Friday, October 4, 2019

Solutions for the End of the World 7 (Entire Poem)

 This is the entire poem, 
Solutions for the End of the World,
including the seventh and last section. 

If you've been reading the poem this week,   
jump to the end to read the last section. 

Individual sections with commentary
(sometimes more cryptic than the poem -
but oh well) can be found below:

Section 1 can be found here.
Section 2 can be found here.
Section 3 can be found here.
Section 4 can be found here.
Section 5 can be found here.
Section 6 can be found here.

for the End of the World

Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.

James Baldwin

The certitude that there is no salvation is a form of salvation, in fact is salvation.
Starting from here, one might organize our own life as well as construct a philosophy of history: the insoluble as solution, as the only way out.

E.M. Cioran

1.     Introduction of Fear, The Appearance of Goya
& A Feathered Eel

      The sun, insoluble,

            rises over the eastern ridge. Shadow, mist;
                                                        everything indistinct,
     unknowable as the cracked-glass patterns
            of plutonium-soaked ooze through
                               salt cave-walls near Carlsbad,
                                                             as it falls, drop by drop,
    into deeper waters. I turn on the tap.           
                                                                   Particles drift,

            tiny last cries in the substrate, the dream-aquifer,
                            where final solutions float by…

            I splash my face, insoluble. 
  Since the 80s, the rate of ice loss has increased six-fold. Organs
                        in my body lift, anticipate the fall – terror
                                                                 in my heart, stomach, spleen,
            as they float up, while the body plummets.
                                                                                        I drift
    out the window: a warship; a cabbage moth; a
                     cluster bomb with its enticing colorful toys, drawing
                                                                            children in;
                  a yellowjacket spinning around a dead cicada.

     Indistinct forms merge;
                                      solute and solvent exchange souls.

                        Goya appears near the ceiling, insoluble.
                        He is his own uncomputable function.
                        And so he is wearing a pair of plastic batwings.
                        He smiles.
                        He says he could make a sketch of me,
                                                     sitting on the bed, head in hands,
foolishly trying to solve the equation of the earth and the human soul.
                        He will call it “The Joke.” Caprichos.

                        Organs float, bodies turn in the surf. Last year, 40%
of honey-bee colonies in the US died.
                                                            And I watch water disappear
            down the drain, unused, wasted,
                                into a realm of Precambrian fracture-rock,

                                                where a Feathered Eel swims, forever
       on the verge of devouring the world.

2.    The Appearance of Maria Prophetissa, 
The First Alchemist,
& Goya’s Rebuttal to This Poem

                                                                                                      Maria grinds
            cinnabar with vinegar in a copper mortar with a copper pestle,
                                                                                    produces living particles

                        of Mercury,
                                    quicksilver thoughts active within inert matter.
                        3rd century before Christ,
                                                before the library fire,
                                                before the last mammoth ghost disappeared,
                                                before the ocean’s shadow emerged from the ocean…

            She makes the solution:
                        Lunar Mantis mixed with Green Dragon mixed with Raven Eyes
                          mixed with Quicksilver,
                                                who moves between worlds, unites them
                                                 (by thought, by imagination, by stealth).

            The solution boils in a glass vessel over flame. She places
                                    salt in the fire, and the quicksilver turns, spins,

            She sees forms, ink-like clouds, merge,
                                 green through blue, the incandescent green of Mercury’s eyes
                        (witness to how everything is dead before it’s even appeared),

            consciousness and matter one…

                                                              The city of Chennai in Tamil Nadu runs dry.

               The shape in the solution spirals around the vessel’s edge:
                                                                        bone-grey of cremation, blood-tinged;
                        orange daylily sunset speckled with black drops;
                        flash of mushroom light, mycelium
                                                                                radiating out, beneath all thought;

            and an Eel, sprouting crystal lattice feathers, takes shape inside the vessel,
                                    begins its spin,
                                                     prophet and prophesy enfolded in one form,
                         on the edge of satisfying its hunger,                                                 

                        Europe heatwave: record high of 45C expected in France.

            Goya still flaps near the ceiling:
                                    “You want narrative? Something easily marketable?
                                 A pithy ending about what we can control and what we can’t,
                        that ties all images and emotions together? A reality show
                                                                                   of Omega eating Alpha’s tail?”

            An underworld flower erupts, yellow lava sifts down a red-black petal,
                        a house shakes into flame, grind of predator stone
                                                                                                against predator stone;
            velvet-black blind-eyes dusted with mica
                    watch the sky fall, glass shards in slow-motion.
                                                                                                     Tectonic plates
            beneath the Eel’s feathers shift, churn the newly dead
                                                                        back to life for a second, two seconds…

                        Wildfires ravage the Arctic…Entertainment value of the end,
                                    Goya again:

“I forgot to mock hope!
What is this hope we all demand from the end,
whenever we sneak a thought toward the future?
Do you think hope is the solution bubbling in the alchemist’s cellar;
green, blue, iridescent violet…
hope is the nuclear countdown clock that no longer works.”

3.    The Alchemist Tries to Understand What She Sees…
And Then Remembers…

Maria stares at the shadow in the vessel,
                                             sucks in a breath, startled. What is this?
     Catastrophically widespread die-offs of many creatures could be inevitable
                      if human activities continue to lead to more acid oceans…

                        Is this what it’s like to have a heart without
                                                                        a future, insoluble?

                        No future and so past erased, insoluble?

                        The wind, the sun, the rain, insoluble?
                                                                                                         Goya laughs:
        “Increasing temperature frequently improves the solubility of a solute.
                        A paradox. What did she expect?”

Maria Prophetissa, Daughter of Plato, wanders
                        out of the Alexandrian Gate of The Sun, down
                                    to the harbor, image of the Eel inside her eyes,

          Melting permafrost from global heating has made it easier for locals to
            retrieve the remains of woolly mammoths…and sell them on to China,
                              where the ivory is fashioned into jewelry…

She sees the Pharos lighthouse across the harbor.
                                                As a girl, she stood on this same strand, focused
            on the sea –
                        how the sea-breeze lifted the boiled sun off blown sand –
            and knew that something would eventually rise out of the green expanse
 because that expanse was too great for there not to be something as vast beneath –

                        the shadow of the sea –

                                                and she would rise to greet it, terrified… 

In the past year, an area the size of 500,000 soccer fields has been destroyed in the Amazon. Nearly half a billion trees torn down…

                        She knows the shadow of the sea is the sea;
                                            and that the sea’s shadow
             is the shadow of the sea in the eye staring into the face of the sea –

             fish among ruins, cycle of desire, anemones enfolding tiny darting
                          creatures into its body deep in the sea’s rubble.
                        The calls of fishermen merge with the call of gulls.

            (The gulls, the black-backed gulls…cursed with one drop of blood
                                                                                    on their beak –
                        first taste of life and so, first taste of death –
                   blood burned onto all their beaks by the sea’s shadow,
                                                                                       insoluble. Siren-red,
                        a red scream, mirrors the gull’s appetite, how they
                                     lift the shell into the clear blue, drop it against rocks,
                        offerings to the sea-shadow,
                           extensions of the shadow of the sea, insoluble.)

            Goya shakes his head:
                                    “This part of the poem is shit! An alchemist
                        who sees the great Eel devouring the world in the future?
                        A character who has the long view? Are you saying you
                                                   have the long view?”

                                                                                                She draws
            the sign of Mercury in the sand, envelops that sign
                                                with a circle that is the sign of the Feathered Eel, eating
                           its own tail,
                                                and waits for it to rise from the sea.

                                                More than 200 reindeer have
                        died of starvation on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard,
                             with scientists blaming their deaths on climate change.

                                                                         Goya laughs again:
             “This is absurd, magical thinking,
                                    invoking imaginary beasts to understand the true beast,
            the beast right in front of you…”

                                      Tomorrow’s world will not just be hungrier:
                        it will increasingly face undernutrition. More carbon dioxide
                                            means harvests with lower protein…

4.    In Which Goya Tells Me About Birds 
and I Tell Him About Seeing A Feather from The Eel 
Fall from The Sky

“I remember wings, so many wings,” Goya says.

Global heating to inflict more droughts on Africa as well as floods.

“When was the last time you saw and heard a massive flock?” He says.

 “A flock so vast
that when they turned in unison, the earth below responded?
So vast that branches rose to meet them.
So vast that grass spun up toward the sound, just to be close,
just to be loved by that sound…”

Ecosystems across Australia are collapsing under climate change.

I saw a black feather fall from the sky yesterday, I say.

“I was speaking about reality,” Goya says.

It was all black, with a touch of white at the stem, I say.

“Silence,” Goya says.

It spun, changed into a black tooth, a black knife, and landed
beyond the coyote fence.

“Silence, please,” he says.

I found it in chamisa branches…a feather fallen from the Eel,
passing overhead.

A new analysis warns that "global warming may have played a pivotal
role" in the recent rise of a multidrug-resistant fungal superbug.

5.     The Feathered Eel Gives Maria Prophetissa
The Idea for the First Alchemical Formula

                                    Maria the Prophet bends down,
                                                touches the flank of a fish, shriveled in sand.
                        She stares into the empty socket where the eye used to be.

                                    Less than 30 vaquita remain in the wild.

                                                Sand lice like stars spin inside the body,
                        between delicate rib bones, cradle of emptiness, the emptiness
                                                   from which everything comes –

                                                                                                the one.

                                    Less than 25 vaquita remain in the wild.

                                      She breaks off a rib bone, raises it, closes her eyes.
                        Bone against sun, stone against water, fishermen against gulls,
                             sea-shadow against sea, the furious conflict of opposites –
                                                                                           and so, two.

                                    Less than 20 vaquita remain in the wild.

                                    She sees the fishbone merge with the sun –
                          and the great Eel emerges out of the sea, shadow across sky.
                                    She watches it eat scour the city.
                                                                                    Egyptian, Greek, Roman,
                   filtered through savage teeth. The Eel eats the wounds, the scars,
                                                                                                   the dead, devouring
                         children and so the children’s children…

                                                                                    She sees. Accepts. Says:

                        It’s going to devour the world, it’s going to devour the wounds.
                          It’s going to devour the world, it’s going to devour the wounds.
                                         The world, the wounds; the wounds, the world…”

                         The Eel plunges back into the sea, dissolves into a gull cry.

                                                       “Silence,” Goya says.  

                                           And she knows the Eel is the three –
                         the union of opposites. And in this union,
                                                                                      four is achieved.

                        Less than 15 vaquita remain in the wild.

                                                                    “One become two,” she says,
               “and two becomes three…

                          and out of the third comes the one that is the fourth.”

                      Words spoken into the sun, into the mouth of a dead fish,
                         into the sky, into the furious eye of the Eel, maw open.
                                                          Her solution.

                                                 “Silence!” Goya shouts.

                                             Less than 10 vaquita remain.

6.    Silence, Begging for Silence, But…

            Maria has returned to earth.
            Goya flapped into the sky.

                                                            Wind batters the screens.

                       Tree-damaging pests pose ‘devastating’ threat to 40% of US forests.

                        I wake from a recurring nightmare, body flushed with fear:
                                                                                                            a wall of ice
                                    stretched hundreds or thousands of miles in both directions,
            on a vast plain of sand, coarse grass.

                                                I am supposed to meet someone out there…
            Insoluble. Outside:
                                    figures, vague shadows. Cassiopeia, close. Black
                              hollyhocks move towards me. Dark pinyons pull away.

                 As many as 30 to 50 percent of the planet's species may be extinct by 2050…

                        And the Eel whispers into my ear:

“There is a short-horned lizard, sharp-scaled, with inter-
connected shades of brown around a sleepy eye that opens
wide to take me in, to survey canyons below the White Rim,
absorb the Green River, while it clings to sandstone, red as
human blood dried for centuries in the sun…and the rise and
fall of its ribcage is the breath of the stone beside it, is the
breath of the tides in Baja, further south. This is your
descendent…This is your ancestor…”

                        And the Eel whispers into my ear:

“There is an old man on the verge of death, or on the
verge of crying for the first time since childhood, crouching
against the back wall of a restaurant, smoking, downtown
Des Moines; a wall that reminds him of his grandmother’s
hands against his back – how she touched him, prodded
him, protected him. Where is she now? Two deserts away,
many deaths away, a place where a darkling beetle crosses
and re-crosses an empty highway that may or may not lead
to Heaven. This is your descendent…This is your ancestor…” 

                        And the Eel whispers into my ear:

“There is a spider-legged columbine, yellow pistil inside
pale blue petals, that pulls the sphinx moth away from its
affair with the moon, tongue unfurling down the long spur.
They were once the same creature, split apart by the moon’s
pull. Now insect and flower return to their origin, inside each
other, for a second, tangled meat, building spires of cumulo-
nimbus cloud – mist on mist, ghost of water rolling onto the
ghost of water, climbing back towards the crescent moon –
symbiosis of illusion and reality. Pollen-tongue, wing-sepal,
moon-mouth, nectar-prey. This is your descendent…This is
your ancestor…”

                        And the Eel whispers into my ear:

“There is a white rhinoceros lying on its side, Ol Pejeta, Kenya,
last breath released, and there is a man who crouches next
to the rhino, witness to the last breath, heart-broken, his hand
on the ground, feeling what is there, feeling what is no longer
there. Sorrow moves in a slow circle around him, and the ghost
of his loneliness slips into the heart of a woman waiting for a bus
on Boulevard de Strasbourg, Toulouse, the morning of her first
day of work in five years. She stretches out on the pavement,
theater for passing cars, and the earth beneath opens, grateful,
takes her heart into its mouth. This is your descendent…This
is your ancestor…”

                        And the Eel whispers into my ear:

“A grey whale scrapes the ocean floor, ploughs through mud,
filters amphipods through baleen with a two-ton tongue, filters
the minds of seven children standing on the sand, Lincoln City,
Oregon. Silt clouds catch the light and the crystal lattice interprets
the sun – words from the first earth: silver from the rim of a click
beetle’s faux-eyes, copper from the hypnotic stare of a cat-faced
spider’s eyes as it wraps a grasshopper, taking its time – the love
embrace of predator and prey. The whale blows a cloud of mist
and the children reach into the sky. Drops land on waves, cupolas
driven into black water, the place where the water exhales an
osprey, two ospreys. A feather falls and the children rush forward,
toward the water, toward the feather. This is your descendent…
This is your ancestor…”

                        And the Eel whispers into my ear:

“A black-backed gull just landed near a boy who has just tossed
a beer bottle against a wall, Hamburg, Germany. His head is
drenched with cortisol: mornings are sinister, afternoons are
sinister, night is sinister. He sees things at the corner of his eye:
figures, trolls, headless mammoths, giant bumblebees from his
dead aunt’s garden, sonicating pollen off a flower, onto the bee’s
hair. Bee-noise shifts matter across space! He laughs, says to
the bird: ‘There is blood on your beak. Is it mine?’ This is your
descendent…This is your ancestor…”

                        And the Eel whispers into my ear:

“There are precise mountain shadows on the moon, cat paws
across dust, imprints of what’s been lost, what can’t be returned;
a child left behind in an abandoned train station, unable to move,
stuck there for fifty years wondering why, why won’t they come
back for me? And the wondering is the wind that moves through
the grass grown through the cracks in concrete. This is your
descendent…This is your ancestor…”

                        And the Eel whispers into my ear:

“There is a sound, the sound of the sun, how it mimics a chorus
of white-and-black striped bees, of wings that no one can see
for speed; of wind that flows liquid from a squadron of flying
squid, searching for the source of the sun. And there is a woman
in a basket boat, looking down into the sun on water, off the coast
near Lagi Village, Bin Thuan Province, who can hear the spin at
the center of the sun’s reflection, how it desires to hide in skin,
in pine needles, how it speaks through the antennae of long-horned
beetles hiding in the dark. This is your descendent…This is your

                        And the Eel whispers into my ear:

“There is a reddish-black hollyhock, an underworld flower, on
4th Street, Santa Fe, New Mexico, rooted between rabbit bone
and moon-dust; yellow pollen cascades down the petal, burns
like the center of Andromeda, burns the human heart almost
black, the heart that is a house perpetually on fire. As the black
gristle turns to ash, it drifts into the night sky, harvested by sand
wasps, who collect the particles to feed their young. This is your
descendent…This is your ancestor…”

                        And the Eel whispers into my ear:

“There is a girl standing in front of her sister’s house, staring into
the eyes of a devil’s flower praying mantis, outskirts of Dar Es
Salaam, Tanzania. She reaches out and the mantis displays: red,
blue, black, and purple patterns, trying to distract. She can feel
the insect taking her in, all of her. She hears the voice inside the
sound of passing cars, the voice beneath the talk through open
windows, the voice of wind against wind. How can she hear wind
against wind? She is suddenly strange to herself – and so discovers
herself for the first time. This is your descendent…This is your

                        And the Eel whispers into my ear:

“And there is a woman, painting in her studio on Chihuahua Street,
Mexico City. She ushers three Egyptian dog-sphinxes into the world,
the ones who guard a temple somewhere between here and a star she
named Syrious; the dog-sphinxes who keep vigil over a black-masked
dancer that dances something instead of nothing into the world. The
realm of earth and death rises through the artist’s legs, the realm of sky
and solitude descends through the crown of her skull, merge in her heart,
give birth to Andromeda – blue spiral, orange curves around darkness,
and white light, light that feeds a black hole, the dark-center that sets
all the galaxy’s stars into their spin. She puts brush to canvas, a cat in
her lap, a cat on a nearby chair. The ghost of a cat floats above her,
the ghost of a mammoth floats behind her, the ghost of a coelacanth
looks in the window, and the ghost of the first kingfisher feather falls
through the skylight – and she thinks: “Oh look, another strange form
has entered the world.” This is your descendent…this is your ancestor…”

                        And the Eel whispers into my ear:

“There are vicious glass-shard-inspired tentacles of a Portuguese
Man O’ War shredding the face, neck and shoulders of a boy
swimming in the Thai Gulf, South China Sea; tentacles that want to
be close, to find another/themselves in the void; tentacles that leave
him with a message of fire, of fire and skin, of salt and fire and skin,
of salt and fire and skin and the future. And he opens his half-blind
eyes on the stretcher as the nurse dabs his wounds, tells her the exact
moment when she will die because he now knows the exact moment
he will die. This is your descendent…this is your ancestor…”

                        And the Eel whispers into my ear:

“There is a woman wandering her childhood neighborhood in the
rain, Jacksonville, Florida, knocking on each door in succession,
leaving before anyone answers. Soaked clothes cling to her skin,
her nose runs, her head and hands shake from exposure. She feels  
eyes on her back, eyes from behind glass, in the dark. And there
are also the eyes of the raindrops reflecting the grey sky; and
there are also the eyes of the crows folded into a live oak tree
above her, slow-blinking the day into and out of existence. This
is your descendent…This is your ancestor…”

                        And the Eel whispers into my ear:

“There is a corpse-burner, breaking a skull with a bamboo stick,
scarf wrapped around his face head against pyre flames, Manikarnika
Ghat, Varanasi. No one will touch him, this death-tender, smoke-faced,
and so he has rejected touch. He knows the terrible poem the tourists
refuse to hear; grease, blood, smell of shit. And there is an Angler Fish,
ball organ dangling near its mouth, alight, drawing in the curious, all
the dreams that have sifted down to the bottom, transmitting the death
poem. And there is a bank teller in Santiago, Chile, who wakes to the
crack of the skull, smell of burning flesh. She touches her cheek, feels
the bone beneath, feels the trilobite fossil embedded in the bone. This
is your descendent…This is your ancestor…”

                        And the Eel whispers into my ear:

“There is a woman holding a juniper torch, resin-lit, scanning cave-
shadows, waiting for the words in the stone to speak; waiting for the
animals that speak to her constantly outside the cave to reveal them-
selves, to name themselves: a horse face, the back of a cave hyena,
a rhino lying on its side, all speaking through flickering shadows.
She smears black, red ochre, yellow ochre and white, one into another,
follows the curves, the seams, and so begins the world. Do you see?
Imagination is a solid rock wall – how the dream and the fingers and
the stone and the hyena’s eyes and the lizard heart are intertwined,
inseparable. Do you see? The vision is a voice, brought to life by
torch shadow, bound to the flame, bound to her. Do you see? Rock
as dream incarnate, beginning the world, ending the world. This is
your descendant…This is your ancestor…” 

7.    Maria’s Last Vision of the Feathered Eel

                         The Eel dives back into the sea

                                                                                    (the unforgiving sea)

                                deep into fracture rock

                                                                                    (the unforgiving rock)

                             through an underworld lake

                                                                                    (the unforgiving lake)

                    past the elusive skin of the sea’s shadow

                                                                                    (the unforgiving skin)
                             spins across a shadow sea

                                                                                    (the unforgiving wind)

             and becomes the shadow of the shadow of the sea

                                                                                    (the unforgiving sea)

                           There is no coming back from disappearing coastlines.
                                            She says: “Cleanser, destroyer.”

                                            She says: “Healer, destroyer.”

                                            She says: “Destroyer, destroyer.” 

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