XII. Poem No One Asked For
The poem leaves the room hungry
And commends to your care
These following facts:
The Pan-Arctic Ice-Ocean
Modelling and Assimilation System
(PIOMAS) data for 20 Sept. 2019
Shows an average ice thickness
In the Central Arctic Basin (CAB)
Of 1.2 meters, thinnest in the record.
The ice itself is in terrible shape:
The peripheral seas have melted out
And the remaining ice in the core,
Shattered early in the season by heat,
Both atmospheric and in terms
Of spiked Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs)
Was first broken to rubble and dispersed
By a series late-season cyclones
Fueled by incursions of tropical heat
Before winds off the East Siberian Sea
(ESS) and Canadian Archipelago Area (CAA) later
Forced it back together into a single mass,
So that as it floats there now in the warmly cold dark
It’s a jagged, compacted mess.
No significant multi-year ice (MYI) remains.
Observed melt is decades ahead of projections.
This morning early, 22 Sept. 2019,
In Cayucos, on California’s
Central Coast, the buoy’s bell
Rolls in the surge,
Rolls me half-awake
And sleep-dazed onto the beach
For the dog’s morning shit.
Her shit’s not in the worst shape,
Though it is somewhat loose on one end,
Likely an effect of having been fed fries
From the table yesterday at Duckie’s Chowder House (Duckie’s)
So as to distract her from growling at others’ passing dogs.
She’s a mix of widely-feared breeds
And it’s tough to get around people’s preconceptions.
When we had a Golden, people were like whatever.
The crisp onshore mostly dissipates
The scent as I use a plastic baggy to pick it up.
It has a decent heft and through the baggy
Feels precisely like warm sand-coated shit in a baggy.
The early light on the early water
Blues the beach, which is empty
And windswept. When Phil
Used to say that a poet
Could only use the word
Beautiful twice in a career
It was because beauty
Was at that point still something
A reasonable human being
Might place some faith in.
One is not meant to take the name in vain.
But all the saviors keep turning up
Victim. Everything feels
Like such a personal tragedy.
PIOMAS updates twice a month.
The dog shits twice a day.
Everyone wonders what’s coming.
The goddess of history (Κλειω) lies concussed
At the waterline. Amidst the great heap
Of concussed goddesses,
She’s a little hard to pick out,
But she’s in there, all of them
Overtaken in the surge.
Supposedly, some of them
Were quite pretty, though certainly
This seems like the wrong place to mention it.
Many things can still be expected of the future,
But salvation of either Κλειω
Or any of the others isn’t among them.
The CAA, the ESS, and the Kara lie bare.
The Laptev bite advances poleward,
Devouring everything solid in its path.
The poem doesn’t want
Anyone to feel anything. It is hungry
And has no interest in what anyone
Might have to say.
What’s left for this appetite
Is what comes after all that
And will not be referred to again.
Jeffrey Schultz’s artist statement:
Title of series: Fifteen Variations on Themes from Levis.
In a series of fifteen brief variations, Schultz will meditate on a number of themes–some of them poorly recalled from memory, some of them badly obscured or poorly understood–from Levis’s work.