A poem without a prompt

As the old earth gods grumble and groan
and Merlin stirs in the winter tree
the seasons shift, the planet spins.

Autumn streaks gold in the southern sky.
The seas growl as the winds roar.
Who can say how the story ends?

In the dream of life
all things are one.

I’m taking a blogging break for a short while as I have other projects I must attend to.

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What are we doing?

Earlier this week I heard about a toxic waste water leak in Florida. Apparently the waste is a by-product of fertilizer production. This event got me wondering about toxins produced in making some of the products we use and whether these products can be recycled when they no longer work.

I did some research and was horrified to discover that some objects I had thought were eco-friendly had hidden drawbacks. I was particularly disturbed to learn about the manufacture and disposal of solar panels and wind turbines.

The manufacture of both items requires huge amounts of energy – usually obtained by burning coal and sometimes even old car tyres. The mining and processing of the raw materials used in both products involves practices that result in toxic chemical waste that can be hazardous to human health and the wider environment. Another comfortable truth is that these product have a working life of about twenty five years. Sometimes this can be extended to about forty years with careful maintenance but there are problems with recycling both the panels and the turbines. Extracting the silicon and heavy metals used in solar panels is difficult and so costly it is easier to simply dump the panels. It is estimated that by 2050 there could well be around 60 million tons of solar panel waste in landfill. While much of the metal and concrete used in the construction of wind turbines can be recycled the huge blades cannot. These blades are made from a composite of fibreglass and epoxy and there is currently no way to easily recycle this material. At present the blades from decommissioned turbines usually end up being buried at waste dumps.

It’s not all bad news. Some manufacturers are working and producing these items from less toxic materials and/or making products that can be recycled but overall the research I did left me feeling daunted by the immensity of the problems we have created.

Poisoned water,
toxic waste everywhere
– what are we doing?

Hiding from problems
capitalist excrement
returns to haunt us.

linked to: https://earthweal.com/2021/04/09/earthweal-open-link-weeekend-64/

An Easter Walk

I go to the bush reserve
just past the local supermarket,
the shopping can wait.
The smell wood fire smoke greets me
– families picnicking by the fire pits.

I take the north track.
All the others are teeming
– families wandering to the tune
of babbling children’s voices.

Out at a lichen covered bench I sit awhile.
Here it’s only shadowy bracken fronds,
gnarled old trees and drooping grass trees.

My mind drifts, my eyes roam
– curious the markings on tree trunks,
the sudden splash of lime green lichen.
Native bees burrow into banksia flowers
– must be good nectar there.

Enjoying the serenity? a woman’s voice cuts in.
Yes, yes, I am, I say surprised.
She grins and wanders on.
My mind drifts off some more.
Serenity, yes, that’s the word.
You can’t buy that in supermarkets.

prompt:- For this week’s challenge, TEEM. Write a poem that introduces the reader to the environment you live in –a landscape shaped by time with a culturally diverse ecosystem (with human, animal and non-animal elements). https://earthweal.com/2021/04/05/earthweal-weekly-challenge-the-teeming/


This week Brendan of Earthweal sets a task for the imagination – “What is the turning point that gets us out of this labyrinth of fated humanity? Who or what must we embrace? How do we find our way into the Totality? What are our responsibilities as the only critter in that mix with the power to shape according to our will? How to merge with the squiggly collective when we can’t come close to herding the collective will of Humanity?

In the future

An excerpt from my unfinished scifi novel – in this scene a woman who lives in a complex network of thriving communities tells a girl from an isolated and rigidly controlled society how the communities came into being:-

‘This is what I wanted to show you.’ Kya pointed to steep sandstone pinnacle riddled with shadowy caves. ‘The first people to arrive in Jedahra caved out this place. They tunnelled dwelling places into the soft rock for protection from the heat and storms when the upheavals of climate change were at their worst…

Old songs from that time talk about how the people felt living in the caves connected them to the planet. Jedahra grew out of the understanding that the wellbeing of humanity depends on the wellbeing of the earth.’ She gave Terran a sharp look. ‘That’s why the others have been so suspicious of you. To them you still carry the values of the old culture that led to climate change,’ she said.

Terran gave her a stunned look. ‘Sustainability is a key principle at The Institute,’ she said defensively.

‘I’m talking about more than sustainability,’ Kya replied. ‘I’m talking about a way of living that is abundant and ecologically viable. Jedahra’s first settlers realised that the breakdown of the old system gave them an opportunity to build a new society. A place of ecological balance where everyone has equal opportunities to thrive within a thriving ecosystem.’

A fragment of poetry written in response to Brendan’s challenge – “Lets pick up their narrative set in a time fifty years forward of our current inaction”

The people of the mountain sang.
The wind keened in response.
The elders shivered then stood strong,
their drums pounding out a steady beat.
The shamans danced.

In the communications hub
the tech heads meshed the feed.
Streaming in from across the land
diverse and syncopated rhythms
found a polyphonic harmony
– the equinox ceremony, 2071

from a blog post I wrote in July 2020:-

You may not think it so but the way to Unity lies across a trackless wilderness beneath a darkening sky. Many expect the path to that fabled destination to be a wide avenue lined with roses but no – although the ways to Unity are diverse they all involve venturing into unknown terrain. Unexpected trials and tribulations can befall the traveler as they journey across that rough ground and through those vast swamps of despondency. Many get lost along the way.

Unity is not so much a city as a locality. The people live in holons – self sufficient groups that combine together to form a cohesive whole that is somehow greater than its parts. This larger grouping is known as Unity.

The guiding principle behind this system is that Earth is a living organism and that all life within the biosphere is of value. Strangely even rocks, rivers and mountains are considered to be conscious entities aware of their position in the larger environment.

Many of our children’s children’s children live in Unity. The first founders of the place drifted there after the pandemic when the global economy collapsed. They were seeking a way of life that was more in tune with nature and more accommodating of difference. Of course they knew they would have to build this place themselves.

It began with a collection of caravans, campervans and tents gathered in a remote valley many miles from the nearest city, The remoteness meant that internet connections were sporadic but slowly the word got out. People willing to work hard came from all over the world seeking a simple, peaceful way of life. What they hadn’t necessarily expected was that the hard work was on all levels – physical, emotional, mental and even spiritual. All traces of old separatist thinking had to be released so that new, holistic ways of being could assert themselves.

There are many fabulous sights, philosophies and ways of being at Unity which would take many months to tell. Perhaps the most wondrous of these is that the way to Unity was found during the pandemic. Before that solitary individuals scattered across time and space had stumbled upon the possibility that Unity might exist but it wasn’t until the 2020s that there was a collective awakening. As global conditions worsened more and more people came to see that the way towards a simpler, more ecologically balanced way of living lay within their own hearts and minds. It was these people that began to find ways to traverse the trackless wilderness that lay before them.

Something I’m working on

I’m still processing the destructive tree pruning that went on around my rental property during the week. Here’s some stuff I’m working on regarding it. It’s not very poetic yet but sometimes I need to express ideas publicly before I can explore their subtleties.

Believing themselves to be
the only intelligent life
in the entire cosmos
the human becomes supreme,
the final authority.
Everything else is less than,
incapable of rational thought,
merely instinctual.

By objectifying the world,
by believing only that which can be
and dissected,
the spiritual is negated,
the invisible realms are denied.
Only the external world is real.

With human thought the pinnacle
and men the crowning glory
of life in the universe
all else becomes a resource,
something to be used
to further human progress.
If it doesn’t have a use
it can be discarded,

linked to Earthweal openlink weekend https://earthweal.com/2021/03/26/1211/

Before and After

I rent my house. Because a neighbour complained about overhanging tree branches the owner decided it was time to get the huge ash tree in my garden pruned. I had no say in the matter. The tree company arrived at 8am and got to work.

I took my lead from the word ‘escape’ on this guy’s harness and disappeared while the work took place. I took some before photos when the work commenced and then some when I returned a few hours later.

All I can say at this point is that men were certainly very thorough but they had absolutely no sense of aesthetics!

In the Forest

Here by the coast the remnant old growth forest is not the place of soaring mountain ash and the graceful arch of tree ferns six hundred years old and counting.

Deep in the forest
the trees whisper together
– soul language

No, here by the coast the remnant old growth forest is hemmed by housing estates. Out by the farthest boundary fence the grass trees grow, six hundred years old and counting.

The inner nature,
hidden and hard to access
– primeval magic.

prompt: https://earthweal.com/2021/03/22/earthweal-weekly-challenge-deforestation-last-stand-at-fairy-creek/


This week’s Earthweal prompt https://earthweal.com/2021/03/15/earthweal-weekly-challenge-the-animal-gaze/ takes me full circle back to where this blog began. My first post here was about encountering a mother and baby koala in the bush one winter’s afternoon – https://mappinguncertainty.wordpress.com/2020/02/18/a-message-from-the-koala/

My experience with the koalas was one of those key moments that come back to mind from time to time and reveal still further layers of meaning. I wrote a poem about it in response to Brendan’s prompt:-

What are animals looking for? What are they seeing? That’s the essence of this week’s challenge, THE ANIMAL GAZE. Tell us of your encounters with that gaze. What do we share with that gaze, how do we differ? How can we understand it, considered in the marbled and congealed in masses of neurocortical fibers and dense clusters of culture and language and all-too-habitual mastery? And what does that gaze read in us?”

two sets of luminous koala eyes,
brown and full of forest,
gazing into mine –
pulling me into their world
– the dream of the Earth.

A wordless frequency,
a vibration slowing me down
deep into an awareness
of tree time, Earth time,
even that genetic time
that whispers still within

the knowing we were tree beings once.
We understood the warp and weft
of wind in the branches against the sky,
the rhythm and the song of of it.

We knew then the strength of anchoring
in the fork of a tree
feeling the pull of earth energies
rooting us to the planet
while simultaneously
feeling the power of branches
as threads of energy
silver in the moonlight
reaching up towards the stars
-human/non human beingness

This being human

This being human
on cloudless nights
the stars,
the universe stretching back
– eons of time revealed
spiralling into expanding cosmic space.

This being human
on busy days
the traffic,
the coastal construction companies
expanding into earth bound space
as if their determination
to secure, once and for all,
the best sea view in the neighbourhood
can stop the rising tides of climate change.

This being human.
We children of the stars
born into the human rat race.
Did we just come here
to claim the greatest prize
or did we come for some greater purpose?
To learn to live in harmony
with all that is perhaps.

prompt: https://dversepoets.com/2021/03/16/poetics-the-art-of-being-human/