Saturday, March 16, 2013

Some Implications of the Piri Reis Map

The polarities are melting,
glaciers flow like vast unclogging toilets,
and an albatross on a stony promontory
emerges for the first time from its nest
to learn all there is to know
about the ground
until it finally finds its eight-foot-wing true nature
and flies without the need to land again
from the Chrysler Building’s feathered spires
as from the pyramids, and below its windows,
like love, a flow, not black and yellow cabs
but Emperor Penguins tobogganing inland
to incubate eggs in what is now the most hostile place on Earth,
the South Bronx.

Everything has a purpose, towards a larger order, a larger justice;
it takes 1,000 lemmings a day
to keep the Snowy Owls in cubicles in love;
polar bears rip manhole covers off to paw at seals;
on an old New Jersey coastline
five million walruses lay on one beach
and bulls fight to the death
in front of the children.

Seaweed hangs like banners inside Madison Square Garden
as kelp waves from the rafters of the old Grand Central Station
to disguise the sharks and bottom-feeders who battle on the floor.
Killer whales can fit inside the subway tunnels now
to feast upon translucent grunts
swaying like no dance troupe
peeling back the blooming onion veil
in a universal spiral that furls and then uncorks
and baffles the armored sawfish
who subsist on rainbow smelts and hake hag slime.
The octopi climb cathedral walls in deft pursuit of mussels;
the black eels chase pink pogies through barnacled art deco;
dolphins circle round the tank that was the UN Building
- they like its peaceful vibe, and besides, they can hunt
the hammerhead sharks that lurk on Dag Hammarskjold Plaza;
tautog, cusk and pout
with eyes so blank and purposeless
all leverage in on a grouper’s food
to try to gain a crumb, and they all join
each others’ conversations, completing thoughts
with a wave wand of their tails;
and the dogfish swim the streets in the most
outlandish costumes, but no one blinks an eye
unlike in LA, where everyone wants to be discovered, here
everyone wants to disappear.

The Times Square lights have crystallized in mid-air
and even the headline reels have become frozen in time.
The Jesus Petrel minds the shop on the top of the Empire State Building
while shags roost on the ledges watching white wolves track musk-oxen
down the tundra hills of reddened Central Park;
the beluga blissed out molting over stones like a loofa
have gone much further north, past 86th and Columbus Avenue,
the caribou click their electric antennae
like no bulls or bears before could ever do;
there’s starfish all down Broadway,
sea urchins in the Bowery,
oyster beds at the Waldorf Astoria,
torpedo rays along the Battery,
sea horses run at Aqueduct,
skates glide like Rockette skirts through Rockefeller Center,
tuna in the Meadowlands are eating soft sea grass,
snails cling to the Village walls quivering in their shells,
bluefish are getting schooled at the project bball hoops,
but there are no fish in Chinese restaurant tanks,
some lobsters though are skittering through FAO Schwartz
and some are at Lincoln Center, it doesn’t much matter,
for their lives are far too natural for them to have a care
about the subtle structures of their templates.

The blue whale at the center of town
breathes in every fact with the plankton,
and unknown lips are kissing
the gifts of this remembrance
and the blowhole breath, having formed it
into a variable of useful truth
can exhale now something of its original state,
what no longer must be solved,
not scrambled as it was
when it was sought.

There’s no need any more for lox or jewelry,
newspapers or cigars,
vodka or watches,
ermine or guitars,
for the people are
somewhere else,
living with the Gods
they thought were killed
instead of grief.


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erin said...

which polarities are melting, the ice caps or the fabric of that which makes up existence?

"Everything has a purpose, towards a larger order, a larger justice." does this order necessarily include man or should he be ejected? (has he ejected himself?)

(i have gone on but it is too personal/ personal in that i'm not sure it matters/ and so i leave it here. your poem brings we to a place i have found myself in time to time lately that i am surprised about. it's a peaceful place in which/ possibly/ man no longer exists.)


WAS said...

That's sweet of you, Erin, to find such relevance in a bottom-drawer poem of mine, proving once again that adage about the eye of the beholder...

the walking man said...

To quote Marvin Gaye "What's going on-the ecology"

WAS said...

Love it, Mark - or "mercy mercy me - things ain't what they used to be noooo..."

Hannah Stephenson said...

Strangely peaceful watery apocalypse...I find it weirdly comforting (the humans are gone! the humans are gone!).

Jack said...

This poem is stupendously imaginative. Many sections created movie scenes for my brain. My favorite part:

"The octopi climb cathedral walls in deft pursuit of mussels;
the black eels chase pink pogies through barnacled art deco"

I don't know why, but it's funny to me that all this wonder would take place due to seeming chaos.