Author of the Month

Atlantis and Egypt (cont.)
Two Poem Cycles by Linda Pearce

The Atlantis Poems (cont.)
By Linda Pearce


They say now that we are really separate,
that all our thoughts must be our own,
that the mystical union of God with “I” is just illusion,
a trick of the light. I remember as a child
I thought we all were really One,
but was later taught to know myself alone.
On an observation platform high above the earth,
three Entities sit assessing our fate.
They watch us here amassing all this wealth,
rejecting unity, embracing the material politics
of our household goods. The entities are shy,
and do not easily express their individual dismay.
They speak in tones. They lift their graceful hands,
whose fluid motions in the air project their thoughts.
What the entities are saying can be thus expressed:
“It was our task to guide you well.
It is our pain that we have failed.
It is your fate that earth must bear the burden for us all.
We see the paths of men must be erased.”
Well, I for one cannot believe that this will happen.
Our scientists know better than that.
They, who create whole animals from cells,
who with genetic manipulation can bend the brightest flower
to become a scent, a lemon-lie in the sun,
who master the atom, who transplant brains and lives -
they, our scientists, will rescue us from this.
I refuse to worry about it. I must go and have
my skin smoothed; I haven’t had it done for weeks.
In the air the molecules of shame are beginning to cluster,
silently, targeting the oxygen of life, absorbing and expanding
to incorporate the atmospheric guilt that girds the globe.
It’s highly combustible, and just underneath are
the thousand sparks of ego living in each soul.
The observation platform is deserted.
The first stars appear low on the horizon,
shimmering oddly in the strange changed air.

We scientists have now become amateur magicians
practicing the desperate alchemy of our times.
With open hands we lay the results of our work
on the altar, and watch the blood run down.
Creatures too obscene to imagine
breathe a few gasps and blessedly expire.
Foods that glow are the outcome
of our atomic resurrection of the earth.
Our bodies sicken, only slightly behind our poisoned minds.
We had the world in our hands. We had all powers.
We said Be and It Was So. And we were proud:
all collapsing indications in the forcefield
were wilfully and carefully ignored.
The high but unstable vibration we achieved
opened the tidal door to the oceanic deeps.
We played the games that kill,
forfeiting the atmosphere on a roll of the dice.
The stars glitter over the blasted plain
like a diamond necklace on a corpse.
Attempting resuscitation, we rush to our labs
where the magic apparatus makes its home.
Feverishly we invent our preparatory prophylactics.
As best we can, we retrofit the technology to our times,
but we have lost the amulet that was the key.
It has been twelve years since the obelisk
has risen from the shore, and the crystal skull
that controlled the power generator has disappeared.
Some say s t o l e n.
Stolen is a word that is new to us,
but there are many new words coined every week:
crime, war, theft, mutations, profit motive,
assault, conspiracy, fear fear fear -
a whole new dictionary of disaster is in the press.
And each new word reflects in all its despair
the loss of our sense of the sacred,
the sense which underpinned our world
for so many centuries.
There is of course a magnanimous profusion of advice.
One can now get a computer-generated astrodynamic starchart,
full of probabilities and educated guesses.
With our new paranoid magic, with daily incantations,
we still invoke the emblems of the past,
remembering the glyphs that once were full of meaning
but seem now like pictures in a child’s coloring book.
The magus in his heart is all alone,
attempting a feverish reconciliation of the symbols,
forestalling the sulphurous future with his spells.

Those who have had in recent times most power
are now most vulnerable to the great decay,
the newly lowered standard of dying.
Long years of creating cold wars and hot wars
have produced in them a sort of feverish chill,
the kind that brings on visions of apocalypse,
and disjointed utterances of doom.
Everywhere they look they see
the pitiful plague of the underfed,
and know that there is no posy which can
prevent their joining in those awful ranks.
It’s surprising how many have found
the waiting just too hard to take.
In a heart-broken slip-slide
they are lurching one by one
off the icy narrow ledge
that best describes these times.
No one knows why some take the solitary leap
that all of us will take together soon enough.
It must be some response to fear that’s private,
and intensified by living in castles in the sky.
Going up the royal walk, we make our way
through the rusted gates.
Where once there were fountains,
there is only a remnant of tile
that’s too crazed to be true.
And just there, under the crumbling balcony,
the courtyard is marked with the outline in chalk
of the King of the Palace of Fears.

They’ve begun to put stone gargoyles
in the corners of the square
to ward off the evil that we fear.
The streets are filled with predictions of doom,
and a dark halfpenny silence often fills the air.
Now in the city, even during the greatest celebrations,
there is an existential sadness at the core,
as though our sweetest hopes lay weeping in the dark.
The men have taken up the testosterone challenge of the day.
Convinced they know it all,
they send their gargoyles to storm the battlements of the future,
but to me the gargoyles are just dead stone,
like the trilobite remnants of our past.
This sounds so fanciful. Of course they’re only stone,
and meant of course just to symbolize the obstacles of nature
that our society (and our science) has overcome.
How nature became quite so recalcitrant I’m not sure,
but calcification seems to be the order of the day.

I could make a skeleton complete
from the articulated bones of my despair.
Perhaps my bitterness is premature; there isn’t much to see.
Things are much as before, really. It just that I can’t help noticing
the fracture lines in lives that used to be so whole. For instance:
Our doctors have redefined the body.
Where once the health of mind was reflected
in the body full of life,
where doctors tuned and toned,
gave soft advice and herbs to clear the skin,
they speak too often now of the disease-ridden enemy of the cell.
They cut and burn, in some bewildered attempt
to exorcize what can’t be understood.
Our leaders have become politicians.
Abandoning the old ideal of service
they have substituted power and design,
and in the powerful profusion of the marketplace
they have become the merchants of greed,
spinning their vortextual lies to the unwary.
They now would have us vote,
and by some psychomanipulation of the brain
would influence our very thoughts.
Quiet reason and intuition are drowned out
in the dark resonance of the loudspeaker,
that medium for the apoplectic regurgitation of the party line.
We seem now to need a kind of prophylactic protection
against the elements. The world that used to be so sweet
is full of torment; where once it gave us gold
there is now a low rumbling in the mother lode.
There can be felt some perturbation in the hologram.
The fiery prognostications of the prophets
speak of earthquake and hurricane,
and the tsunamic response of the irritated sea.
We have forced the nitrogen termination of the soil,
and the withered remnants of the harvest
are reluctant to provide us with our bread.
The earth suffers our presence as a mare her mounting.
Seers sit distressed beside the sea
in search of an alternate reality,
sweeping all their visions out of sight,
prognosticating with the inner eye,
while still attempting sadly
to deny what they already know.
I hear their voices in the waves:
“You think the world will speak
when upside down
the oceans spill their sperm?
You think the clouds will spell
the words of doom
in shapeless sentences of mist?
The voice that tells that time
is not of earth,
and those who’ll cower here
have naught to say.
For only those who stand
with souls upright
and those who built themselves
like granite, meant to last,
and laid upon the level
laid by God,
the sacred selves who resonate to life,
will turn and stand amazed
at those who fell,
at those who never spoke,
nor heard, the spell.”
Any detective spying out our land would see the obvious truth,
could hardly ignore the gumshoe relevance of the fact,
but it’s ostrich time: our clearly written fate
is there for all to read, but no one ever does.
Carved in stone, the symbols tell the world
the autotruth it already knows.
Sweet baby peacock!
how poetry disturbs the truth,
and unmasks all the comfortable lies.
How truth disturbs the poem,
and magnifies the portent.
A woman stands in long grass
under the night sky
and in her vision, sees,
far in the future,
Cassandra standing in long grass
under the night sky,
seeing in her vision
the coming death of all she knows.

The tilt of the earth has changed
by more than a fraction of a degree:
there is a subtle adjustment in the time zones.
The days, no, the years, are growing colder.
Perhaps it’s the icy burden of our cryogenic technology
foreshadowing an ice age for us all.
There is certainly a psychic dissonance
that marks some aberration in the forcefield.
The time has come to document the delirium,
to write our tale in paragraphs of stone
to thus ensure that, far in the future,
those who see will read not just the title,
but the catastrophic subtitle, of our lives.
The future rushes headlong into the past,
and by some partial disclosure
we wish to de-doom our ending,
but there is so much to carve
that we are perplexed by problems of scale.
What piece of stone, however great,
could show the richly textured marble of our times?
We chisel out the lines
with the velocity of erosion.
We begin at the beginning,
where we encountered our Visitors
coming out the IN door,
and then we write the centuries
of our greatest joy, and then
of the long slow slide
to who and where we are now.
We kept our dreams in bottles
clearly marked ‘not for resale’,
until the commodification of money
put them on the market,
sold to pay the interest on our debts.
We needed no ministers or priests
until the investiture of the scientist
as the head of our secular church
made us doubt our own prescience -
perhaps it was pre science after all.
Now in the aftermath of technology
the smallest creatures are the first to pay the price.
The worm’s opinion of the tenacity of the robin
is necessarily different than the human valuation
of that same trait. We have tenaciously destroyed
our very earth. What we are documenting so carefully
may be nothing less than the demise of Gaia.
And, our deeds straddle even the biosphere;
at dusk we see the menstrual overflow of the bleeding sky -
we aren’t sure what is wrong, but we do know
there is some mischief in the curtain zone;
perhaps no future eyes will see our constellations again,
since they do not exist except from this particular point in space.
And yet if the earth herself survives,
some one may come to theorize
the precession of all human civilizations,
moving slowly backward and yet always forward,
echoing our own slow rising and waning:
all rhythm attracts return.
Perhaps, like leaves, there is a Fibonacci repetition
in the growth of civilizations and the branching of the stars.
Meanwhile, on the pillars,
they are carving, leaf and branch,
our family trees, and underneath
they write the long list of our dead.
Someday one may stand upon the shore
where we went down, and wonder
whose last breath under the water
has caused the effervescent bubbles on the sea.

Of all the things I cannot understand
the strangest one is this: that our Creators -
our visitors, overseers, comforters and advisors -
have left us in our time of greatest need.
We have searched for them with all the instruments at our command:
telescopes and microscopes, sextants and astrolabes,
metal detectors and geiger counters, crystal balls and darkened mirrors.
We have done exploratory surgery on the body of our past,
but of our Creators we can find no remaining trace.
We are like old men scavenging among the suspenders
for something that will hold us up.
With resignation we re-draw the maps
to reflect the shrinking borders of our times.
Outside the lines we write Here Be Dragons,
drawing fiercesome beasts
around the increasingly blurred edges
of what used to be our lands.
And no One comes to dispel our newly created fears,
to disabuse us of our faulty notions,
to correct the cartographic errors of our minds.
We seem unable to undertake the digestion of an ancient fact:
that turning with the world, inevitably,
are the long slow cycles of its destruction and rebirth.
We have seen the naked branches, naked trees,
fossilized by long ages of neglect.
We have seen the carbonization of the fern leaves,
the water levels high on mountaintops,
and small shells stranded many miles from sea
like decorations for a festival that ended long ago.
All these signs are tacked to the walls
in the schoolroom of history, but the teachers
never come here anymore, and they have removed
the psychic implants that were so vital to our understanding.
Perhaps we were for them just a test in ideational theory,
a result of some experimental algorithm of colonization,
unloved although they parented our souls.
There are some who think this,
having lost their faith in what they cannot see
yet hoping for a rescue even so.
We are caught in a gargantuan squeeze-play
between our sad and hopeless present, and
our dim uncertain fate.
I wonder if, at the end, our Visitors will reappear,
standing at attention like bright and breathless flames
and opening the Time Door for us all.

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