Thursday, April 21, 2005

Poem of the Week

This one is from V.B. Price, local poet, thinker, columnist, editor, and general, all-around Renaissance person.

He read this the other night at Bookworks, and I thought it uniquely captured where my politics have been lately. It's from his latest book of poems called Mythwaking, a collection bringing Greek gods to life, a modern sequel to the Homeric Hymns. More importantly, these poems are little windows into the reality of more-human than human behavior.

This particular poem is about the balance that will have to come eventually between our capitalist use of our natural resources and the natural world that supports us. This connection, largely unacknowledged in our "First Worlds," is unarguable, inescapable, and largely uncontrollable, as we saw with heartbreaking reality this December with the terrible Tsunami. We have moved out of this balance, but it will come for us and reign us in. But don't take my word for it; that's what poetry is for.

So without much more ado, the poem "Artemis" (goddess of the hunt, the untamed and untameable -- but you'll get all you need to know in the poem, not to worry):

Bear mother, supple,
child-tumbling, ferocious

with love,

Great Artemis, cyclone
of perfection,

She is called Kallisto,
the most beautiful

in Her playing
and in Her rage.

Goddess of unmarred snow,
of nine year old girls,

of magma, infancy,
of inner poise, integrity,

all boundlessness,
the holy spirit of the undisturbed,

we hear of Her still
on a mesa of grasses,

and sage steppes,
ungrazed Artemisia

moon gray,
untouched for ten thousand years,

in Utah,
not Arkadia,

the goddess of No Man's Mesa
who won't tolerate

being looked at,
and is never to be touched.

Scar roads through Her meadows
and she knows no mercy.

She is everywhere
we've never been,

the goddess of places no one should go.
In the moonlight forever,

we can barely see
menageries of spring-born

dancing in Her honor
in the perfect

place before beginning
which never ends.

That's as close to Her
as we may get:

observers of strange dancing.
We must praise Her

far away
in our minds.

Great Artemis, savior
of the unexplored,

goddess of the feral
who loathes extinctions,

who is the cause of all extinction,
mistress of the fittest

and the least fit,
of all that is fruitful

in itself, for no
other purpose,

Goddess, when nothing clean and early
is left upon the earth,

when what we do
with consciousness

leaves our minds
so musclebound

we're paralyzed
confusing power

with survival,
will You stop us,

take the world back from us,
year by disastrous year?

Or will you save
what's left of us that's wild,

teach us,
how to free ourselves again,

how to be
untamed, like You,

by appetite and grasping,
by the yokes

of status and possession,
luxury and speed?

You are never
not free, even now.

And we are waiting.
We know You will make something happen,

some terrible change
we could never foretell

-- like leaves turning poison,
or birds farting smog,

like skin
eating muscle,

or dirt
eating seeds

--something will shake us,
will force us

to submit,

And from the debris,

the die off,
the judgment

of cause and effect,
You will arise

clean as all beginnings
in minds

craving freedom
more than license,

liberty more
than plenty.

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