D.E. Steward

Link to home pageLink to current issueLink to back issuesLink to information about the magazineLink to submission guidelinesSend email to misfitmagazine.net


Cadmium Blue

Cattle eat their afterbirth

For the blood protein nutrients, and in the wild to conceal their helpless calf

As do deer and all other ungulates

Except for camels and llamas

Human beings are the other main exception 

A solomor nearby has a New York solomor friend, their babies initiated at the same clinic simultaneously  

Aspiring mothers statistically minded and dispassionate when deciding on pop’s genes, an innovative aspect of eugenics

Healthy, hefty, handsome and smart, above average in every measurable sperm donor way so that we, my baby, begins at the top of curve

So that they, like me, have the best odds for an exceptional life     

Solomors bear ten percent of Danish babies

Any number of conventional pregnancies everywhere probably commence that way  

Medical procedures that steer decisions

Know we know

Or almost so

With a finer level of actuarial savvy

Even about the odds of more geezer-tending hazards

As with a statistically improbable harsh coincidence of two intimates simultaneously diagnosed with endocarditis

Generally involving heart valve complications, forty percent chance of this, fifty percent chance of that, one in twenty chance of it developing into… and so?

If that then this, if this than that

Go ahead and have it done, or just go home to sit in your L-Z-Boy and wait 

“The relief that comes from the first puff is immediate, startingly violent. Nicotine is a perfect drug, a simple, hard drug that brings no joy, defined entirely by a lack, and by the cessation of that lack.”  (Michel Houellebecq, trans. Shaun Whiteside)

Way back when he told me about Santa Claus, he was always tough on little kids, Foster the dairy farmer down the road, he died at forty-two his heart

“…what I had found early / had been lost as I made my way to this / which is what I was to know afterward”  (W. S. Merwin, “This Time”)

For sure

As assuredly as the Florida Keys are doomed to salt water incursion

As obvious as world temperature rise and glacial melt 

“Above us, a patch of clouds spreads, darkening / Like a water-stain on silk”  (Tu Fu)

Olafur Eliasson’s The Weather Project (The Tate Modern in 2003) has been like our climate change’s overture

And then just as surely as a tsunami, perhaps forty feet high, will rise along the Cascadia Plate’s subduction zone to inundate North America’s northwestern coast     

“Perhaps thinking everything through to the end was not a healthy thing to do”  (Rubashov in Koestler’s Darkness at Noon)

Inshallah (what God wills, etc.)

The magnificent haunt of the Second Movement of Barber’s Violin Concerto

The envelopment of a desert’s depthless blue sky

Driving an hour north from Beijing direction Mongolia to the Great Wall behind the Mutian Valley

Out from the extended city’s gray-dry plain toward steep brushed hills, an ancient border

To be there, agape at the Great Wall itself

Leave the density of Asia’s ultimate imperial capital and it’s as if you already approach the first of the Gobi’s dust of China’s all but limitless interior

Out there almost on the highway to Xinjiang and Kazakhstan roaring westward

As though when you go beyond the Wall itself, Urumqi will be next, nearly three thousand kilometers due west farther on

As driving an hour out of Sydney to look west from a ridge off the Great Western Highway above Wallerawang, a feeling that Perth and the Indian Ocean, over thirty-five hundred kilometers away, could be next if you kept on that day      

Two kilometers out of Sagres to the seacliffs of Cabo São Vicente, stare due west out across the Atlantic along the 37th parallel toward Virginia’s Hampton Roads five thousand eight hundred kilometers off and feel immensity in that same way

“I remember everything simultaneously; / Like the distant beam of a distant lighthouse, / I carry the universe before me”  (Akhmatova)

Weather today brilliant sun and cold with the max about 6C and about minus one when we got up but baro is dropping and there will be a front tomorrow with warming just in time to deliver the north winds as we head south

As predicted by the Chileans we had 40 knots and higher gusts inside and from a more insidious direction than predicted so we were hammered, running on double reefed mizzen and staysail with boat speed of 9 knots

Black necked swans, silvery grebes, magellenic penguins, and westland petrels

After about four hours we got into a wave lee and had a great deal of trouble anchoring because of williwaws from three different directions and we were just taught the supreme lesson that you just cannot be too careful about weather and anchorages in these regions

Of the Straits of Magellan, opening below 52º South while approaching Cape Horn

He the first European to navigate them in 1520 on his way around the world

Rounding the ultimate Cape itself at 56º only became usual with clipper ships and the China trade    

Rough seas there run gray and in very occasional flashes of sun shutter into a sinister gray-green swelling to scissoring spray

“spun with a back light into indefinition”  (Charles Wright)

Macula, macule, mackle

Mawkish Jeremy Corbyn, Hogarthian Boris Johnson

Shostakovich’s bombastic Three Variations on a theme by Glinka

“from the center of my life came / a great fountain, deep blue / shadows on azure seawater”  (Louise Glück)

A lot of life, almost two decades of the spoken-of books during her rich years of other things, hinting a redolence of different realities entirely

Her world-safari kit of low green Keds, walking shorts, diver’s watch, short hair, Japanese English, safari vest, and a big roll of twenties to buy her way out of whatever could come up

As a kid she’d imagined herself as an idoru kashu, and idol singer type

Her back and shoulders beneath a thin choli  

From Kyoto up through steep suburban hills to Biwako knowing then only that the temples, the Nara deer park, and the big blue lake itself were sites that once there had to be seen

Without a glimmer that early in the eleventh century in the high black pines over Lake Biwa, Murasaki Shikibu had sat at her temple desk looking out on it envisaging Genji     

“Almost uniquely amongst imagined countries, Tolstoy’s psychological landscape is without dead ground – the entire vista of human experience is lit up with an equal, shadowless intensity, so that separateness and clarity continue even to the horizon.”  (Clive James)

So much complexity unknowable, implied

Within what pulses and passes outside

Comet 2I/Borisov, passes this month closest to the sun before leaving our solar system again now, has an icy core only a mile-wide with the cloud of dust and gas surrounding is many times Earth’s size

A marker’s liquid squeak on a whiteboard v. the skreek of white chalk on a blackboard

The gunhappy Northwest Territorial Imperative pushes a dream of an Aryan homeland

Where the sky is blue, the land is green, the white for the people in between

Regionally akin to Canada at the end of winter, watery English ways and peculiar Francophone provincialism

That consensus Canadian identity of black Catholicism and empire loyalism grown into arch and thick maple-leaf dull Karen and Kevin C.


In the main inconsequential to the rest of us almost eight billion worldlings

As US take-control-and-work-it-out-later kills and maims, and promotes and accepts what we’ve had in Washington for three years now

“The dead are a cadmium blue”  (Charles Wright)

Off into dead center Provincia Chubut, capital Rawson, Alta Patagonia, there at just under 44ºS, pequeño Paso de Indios sits on one side of trans-Argentine Highway 25

An amplified gas station con comidas, Petrol Chubut there at the highway intersection with Avenida Teodoro Strober that slices off it to shoot even farther south

That name that I thought was Romanian until Paso del Indios

From the lovely toasted meringue skin of the three Strober girls in our one room school, Carol, Estelle and Phyllis

Carol with braces and crutches from polio, Estelle was smart, and luscious chubby-arms Phyllis my only classmate through first and second grades and my first sexual awakening

South American Teodoro Strober was a second generation German who made it to Alta Patagonia in the 1880s, that decade to which so much can be traced

A coalescence toward modernism about then

Vladimir Nabokov interviewed in 1975: “You don’t seem to care for Freud?”

“That’s not completely right. I care for Freud greatly as a comic author. The explanations he offers of the emotions and dreams of his patients are incredibly burlesque. I don’t know how one could take them seriously. Enough about him, please.” 

ShotSpotter with an array of microphones and sensors, technology designed to staunch gun culture on the streets of American cities

So much of the urban gone either Corbusier empty or selectively semi-derelict with renegade feculence of random rubble, street-shit, cullet, paper and plastic trash

Nothing especially new, “This ain’t my town”  (Hemingway in New York, 1950)

Around Paso de Indios the gauchos who shepherd Merinos wear pistols, still generally revolvers, on the hipside of their chaps

And a surprising segment of Americans who used to keep maybe a .22 rifle in a closet now have an assault rifle handy for what apologists call home defense

After a line infantry outfit in Korea, never want to have a gun around again, never

Just home from that, spur of the moment down into an isolated eighteenth century Durham Furnace iron mine on the upper Delaware, old friend along, flashlight from the car, no ropes, no plan, went in first toward where the entry passage fell away

He had the light, very dark, mud and shale, started sliding in the mud down on my stomach and couldn’t stop, terrified, swung my legs around and I held, hung on a ledge

Afraid to move and very scared

We shouted back and forth figuring what we could do, thought of him going down to get help, the fire company, the cops, was Sunday afternoon

It took what was probably a long hour to be ready to do it, to scramble back up the slide to make it up and out, exhausted, shaking

Unnoticed until we were down on the road at the car that the Rolex bought in the PX a couple of weeks before with discharge pay was gone 

“I wonder if I know enough to know what it’s really like / to have been here”  (A. R.
Ammons, “Finishing Up”)

Emphatically well into the century of the internet becoming the central organ of life,  sliding down into the darkness of climate change’s ramp   


D. E. Steward mainly writes months with 389 of them to date. Most of them are published, as is much of his short poetry. Five volumes of his months came out in 2018 as Chroma.