Third nature

Third nature

‘Lawns are nature purged of sex or death. No wonder Americans like them so much.’
-Michael Pollan (Second Natue: A Gardener’s Education)

‘All over the wide fields of earth grows the prunella or self-heal.’
-Ralph Waldo Emerson (“Nature”)

Everything in America was second nature

To take what the Good Lord gave
and turn it into His divine perfection
was the legacy you were supposed to leave

It’s the skyline of Chicago
It’s that catacomb in New York
of the world’s greatest subway system
It’s the Intracoastal Waterway
and retractable domes
where professional sports teams play.

But now we’re into the third

And it isn’t Ralph Waldo Emerson
or Henry David Thoreau anymore

Perhaps it’s Hawthorne’s pessimism
or the condemnations of Babbitt and More

Maybe it’s that fist in the soft tissue
of a young man’s face
when he reads a water stained book
in his high school history class
talking about time-and-a-half

Maybe it’s an aspersion cast
at a woman who wants to be a mother
or a mother who wants to leave her children
during the day
and go on to become a lawyer
or someone else’s caregiver

Maybe it’s the ongoing neglect
of the Sun Dance
the piety of a sunrise mass
or the wherewithal of the atheist

Maybe its a Congressman watching the polar caps melt
while talking with scientists who have experience
and training to guide him through the patterns
of their empirical arguments
as he laughs and says carbon enriches our food

A third nature, yes
where Jeffersonianism
is somehow Clintonism
but really it’s amnesia
since the power of the executive
is just what Montesquieu said it shouldn’t be
and which Schlesinger warned was a sin
if it wasn’t wielded by a Kennedy.

It’s a virtual walk
through a virtual prairie
with cyber wolves
and grizzly avatars

It’s a week at a gated retreat
or a cruise through the detritus gyre
which our medications say doesn’t exist
as our world will be consumed by revelatory fire

It’s life knowledge without life wisdom
a post modern where a cigar isn’t a cigar
where when your insurance is taken
if you decry your loss
it’s you who are mistaken.

Jeremy Nathan Marks

Sin to say

Sin to say

It is now a sin to say
‘least’
but you can’t say
‘poor’
because poor is, above all, boring

And to be boring is, of course,
something to deplore

You can’t say ‘black’
because black should be ‘ethnic’
and ethnic should mean
‘white’
while white should be objective
and transparent to truth

Can a man say call me ‘she’
or a woman mean ‘he’ when she says
‘look at me’?

And what is sin
if not a mark of membership
a covenant
and a declension

Words that are not said
phrases you aren’t supposed to say
never ring more true
than when understudies
perform in their place

The star of each show
is the long shadow
impertinent, rancid, arresting
the actor who molests your blood
by unveiling meaning.

Jeremy Nathan Marks

Timid -Kallan Simms

Timid

Outrage. Disgust. Hostility. Silence. At my core, I am very different than my family. I know- vividly- what they think of where I live, who I’ve dated, what tattoos I’ve gotten, how I’ve voted, my independence, what I eat. Open discussions with them are impossible. I have never seen my grandparents so deeply offended as when they found out I voted for President Obama. My grandfather thought it was a personal attack; I was such a good kid, how could I?

This is not my grandfather’s America. We are no longer carefully divided into perfectly compact boxes. We are no longer purely male or female, Republican or Democrat, “good ole farm boys” or “them others,” this or that. My American experience had been one of conversation, open mindedness, fluidity, acceptance. I had bet my education, my life, my income, on this opening of the old-school mindset. Yes to fulfilling the need to belong. Yes to acceptance of the different. Yes, love everyone.

Until recently. What was once a fluid, evolving creature has returned to the boxes we all fooled ourselves into thinking were thrown out. Misogyny is once again dictating what is acceptable. I am hopeful that this a localized problem; one I have placed myself in. I no longer have the capacity to lie and say “everything will be fine, it’s someone else’s problem, I’m insulated and well protected.” It’s simply not true. It’s made me timid.

This attitude is a direct result of the political climate. Living in a homogeneous bubble makes it too easy to be small, go unnoticed. To let someone tell you to be quiet, don’t be different. It’s too easy to ignore the news, let ignorance be bliss. Too easy to laugh at offensive jokes, be polite and demure. Be seen and not heard.

This is not the time to be timid. This is the time to be selfish. Don’t let anyone tell you the things that affect your family, grabs your interest, keeps you connected to other like-minded humans, keeps you plugged into society, isn’t worthwhile. My stance today has to be bold, it has to make an effort. I do not owe anyone, anything that comes at the expense of my safety, of my opinions, my well being. Whatever my own life circumstances may be, whatever may be invading my own opinions and thoughts cannot be ignored.

We must continually fight the distraction of someone telling us to be common.

Kallan Simms

Kallan Simms has been a satellite technician, project manager and is currently an IT professional. Among those dull things, she also workers with raptors, dabbles in fiction writing, poorly maintains a DIY blog and dreams of living off the land. She lives in Wyoming with her husband, greyhound puppy (child), and ever-growing supply of books.

A beautiful boat -John Panian

A beautiful boat

That’s what we had. Maybe.
One day before our faces.
Now, this is where we are.
Trying on well-fitting boots.

We bought them. The book.
The line. The sinking thoughts.
Them too, we bought. “Fuck the
farm, we bought the boat!”

The oars and the ocean too.
And then we threw them all
in. Chopped the little ones
for our chum and threw them

in over the side. I can see them
now, the pieces, moving up
from the dark like bright fish.
Our beautiful boat is eating us.

John Panian (St. Louis, MO)

John Panian writes poems, makes images and pays the bills by working with food in Saint Louis, Missouri, where he lives with his wife and daughter. You can follow him here: https://aprayerlikegravity.wordpress.com

The new thing -by Susan Daniels

The new thing

The new thing’s not cloth so beautiful
only the 1% can see its shimmer
and its not cake sweet in one slice
while the rest is cardboard construct
its everything

not in absolute but swing.
We have different sets of fact
instead of simple opinion
like plain plates for family suppers
and Royal Daulton for company
but all the edges are gilt
skimmed over relativity,
our flexibility bending jointlessly
and against anatomy

The emperor
simply faked a set of clothes.
we’re doing so much more than that.
Pulling prosperity from air,
renaming success from bankruptcy
and we’re doing it with ideas
too large for our small heads.

If we speak it, it is so.
If we stay silent, it never was.

Susan Daniels

Susan Daniels is a poet, activist and mother to cats and children who lives in Western New York. Follow Susan here: https://susandanielspoetry.com