The Beloved Monster

lake

Walking against the wind

Off the lake slows my pace

I consider the remnants of

The coldest February on record

The receding snow

Pulling back from last night’s rain

Leaving molded columns of

Autumn’s leaves

Along the road

Heaped dirty and waiting huge

Ice & snow mounds long since

Spent of fun and wonder that

Came new last December

March is here with its uneven

Message: promises of what might be

The patches of green

Slicing white winter

Mocking romantic winter havens

Warmth upended with

The old wooden mailbox

After the passing of

The beloved monster

Patron saint of the winter road:

The snowplow

THE POLITICS OF EBOLA: GOD’S PLAN, AND I TOLD YOU SO

ebola

Last week I was stunned by the unkind comment of the stranger next to me as we filled a container with donated cans of soup at the local food bank. The comment came after a polite discussion that almost lulled me into dangerous camaraderie with this woman whose conversation segued from motherly pride in her daughter’s nursing career to her idea that Ebola is God’s punishment. “Whoa!” I put up my hand and responded with the usual; where was God when….(insert any historical scourge here). I pointed out Nazi Germany’s contribution to earthly scourges but, after a few days of contemplation, I know there is not much I could say to this woman and others like her who make their stabs at somatic immunity by volunteering in local food banks and presuming to know what God has in mind for believers and non-believers. And maybe my discomfort comes from my own questioning about a belief system that asks me to suspend belief in reality; a reality in which I live. The reality here is that Ebola is not new and as long as it stayed in some faraway land punishing others for being… well, the “other,” Ebola remained that terrible disease plaguing those sad people in that faraway land. Ebola is here, in our face, live and in living color (cue the hysteria).

We first-world (as opposed to third-world) inhabitants are quite predictable in our approach to life; we live our comfortable lives (some more comfortable than others) consumed with the daily familial and material concerns of the species. Oh, we read the headlines as we pass from one engagement to the next but no headline gets our attention like the local headline giving us the exact location and identity of the killer who has been knocking at our door for decades. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Ebola was first discovered in 1976 near the Ebola River in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In 1994 Richard Preston introduced a generation of readers to The Hot Zone: A Terrifying True Story, a non-fiction thriller that frightened even Steven King who, according to Wikipedia said the first chapter of The Hot Zone was “one of the most horrifying things I’ve read in my whole life. ” Preston’s book paints indelible images of people in the throes of hemorrhagic fevers and bursting vomit-bags of black bile on transatlantic flights. (After reading the Preston’s book in ’95 I have seriously changed my original position on monkeys as sweet and adorable pets). But Preston’s bestseller did not act as wake up call for the “free world”; shaking our collective shoulders and encouraging us to answer the door. No, it was not until the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, according to Slate.com, that serious research spending occurred at the behest of Dick Cheney whose fear of America’s vulnerability to attack by enemies using bioweapons (as if airplanes were not enough) prompted the Project Bioshield Act. And here is just another story from the file of tragic irony; were it not for the vicarious warriors – those men who fight wars with other people’s children – and their projection of retribution, we would be living with an even worse prognosis for survival.

It is Monday morning, our favorite team has lost the game leaving fans with nothing but hindsight to tell us that America has, once again, been caught deaf to the knocking of humanity. Had we listened to those doctors on the front lines fighting diseases (diseases that know no politics or religion) we wouldn’t be in this heightened state of terror. Had we studied the past, listened to our hearts, and reached out with all the atomic weight our country can muster (especially in times of war) to assist a world far less fortunate, we would not be at this intersection of moral chaos and panic. We allow the scourge of Ebola to continue by proclaiming it a part of “God’s” plan – a passive aggressive approach that did not work with the aids virus. As a country we need to read, reason, and understand. After reading the story of the Ebola virus in The Hot Zone we should have understood Preston’s terrifying conclusion: EBOV will be back. And so it has.

WHAT DOES NOT DISTURB

CROP OakAlley Plantat Louisiana

We make out of the quarrel with others rhetoric but the quarrel with ourselves – poetry     ~      Yeats

 

The hungry brat-god

    Squatting over a world

   Pushes his toy soldiers off to war

    After his milk and cookies

What would happen if

    The woman in his life

    Told the truth?

There are no Kings

    No Queens

    No rulers in the forest

    No language

    No plan

    No god

    Just nature

And its vaguely menacing

    March of days

    Blooming seasons in line

    With our attraction to ruin

 

THE WEIGHT OF THE WORLD

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Under the weight of

Human imperfection,

The world is perfect

It keeps spinning – faster in hopes of

Shaking itself free

Of our dreams and wants,

Violent footprints of darkness

Refusal to satisfy

A world where peace has not a

Prayer

Unless as heat

That leaks from the sky

Mournful, fiery tears

Burning in our ignorance

As we race blindly

Beyond the trees

Perfect with rings

Barking our history

Trumpeting our future

LOVE IN SPRING

pond in spring copy

 

Urgency is consumed

By beauty

    Nature dressing

    Slowly leafing

   Nether parts

Forcing the urgent

   Lover to work

    Peeling her petals

    For nectar

That which

   Keeps the world

   On its axis

    Even as he is still,

    Cradled

    In her arms

    Face up

   Under downy-warm skies

 He dreams

    Youth tangled in nights

    And limbs

 Images

Impossible to share

Who will understand

    In light of fear?

 Consider:

 The world is no more

    A fearful place

    Than before

 Rather:

     We have grown

    More fearful.

Still he dreams

     Fearless

Nature laughs

Slipping into something

    More comfortable

    The mornings after

                                                                                                                                                                   G. Davis-Feldman 6/1/2014

Eugene Feldman: 1921 – 2014

Dad at dinner closeMy father-in-law

 Lucidity – blinking and broken

Has declared his life a night

A forgotten dimension

So fast

Where did it go?

92 years inside

The forest of human travel

Following the script

Of human hand

The hand that sent him to war

To love

To fatherhood

To the hearts of those

Who would wash his sluggish body

Wrinkled, tissue depleted

Immobilized by an angry destiny

And landscapes of untold design

And still he wondered why?

As the answer awaited at the forest’s rim

Where the path – well- trodden

Called – he is moving there now

Beyond that forest

To the open sky-filled field

Where the flowers will wildly bloom

In the spring of his step

Steps – light and inoffensive – like him

A child in this fractal world

Enfolding unto himself

Even as Nature reclaims him

Her son

Guiding him on that path

Swaddled in linen

Looking ahead in painless

Expectation

THE STORY OF US

HallofHumanOrigins2

 

I awake most mornings to a sense of deficiency; my mind is hard to move forward – like an old car with a slipping clutch. And I can’t sit in front of my computer anymore, put on my favorite music, and write down my heart. My words fail me – flooded as they are with anger derived from a Facebook stupidity or the NYT headlines. I know, I open that door every morning  – I walk in thinking somehow things will be different, someone will upload some piece of information that does not require a fear of going to hell or total annihilation to act upon.  It would be promising to see Times headlines speaking of peace in the Middle East, a true and peaceful blossoming Arab Spring. But no, truth is painful and  half -truths are doubly painful. I am retired, five years now – and I am prepared to quit my part-time adjunct position at the local community college – a job only meant to ease my transition from 24 years of high school teaching. It has done its job.  I sit on my deck now and watch the apples ripen on the ancient tree in the side yard – no it’s not like watching grass grow or paint dry because the growth of the apples signal a freshening of sorts, an advancing – of the deer and fall. It is unchanging – this seasonal slippage. It happens with no coaxing or caffeine induced rage. Unlike human nature, nature is separate – slipping the bounds of discovery and design. It is what it is – no more no less.  My knees and back ache. Yes, you could say it is simply age but I like to think these aches come from years of struggling under the weight of why.

  This week I began an online class offered by Coursera –  A Brief History of Human Kind by professor Yuval Noah Harari  who beams his talks from a chair in Israel to people as close as his Palestinian neighbors to hundreds if not thousands of students worldwide wanting to know the history of us. I’ve just completed session 1 which has moved me from why to how:  If we spent so many thousands of years being hunted and eaten just how did we maintain our grasp (however slippery) on that middle link of survival only to move to the top of that monstrous food chain? As my professor said, we had no physical strength or size, no great teeth, claws or tough hide to protect us and yet here we are – god of all creatures great and small.  I’m left thinking this accident of ascendance is because we are genetically wired to wage war and kill in mass quantities for purposes other than food. Maybe something as simple as thumbs…? – But the great apes are equipped with such – they can still be captured and enslaved. So, thumbs are out. Maybe we began using our brains – proportionally larger than other beasts – to better advantage. Whatever the case, I agreed with my professor that man was (and remains, in my view) ill equipped for his role at the top of the food chain.

 So, after my first week of study, I’ve learned that cooperation within the species holds more weight than the phrase “survival of the fittest.” Indeed, according to professor Harari, because we have ascended so rapidly to the top of the food chain, we remain weak and vulnerable. So much so, we have the all-consuming need (for survival?) to fortify ourselves for protection (the fittest?). Harari likened early sapiens to ascendant albeit frightened lambs nervously scanning a shortened horizon for a leader. This suggests we are not really armed wolves fighting to survive but something far more dangerous – armed sheep.    

FULL MOON IN CANCER

cropped-full-moon-in-june.jpg

My upper deck yields the timeless, touchable orb

Back home and sleepy

I see nothing of my worries on its face

My misery must be bending somewhere

Kneeling, in the black gaps provided by the arbor vitae trees,

in full supplication before this sweet full vanilla moon

I can hear life, at the sound of my screen door closing,

A darting, scattering to

A lightless safety

Hiding the heads of bunnies bumping together

In consternation caused by

The impenetrable garden fence

Bunnies don’t understand the science of immutability

With a lexicon fueled by the tender leaves of lettuce

They barter their bodies for change

Leaving me in brief study of Lorca

Living life in quiet desire, burning

With its greatest punishment

A body in service to fear

Selling remnants of material existence, but

Unlike the garden-bunnies, hiding in

Shadows of shame in incompleteness –

Smiling from the arms of flesh

GET A NEW WORLD

cropped-parthanon-relief-greek-soldiers.jpg

Get a new World

throw the old one out

whatever is is not

one can drink the doubt

 

Etherized village

housing the bomb

spasms of brilliance

an end to aplomb

 

Playing in the fields

of gods abstract

nothing more deceptive

than obvious fact

 

Slouching to birth

a World’s small event

butterflies’ wings

create human rent

 

It is easy

with water & babe

throw out the bath

than new self be made

 

Cool ourselves in heat

of possibility

easy a new World

than heart’s humility