Monday, February 26, 2018

Manifesto 3

OBU worries about the weather. Every five minutes her cell phones cry. It's either another nuclear alert (“this is real”) or a flash flood warning. Nuclear winter's got nothing on this constant rain, the coast road closed again, rain falling from the sky, the ceiling, waterfalls chubby and inebriate. It's like fast food, this rain;. Dear Leader would have two for a late dinner, and yes with lotsa fries. He says he'd run into a school building unarmed to save the children. He remembers that phrase, “save the children,” from an ad campaign, because he runs the best campaigns.

But digression's too easy in this campaign era. Go back to the rain, punctuated by feral roosters, and the easily churned mud on the lawns. Ask your students to notice the rain, she says, how much heavier it is now than when they were young. To remember the weather is like remembering a poetry reading, I fear, but we can remember intensity.

The road up the coast closes due to “ponding.” I hear more beeps from my phone. My dog, during a pause in the downpour, hunts for raindrops on the lanai. She digs at concrete to find them. The biologist said that were all the concrete on earth broken in a catastrophic event, the earth would be covered by a thick layer of dust. To be concrete about it, we cannot get out from under ourselves.

Tell them to go to the beach and notice the erosion. In the next 100 years, Waikiki will be under water. Let's organize flood tourism now! You can stay in a hotel (third floor or above) and get there in a dinghy. It's like Venice, except the towers are of glass and the old banyan at the marketplace is dead of drowning. Don't look back, it's all salt out there. No pillars of it, just fountains between ocean and cloud.

OBU wants to organize, but how do you organize with or against the ocean? How do you organize coral or shark or humpback? You can sit back and hope they're all just crisis actors, come up for air, locks dripping with salt, beards drenched in shards of plastic. You can pick up the plastic, but it keeps coming. There's a swath of it a mile long near Molokai. We won't worry about it unless it makes landfall, like an explorer. Perhaps we can eat it, like Captain Cook. What good that did.

That remnant heart still pounds. Pounds fist on podium, pounds propaganda, pounds fake ideas, pounds Brexit on the grand scale. Our infrastructure privatized, concrete runs like rabbits, but we must needs fill in our own potholes. In exchange for Medicare or food stamps, pound your feet on hot asphalt, but do keep moving lest you stick.

It's a problem of scale, they say. Of speeding up. A Daytona Speedway of destruction. Little cars zooming around little tracks, but so many we can't breathe the little air. This island is covered with junked cars. Someone's taken what's needed, like tires or stereo systems, and left the rest. Like geological landmarks. One across the road from the two monk seals who slept on the beach. Seal 2's nose nuzzled a beer bottle, while the other (seal 2's mother, I was told) rested her Lawrentian body beside a blue buoy. There was a cordon, like a net, and we stood in wonder to watch them breathe.

Who stands in wonder of us, our fear-mongering and our mass consumption? Do whales line up to watch us throw junk off our bridges (DO NOT THROW RUBBISH FROM THE BRIDGE I read yesterday)? Is there sublimity in our excess, or just reduction or redaction from the record of our constant use? To use, to be used, these are different verb forms.

OBU demands action, but cannot name it. She doesn't like styrofoam, but her lunch comes in it. She saves her plastic forks and knives. She travels less, or is it more? She evades the news, whether real or fake in the interest of greater or lesser activity. She sits on her cushion and counts through the clutter she otherwise creates. Sit at the head of the bus where the altar is and pray hard we make it around the next turn. It's not a sonnet, but we'd love to adorn it with one. Wrap its laminated paper tightly around your next plastic bottle and throw it in the ever-flooding stream. Cell phones are weeping again. That metaphor should be expunged, lest we drown in our tears. What sonnet do you wish to send into the flood? Send suggestions to #OBUsonnets before the next downpour. ASAP, in other words.

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