Friday, April 30, 2010

A Frog Named Gretchen

If I had rubber frog named Gretchen and slept in a hollow log
With an owl, eagle, and three hawks
And a brown snake with a yellow braid down its back—
It would feel crowded.

I would take Gretchen to the stream 
And tell her not to be afraid as we step
Together over a bridge of rocks
Covered in green mud

Sticking to our socks and between our fingers
In our ears
Until we no longer hear the roar
Of the Maniac who tries to weed-whack us

With the sickle of his fingernail.
All the time we keep moving—
My heart is like melting wax, fear
Stretches marks inside my soft thigh. 

I know we have sprung to this moment unprotected
As stinging beetles scream a cupcake of obscenities.
Press Gretchen’s clammy mouth to my mouth
Until we are almost past the past.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Bill McKibben and 10/10/10: Show Fossil Fuels the Emergency Exit Now

Bill McKibben looks like an aging basketball player, tall and lanky, when in actuality he is a Methodist Sunday school teacher in Vermont who has spent a great deal of time according to his own account, “in a basement coloring.”  But looks don't tell the whole story.

Bill McKibben also is an educator, environmentalist and author of more than 10 books on climate change. He helped to organize the most widespread day of political activity on the planet when on October 24, 2009 according to CNN, 5,200 separate events were held in 181 countries including beneath the ocean at the Great Barrier Reef.

Speaking April 23 at the First Congregational Church in Berkeley to publicize his latest book, “eaarth,” McGibben wore a t-shirt with the numbers “350,” a commitment to limiting the amount of C02 in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million, which according to scientists is compatible with life on the planet.  The number currently hovers at 390.

McGibben built the climate change case from ground-up evidence and discussed how there is now 25 percent less ice in the world including the glaciers of Greenland and the Andes. Scientists are now panicked, he said, with “every visible system beyond the top of its boundaries. Last summer typhoons marched over Asia with 9 ½ feet of rain,” he said. With five percent more moisture in the atmosphere, there’s also more evaporation, and more drought.

“Even things that are too big to change are changing,” he said, “causing problems for organisms at the bottom of the food chain. Global warming and fossil fuel emissions are creating more acidic oceans. Some at the top of the food chain like cruise liners are being denied anchorage in places like the Maltese Islands, a country that is shifting its dollars from the tourist industry to moving the island's population before it floods due to global warming

Instead of continuing to build starter castles for entry-level monarchs and listening to people like Alan Greenspan, “the tiny tired wizard behind the curtain,” McKibben flatly said “our civilization stands at collapse.” While acknowledging the growth in the number of organic farms within the last 50 years, he also noted that assuming a six or seven degree temperature increase, many of those farms will not be successful. Nor will changing to energy efficient light bulbs impact the affect of global warming. 

McKibben counsels that our entire civilization needs to transition from fossil fuels and learn new habits for a new planet. “Gas, coal and oil is the single most profitable enterprise in the history of the world,” which is why the world looks the way it does, he said.

“The only moral response is to do everything we possibly can to change the odds and that requires our full participation,” which brings us back to the idea of  “350” a measurement that was proposed by James Hansen and his team at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City. Hansen was one of the earliest scientists to raise broad awareness of global warming.  Today he advocates a rising price on carbon emissions with fees collected to promote other energy sources, a proposal that doesn’t sound totally unlike levying taxes on cigarette smoking with money going toward prevention.

Earlier this year at the Copenhagen Climate Change Accord, 117 of the poorest and most vulnerable countries who directly understand the affects of global warming, agreed to reduce carbon emissions by 2020.  But the United States still has not planted its feet firmly on that terra firma.

McKibben and others involved in organizing a global 350 movement, want to continue turning down the fossil fuel heat. They announced that this coming October 10, (10/10/10) will mark a “global work party” toward reducing carbon emissions.  Go to to sign up or to create a work party in your local area.

Also keep your eyes peeled for discussion in the coming weeks about a bill that is being introduced as a “New U.S. Senate Climate, Jobs, and Energy Bill by Senators John Kerry, (D-Mass.) Joseph Lieberman (I-Connecticut), and Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) “It’s a giveaway gift to the industries that created the problem,” said McKibben. Find out more by reading the bill that will be published in coming weeks on Senator Kerry’s website.

Lenore Weiss

To the Engineer Who Left a Prototype of the New iPhone on a Bar Stool

Outside the plate glass at the beer garden where
girls jogged in pairs and younger guys
did sidewinders on skateboards,
you forgot an iPhone on a bar stool
and handed over the prototype on a platter of buffalo wings
with hot dipping sauce and too many mugs of beer.

All over the Internet, 
cheers about the number of pixels,
four times as many as the previous model
plus a second camera to use for video calling.
Leaf-blowers up and down the Valley whined on and on

about your birthday bash. Tough break, engineer.
If we lived in a country that had long-term memory
nothing could be lost or found, only shared.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

What I Cut Out From the Newspaper

4th century Lod mosaic the largest mosaic floor ever unearthed in Israel
recipe for beef brisket discount coupon for juju fruits
something about Gary Allan: No one peels back scabs like him, Get Off on the Pain and See if I Care The Akademie fur Alte Musik Berlin with violinist Midori Seiler the 4 Seasons HMC902061
“The Transmission” at by Ryan and Jen Ozawa also

Diamond mountains, dictionopolis, lake of dreams pipple popple, land of a million wishes, dundonald castle, nightmare abbey, elven halls of mirkwood, empty hats, other end of nowhere (see george kubler, the shape of time) gem of truth island, Balinese orchestra, graveyard of unwritten books, orphan’s island, image of paradise in the collective imagination, mountains of ignorance, mountains of spirit, the history of the world is marked by examples of how brutal we can be to each other, marco rios and kara tanaka in death’s boutique, promesse, research clay spohn (artists) grace mcgann morley (SFMA), then find a physical object that is shared virtual content

Growing Up

With the cuffs of her socks
edged in nylon lace
she sits on a lawn and watches trees—

apple trees that shed white blossoms
and sift to the ground
to become a bridge for pill bugs
that journey around a water hydrant
and beneath a rock
whose color changes
whenever she shifts her head—

the bus is taking a long time to arrive

she plucks dandelions
with teased crowns of white hair
that gather between her damp fingers like strings of a harp.

She knows how this works, but forgets to wish.

People are gathered in front of the bus stop.
It’s taking forever.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Report for the Day

how a mouse click

gags in the throat

with teeth on edge

until I float perpendicular

to who I am

Sunday, April 11, 2010

As I Watch the Rain

I know truth as I watch the rain
Asking hands to write a release
Papers drawn red in the sky
There for the hills and sun and moon
To shout out before my high noon
Papers drawn red in the sky
Asking hands to write a release
I know truth as I watch the rain

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Fool's Gold

Swirl of black cape
east of downtown Oakland
at the edge of Chinatown
in the cool of spring

evening and I'm listening for music
and hearing none, marry into another
family of events, community college students
who hand out gift cards to a younger set

in a basement catacomb
where elementary school kids sit in a darkened room
with their foreheads sheltered by hair
as they study musical notation.

No hip-hop music
at a student center
that is bucketed for closure
with chairs prisoners of a yellow tape.

The next day it's
morning at the Farmer's Market,
red swiss chard, asparagus,
spotted purple orchids.