Saturday, September 14, 2013

Profit motive

St. Croix River view
© harrington
Hi. Thanks for stopping by. The picture shows the view looking downstream on the St. Croix River from the Visitor's Center at Wild River State Park. I think it's a magnificent vista. Others might prefer to think about the development possibilities. All those trees without rooftops showing through seems to make some folks nervous and others angry. That probably helps explain why there's going to be a brand spanking new and improved multi-lane bridge several miles downstream near Stillwater. The fact there there is currently a multi-lane Interstate highway bridge crossing the St. Croix about five miles downstream from Stillwater isn't good enough for lots of folks, especially some who like to rant about budget deficits and the cost of the Affordable Care Act. But, enough. My real point today is about connections. How connected do you feel to the St Croix River, or the Mississippi River, or your local stream? How connected are you to the land on which you live, the neighborhood in which you live, the city or township in which you live? Do you feel any connection to your home, or is it primarily an investment? Have you grown up near where you live or are you, like me, a transplant learning to adapt to new soil and climate? We Americans have always been a restless, moving on people. Perhaps we've reached a point in our history, and that of our country where we need to seriously consider what we lose as we migrate from hot spot to hot spot, always in pursuit of the elusive dollar. When chasing more and more, have we lost track of the blessings we already enjoy? Isn't that both a tragedy and an invitation to lose it all? If you read this blog at all regularly, you may have figured out that I'm not terribly religious, but I do lean toward spirituality. Writing this, however, I'm reminded of the question from Mark's gospel "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" I've never come up with a good answer to that question. Have you? Is the kind of world and the lives talked about by Sina Queyras in Acceptable Dissociations really what we want more of? Is that what you love about where you live?

Acceptable Dissociations

By Sina Queyras

Meanwhile the expressway’s hum, it roars into
Her, the expressway cargo and tree-lined, stretched
Radio towers, mowers its horns and hogs, its beef 
And bread vans, hour after hour, laptop, radar
Detectors from New Mexico, Idaho potatoes, HoHos
And Cheetos, all organic grain-fed, pieces of chicken, 
Pieces of cow, slices of pig, kernals of corn, diced carrot,
All packaged meals, she of drums, her mile after mile
Of interchange escape into itself rest stop, progress 
Is welcoming and bidding adieu, states drinking
Her progress, passing tolls, Motel 6 she hum as glass
And EconoLodge, passing itself traces of Ashland 
And Peoria, Willingboro, Paterson, every inch of it grafted,
Numbered, planted, barriered, mowed, guardrailed,
O my citizen consumers, for the time, infinite, 
Replaceable, scaling these walls of sound and motion,
Dipping in, expressing oneself, expressing oneself,
Expressing oneself.

Wonder warships at citizens in blue, the number
Lining the leaf, infinite expressways, and scaling
Blood, soil a Camden, shouting over water Sunday 
Steel passing the in and sky noise, another abandoned
By of one to mills, at steel, above bone, gazing (euphoria,
Nostalgia!) citizens, up leaf, citizens, wonder! Infinite warships 
Sunday and abandoned a shouting expressways, noise,
Across in blood, steel, lining passing bone, at gazing
Blue mills, scaling the water another number to in 
The above soil by of steel up one and sky at the
Over Camden, citizens, euphoria nostalgia!
All along the avenue spronging, tent-like, their attitudes 
Way ahead of them. My computer screen, waving. Where
Is your horse?
Is your horse? she said, and there was nothing I could say.
What I want is generally tidy. What I get often can’t dance. 
What wants a date who can’t dance?
Who wants a line without rhythm?
Who wants a line without thought?

Occasionally there is anger. Occasionally she takes her one good foot and applies it to surfaces otherwise flat and safe, the expressway progressing itself through her, expressly. 
(I live here because the country I once lived in is now a corporate washroom, where there were once gardens now oil refineries turn night into day and farmers into militiamen—you won’t even understand this, and your teeth gleam!) 
Once again the feeling comes, like a sprong in the groin, an abundance of feeling that is sharp, almost hostile in its need to overtake. Several women in pink felt it coming. They turned, their pierced ears like arrows in her thigh. 
Sprong, sarong. I ask you? 
Over the course of several weeks developers wiped out all the trees in a town in A to avoid having them designated as essential sites after a rare woodpecker was found to be nesting in the town. Woodpeckers are not essential. Trees are not essential. Trees are ornamental. Humanity is ornamental. Prophet is everything. 
This poem resembles urban sprawl. This poem resembles the freedom to charge a fee. The fee occurs in the gaps. It is an event. It is not without precedent. It is a moment in which you pay money. It is a tribute to freedom of choice. 
Reality is a parking lot in Qatar. Reality is an airstrip in Malawi. 
Meanwhile the expressway encloses, the expressway round and around the perimeters like wagon trains circling the bonfire, all of them, guns pointed, Busby Berkeley in the night sky.

Thanks for listening. Come again when you can. Rants, raves and reflections served here daily.