Monday, April 18, 2011

Jen Coleman


Lingcod play the role of 15 million unemployed in this story.

Squirrel monkeys play the role of the carbon economy in this story.

Squid will play the role of the 46 million uninsured in this story.

Hungry lingcod sway in swells among pinnacles

in an earthquake by no other name than earthquake

off the fourth highest coast of unemployment.

Lingcod do not like dead bait.

Lingcod are the most curious fish by far

near the bottom of the battered economy.

The world takes notice of the lingcod feeling

jobless, the analysis, fish lurking

in the deep, making decisions.

Squirrel monkeys take notice of lingcod

with their “I’m still hungry” grins. Monkeys

see colors they weren’t born with.

Squirrel monkeys see, in a triumph of science,

the heart of hearts burning, the chimney filling

the belly of the mountain.

In megawatt valley, with a hard won share of credit

squirrel monkeys know about nervousness

from the squid and its giant axon.

That a monkey knows. It knows from squid

from a red devil squid stalking fish up the coast.

Say it’s warm, and squid swim

in the warm up the coast near the end of life.

Say the squid in the North are cold

and the end of their lives wash up.

Will a lingcod worry about a crippled

squirrel monkey worrying about

squid? The squirrel monkey

asks why its brain is telling it this and is telling it this

right now, this nerve, this educated nerve-ending

educated by a squid.

And the lingcod are all: “thank you squid

for showing science the mechanisms of compassion”

as hourly earnings rise a penny.

Weekly wages fall with outbursts and decorum.

Outbursts hoot-hooting in congress hoot-hooting

on the shore and hoot-hooting on the tennis court.

And the brain watches through the squid and that is how

the lingcod know the squirrel monkey watches,

and feeds itself a plum,

and feeds itself and watches and exclaims, and slides and claps

and watches the lingcod dart in a near-shore lair

dozens in 30 feet of water.

The squirrel monkey watches and knows

and if the monkey goes missing ask the axon

and it will or it will not tell.

And squirrel monkeys in another big show have coal at the heart

to burn, to see in red and green, a triumph

of science, in full color, as the lingcod refuse to let go.

A 50-pound lingcod bit and held on

to a 30-pound lingcod that bit and held a squirrel

monkey in its mouth,

even with the self-inflicted tailpipe affliction,

the tacos del mar affliction, the self inflicted

illness the lingcod holds.

Will the squirrel monkey seeing red bury the carbon

in the belly of the mountain and into the pores,

looking green and red

for curious lingcod to bite in the streets

and wash up on the cold beach on northern shores

where they’ve never seen squid before?

If it is not about race it is about rage it is not a race.

It is rage it is not a race to rage it is a rage

race. I do not mention

the president at all in this piece.

I saw only the squid chasing the warm waters north

to die on the shore and become picturesque.

This poem appeared in Capitalism, Nature, Socialism: Volume 21, Number 2, June 2010



Elective Affinities

Poets for Living Waters


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