Invited by the Colorado Poets Center folks (if you publish poetry, register yourself here http://coloradopoetscenter.org and meet the welcoming Beth Franklin among many others) to join other poets presenting poems involving bees at Art Bar and Gallery, I thought about many bee cliches as in the 18th century poem “How Doth the Busy Little Bee” (Wyatt) and chose to resist those tropes. Ever noticed how we think all members of a species look alike until we finally pay attention? Ever notice how we sometimes project our own values onto non-humans (in that case, untiring industriousness)? One result of that projection is the current practice of forcing the labor of bee colonies. This isn’t a great poem, but a poem for the occasion. coloradopoetscenter.org
Against Wyatt’s How doth the little busy Bee 1715
We have seen in the bee ourselves unresting,
our busy buzzing with business. We proclaim
hurrah workers! what helpers! what devoted underlings
to the Queen! And: poor drones, so strictly directed.
If we have a day of rest we watch you unresting,
clones, droids, tools. Stop. See now your trade in sweet beauty,
your stripey variations from wobbly to wide,
from black to brown and golden, or green;
how each wing’s gossamer net spreads, arresting in
your singular beauty, and how each of you is beautiful
in humming, beautiful in interpetive dances,
beautiful with your semaphores of fluorescence,
each bee sky writing beautiful important arresting
poetry while your hive watches with their blazing dark eyes.
Thought you all might like a break from Chained Dog Dreams. These are our cats Natty Bumpo and Little Bear. They engage in synchronized dreaming. I wonder if they are both dreaming of sunshine. You can order Chained Dog Dreams now from me directly (leave a comment) for cover price of $19.95; I’ll pay shipping and will sign your copy if you’d like. It is also available as a special order from bookstores (through Ingram), at the Denver Book Bar, Narrow Gauge Book Cooperative, libraries, and through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I have a few accidently wine soaked ones for free.
The condition of my skin determines the condition of my health.
When my colony and I perceived the margin of our pond
drawing an ever-smaller circle on its clay beach
we decided to crawl out to seek bigger waters
and failing that, have a worthy adventure before desiccation.
It is in my nature to hang stilly in warm still shallows of a
to meditate on the nature and meaning of immortality,
to brush shoulders with other newts,
to draw in insects and algae with a slight slow
opening and shutting of my mouth,
to sift oxygen from water with the slowest fanning
of my external lungs.
Instead, I stepped out, tiptoed for many days and nights
across wire sharp sand and ticking grass
trying to keep my tender belly clear. My palms calloused.
I sheltered from sun beneath the shadows of stones,
singing whenever I could a song for rain.
I thus arrived at your door to ask for a dish of water
before tip-toing on across your asphalt drive.
I remember helping to lead an equity retreat in Taos NM some late Augusts ago. After a session, I swept up a number of these small dry bodies from the corners of our meeting room. I learned from Galen that newts often have to travel when their vernal ponds dry up. When I found some living newts in the kitchen, I sketched the small dark creatures and journaled about them and this poem developed. It was a sad time. I did return them to their nearby pond, an intervention I’m not sure was a good one. The moment foresaw global warming and today’s reports on the deaths of salmon. The grammar of animacy (see Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass) in poetry–and in many children’s books–comes naturally when we empathetically don the persona of others unlike us. If in Potawatomi even the wind is alive, it also was in the language of Christina Rossetti who wrote “Who Has Seen the Wind,” in which the trees bow down their heads when she passes. We might dismiss this as personification, but in English, it is how we do adopt languages of animacy.
Is it an accident or brilliantly witty that the rooftop at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver that is showing an exhibit of Drop City Founder Carl Richert’s geometric mystical paintings taking off from Buckminster Fuller designs has these plants outdoors? Thinking of starting a family based blog about synchronous events and twinning etc. open to all to contribute. Yes?