Recesses: A Really Dark Poem

 

 

Swamp public

I’m posting a poem here with a bit of hesitation.  It is a dark piece, and not at all representative of my writing.  I blame the darkness on my subconscious.  As readers of this blog may know, I grew up in challenging circumstances.  In a previous blog, A Burial, I refer to a grim episode in which several of my dogs were poisoned.  The family never discovered who poisoned the dogs.  Each poisoned pet had to be buried.  Since my father was absent, my older brother took charge, as he often did.

It was winter, and the ground was frozen.  My brother was obliged to improvise.  He found a bog, deep in the forest, in which the deceased animals’ bodies could be dispatched.  The mud would absorb whatever was thrown onto it.  This constituted a sort of burial, the best he could manage.

Years later, when I began to write, I searched my mind for inspiration.  The poem posted below came to me, almost in an unbroken stream.  There’s little doubt I was healing an old wound.  In the poem I imagine a murder, in a swamp, but this time the murderer doesn’t get away.  My subconscious metes out a rough justice.

Here’s the poem.  Beware: It is dark.

 

Recesses

In the rustle of the swamp reeds

In the ceaseless crackling clamor

Of the swamp’s pursuers and pursued

A very careful and interested listener

Might have heard

The faintest sigh

An expiration of breath

Blended casually and perfectly

With the flow of generation and degeneration

So its individuality

Its particularity

Was lost

 

No one heralded its passing

Except the swamp’s general chorus

Of insect and animal activity

Which signaled without prejudice

The birth and demise of multitudinous creatures

 

In the wetness of the earth

In the dark and malodorous puddles

Seeping through an eternity of swamp grass

The smallest rivulet of blood tinted the ground

Blended with greater streams and

Became indistinguishable

From the enveloping deepness of their color

 

Through tangled trees and weeping weeds

He fled

The mute rebuke of her still presence

Propelling him

The hours since he killed

Darkened the earth

Until night dwellers rose from their nests

And joined the uncensoring cacophony

 

He knew this dense and murky world

It would have granted him a bed

Had he stopped

He could not

Panicked by the specter of her face

He pressed on

Past the creeping oozing things

The silent crawling essences in the mud

 

He was wet

From his excretions

From excretions of soil and plant

His shoes heavy with moisture

His clothes clammy

He became as like the swamp as he could ever be

And it became less a friend to him

He who confided in the swamp

Discovered its treachery

 

He was lost

The absolving obscurity which had drawn him

To commit this deed

Ordained his destruction

 

The first rays of sunrise did not penetrate

To the depths of the swamp’s floor

Rather they gradually colored the dense undergrowth

And muddy pools of its recesses

Only moments before those traces of color appeared

He fell

 

His body slumped to earth

Perhaps his head hit a rock

Or an exhausted vessel hemorrhaged

A rivulet of blood

Tinted the ground

Blended with greater streams and

Became indistinguishable

From the enveloping deepness of their color

 

In the depths of a wild and immense swamp

Amidst the hawing and cawing

Of embattled entities

One predator and his prey

Rested

The swamp protected the secret of its protégé

And with the force of irresistible passivity

Received the final traces of his crime

Into the fabric of its all absorbing life

Modern Arcana Not Responsible for Broken Windshields, By Tom Wingerd: Book Review

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Image from the FEMA Photo Library.  Picture taken by Win Henderson.  Public Domain.

 

In Modern Arcana: Not Responsible for Broken Windshields, Tom Wingerd writes about relationships–not the sort that exist between family and friends, but the sort we all have to everything and everyone. Wingerd writes: “Your house, car, office, city are all affected by your daily interactions in space.” He states further, “Your life is the combination of your movement through space, and the ripple impact of every one of your actions…”. These are weighty pronouncements, but they don’t come across as such in the book.

Mr. Wingerd offers prescriptions for existing in an interrelated universe. With each of his statements he provides a pictorial representation of the concept. The effect on the reader is not one of complements but of exponents. This may be by design or it may merely prove his thesis: everything we see and do, everything that exists, affects everything else. Mr. Wingerd has an analytic approach to his subject. Some of his propositions are structured as mathematical formulas and, he makes clear, these formulas operate in a relative universe.

Though this is a book with a philosophical perspective, Mr. Wingerd at times adopts a light tone. He writes, for example, about his bisexual wife and gay son. A few pages later he admits that his son isn’t “real” but is a “six year old figment of my imagination, named Orion”. In another segment he advises:

Trust your heart first
Your brain second
And your
Genitals
Well
They’ll do what they want anyway.

Before I began reading Modern Arcana: Not Responsible for Broken Windshields, I didn’t pay much attention to the title. After finishing the book I googled the phrase, “Not Responsible for Broken Windshields”. It turns out this is a statement likely to be found on the back of trucks that spew window-shattering debris. The driver’s message is clear: I’m not responsible for how my existence, how my behavior, affects you. Mr. Wingerd’s book is a refutation of that notion.

I enjoyed this book and I related to the author’s mindset. His pictures are as evocative as his words. The book would be a stimulating read for anyone who is inclined to be philosophical. It would be a great gift for someone who is not philosophically inclined, especially if that person is likely to post a sign that asserts: “Not Responsible for Broken Windshields”.

 

A. G. Moore October 3, 20017

On an Acre Shy of Eternity: Micro Landscapes at the Edge, By Robert Dash, Book Review

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In On an Acre Shy of Eternity: Micro Landscapes at the Edge, Robert Dash directs the lens of an electron microscope toward the universe on his doorstep. This enables him to bring into view an otherwise invisible world. He describes his impression of this vision: “I am stunned that a space this small can have a library this large.”

In the preface to his book, Dash suggests that he considers the book to be a sequel to Blake’s lines, “To see the world in a grain of sand”.  If Dash’s intention is to inspire awareness in readers, he has realized his wish. I, personally, was spellbound by the vitality evident in a speck of pollen. My awe was intensified by successive pictures that together revealed the logic in nature’s purpose.

It is often suggested, by medical professionals and seers, that people look inwards to understand themselves, and to find peace. Mr. Dash demonstrates that perhaps looking out, very closely, may be as inspiring an exercise. There, on our doorsteps, an extension of our own existence may be discovered.

One photo that is particularly effective shows the underside of a tree leaf. In vivid color, we see stomata carrying on their function. This function is as essential to human life as it is to the life of the tree. Stomata inhale as we exhale, and exhale as we inhale. It is the same breath, exchanged and returned, between plant and human. We sustain each other.

Mr. Dash writes poetry to accompany his pictures. The poetry is unaffected and expressive. I especially enjoyed “Moon Came By”, in which the moon drops “gold light on rowdy black waves”.  The imagery is original, and memorable.  As charming as the writing is, though, it is not necessary to the book.  The heart of this book, its life, is in the pictures.

On an Acre Shy of Eternity: Micro Landscapes at the Edge is a visually striking and conceptually unique book. I highly recommend it.

A. G. Moore 9/2017