We cut down our Sequoias to make wood chips
that we sell as mulch for garden ornamentals.
Because we can. We watch the rats leave our ships
to board the barges of the Orientals.
The rats go east like our jobs did. No, we sent those
like now we send our forests, for quick profits.
We’ll have nothing left to lose soon, just our souls.
‘Good is better than bad because it’s nicer.’
That’s Walt Kelly’s Pogo Possum, from a time
good morals were seen as important and a goal.
The potentate resembles statesmen in the way
oil staining a beach is like a marble statue.
That is, not in any way at all.
I ponder this until the cows come home
and warders try to lock us behind doors.
I like to live in comfort and feel foreign
so I’m most at home when I sojourn in Spain
as a tourist with few language skills to lean on.
A man with a plastic bag clasped in his hand
picks up the dog-doo that his pet puts down.
He puffs his cheeks, the man does, then he gazes
at La Monde in the Spanish edition till his wife comes out
of the Boutique de la Prensa and it’s time
to look for lunch and maybe wash his hands.
Listen. Quietly. Listen to the sea.The surf that shushes thought is out of sight.
The smaller sharper noises of the night
are aeons less eternal than the sea.
Or are all sounds eternal decomposed
to separate perturbations of the air?
Is mortal meaning only what we snare
and think it signifies what we supposed?
Eternal takes too long to interest me
although I want to fool myself I care.
I turn the light off, sit still in my chair
and listen, listen quietly (to the sea?)
I rest my case of Gigondas.
I close my eyes and dream.
Dordogne rivers fall in rills
that grow and hatch not bream
as much as sun smiles and sun motes,
not sun as much as trout.
My boat comes in. The lunch is served.
La France, c’est tout about.
She wakes in panic and in several inches of water.
Through her penthouse windows all she sees is sea.
She ties her hair back. She wades across her terrace.
She boards her yacht. ‘Cast off,’ she tells her crew.
Her crew, a golden retriever, thumps its tail.
She gets the engines started. She singles up the lines.
She lets them slip. ‘We’re underway,’ she says.
‘Decisions,’ she tells her crew. It thumps its tail.
I see the eyes of everyone I knew
regarding me from somewhere out of sight.
I hear their voices say something true
but I can’t believe I’ve heard their words just right.
Belief is not required, they say, for facts
like this one: what’s created can’t be lost.
Believing does not change this, nor do acts,
they say, of piety or blasphemy
that cost nothing that the truth cannot afford.
They say the cost of ignorance is mine,
that it only makes me restless, tired and bored,
but that on learning more I’ll see the line of light
that writes this message through the haze:
Death is not immortal. It’s a phase.