word is no longer someone’s
word. In it no one speaks, and what speaks is not anyone.” M. Blanchot, “Approaching Literature’s Space.” A.
a frosty autumn morning Gaia wraps the mountain’s
peak in a scarf of red light.
Facing East, wearing UV
400 sunglasses, I offer a pinch of pollen to the rising
and make three deep bows
thought to be the paw-prints
of a bear, using the latest scanning devices
anthropologists are tracking
the faint paths
walked by a small, cross-stepping
hominin who lived millions
of years ago. Reflecting on finitude, what is
conflates into pockets of impossibly isolated beings.
predictions of another dry winter, immigrants of pebbles
down the mountainside, scattering on the road below until “I
where the United States ended or Mexico began.”(1) A
work of high
isn't complete until it questions its boundaries.
A species that was prey sharpened its clever teeth and evolved
into a predator
of an entire planet, stripping its resources like meat flensed
off bone, throwing
the world into rages of hurricanes, tornados, excessive heat
and drought. Had
this species evolved to cannibalize itself?
One morning before dawn, Nakagawa Soen entered the sodo,
and woke us up.
Seeing a broken handbell he cradled it as if a bird with
a broken wing. Then he
glided back into the darkness, intoning in an impossibly
deep voice, “Everything
breaks, everything breaks.”(2) Death
is a human concept that nature creates with-
above and below, the din reached me,
shivering as if Boreas
gloomy predictions into the swirls of my
glared from a frigid horizon, and CO2 continued puffing
my nose. Even if we could
reach net zero emissions of greenhouse gases,
we’d still be
rocks had just reseated themselves on recently watered
emerged from where there there was no longer
a foot of mud down there,” he
deer is a psychopomp guiding me
to the Wall of Gods,
are crumbling sandstone masks. All the gods are
outcrops of a
human soul. Here we approach the mystery of why
in Paleolithic caves were decorated with significant
signs and symbols.
after the new year the river began raging again. There
is no crossing
over, except to
Hölderlin’s madness. The
river is a sentinel between
and every conceivable alternative.
Beneath land sacred to indigenous people lie minerals critical
technologies. Gold, copper, uranium, petroleum, now lithium
rechargeable batteries. At the end of the canyon’s
path comes a clearing
where the sun lights tall weeds and the dense scent of living
clumps of fur are parts of prey not eaten.
showers scoured stones into slippery
within an overcast
sky. “The first poet of a civilization that has
past me, fangs gleaming, as if the Anthropocene
had never occurred.
the physicist the cat sealed in a box is either dead
or alive; for the
neither dead nor
alive. Sauntering downhill, negotiating stones loose and
landscape dreams a ken of wispy clouds. Stripped
of its integument, a stone lectures
its student: "The cat’s fate is in its inconsistences."
What were the initial conditions in Upper Paleolithic societies
that led their people to
create some of our greatest cultural
achievements? Ice and snow driven by whips of
Short summer days and long winter nights? Huddling in shelters
the entrance to caves too dark and damp to live in, in which
the rank smell of bears
still cuddled lungs? Crawled into and dropped down, walked
through, hunting animal
spirits, what was imagined on scabrous
walls gallops into the latest initial conditions.
ancestral lines have so far been
of cells in the human body and
99% of genes are not human!”(4)
means two hands are held
The red tube and its black rubber grip is the handle of a
bowsaw whose steel teeth
bit through fallen limbs and their nubbins the old sycamore
had suddenly dropped.
Bang on the hardwood deck, awoke trees and wooden
fish alike. On a night “made
of doors and witches,”(5) the
End won’t be a
bang but an interrupted dream.
The Higgs field substantiates particles, yet the wind has
no mass until its riotous
air sings through bushes and trees. Far below an unseen river
sends its choir up
a mountain on whose summit the God who will enflame Posthuman
To say there has not been a drought like this in the American
West for 1200 years,
or that the planet hasn’t been heating this much in
millions of years, is to see this
water racing between rocks as a sweltering summer day,
when my feet dangled
in a freezing Yuba River, on a dusty road to Kitkitdizze
more than fifty years ago.(6)
and natural disasters coalesce into an epoch in which
join to exploit, aggress, defend, then mourn their exploitations.
If we could
grieve for all life we have driven to extinction,
a shout would be heard from
the future: Great Pan Has Returned!
The path is versed in glossy red leaves of Poison Oak. Nearly
dry, the river
has spread long fingers feeling their way to the sea. As
I descend the ridge
a turkey buzzard lifts on a breath of warm air. “Lew!” I
shout. "Is it you?"
Or am I dreaming of “the duende which seized the heart
of Nietzsche”? (7)
seeks a way for one’s spirit
to recover the depths of its painted cave
whose exterior is popular culture huddling
shelter near its entrance,
where, “absolute knowledge
is no more than one knowledge amongst others.”(8)
puddles of yesterday’s storm. the earth is transformed
into mud, so familiar
not go unnoticed.
accounts of mountaineering relate the ascent; rarer
is the descent,
where life is slippery and is frequently frozen into
dark crystals of
the "Great Acceleration," deadly
a spikey route passing
through death zones
in which everything
is nothing again.
T. Miller, “Visions of a Borderless World.” The
Nation, Dec 16, 2021.
2. Revised from, “Two Words.” Shambhala Sun,
3.. R. Char. Quoted in, J.R. Lawler, René Char:
The Myth and the Poem. Princeton, NJ, 1978. p. xiii, n.4.
4. J. Turnbull and A. Searle, “Anthropo(s)cene." https://www.thephilosopher1923.org/searle-turnbull
5. Adonis (Ali Ahmad Sa’id). From, "Day’s
6..“Snyder built a house that he named ‘Kitkitdizze’ in
1970..The name was taken from the Wintu Indian word for
Chamaebatia foliolosa, a low-growing, spicy-odored shrub.” K.
Zendo, and Place: Gary Snyder as a Reinhabitory Poet.” ISLE:
Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment.
7. F.G. Lorca, “Theory and Function of the Duende.” Frederico Garcia Lorca: Selected Poems. Northumberland
8. 7. J-P Sartre, Situations I. Paris, 1966. p.182.