We harpooned whales, then heard their songs,
that call of cows to cradle calves,
the baby blubber of the seas;
and so lent ears to wider range,
those signal codes of network spies,
a mycorrhiza underground.
The race to win before too late,
the human world—the other half—
yin for the yang in complement,
dance of the koi for everyone.
Genetic tree, pooled influence,
that xylem flow from roots beneath,
the tap that feeds, mycorrhiza,
gives fibre to our feeble deeds,
hard graft applied where stock is tired—
these masks and manes that launch our path.
But nothing fixes final mould,
though zeitgeist seeks to overlay;
our choices set by grace and will,
with serendipity, where sown.
I’ve known those born, wealth privilege—
that idiom of silver spoon,
poor stewards in community;
while others, valueless but worth
their skimpy weight in gold and stone.
And so we live, bequeathed by past,
free agents loaned for good or ill,
to love the globe, inhabitants;
but will we pay the debt we owe?
This flock across the cotton wool,
by wing and shape it’s pigeon flight,
racing maybe, magic map,
because it’s safer in the coop.
Community, those of our own,
safety numbers, flying home,
confuse the buzzards, sparrow hawks,
those preying stoops, wheels, do them harm.
Is it magnetic strip at core,
a cortex driving beak before;
or google maps, the aerial,
a drone before the term was known?
I think not stirs like starling clouds,
those murmurations of the skies,
where birds can mesmerise the eyes,
a final fling before night’s roost.
There is no grace, as V sign geese,
that gentle squawking from above,
nor finches bouncing over fields,
or swallows swooping for the gnats.
Though not the guano, bat haunt cave,
slob curse of statue, building ledge,
why else a hero, hairnet wrapped,
but for the stance, their landscape view.
A swivel head and golden eye,
that rainbow oil of green and pink,
those cheeky beggars in the park
look overfed and overweight.
How like the human race they are,
against the clock, find their way home,
and messing but not cleaning up,
their silhouettes, ’gainst gather storm.
When periods take aeon forms—
before the ark in flooding lore—
if birds were fish, creation dawns,
and waterborne remains as such,
to die, detritus in the quag.
Scales untipped to feathered quills,
no sodden vane weighed down in flight,
and way before the mud larks sing—
their fins not yet as flapping wings,
or gills as yet not beak of gulls,
flop bog swamp puddles, paddle feet—
until mudskippers take the leap.
But yet, low tide, down by the pier,
around pile starlings, neap there tucked,
dusk murmuration clouds above,
slime in the mire, morass about,
I see the ooze of life break out,
a bucket, spade, shout worms about,
those mudlarks mucking with their pails,
in search of treasure, fish hook bait.
The grown-ups sneer, make fuss about,
behaviour well beyond the pale,
the filthy urchins, scamps in brine—
in rendezvous with self, no doubt.
HEART OF OAK
Oak leaves, dress for stately holm,
acorns known for promise, growth,
as both unite in Fall to earth,
though no shame in a fallen world.
How else would saplings spring from death,
soiled detritus, spoil, snout dug?
Mycorrhiza network root,
spread to shade a burning world,
aid to breathing for the globe?
Rising when at cycle’s end,
in the deciduous heart humane,
old, but told for every version
of me, of all my fellow souls.
Eureka splash, enlightening flash,
when Archimedes in the bath;
what moment, levering the globe,
from standpoint firm if far enough.
But does such lore have greater store,
how falls the grace when Fates at play;
that momentary insight dashed
across cognition, realised?
And how do we react to signs,
Rosetta stone or muddle on;
as chaff and wheat together sown,
will winnow separate the grain?
As dawns, an inspiration known,
will it be recognised or thrown,
the prompt, as frippery now gone,
Autolycus, trifles discerned?
We hang, dreamcatchers in the wind,
as ghosts pass by, grey shades come, go,
what will we capture, vision’s float,
or read the writing on the wall?
It’s lateral, that testing flow,
our thinking set outside the box,
in blinking of the eye, the wink
alerting us to open lid.
So see span, bridge, the liminal
that unlocks gate, new mysteries;
patina of our history,
the marks of living, dying well.
A source of possibilities,
the bucket list of other routes,
connectedness of commonweal,
some mycorrhiza of our souls.
After ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Christina Rossetti
How moving must a poem be,
to be the choice, vox populi,
choristers, annual visitors,
red letter day, if only one;
though not so, bleak midwinter terms
of piling snow, heaven brought low,
its awkward rhythm, metre, feet—
an incarnation in repeat.
For span is scanned from heav’n to straw,
the question posed at stable door,
end, abrupt interrogative,
yet stated as inviting faith,
a creed left hanging, composed air.
—Medusa, with our thanks to Stephen Kingsnorth for his poetry today; he’s talking about networks: mycorrhiza, whale songs, flocks of birds—and humans! "Will we pay the debt we owe?"
Elana K. Arnold and Mischa Kuczynski
will read in Davis tonight, 7pm.
For info about this and other
upcoming poetry happenings in
Northern California and otherwheres,
UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS
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