Diseases of the Earth.
for Gary Beck
At the end of the block they are building a high rise, across the
street another and another still until the street becomes an urban
canyon, mountains of brick rising taller than the spindly trees clinging
The rule of the day is excavate before the future comes in with no where
to go but up, until we look around and see our own reflections
slumbering under the seldom trees of old growth forests, diseased and
falling without a sound.
Meanwhile they rebuild the cities from the ground up and call it
vertical living. The rule tears up roads even as we travel on them,
developers in a rush to call these peculiar towers: villages.
Some afternoons I watch my neighbor walk her dog long enough to take my
mind off the red wound of earth where one wall for a new school leans
into the wind as if seeking a better route toward heaven.
The playground is pocked where back hoes have plundered trees left roots
exposed until the earth cries out in the old language of despair. Soon
there will be a museum of trees a thin line of scraggly aspens or elms
surrounded by fencing, a sign reading: New Growth Do Not Cut Until
... the number smudged by graffiti.
Look: the neighbor's dog has cocked its ear as if to catch every
word. It sniffs the ground where daffodils and lilacs have been dug, it
moves up and down the curb as if asking for complaints as if each time
it marks the spot in urine a record has been taken and someone somewhere
is making a case against all the diseases of the earth.
We can not move fast enough and we've gone too far to come back,
immune systems failing like stars gone nova like fish begging for air.
All around us construction sites bloom like bizarre plant life spread by
Soon we will see nothing of the old land and its golden promise. Soon we
will see only steel and plastic bordering what was once a lake pristine
in morning air. Now we awaken to recorded sales talk telling us how
wrong we have been not to buy the latest remedy ready to boost us to
near immortal status.
What will become of us once our eyes are open? Where will the stars be
if the city fills the sky? In Mall, the Dogon have charted the heavens
for centuries Elders saying we were meant to travel the stars past the
point where earth leaves us wanting more.
There is little else to listen to in the desert except the song of sand
and stars. Night falls suddenly like a lid clapped shut on a jar. There
are no smudged lines no wire and steel to destroy the rim of earth
falling away from us.
The hands and knees we come stumbling in on are clumsy, human. The bags
we carry under our ribs are poisoned in techno air. It was not meant to
be like this-- without gods, without the golden glare that should blind
The Dogon saw the dog star more than a millennia ago from the cliffs of
Bandiagara when Nommo pointed the way past distant planets. The dog star
they say and I imagine a shadow in the image of the neighbor's
dog, ears erect listening to the cycle of stars.
We are meant for the calendars of Sirius, not here where the economy of
corporations eats away the earth. We were meant to stand among the gods
more fish-like than human.
What will become of us if our eyes are not opened? We can't find a
way out. Each day we stand rooted to the same cycles, the same abuses,
the same weather.
Listen: that grinding sound you hear is the last tree falling as back
hoes gouge down to rock for yet another high rise. Every where you look
there is a new way to lay claim to life we've never owned. At night
I hear the neighbor's dog barking into the silence of what was once
a sky full of stars.
We have lost our way and refuse to look back, We think we can get out,
can move into space and travel the zodiac at zero weight forever.
Already there are schedules long waiting lists brochures announcing the
firmament ours for the taking if our purse is fat enough.
Look up: out there, we could soar beyond the Pleiades We could hoard in
a great cedar box all the diseases of the earth, and move into a new
dispensation riding on a milk run through a forgiving galaxy. We could
take the pox to the stars.