Monday, March 19, 2007

The New Collosus - 2007

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.
~ Emma Lazarus

Give me your hungry, your tired your poor I'll piss on em
Thats what the statue of bigotry says
Your poor huddled masses, lets club em to death
And get it over with and just dump em on the boulevard
~ Lou Reed, from "Dirty Boulevard"

Oh Land of plenty and home of the free
that gave birth to pilgrims and innovators,
opening horizons to children of the blessed, like me:

Where is your mercy, your compassionate acceptance
of those huddled masses and homeless
now echoing with hushed tones of grievance?

The veneer is fading from the face of our fathers
as the rich get richer and the poor get their
tongues ripped out in the wave of profiteers and new fuhrers -

which the "greatest" generation fought to eliminate.
Where is the compassion which opened the arms of
the new colossus whose lamp no longer illuminates?

Hunger and illness litter streets once paved with gold
empty eyes and hearts filled with despair and longing
for a land of milk and honey which made them emboldened

to cross rivers and oceans, risk death and separation
only to land on cold shores with little opportunity
outside what was left behind and abandoned.

Raise your lamp high, perhaps the light will blind
those coming to these shores to look for a living wage
and conditions better than substandard , or red-lined

by industry and cheap labor. In fields and in factories
they toil for their family's well-being
picking lettuce and grapes and strawberries

thin, polished women in large SUVs shop at upscale
markets in communities manicured by the sweat
of their brows. For minimum wage they daily travail

while at night suburbanites sleep in sheets of percale
believing they've brokered the best price for labor.
Elected officials seek to assail

the tenuous hold on life immigrants have,
talk of walls and guards and jail
for those who believed what lady liberty promised as salve

for the dispossessed. This nation, sweet land of liberty,
now bought with the currency of the elite,
no room in the melting pot for a new decree.

Part 2
The children of our nation now outfitted for war
by lying politicians and corporations anxious
for stock holder accountability, greed, to the core;

of values once held in highest esteem
parlayed like collateral in a new economy
that buries all thought of the American dream.

Alone on a proscenium stage of inspection
by past allies, and those forced into
subjugation, now at war with the bedouin,

replacing one monster with another, civil
war and death to economies in the name of
oil and sweet inside contracts, wearing the laurel

wreath of failure. Young people promised higher
education in exchange for their homage to flag
and memory. In sand and death they become mired

in your new democracy ideals and citizens believe
what is expeditious today, false security and
homeland pork spending in the name of what can be achieved

in that land of sand and sun and sunni / Shiite self hatred.
Blood and red hand prints of women and children
printed on walls, like graffiti left from hennaed

sorrows. While in Cuba, subterfuge and torture
seeks to pull secrets from prisoners like thorns from feet
while denial of human rights float free of the zephyr

of news. Hide the coffins of the dead
returning home; cover them with flags that will not
wave in a vacuum of dissent and dread.

What cost our democracy to the world?
To citizens lost because of vendetta
ultimately, what flag will show unfurled

in this new world order?
In the new democracy?
In the darkness now descended upon us?


"My country 'tis of thee
sweet land of liberty
of thee I sing;
Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrims' pride,
From every mountainside
Let freedom ring!"
~ Samuel Smith

Lasting Impressions

Before sunrise, with walking stick in hand, I begin to hike the trail leading to the pond's bridge. Brushing large, be-dewed spider webs from the path, I lighten my footsteps so as not to frighten the sandhill cranes into flight. The morning air smells 'peat-y': I notice a new path cutting across the trail and into the bog. Long, pale hairs stick to brush stands waterside. Somewhere, a white tail deer is splashing across the flowage.
Approaching the bridge I slow my steps knowing there are two crane 'colts' somewhere in the tall grass. As the sun vigorously comes up, it lights the young, tight headed cat-tails decorated with still sleeping dragonflies. Sleeping there, the dragonflies' emerald eyes do not close but glint with an green iridescence in the sun.

I take a seat on a large rock on the west side of the bridge, the silence is tangible. Splashing on my left in the deeper part of the pond are pickerel; they are heading to the lake; their journey is a slow one across shallow creeks which disappear into dark stands of cedar. Somewhere on a farm over a mile away, a rooster voices indignation.

The Door County peninsula is a rock outcrop of granite and limestone insulated between the shores of Lake Michigan and the bay of Green Bay. At it's very tip, it says hello to lake Superior; this is where it gets it's name: Death's Door - watery graveyard for many ships.
A decade or so ago, some enterprising group of naturalists began an experiment to determine how water is exchanged from Green Bay to Lake Michigan. Dyes were dropped into the waters of Green Bay as it enters the limestone cliffs on the west side of the peninsula. Some time later, as it washes through the porous rock of the peninsula, the dyed water exits on the Lake Michigan side. This is a special place of deer, martin, badger, bear, coyote, fox, raptor, crane ....

A child growing up on the peninsula might feel confined by it's isolation and neglected by fast paced advancement that happens elsewhere. An adult introduced to Door County will likely fall in love with it's beauty and freshness. In 1990 I married into a family which held 80 acres in the center of the peninsula. The tracts of land included field, forest, flowage, seasonal pond, bog and a wonderful sand hill - home to the namesake cranes who returned yearly to nest and raise their young.

Crane 'colts' are whimsical creatures of hill and swamp. Omnivorous, they consume anything that is not too big. Frogs, other bird eggs, salamanders, bugs... dragonflies. Hines emerald dragonflies, whose flashing green eyes capture my attention this morning.

Returning to my walk, I come to an area that is densely treed with cedar and white pine; the ground is dry and covered in pine needles, cedar rosettes and dwarf lake iris. There is a hollow sound to the path here; proof of the presence of that limestone sponge beneath. Tiny toads live here too; I am careful not to step on them as they lazily leap out of my way and into an open area where the ground is covered with tiny wild strawberry.

As I exit the pine and cedar forest, the cranes see me. In unison they begin to call - to trumpet in voices loud enough to wake those who chose to sleep in back at the farmhouse. One crane takes to the sky and is suddenly above me, scolding me for the interference. The other crane leaps into the air over and over, while moving southward towards the swamp. It wants my attention; the colts must be close by.
I see the colts everyday from the farmyard with my binoculars. I have no desire to disturb them or the nest area. I head back on the trail and towards the pond.

In the six years of walking the trails of the property, I have seen more wildlife than I ever had before in my 40 years. I have heard warblers sing and pileated woodpeckers try to dismantle cedar homes on the cliffs over looking the bay. I have watched as the cranes stage migration on farm fields they share with dairy cows as they come out of the mist on a chilly autumn morning. Now, those paths are closed to me. Instead of a private family sanctuary, they are home only to the Hines, to the cranes and the pickerel. And they will stay that way as they are now protected by TNC. The timeless quality which gave my heart such joy now belongs to the future of the creatures that live there and the trees which sweeten the air and the birds which serenade the sky.


Apparently I have not blogged here in some time. That's what happens when you get greedy and have accounts at way too many communities.
Well I have been prolific lately. Too prove it, I am posting two new pieces, one poem and one essay.
Life is good.