Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Fisherbird, My Insides Are Brief

You can take the kid out of the F&SF but you can't take the F&SF out of the kid. This was a morning I wanted to be someone else somewhere else. I was getting hits of birds and stones.

In this life I am not a hunter. I was military trained and so know enough of firearms to understand where to point them, how to break them down and care for them, what gun oil smells like, or did in the sixties, what a swatch and ramrod are for. In those days I could dismantle the M-14 (that dates me) and the M-1 (even worse) and put them back together. I actually attended Plebe summer at West Point, made it to October. Then did ROTC at Santa Clara U. Then went to Fort Ord and through basic there. But since that time the heaviest ordnance in my house is a BB pistol I got to signal the Jays they should quit harassing my cats. I still have the original box of BBs too. In basic training trainfire, I shot Sharpshooter, almost Expert.


I like fish, a lot.
I like flying high, spying
Prey skimming below.

They shoot fast, water bullets,
Silver arrows just for me.

I dive all feathers
Aligned, sleek, and then I turn,
Take them from behind.


Time is central in my spiritual world. It is the core of things human. To understand human life, there are prerequisites and one of them is how time is a living process. It is obvious when I write these things, I am not talking about clock time.

Clock time is a measuring device, essential for making certain kinds of comparisons. One whole specialty is the management of clock time, and there are certain kinds of natural clocks that have been discovered, far more accurate than anything we can make, from pulsars in the heavens to a variety of atomic clocks. Modern society cannot function without this kind of coordination.

But anyone who stays alert knows there are forms of time you might call biological time, rhythms that inform the changes living things make, and some of these surface in human activity as well. I don't believe that true musical time is clock time at all. It ebbs and flows as needed, and this is biological time, or, if you will, living time. Days are longer and shorter depending.

It is always a longer time span going somewhere new than it is returning. Always. Or turn it around the other way, the morning commute to work takes less living time than the evening commute home, if all things are otherwise equal. Different critters live according to different time frames too. My cat sleeps most of the time. Yet I suspect her days are loooooong. Stones seem immutable, standing still. Over aeons, they change shape according to erosion or the weather or geologic changes. In the Canadian shield there are exposed stones that are several billions of years old, though most stones exposed on the planet are nothing like that old. And Australia as a continent, is the oldest land mass on the planet that does not get much renewal from the constant circulation of dust in the atmosphere. So its life sustaining capacity is used up relative to most other continental locations. Old.

But if there is an inner experience to that kind of time span, then it too would be like that ebb and flow thing of living time.

And for that matter, what about our planet itself. There is, after all, the Gaia hypothesis. And in recent years scientists have discovered that the rocks both above and below the sea teem with microbial life, at concentrations higher than on the surface itself, everywhere they look, which strongly suggests to them that 70% of all microbial life on the planet is below the ground down to the depth where it reaches about 120 degrees F. How many quadrillions of tons of living matter is that, and is it somehow joined? What is the living time of the planet? Microbes do not die of old age, only of accidents. They are very long lived as they divide forever.

My Insides Are Brief

I meet the wide world,
My center askew the same
As in the old stones.

We dream alike but slow stones
Seem frozen in my quick time.

My insides are brief
But briefer still are others.

Planet dreams are deep.


  1. I love the prose here, it has set my brain whizzing and the last piece is lovely, just lovely.

  2. I like the two poems, the first for its characterisation of the predator as gloriously conscience-free, the second for its positioning of human frailty within time. Brevity and compression work so well here.

  3. flirtation with firearms and fish fascination.... i'm surprised you were not shanghaied in your early years by one of those military death cults!

  4. My mom wouldn't let me go out to play with those guys. What happened to the Avatar?

  5. shanghaied by a military death cult on the internets..... i'm on the LôôKout so they don't get this one too.....

  6. How come your internets are more nasty than mine?

    I liked him? her? Nice little avatar.

  7. me too, i'm going to get her back.... there be pirates me matey..... pirates!

  8. You can almost smell the salt air.

  9. Cherie, you are always welcome. I'm a little in awe of you because it took me a lot longer to write as well as you do.


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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