from the skin

I enter the belly
of the cross-town train
        across from me
a young soldier
is gazing at Portland
        grim and gray
I look to see
what he is seeing
and what I see
is the crumbling
        of modernity
clinging desperately
to the old city inside
which is trying
to shed its itching skin

I’m suddenly aware
that under the plaster
lies something
closer to the truth
        old streams
that still travel their ancient course
breaking down bones
of wooley mammoths
killed by the last chthonic belch
this old tooth of a city
        I see
                no fossil
but some living carnivore
long thought extinct
like the methane beast
that waits in the bogs
beneath the Siberian permafrost
ready to devour
these latest upstarts
to challenge its dominion

in the newspaper
I read that the river
has swallowed a farmers field
        the storm
has swallowed a city
monsters have emerged
from the skin
of old and brittle men
who sacrifice to the dragon
this tender young flesh
which so willingly goes
into the gullet
to the flashing teeth

© 2005, duane poncy

the next ice age — an excerpt

The transit, the chain, the compass. Those were the instruments of the land surveyor, before geo-positioning and such electronic wizardry. My Cherokee ancestors had a word for compass, duyuda kahonvsgi. It meant “land stealer.” That’s what land ownership is really. It is about taking something that belongs to everyone, and saying, “This is mine. I paid for it. It’s been measured. I got a piece of paper and I own it son-of-a-bitch, so keep your filthy mocassins off of it!”

But who did they pay for it? God?

In my part of the country, we have these so-called Property Rights people. They think they’re blessed with the absolute God-given right to real estate. They purchase some hot piece of property, looking to make a killing, and when the zoning doesn’t go their way, they expect the rest of us to pony-up. Loss of Potential Income. Pain and Suffering. Boo-hoo.

I got news for you, pal. You’ve got no right. You have a piece of bleached dead tree, marked with invisible ink. The people have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. They have a right to protect Mother Earth. They have a right to a place to sleep, piss and eat the fruit of their labor. You have the right to take your thieving piece of paper and stick it where the sun don’t shine.

When the next Ice Age comes, and the snow starts piling up for 100,000 years, your borders and boundaries and property lines won’t mean a damned thing. Your surveyors stakes will be buried beneath a mile of ice. A fool might invent some electronic gadget to attach to the bedrock, which will withstand gazillions of pounds of pressure. But so what? You think the Queen of the Polar Bears is gonna recognize your so-called Property Rights?

Another Ice Age is a lot closer than most of us realize. The Gulf Stream spills over from the South Pacific, into the salty Atlantic Ocean to keep Europe and North America toasty. When Ma Earth gets hot enough from your global warming, and the polar ice begins to thaw —which it already has, by the way— the change in salinity will shut off the Gulf Stream like a switch. Click. An Ice Age.

Another theory I have is that the Ice Age has already started. The coldness emanates from the hearts of callous human beings. The Cherokee word for cold is the same word we use for Republican. No lie!

by duane poncy