Little Boats

I rarely go down to the water’s edge
preferring to be here on my hill.
I can see the field of dry flowers
where men will come soon
to build the new road.
They will throw up dust.

And I can see the little boats
come and go with their sails
the colors of festival.
They leave a white scar
on the sea. Someday
a boat will come for me.

I will be terrified and I will go alone.

 

J. Kyle Kimberlin
2nd draft, 12.09.2016

Creative Commons Licensed

The Stars

We share the same mind
and timid sorrows
the same lights and breezes,
the same nights in which no one
looked up to notice the stars
turning in the distant past.
We go in and sit in lamplight,
call on love and other incantations
to keep us here
and anchored to the earth.

 

J. Kyle Kimberlin
2016

Creative Commons Licensed

Futility

“I don’t know why we long so for permanence, why the fleeting nature of things so disturbs. With futility, we cling to the old wallet long after it has fallen apart. We visit and revisit the old neighborhood where we grew up, searching for the remembered grove of trees and the little fence. We clutch our old photographs. In our churches and synagogues and mosques, we pray to the everlasting and eternal. Yet, in every nook and cranny, nature screams at the top of her lungs that nothing lasts, that it is all passing away. All that we see around us, including our own bodies, is shifting and evaporating and one day will be gone. “
Alan Lightman
The Accidental Universe (2014)

Freeze-dried America

It’s cold in America tonight. It rained briefly here in Santa Barbara today and the clear air behind the little front of wet is pressing on the house. But in America it is more than literally cold. Our hemisphere is blandly tilting away from the sun’s equinoctial rays, but that’s just what it does this time of year, even in times of hope and clarity. The nights are long and clear and the road to anywhere that matters, where hope and consolation can be found, seems longer than it did in October. Or is it me? I look around the Internet for the usual lights of insight and find dark windows…

Gloom, despair, and agony on me
Deep, dark depression, excessive misery

No joke, serious; so much depression. Many of my favorite poets and writers, bloggers and vloggers – normally uplifted and uplifting people – have stopped generating content. Vlogger Chris Pirillo in Seattle says he hasn’t picked up his camera in weeks. Blogger and actor Wil Wheaton in Los Angeles is working the Kubler-Ross stages of grief like a tautological litany; a long day’s journal into an existential feedback loop.

America the Plum Blossoms are Falling

All through the social networks, there is so much anger. All of the cries of “no, wait, you can’t, he’s insane, he’ll destroy everything our parents built and ruin everything we might have left behind as well” are dying away like a long freight train that took 2 weeks to rumble to a stop. Now the anger is turning from Big Cheeto and the Fetus Funeral Kid to the townspeople who brought this lunacy down around our heads.

I’m experiencing the same kind of writer’s brain-lock by the way; it’s much worse than writer’s block. I can write but do you think I want to be writing this current events drivel? Do I seem to have the talent for it? Hell no. I’m a poet and a writer of the quiet ontological rooms at the back of the house. The dusty guest bedrooms, where the shoes in the closet belong to the beloved dead. I hate what’s happening in the consciousness of the country almost as much as what’s happening in the streets, the schools, and in the dooryards of the mosques and synagogues.

So I don’t blame the angry people; in fact, I have to join them. This wasn’t an election of a new president and vice president for these United States. This wasn’t a shift from liberal to conservative, from tax and spend to budgetary frugality (a myth, anyway). This was a fucking coup e’etat; a putsch. Our country has been illegally overthrown. Trump had help from foreign powers including Russia. And the Director of the FBI interfered with the election. So America the Beautiful has voted – by a margin so slim it raises the specter of  capital crimes- to become a much different nation than we were.

It’s one thing to want a new president for the country, it’s another to want a different country. And instead of a president, let’s let these crazyass racists who hate everybody run the shit. Nope, you can bring in a new pitcher but we’re not switching from baseball to Mayan basketball, where the losers get their heads chopped off. And come to think of it, Hillary won the damn election anyway. But I digress.

No. No. No! I will not accept the United States becoming a racist, fear-mongering land of knuckle-dragging simian celebrants of some misbegotten, pathetic Nazi cult of ignorance. I do not acquiesce; I demur. You don’t like it, bite me. I’ve lost all tolerance for fools. And I pity the next one I hear sneering about sour grapes and poor losers.

[Shit] Here, watch this excellent video and read an old poem. I’m running out of words, pitching a fit or a fever, and I need to make sure the lights of the coastline are still shining in the cold.

 

    “next to of course god america i
love you land of the pilgrims’ and so forth oh
say can you see by the dawn’s early my
country ’tis of centuries come and go
and are no more what of it we should worry
in every language even deafanddumb
thy sons acclaim your glorious name by gorry
by jingo by gee by gosh by gum
why talk of beauty what could be more beaut-
iful than these heroic happy dead
who rushed like lions to the roaring slaughter
they did not stop to think they died instead
then shall the voice of liberty be mute?”

He spoke. And drank rapidly a glass of water

– e e cummings

The Center of the Universe

And then I explained to him how naive we were, that the world did know and remain silent. And that is why I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.

– Elie Wiesel
Acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize

The marginalized people of America are afraid, and for good reason.

I am reminded of a story my priest told me once, from Russia in the years before the revolution. In those days, it was common practice for people to travel to monasteries to celebrate feast days and ask advice from monks, especially from certain elders.

On one occasion, a group of people were taking turns speaking with an elder who was giving them advice on keeping the fast – Lent. One by one they went up and ask his blessing – Batyushka Blagoslave – Father, bless me – and he would bless them and help them and send them on their way. He might tell them certain vegetables to eat, or tea to drink, or maybe for health reasons absolve them to eat eggs or cheese on days when they wouldn’t otherwise.

Finally a man stepped up who was very rich and influential; a man who had spent his life amassing a fortune. He asked for a blessing and the old priest, being insightful and wise, took one look at him and said:

Oh you, I know you. Don’t bother keeping the fast; eat anything you want. Just for the love of God stop eating people.

The people on the margins of American society are afraid because they are the most vulnerable to the people-eating machine that our divided and hate-steeped culture has become. I speaking of the immigrants, minorities, LGBTQ, the disabled and sick and homeless, and the list goes on. They know they’re not alone, but it must still feel that way. They don’t know if anyone – the Congress, the Courts, the churches and their neighbors – will stand with them as the machine grinds on.

It is not morning in America anymore; it is dusk. But the lamps are lit and the streets still belong to us. It is for us, every woman and man of conscience, to stay awake and vigilant. And when we hear that grinding sound in the night, we have to go out, and bring our brothers and sisters into our homes. Let no one be left outside. I’m saying we must keep speaking out.

The place to improve the world is first in one’s own heart and head and hands, and then work outward from there.
– Robert M. Pirsig