Now that our culture has made nature into an ornamental fetish
I wonder what Thoreau would think of the mobs that people Walden Park.
The pond, after all, meant solitude to him and being alone was a solution
to the deep pond dilemmas of a life lived without acting on his own sunken
Only someone who was so, so deep could be so far from the way things have
so superficially gone.
We’ve made an idol of nature at the very same time that we’ve become
the most monstrous machine ever made for turning the wild into streets,
lawns, and McMansions at an ever accelerating pace.
There’s always some new aged American hurrying off to some previously
uncontaminated corner of the heavily trammeled universe to discover
the surviving Billa Bagga or the only untouched piece of distant paradise
before the modern civilization which is us turns it into a zoo exhibit
or theme park or genetic remnant.
What would the man who went to jail rather than pay taxes to support
our 19th century imperial Mexican adventure make of the IRS, 60 years
of standing armies, and the Grotesquest empire in the history of the world,
the ultimate stupor power.
And what would Henry David Thoreau think about the super-mega mansions
being built all around here when to be as poor as he was has become a crime
and his sort of pond squatting, hut building now enough to get you arrested
almost everywhere across the wide nation.
Yet right here around this well of water,
this deep glacial hole of mists and refracted light
something was born, and something grew, and something was nurtured
that’s still trying to bring peace to this struggling old world of crisis.
It’s freed millions, been salvation to billions, and saved trillions and trillions!
And what is it finally? Not even an idea really, not even a way of being so much
as an anti idea, an anti-being which if everyone followed it well, would lead
to nothing, absolutely nothing at all ….. except everything that really matters.
James Van Looy has been a fixture in Boston’s poetry venues since the 1970s. He is a member of Cosmic Spelunker Theater and has run poetry workshops for Boston area homeless people at Pine Street Inn and St. Francis House since 1992. His work appears weekly in Oddball Magazine.