PaleoPoems, the Sequel!
(Note: adult content warning for the third poem)
Red Head - Triassic Sea Cliff - Rossway, NS
(location of poem 'Rockhound')
Probable Pterosaur bone fragment (also Triassic) from Redondo formation, New Mexico (note traces of skin still attached)
Magnetic waters pull me along
this ocean road caked with summer
powder, past the empty pet pound.
Rossway Beach unrolls against low,
undulating cliffs, their carmine flesh
transplanted from old North Africa.
Amethyst crystals scatter their teeth
above the tideline. Agate webs arteries
through quartz; sand cracks its fingers.
I delve wounds under the tideline,
excise jasper from blood-coloured grit.
Then I slip with a sudden thud into the soft
underbelly of a pregnant grocery bag,
baler-twine-tied. A kittens’ womb,
its amniotic sides are slashed for mercy.
They curl into each other, rigid
and matted, while saline solution
embalms airless lungs and drained eyes.
I want to run but instead, excavate
for quick burial -- their polymer shroud
beneath the bony crunch of gravel.
One small paw protrudes, its claws
pink-padded and empty. No hope there.
Late sunshine casts a cairn shadow.
Down the shingle I hesitate, look back
but stay human, unturned to salt woman.
A soiled bubble protrudes from the grave.
Now I remember that newborn trashcan-boy,
last night's news, his twisted coral arms
looped in the garbage that drowned him.
He was memorialized by boxes and beer bottles.
Friendly Mart had dressed him with plastic;
his stiff hair stuck out like pinfeathers.
I scuff past the animal shelter, doors nailed shut.
It’s darker than a morgue, where coroners
open the ribs of boys with sea-star hands.
Detail of Crinoid Plate
(Mississippian - Burlington Formation, Missouri)
Gaia and the Comet
In the Beginning
Sky unzips. She shouts astonished
as star-jism sparkles toward her mouth,
hotter than pentecostal fires.
Comes quick foreplay, ion shudder:
pulse-thrust-pulse spurts the unborn
into her dark and secret trenches.
Taut skin expands with molten climax;
now she’s only a swollen globe,
captive beneath the throb of lust.
She tilts and pinwheels against night.
The vacant air contracts with goodbye,
while seminal tides drop salt on her tongue.
Amber with Insect Inclusions
I have followed sun tracks across the warm
ledges, to His bone cradle where a rainpool
unblankets him from the rock sepulcher.
Twists and ripples trace death in a muck puzzle.
His feet are open beside sacred ribs and spine
but the skin with its sparkles has blown away.
His gillprints branch like a feather’s fall
behind side-twisted jaws, and His triple toes
are nailed deep into the old red sandstone.
Such claws would rip open necks or breasts
of the split-legs without tails. Who then
could uncover our dark places and bucket us?
I coil beside Him for my worship, proud
that He did not flatten to accept the mudflow,
but fought until it closed His nostrils.
He has found a large fate, mine but a copy,
curled and soft among twigs. If a heron
hungers for me, I will not die like a god.
(This one is included in Cleansing, my 2005 poetry book).
Detail of crinoid calyx and stalk (Morocco).
Detail of crinoid calyx and stalk (Morocco).
They offer no disrespect to anybody,
protect the weak (though they are frail themselves)
and lack interest in marrow-bone or blood
that feeds the duller creatures. Gripping shelves
of subterranean rock, beside brain coral,
they swing in the kind water, small mouths raised
to sunlight -- much like flowers -- each animal
a bloom, each bloom a mother-arm. They sway
in concert, forest the white reefs; small fish
and yellow shrimp cavort above tide-blown
sea stars, sunken and pulsing on drowned cliffs.
Above them all, the true sky spreads unknown.
Did I once share an aster soul -- before
I trapped it in my ribs and crawled to shore?
Trace Fossil from Rossway (remnants of worm burrows, Triassic)
From his mottled stone,
he watches the light come.
It cloaks the shoulders
of his once-companion, forked
down the path to another
shape in the lost god days.
He sidewinds over his
granite shelf, scrawls a tail
trail across the dirt, himself
thin as rope. He follows
the holy toes and heels,
but shakes in their shade
- a most suitable fate.
He knows no glory will shine
for him, nor blood bathe
his bones in the warm
that lasts even into night.
He understands how short
are his legs, how small
his unlidded eye, how dry
the grit and pebbles,
the unforgiving dust
when it blows on his back.
He must track west to water
- a broken thing, his whole
race quicker than the time
it takes to grow a man.
He has no further climb;
this desert is his height.
He turns to stare, while there
in the gold his enemy stands
- with fire on the forehead,
murder in the loins, no mercy
for such poor crawlers as he.
The lake glimmers like new
coins as his many-many-times-
son takes him by the neck
and laughs, then feeds him
as tribute to the bright waves.
I often wonder how our earliest ancestors - those unimaginably distant amphibians that lacked warm blood and struggled against both gravity and dry land - would view us now, if they had the intellect and opportunity.
Rhyncosaurides Brunswickii Footprint, Late Triassic, Gettysburg Formation (Maryland).
Our bed divides
two spines ! fault line
my right hemisphere
and your left.
We open raw clay redness
across snowy sheets
as glaciers erode
the rifts we can't protect.
Ice coats my shoulder
on this rocky overhang.
We lap against each other
like mountain ^^^^^ folds.
enduring granite above
softer shale below.
Fossil emotions imprint
traces of struggle
I quiver at your
and creep closer
to the tectonic
Tetrapod tracks from Keota Formation Oklahoma - probably Notalacerta, Pennsylvanian Age