Poetry gives wings to language…
It helps us see beyond the confining habits of perception by offering a voice and cadence allowed to roam wild and free of conventions that would corral it in predictable terms. Poetry invites our habitual domain and the imaginal realm onto common ground where revelatory conversation between the familiar and unfamiliar can take place.
All art appears to serve this basic function of articulating deeply felt experience in a way that common conversation struggles to remain faithful to. Artists offer us a glimpse of what their souls perceive and hold dear, whether it be a trial or a joy seeking shared companionship. We are gifted, not only with an experience of another’s revelation, but also with an urging toward a more intimate engagement with our own soul’s presencing in our lives—the sacred experienced within the mundane; the mundane embraced as sacred.
Activism that does not embrace art is doomed to surface reform at best. As students and practitioners of sacred activism, we are focused on transformation of laws, yes, but also of minds and hearts. We recognize that when the aesthetic dimension of life is lost or marginalized, human culture literally becomes anesthetized and de-moralized. Under such a life-depleting atmosphere, it is no wonder that empathetic connections become unplugged, leaving values such as love and justice with thin soil to root in.
With this in mind, we bring a more deliberate recognition of art into the forum of conversation for Turning Point Journal. The following collection of poems and poets bring our attention to the physical and spiritual sustenance that Earth and nature provide—to the intimate interfacing of our human and beyond-human nature—offering the ground for reclaiming our humanity in the fullest sense possible.
Editor in chief
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Elegant layout. Heartfelt words. Thank you!
“Our Planet,” episode one, unfolds before me,
this latest hymn from our bard of earth.
I watch spellbound as the camera
scans the vistas, probes in micro-frames,
the violins, the impeccable cinematography,
the Olympian voice over the globe
that broods on our fate, admonitory.
I can barely watch, for my own foreboding
is calving hope as the sea warmth calves
the ice. I sit as if in witness
to episode one of our global funeral.
All my private loves, of mountains, gardens, groves
ghost in my heart. A mute lament
rises as the credits run:
In the name of what ambition,
under the aegis of what false god
have we backed ourselves onto this frail cusp,
where the hot abyss sends up its fumes?
Considering all of today’s circumstances
and what we have wrought
We…who have had the best of it
I for one
while feeling it
Episode Two; The Carpenter’s Elegy.
I knew the walrus when he was young,
Long in the tusk and an iron lung,
Sleek in the shallows, strong in the dive
The stories he told, well, man alive,
They made me laugh, his growling manner,
Had to stop nailing, put down my hammer.
And he played one helluv’an oyster hand
Down on the beach in Wonderland.
I read of his death in the Times today,
On the iceless island where they all came,
The old and the young, and those who remain
From the great migration. He fell, they say,
From up high, a boulder falling from the sky.
Over and over in the air he turned
While the sea boiled over and the sun burned
And struck the rocky earth, then lay quite still
There among others who paid the bill
For the mass extinction we have wrought.
Down in Wonderland whoever ‘d thought
A simple carpenter would come to naught,
Singing in dirge in the polar sun
Alone with all the walrus’ gone.
Thank you for this comment
Indeed we have had the best of it and all are frogs in the slow rise of the heat. This condition seems to me way beyond the individual and was from the beginning
Thank you for your heart-stirring contribution to this collection, Peter.
To Barbara Atkinson – your poem “Solar Benediction” is elegant in its simplicity and depth. You’ve captured the full conundrum. Thank you.
A small zoo in Brevard County, Florida.
We wander through, four generations
From one in diapers to great granddad,
Availing himself of a wheelchair.
The old man has seen a lot of Attenborough’s world,
Charmed by the increasing intimacy of the lens
That in his lifetime moved from National Geographic’s glossy page
To hour-long video safari’s into the far corners of the round earth.
But here in the Brevard zoo, it is brought home to him
That even a domesticated wild—the otters in their aquarium,
The sluggish hippos in their small backyard,
The young giraffes nibbling low hanging leaves—
Exceeds the photo-real. Here all the senses come alive,
And with them comes the wring of grief
That all this breathing life is under siege,
And shame that I have been an armchair witness.
I am haunted by the time-lapse image in Episode Three
Of the shrinkage of the jungles, the Amazon, the Congo.
A hundred years compressed into ten seconds,
Foretells the habitats’ collapse. And now I see
Someday only zoos will preserve the wild.
I gasp as its loss for my last grandchild,