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EXTRACTION: Art on the Edge of the Abyss

I am pleased to be taking part in EXTRACTION: Art on the Edge of the Abyss, a global project of the arts to transform public awareness and shift from exploitive to respectful compassionate ways of living.


See the EXTRACTION website for details and participants list.


My first work for the Extraction project is the publication of my manuscript of poems for the crisis of a warming world. The manuscript includes my two long poems,"Report," previously published as a chapbook by dPress, and "Last Report," both of which document by date, the tides, wind, temperature (and implicit weather events) against a backdrop of celestial cycles and fragments of daily news. Other poems in the book include "Cell Songs," "In the Cities of Sleep," "Safe Harbor" and the following:



      The form of a pilgrimage is makeshift.

                                         Ronald Grimes


First were the boats –

rafts, dories, even an inner-tube,

in the Mediterranean. A boy

washed up face-down in Greece.

Innumerable rescues and many

too late, bodies floating

like fallen feathers.

I wanted to write about them -- the diaspora

of the 21st Century.

They come in waves over land and water

from Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Afghanistan, Nigeria –


I wanted to write about them


the refugees, though no one wants to call them that.

Refugees have rights. Migrants

are flightless birds, spoiled fruit, parts

of broken promises -- pressed between countries,

between civil collapse and the loss

of arable land – I saw them


on the  television in the Nissan Sales and Service lobby

with the sound off         


gathered in the winter woods

with their meager consolation of thin jackets

and small fires and thin blue tents,


the same blue tents we see along our freeways

where P2P-meth users huddle against the sear

of uselessness, discarded lives in blue tents



  and there

in the winter woods

without food, with snow the only water –

I saw them

    on the TV

       with the sound off.


Tired of waiting

my car still not ready

I walked through November's dusk

to the closest coffee shop – a Starbucks –

as the tipped cup of the moon came up

above the neon strip of auto row,

There she is, I thought, the silver lady

pouring her light


on the busy street

on the blue tents by the overpass

and on him -- the boy with the animal-ears cap

I'd seen on TV in his father's arms

facing a wall of razor wire.

I wanted to write about them to report

from one human to another


about those people in the forest.

An infant who died of exposure is buried there

and a Syrian man who drowned in the border river.

There were others too.

The silver lady spilled her cup

on their graves. Days later her light


floods the woods, floods over the snow

stained by their pilgrimage

and over the abandoned debris, the residue

of their defeat, evidence of their presence

and their departure. Could you say

in a manner of speaking

from the heart

that now those woods are a makeshift sacred ground?


I wanted to write about them

our brothers and sisters seeking milk and honey

or just a job

and a plate of crappy food

and a safe place to sleep. Or just

to get out of the killing cold.


I wanted to write about the blue tents –

to say those people matter.

I wanted to mark the time and place --

mine walking to Starbucks

     and theirs

on the border of Poland and Belarus

and in the no-man's-land beside the freeway --

all of us

under the same silver lady. 

I wanted to say these people are strangers

only because we have yet

to recognize ourselves.