Day 188 12/30/13: The Shag-Eyed Shark

shark-fish-talesIn the poem “The Shag-Eyed Shark,”  a crew of crusty fishermen vent their rage on a shark, cutting out its liver, only to have the shark help them catch a school of prized mackerel. While the old salts in this didactic tale learn not to judge by appearances (they even open the shark again and replace its liver), men & shark in the real world haven’t quite achieved that level of friendship. But if you would like to extend some kindness to sharks, (or other imperiled sea friends), your donation to Oceana will be doubled if you donate before December 31!

Day 187 12/29/13: Poetry Exercise: The Alphabet’s Spine

Had a great time at an Artist’s Way workshop this afternoon.

In addition to inventorying our creative triumphs and horrors, we used each letter of the alphabet to write a word or an entire line. These off-the-cuff exercises are great because you might find a gem of a line that you can use later on. Writing like this also reminds me to loosen up, to stop thinking, “This is good,” or “This is bad,” but to say instead things more appropriate to the time, energy, etc. that the piece took to write like: “this writing has a nice sort of galloping spirit to it,” without it having to be “good,” or a product. I admit,  X was hard. Xenophon, (a student of Socrates) wrote a famous treatise on horsemanship, and though using him was a bit of desperate stretch, it opened the poem up in a new direction that I could keep pursuing beyond the end of the alphabet if I so chose.





Elementary instruction, but

Far off in the misted glade

Geometric shapes resolve into

Horses carrying messengers.

In another life perhaps,

Joyously you awaited them.

Knowing you had just the right fragment

Learning first how to translate and

Maybe someday becoming the words themselves

No matter if you’ve forgotten alchemy

Or another lost art,

Perhaps still there on the edge

(Quiet) of remembering  or

Re-envisioning how it was or went

Somehow, even now, all is not lost.

There is still something there.

Understand you can still see or

Visit those places once outside now

Within and maybe a third space will open

Xenophon spoke of the unlikely

Yoking of instinct and sense and

The Chariot of Zeus (1879 illustration from St...

The Chariot of Zeus (1879 illustration from Stories from the Greek Tragedians by Alfred Church) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Zeus changed forms so to enlarge his own myth.

Day 185: 12/27/13: Marine Mammals & Noise Pollution

Humpback tail Fallarones

Humpback tail Fallarones (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration) willing be voting on new guidelines on permissible underwater sound levels.  Invasive military testing, oil drilling and other underwater shenanigans often mean illness, disorientation, strandings and death for dolphins, whales and other marine animals. Your voice matters.

Read more about the NOAA’s upcoming meeting and click here to get more detailed information and see how you can leave a comment.

Day 180 12/22/13: A Strange, Dark Winter

Today my friend Carolyn sent me Derrick Jensen’s essay “World Gone Mad.” I am a big fan of “Loaded Words,” his piece on writing and activism, and I also like that Jensen is so polarizing.For every reader who finds his work too strident or too nihilistic, another seems to feel relieved that someone is finally telling the truth about what is happening right in front of us—the wholesale destruction of the natural world. Jensen’s thesis in“World Gone Mad,” reminds me of the central idea of the documentary “The Corporation:”  if corporations are legal people, than as people, they fulfill the clinical definition of a psychopath.

As I walked home today, trees on St. George Street shed scarlet leaves. A cool breeze sent them skittering into the gutters. An October feeling, an autumn event, in the gathering darkness of a December afternoon. Then I remembered how hot October was this year, and perhaps the year before, although I confess time has always seemed more blurred in California where the seasons are mild.  Now that climate change has made the weather and time itself more scrambled, coherent patterns seem even more elusive. But I remember for the first ten or so years I spent in California, the winters brought torrential downpours.  Now rain is rare. The hot days stretch far into fall, and seasonably appropriate cold ones are often followed by afternoons of blazing heat and relentless sunshine whose cheeriness seems slightly eerie in the wake of what we know is happening to the earth. The weather is crazy everywhere this winter.

And as I passed the leaf-strewn gutters with their smokey-sweet, vaguely nostalgic smell, I remembered Jensen’s essay and how he questions the refusal (or inability?) of most people to mourn the death of a species or the decline of the oceans. What, I wondered, does that sort of mourning entail? If grieving the loss of a person involves the shattering and rearranging of the self, how might mourning the loss of a river, of lions, of snow, of wolves remake us as people?

This blog sometimes feels as erratic to me as the recent seasons. I write about sharks and ocean conservation and I write about mourning my father and the anticipatory grief I feel about losing my mother. I write about loss of place. The death of great artists. Maybe many of these threads are just variations on a theme—things that are going away. Which brings me back to Jensen’s essay. While it may not be brimming with holiday cheer, his piece, if not a seasonal wish for peace on earth, is a plea for sanity that will save earth (and ourselves) from destruction. Let me know what you think.

Seasons winter summer earth sun

Seasons winter summer earth sun (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Day 179: 12/21/13: The Great White Shark Song

Andy Brandy Casagrande IV is an Emmy-winning cinematographer and shark freak. You have to love a song with a lyric like: “Seven rows of teeth, Lorenzini in the front!”

For more on Andy, click here.
To learn about the Ampullae of Lorenzini click here.