Archive for March, 2012

global warming

Oh polar bear, tonight
I’ll try to picture you as Sirius
so pretty white and far enough away
that you won’t kill me

Think how coal fired science
made this bigger star of you
with hollering eureka bring me
trucks of presses
trains of paper
barrels of more darkroom stuff

Think also of her arm around me
by the mailbox, back when love was new
already she was asking me to call her Kit 

and we were telling friends

she introduced you
thirty days exactly after introducing trilobites

Oh,  whoa


I know that look

The turned up nose

I’m gathering you’re not at all concerned
with fossil aspects of the universe

You’re focused rather on your usual
relentlessly refreshing vector studies
of organic airborne molecules

Your eyes are closed

So one last whisper
between you and me,  a stone
the size of Delaware is shipping
and I hope your name is on it,  next to mine

Lest We Forget

We’ve had a 9/11/01 memorial here in Sherburne since 9/01.  Behind the firehouse at Judy’s, the best diner in the world.  Yes, those are old, found horseshoes at the bottom of the painting, and in front of them a plastic slide that washed in during flooding last spring. It may have come from Earlville, which is just five miles upstream. Former Earlville mayor Terry Tomsic painted this reminder, on the walk in freezer.

Chris Hedges at his best

Murder Is Not an Anomaly in War

Here’s a teaser, credited in the article to Roman poet Catullus, for his brother. I searched in vain to credit  the translation,  only finding it unrivaled. Chris?

“By strangers’ costs and waters, many days at sea,
I come here for the rites of your unworlding,
Bringing for you, the dead, these last gifts of the living
And my words–vain sounds for the man of dust.
Alas, my brother, You have been taken from me. You have been taken from me,
By cold chance turned a shadow, and my pain.
Here are the foods of the old ceremony, appointed
Long ago for the starvelings under the earth:
Take them: your brother’s tears have made them wet: and take
Into eternity my hail and my farewell.”

Here Kitty II

First of all, I would like to make it clear that I am not a member of the Tea Party.  I promise to avoid, in this little essay, the shocking  changes in font size and color that make scrolling through those “Christmas Banned by White House” type documents such a Barnum and Bailey poster experience. I’m hoping to convey, however, just a morsel of the shock that I experienced this morning when I clicked on a NYT article entitled  “Cat Got Your Brain”.  It seemed an odd attempt at humor, written from a cat’s perspective, about cats manipulating humans by means  of some infectious agent.   The conclusion of the article, containing syntheses of conventional vocabulary and human rendered cat voice language, was disturbingly inane, and unenlightening to me.  Obviously I’d missed some prior news story, or some clue within the text,  that was essential to tie this bit of editorial science fiction to the real world. There was what I had taken to be a contrived bit of nomenclature pertaining to the “infectious agent”, early in the column, and looking back  I noticed it was highlighted as a link.  Hmmm……should have noticed that the first time through. And so I clicked on Toxoplasma gondii. I’m not linking it here because I don’t want your reading of my little story interrupted by your clicking. I’m going to try to put it in a nutshell for you:

Toxoplasma gondii  is a parasite that infects many warm blooded creatures. Humans, other mammals and birds. Cats are the parasite’s primary host, the host where the bug (a protozoa) reproduces sexually. In all its other hosts the bug  reproduces asexually. All of this reproduction is disruptive of normal cellular activity and alters brain function in the host creatures.  Studies on rodents have determined that infection with T. gondii  particularly affects aspects of the brain involved with fear and inhibition, to the extent that rats and mice infected with the bug are actually attracted to the smell of cat urine, providing a convenient avenue for the parasite to re-enter its primary host, where its evolution can continue.

Toxoplasmosis in humans has long been associated with fetal malformation and with encephalitis and dementia in immunocompromised individuals. There is however much speculation, and a good bit of research indicating,  that psychiatric disorders in immunocompetent humans may result from T. gondii infections.  Disorders including  depression, anxiety and schizophrenia. Other studies have indicated that infected humans are up to six times as likely to be involved in auto accidents.  Sea otters, whales, and dolphins have been found infected, notably near estuaries where it is presumed that parasitic oocites,  in cat feces, are washing into the oceans. Beached whales have been found to be hosts of T. gondii.

Kicker: Studies indicate that 75% of the world’s human population may be infected, between 10 and 22% in the U.S.

Here’s a starter link:  Toxoplasmosis ,  and an article about some research being done:  How Your Cat is Making You Crazy from The Atlantic. Food for thought on the human condition.

on setting mousetraps

You snuck in with your plenty thoughts
and memories of meadow edges
having run the hemlock root
all ragged in the summer

pushing seed so thoughtlessly
that starlit owls might gently cough
and fueling cats half close their eyes to
Up the bad luck moon again
in slow disguise

when snap comes in the night
and I awake to share your knowing moment
I will pray your sleep comes quickly
and you steal my dream as well


The news got full of twisters again last week, at approximately the same time it got to reminding us that it was just one year ago, give or take a half a month, that a tsunami battered coastal Japan. I envision daily editorial pow-wows, where the greater chieftains argue over which aging disaster will be featured, with a slideshow, on the homepage. The big boys must almost look forward to a shooting rampage, in a school or workplace, that will provide relief, with fresher photographs, from anniversary decisions. Such occurrences would seem to make decisions easier (if a little grimmer for those few less effectively vaccinated by experience), furnishing for all an earlier opportunity to flee the office and partake of smaller stories. Close to home stuff. Drinking, dating, shopping, diaper changing, Idol and the Knicks, or ( I may be stretching here), some reading.

Of course the reason headlines for the greater masses hew to the disastrous is because that’s what will sell. But why is that? I think a combination of our human needs leads to this end.

For one we need to be reminded of our own mortality. While we’ve long held to the notion that no other living species has awareness of inevitable death, even we have evolved only to the point where the idea flits across our conscious minds occasionally. The industry of providing “Every Moment is a Miracle, Don’t Waste Your Time, Run Up Your Credit Card” advice is really rather large, though in the case of credit I guess I’m not sure whether we are expected to adopt the “There may be no tomorrow” or the “There is always tomorrow” creedo. Probably both at once….just swipe it!  The stories and the photos of annihilation we bombard ourselves with may be beneficial in providing some incentive to prioritize desires and strive for fulfillment in whatever time we have.

We fancy ourselves unlike the other creatures, too, in that we study self preservation. Humanity has been in the dike building business for a long time, having incrementally come to realize that reliance on some frog brain instinct, in the moment, isn’t best for individuals in every situation. We’ve bouyed the oceans with tsunami warning systems, flown a thousand satellites, and sweep the lower atmosphere with radar that we might buy just a few more minutes to enact whatever plan we keep to stay alive, should nature really rear. And who among us hasn’t pondered just exactly what might be the best course, should a lunatic start shooting up our near environment? Under the desk, or out the window? Move at the gunman, or away? Become the second person with a gun deployed, or no?

And finally, those other two possessions that so many of us value and can’t get enough of, good fortune and superiority. A photo of some concrete slabs that used to be a neighborhood is potent food for thought that we are lucky, we have prayed enough, that all our daily deeds have got us karma coming, or even that we’re smart enough, through common sense,( or possibly from watching stories on the news), to never  live along the coast, down by the river, or in Kansas without underground facilities.

I find myself a little over-fixated, since 9/11, with the final moment following a fall from fatal altitude, and occasionally envision, since that night I heard so much about in Lockerbie, a great big piece of something falling on my house.

rare is scary

I posted on Feb. 2nd regarding seance rooms, and our fear of them. I’ve avoided one of mine for so long I’d forgotten for a while that it existed. It came to mind today, and it occurs now that it may be why my Feb. 2 post ends so oddly. It is an answering machine tape, from around 1990, and on it is my mother’s voice. She hated answering machines and I think it may be one of 2 or 3 messages she ever left me. She knew I had been sick, and she hadn’t heard from me in a few days. I think I’ve listened to it once since she died in ’98. I know it’s around here somewhere, but I don’t want to think about exactly where.