On Ann’s last birthday, April 7, 2018, we spoke of a trip along the West Coast. I would end up driving that length alone late June. The stone is one of two purple hearts seen along the way.Read More
with thoughts on U.S.-led intervention in the Syrian Civil WarRead More
one way or another, we will grow old together. forever young…Read More
If only because they are beautiful
I remember standing before the monitor
in the small room with windows for walls
reading a message on the black screen
with white type, somewhere between
programming language and visual copy
4,000 tigers remain in the wild
4,000 left near the close of a century
that began with about 100,000
Nothing else, no images.
A black background, white symbols.
I do not remember if I wept then and there.
I do remember opening the door to walk
out of the glass room into the lobby
and then another door to the sidewalk
where I was struck by a bustle of students
on their way, somewhere.
Much like the time after
I watched Schindler’s List alone
curled up in the soft seat of the old theater.
the world had not changed
to meet the other one
as in alive and vanishing.
In the classroom we would study
the unspoken world
that can be read on flyers in black and white
at the petition table
in the mall where people pass by
on their way somewhere.
And the sorrow that shatters glass walls, twisting
metal frames, stops at the throat
where it is reserved for pet euthanasia.
Buddy passed on the steel table
while I rubbed his forehead
as I sobbed, after I’d given the veterinarian
a page with letters and numbers
in black on white
a wild story of loss
the domestic goes without knowing
until the story is seen.
For days I greeted buddy as I entered
the quiet house,
stopped stopping myself from calling, until
I stopped calling.
In the morning and the evening
what really hurts is having no one
to talk with
so the bachelor from Appalachian coal country
is befriended by feral cats who walk with him
through the woods.
And with each one’s passing, he lets out a wail
like mine for the wild that grows lonely.
Because I do not know what it means to be hungry
among big cats
I love them if only because they are beautiful
and beauty is what I grieve with my fingers
tracing the scars on the face of a West African king
of 250 and going
note: If Only Because They Are Beautiful was written February 2014 during a month's witness with big cats. Tiger stats are from 1996. West African lion stats are from 2014. The poem is voiced in this short film that features some of Bryan Holland's paintings.
Where do we belong, the wild ones
entrusted to God?
The wild ones, who do not know fences
because God does not build fences
The ones who read light, dark, movement, sound,
temperature and scent to find our way
through the forest
Where do we belong
when the forest is gone?
The wild ones who are out of our skin
with the torment of waste and rape, ravaged
by crying babies and screaming mothers beaten,
bombed and abandoned
Where do we sleep but in the alley?
Where do we eat but from the waste?
We, vultures in the wake, whom God has chosen
to digest the decay,
Where do we belong
when everything but us is clean
on the surface?
Where do we belong, the wild ones
who live honestly without question?
And who but God feeds us by hand?
note: Written March 2014 during a month's witness with wolf, 'The Wild Ones' like 'In Solidarity I Am' is one of few among my poems that's been completed in a flash once the first line appeared and without editing since. 'The Wild Ones' was written as a transient myself in solidarity with all homeless individuals.
And it was not the countless corpses flowing downstream
in muddy water.
It wasn't even the petrified
bodies at the museum.
It was the young one,
Mweza, who having been caught in
and rescued from the poacher’s trap,
was lost on the drunk tyrant
you were enslaved to.
Mweza would teach you what it means to be shattered by love
as if, this, her only reason for being in the world.
Mweza’s sole offering bestowed upon you
in the feeling of what it is
to watch a vulnerable delight die
you could have kept her alive
had you been fearless as she
note: 'Mweza' was originally shared in an Extinction Witness post September 2015 along with paintings by Denise Monaghan during a month's witness with primates that considered the roots of violent competition, referencing Animal Weapons: The Evolution of Battle by Douglas Emlen. Mweza, loosely translated ‘can do’, is a young mountain gorilla rescued by Bill Weber and Amy Vedder, and Dian Fossey. The poem is informed by memory of a film documenting the 1994 slaughter of nearly one million Tutsi men, women and children in Rwanda and a reflection on that genocide along with the story of Mweza’s death authored by Bill and Amy (In the Kingdom of Gorillas, 2001). By Bill and Amy’s account, Mweza could have recovered from a festering wound had Dian facilitated proper treatment.
'Man of the Forest' by Denise Monaghan - denisemonaghan.com / shared with artist's permission.
If I be anyone in this life
let me be a messenger
let me write beauty on the sky
let me write a love letter
so wide and deep and long
that it turns day to night
forcing men and women to look up.
Let me be a reminder of what is
and what is small.
And if my being is not enough,
if my death is the only reminder
of the power to exhaust life,
let me die,
this love proved
note: written during a month's witness with passenger pigeon September 2014. September 1st 2014 was the 100th year anniversary of the last known living passenger pigeon's death. She was named Martha. She was born and raised and died in captivity.
Denise Monaghan's painting 'Martha's Groom' is shared with artist's permission.
Surely I did hunt and gather in the forest
my eyes fastened to the ground
watching the path, searching the edges
spotting small bright shiny things
now bottle caps I cannot eat
I collect them.
In solidarity with albatross, I hunt and gather
saving a few indigestible things from the sea.
And I think I must have been free, as in wild,
Because I have let go of everything and everyone
for the freedom to choose what I serve and how.
In solidarity with wolf, I run steady
toward a son, called Home.
And I know I held the match that burned millions. Yes, something of Hitler is in my soul
and I burned too, after he spread tar in my mouth
for telling the truth.
In solidarity with the solitary prisoner,
I sit alone with God
in search of understanding
for the harms inflicted by the battered child
harms no man forgives though revenge appeases.
Indeed, I believed peace was possible long ago
and I believe peace is possible today
because peace is with the child
cradled in his mother’s arms
for the first time, he is learning to breathe
with each gurgle she assures him
and with every silence she checks to be sure...
he is breathing, they are breathing together
she is his ocean and he is her river.
In solidarity with the mother, the child
and the breath that joins them
I am this careful peace, a slave to their gravity
the singularity at the center of a black hole
note: Written April 2014 as a transition poem between a month's witness with wolf and albatross, 'In Solidarity I Am' is one of few among my poems that's been completed in a flash once the first line appeared and without editing since.
The isolated resilient child is one who has learned to ignore ignorance. Darkness is hardest to resist when locked in a dark room. Yet going totally dark proves the light.
'In Solidarity I Am' begins with reflection on one of the first stories that split me wide open. This, of an albatross mama unable to feed her babe because she had a toothbrush lodged in her throat (TIME magazine / 2000). 'In Solidarity I Am' was offered in an Extinction Witness post along with a message on feeling this pain and facing ourselves and one of Chris Jordan's Albatross photographs.
'In Solidarity I Am' was specifically chosen for this day with the rawness of Nikolas Cruz' self-destruction in a mass shooting February 14, 2018.
There is a sadness she swallows
for the ones captured
to be measured
for the schooled
curiosity of cool calculations
in the name of preservation.
She projects onto these samples
the feel of freedom caged,
an immediate anxious depression
sleep and dream
the only escape
to an excitement in the uncertainty of whether
she'll be eaten, drown, or burned alive,
or survive for another round
anything to avoid the dullness
of locked alone in this room,
living a cozy hell someone wants to save.
Far better to feel her pulse
- to know the pleasure and pain of the brutal heaven
note: ‘saving hell’ was prompted by this Abstract to ‘Amphibians and reptiles of C. E. Miller Ranch and the Sierra Vieja, Chihuahuan Desert, Texas, USA’ / Drew R. Davis, Travis J. LaDuc
“We report the occurrence of 50 species of amphibians and reptiles recently collected on C. E. Miller Ranch and the Sierra Vieja in the Chihuahuan Desert of Texas, USA and describe their perceived distribution and abundance across various habitat associations of the region. Our recent surveys follow intense, historic sampling of amphibians and reptiles from this region in 1948. Of the 50 species detected in recent surveys, six were not collected in 1948 and an additional three species documented in 1948 have yet to be detected in a 14-year period of recent surveys. Combining data from both historic and recent surveys, a total of 53 species of amphibians and reptiles are known from the ranch (11 amphibians, 42 reptiles). Land stewardship and conservation practices have likely contributed to the persistence of the majority of these species through time. Additionally, we discuss the status of amphibians and reptiles not collected during recent surveys and comment on potential species that have not yet been detected.” via ZooKeys
Among fatal acts that she cannot swallow,
most, she is sorry that she repeated
unnecessarily and intentionally
that he told her
all other cruelties she enacted,
even the lies of affection,
pale to this betrayal
in relation to someone
so pure of intent
as she once considered herself
Desire proves a fire breathing beast
And she is sorry