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Poetry Series as Chant for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

As the year comes to its close I feel compelled to write a series of poems each day until the end of the year as protest against the impending pillage of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.   

Refuse (Day One)

The snow geese
litter the sky,
like wadded up
copy paper
tossed from airplanes.

The musk oxen
circle their young,
like the Amazonian tribespeople
who shoot
arrows at airplanes.

Airplanes litter the sky,
like crumpled
aluminum cans
thrown away
by bored gods.

Caribou in their thousands
clog the Yukon,
and salmon slap about,
watching cruise liners migrate.

The foxes of “secluded” Fox Island
prance across the stage,
change coats, zodiacs zip
like harpoons from cruise liners.

The oil rigs are coming to suckle
on the fertile breast
of native lands
without consent.

I rattle my spear
at their bulldozers.
I rattle my spear
at their tanks.

I’ll rattle my spear
til they cut out my tongue,
or until overrun
by their ranks.


I Want These Things for You (Day 2)

I have never seen a herd
of moose eating spring’s
early shoots, or watched
as they scratched fleece from horns.

I have seen the naughtiness of monkeys
as they disconnect phone wires,
steal rambutan off a goddess altar,
or an orange from my plate.

But I have never seen a polar bear
washing itself in sunset,
or an Arctic fox doff its winter mantle
for something more motley.

I have smelled the presence
of a black bear in fall on the summit
of Mt. Mitchell. Everywhere I looked
a great sea of leaves in yellow, red, and purple.

But I have yet to raft the Canning River
and ‘plash my nakedness there,
or see the nesting grounds
where seagulls preen their young.

I have walked through dust devils
in Bakersfield, California.  Smelt the petroleum
in waves like fata morgana out on the dry riverbeds,
and traced the path of roadrunners.

I have seen two dead red-tail hawks
out in the fields beyond my father’s house,
where the almond orchards suck water from a stone.
I have breathed the air outside, even when advised not to.

But I have never seen trumpet swans honk
on the tundra, or caribou nudge their young to stand,
and even if I never do, I want these things
for you my son. I want these things for you.


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Poetry Series as Chant for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge


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