Saturday, April 22, 2017

#Poetry Break: Mother Earth: Her Whales

from my art journal (2017)

Mother Earth: Her Whales

    - by Gary Snyder

An owl winks in the shadows
A lizard lifts on tiptoe, breathing hard
Young male sparrow stretches up his neck,
                   big head, watching—
The grasses are working in the sun. Turn it green.
Turn it sweet. That we may eat.
Grow our meat.
Brazil says “sovereign use of Natural Resources”
Thirty thousand kinds of unknown plants.
The living actual people of the jungle
        sold and tortured—
And a robot in a suit who peddles a delusion called “Brazil”
        can speak for them?
        The whales turn and glisten, plunge
                and sound and rise again,
        Hanging over subtly darkening deeps
        Flowing like breathing planets
              in the sparkling whorls of
                     living light—
And Japan quibbles for words on
        what kinds of whales they can kill?
A once-great Buddhist nation
        dribbles methyl mercury
        like gonorrhea
                      in the sea.
Pere David’s Deer, the Elaphure,
Lived in the tule marshes of the Yellow River
Two thousand years ago—and lost its home to rice—
The forests of Lo-yang were logged and all the silt &
Sand flowed down, and gone, by 1200 AD—
Wild Geese hatched out in Siberia
        head south over basins of the Yang, the Huang,
        what we call “China”
On flyways they have used a million years.
Ah China, where are the tigers, the wild boars,
                   the monkeys,
                      like the snows of yesteryear
Gone in a mist, a flash, and the dry hard ground
Is parking space for fifty thousand trucks.
IS man most precious of all things?
—then let us love him, and his brothers, all those
Fading living beings—
North America, Turtle Island, taken by invaders
        who wage war around the world.
May ants, may abalone, otters, wolves and elk
Rise! and pull away their giving
        from the robot nations.
Solidarity. The People.
Standing Tree People!
Flying Bird People!
Swimming Sea People!
Four-legged, two-legged people!
How can the head-heavy power-hungry politic scientist
Government     two-world     Capitalist-Imperialist
Third-world     Communist      paper-shuffling male
             non-farmer     jet-set     bureaucrats
Speak for the green of the leaf? Speak for the soil?
(Ah Margaret Mead . . . do you sometimes dream of Samoa?)
The robots argue how to parcel out our Mother Earth
To last a little longer
                    like vultures flapping
Belching, gurgling,
                    near a dying doe.
“In yonder field a slain knight lies—
We’ll fly to him and eat his eyes
                    with a down
         derry derry derry down down.”
             An Owl winks in the shadow
             A lizard lifts on tiptoe
                         breathing hard
             The whales turn and glisten
                         plunge and
             Sound, and rise again
             Flowing like breathing planets
             In the sparkling whorls
             Of living light.
                      Stockholm: Summer Solstice 40072



From Turtle Island. Copyright © 1974 by Gary Snyder. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.

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