentators who talk about football
almost always sound

stupid. And nobody covers poetry
on television anyway.

They test football players
for marijuana use.

They don’t know enough
poets to test us

for much of anything and
since they don’t pay us anyway

there’s no point to our
extraordinary rendition

unless we pose a severe
threat to the state. Which

is what we wish we
really could do.

We have nothing to lose.
. . . freedom’s just another word . . .

Poetry is much less
hard on the human body

than football, although it does
untold damage to the human brain.

Keeps it alive, & so,
ready to see,

although no more than any
other consciousness

able to survive, the
upcoming indiscriminate

holocaust. In unrequited
resistance, we will speak

about how it happens for as long as
we can & until it is done.

Found Poem   

                for my brother Tom De Vries

One of the best pass receivers on the team
was a black track star named Willis Ward.
He and I were close friends –

we roomed together on trips out of town –
and our friendship grew
even closer during our senior year.

Our next game was against Georgia Tech
an all-white school whose coach threatened to
forfeit the contest if Willis played.

Michigan tried to work out a compromise
whereby both Willis and some Georgia Tech star
would stay on the bench.

Because I felt this was morally wrong,
I called my stepfather
and asked what I should do.

“I think you ought to do whatever
the coaching staff
decides is right,” he said.

Still unsatisfied, I went
to Willis himself. He urged
me to play. “Look,” he said,

“the team’s having a bad year. We’ve
lost two games already and
we probably won’t win

any more. You’ve got
to play Saturday. You owe
it to the team.”

I decided he was right.
That Saturday afternoon we
hit like never before . . .

                   (From the memoirs of Gerald R. Ford,
                   complicit in the Warren Whitewash
                   of the JFK assassination.)

Reading Smoke

                  for Bubba Michel

This is your brain on music
The reviews are pretty good but the future uncertain
Altitude sickness mild, alcohol enhances

Some of the best lines come falling asleep
Be still my beating brain
The earth yields to its own its own

I. Tractive effort – as it relates to Adult Attention Deficit Disorder

Steam’s a lot stronger than diesel
Passengers are lading trailing tons

Adhesion is the rail & wheel joined without slipping
“In most cases especially for steam locomotives
this figure is a calculated not measured one.”

When adhesion is insufficient
power through pistons and rods
will slip the wheels

No useful effect will result
Cohesion another matter entirely
although critical to brain function

Weight needing to be
five or six times piston power
so the brain can do its work with

less annoyance from slipping
than would be
the case with less weight

II. The brake test has three categories:

1. terminal, 100% brakes in opposition
2. road test, count of cars, put ‘em together, do it from the rear
3. running test, engineer feels the weight

Look at your smoke, tells you how all the rest is doing.
Black, you’re adding some coal, heading uphill, looking for power.
Grey, on cruise control, got it right, for now.
White, need more, fuel, juice, power . . .

The wheel is the handbrake

Guys running on top of the cars
make sure the engineer has his air
lose yr air yr shit out’a’luck

III. Each aspen grove is a single plant

Some scientists believe they may
be the largest living organisms on the planet
Each has its own DNA, lives and dies as one

Others argue for all the redwood trees
in North America, say they are
a single plant, who knows, not me, but
I do keep listening

Leaves come tumbling down & through the car
Max Pacheco sure put his name on a lot of trees
or maybe only one or two

At some point, don’t even want to know
what the name is, just want
to be in it, “the moment”

the moment of the country
the moment of the country

IV. The White People

in the restaurant object to
the too enthusiastic rendition
of “Let’s get drunk and screw”

Lightning cracks and thunder booms &
Washboard Hank sz
“I’m going there” & does

in his steel hat, rain pouring from the sky
& channeling through some freeway
architect’s escape mechanism, leads

the way to New Mexican Cantina where
water covers the floor & plastic buckets get only some,
We all sing Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road &

Don’t let the rain come down.
What do you expect from someone who
hits himself in the head for a living?

V. Mesa Verde

People lived on this planet
lived on this earth, this
place: 1st village, 2nd village,
3rd village, now under aluminum shed

Majestic long house, great palace,
balcony house, house of blue spruce
cut deep and sacred into
mesa cliff, which to see

these days you gotta
get out and walk, cut
a footprint or two into
that mesa-top clay, scramble

time to time on scree and granite
confront the real! Deal
with it, hombre, gringo, rhinestone
cowboy & the horse you

could never ride in on. All
things to be pondered in the sky
high bar, watching the playoffs,

talking to other fans there & the
Jamaican bartender just
doing his job. Pretty
well, all considered.

VII. A Film About the Napoleon of the Woods

Pop! Bang! The machine blew
a hole in your film. What else
can go wrong or you do, get back to

ground level, watch the Jaguars
get beat by the Patriots. The Patriots
win more times than not, even

in Jacksonville, FL, named
after the $20 a throw Yankee President
the French in those days called
Napoleon of the Woods.

VIII. Author’s note

In the late 1990s
& early 2000s a series
of serious fires swept Mesa Verde National Park
revealing architectural treasures hitherto unknown.

In Oct ’07 a similar series
of fires engulfed
San Diego County & northern Baja CA.
Revelation not expected anytime real soon.

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