D.E. Steward

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In isolation we seem to all become doleful socialists

With the Rona’s shut-down instability

Petulant about time

Protective of place

Closed off


Swerving around the jagged interludes

Mindful of things missed like public music, crowds, el territorio Libro de baseball

Yet months into the lack apparently there are many newly unimportant things
Stunned innocents becoming simplistic cynics cruise-controlled up an onramp to unimaginable dilemmas

Headed as far out the freeway as we make it

Klutzy, fumbling around in the shell game of Trumpismo tactics

Not knowing for what, for how much, for how long

This strange time, as everybody calls it

Reading A. R. Ammons Complete on the lawn, a brilliantly scarlet pinhead-size clove mite rushes across the open page

And an adult flicker slams against a clerestory’s glass, bounces off and without losing a beat, is off away from the house, hard woodpecker skull, muscular neck 

Nature’s intrusions in this time of brown marmorated stink bug importation

As enumerations in one of Trump’s deals

Off we go now, swaying through the gauntlet

Chilled about November’s election

When he loses if he doesn’t leave  

It’s niqab or just minimum hijad

Chrome or Firefox

Google or Amazon

Toyota or Honda

New York or LA

Reality or more Trump twittering

A binary answer matrix

Much in the way the dialectic had long been apparent                    

On out in front comes the loping sophistication of the fated eager young

Others limping through the 2020 who-knows summer

Even negatively priced crude oil for a while this covid spring

Near stasis in some ways now

Going deeper into quiet like the five and a half months of fire season in 1968 on Josephine Lookout in the San Gabriel Range

With a lot of raven-loaded empty sky over the tower on Josephine Peak, 5558 feet

Steep chaparral but no trees at all

Fairly often the far table of the Pacific shone through in moonlight

Always Mount Wilson, 5,712, on the left

The depths of the Big Tujunga close in to the right below

Through all those detached 1968 summer nights

The war was on

Then its vast awfulness was it at full tilt

Up there on the fire tower only imagining

Contagion threat then had to do only with for what purpose were we in Vietnam or was it only its being absolutely wrong 

There was still a lot of nationalistic self-righteousness then, greatest this greatest that, justifying all sorts of craziness

As in the first place the reelection of Nixon

As the Guard firing on Kent State students

As approaching Auschwitz from Krakow in 1960, my quasi libertarian brother, Princeton, Columbia, and Paris PhD, said that European Jews must have been pretty bad to have the camps happen to them

In the logic of Black Lives Matter demonstrations after the police brutalities violating the social ethic

Few absolutes left since that of the Shoah

Two grackles close in casually picking through a kindling pile as if conversing while waiting for a third to finish on a feeder above, and when it does all three white-eyed magnificents take off rapidly into the stiff wind in absolute synchrony

In the afternoon, no wind, a female and a fledgling move across the lawn in that confident all-business walk grackles have, the fledgling emulates behind

Garnishing insects from the grass, the adult turns every few feet and returns to the other beginning wing-quivering without open craw

To exchange the beetle-grub-spider-fly by crossing bills

Continuing, the fledgling takes something from the grass a couple of times on its own and then the other flies off

The youngling walks on gleaning for a while alone and then flies off

Silences and episodic sequences perpetually inhabit everything that goes and has gone on, everywhere, all time

Glance up the other way high on a towering locust and spot a young flicker, no color in its plumage yet, fixed to the trunk as if glued on

Locusts trees can rise to over eighty feet

The Lotte World Tower off the Han’s south bank, 123 floors, 555 meters high

Centering that absolutely different Seoul than it was down from the DMZ in the 1950s

Paju-ri then a thatched mudwall village that was my battalion’s bunkered base, Paju’s dense urbanity now pushes up against the DMZ 

A curse, the recent history of Utøya off Oslo, the island locale of the 2011 murder of seventy-seven younglings

Out of those persistently stubborn Scandinavian absolutes

Regarding abortion and human rights, any opinion at all goes there, as long as you are not against them 

Some of the sylvan democracies in ways are in their third century of socialism now

Gustave Caillebotte 1848-94, whose paintings had already escaped the explicitness of the nineteenth century

An infinity of European rain on Caillebotte’s wet cobblestones 

Placidly dramatic like Frida Kahlo’s gabella in ways balanced the whole rest of the twentieth century

Always there, assertive of so much in her scant forty-seven years

All change, all gone 

For five early springs in a row an eastern phoebe pair has failed to arrive to nest in the beams outside here

While here before as if forever

Every year as if on call

An imagined constant 

Among many

Like an image of grace and surety, the prow of the 28-meter ketch Leonora out somewhere now in blue water preening on the waves

Her sails like the swooping white canvas bonnets of prairie schooners

Conestoga wagons that on their way west must have been like the cumulus pushing high over the Great Plains the other way

Clouds’ steady advance

Sails lofting above deck

Windward motion                                                     

As many small passerines flying locally to perch moving in elegant catenaries

Wing beat and glide

Their last catenary generally goes deeper so that, pulling up to destination perch, their steeper rise slows so as to alight more easily

Landing, a delicate and iffy practice, even for a bird

Those towering anvil cumulus over the Humes Highway on the way to Canberra from Sydney, a lot like US 40 in the 1950s in the way people in Goulburn are

Goulburn for the night

Australian quality

But then the peculiar depth of Australian ockerism

And that ugly, mean Tory stratum in all Anglo literati

Contemptus mundi 

“The land of the chosen has one door, there is no knob…”  (Charles Wright)

Much easier to negotiate Gen Z, K-pop, BLM, TikTok, AfD and avocado toast

Gliding along

Sheer excitement at five in belonging

In a one room school, tumbling back in from recess to its pleasantness of high-ceilinged broad windows and wooden floors, the teacher gleaming at our flushed breathlessness

We were akin, even the big kids in a unisex cohort, all part of that little school together
Like the power of sailing on the tide out into the Channel from Portsmouth Water profoundly aware in a tribal kinship with the bulk of the D-Day invasion force that sailed out to Normandy that way early June 6, 1944

Boarding Leonora from near Durrington Wells, by Woodhenge enclosing Stonehenge close by there behind Portsmouth Water

Stopping at Stonehenge in the nineteen nineties it was possible to pull off the Amesbury Bypass on the A303 and walk in on the turf

Last time there under a waxing half moon

Every observant being, since there has been life on Earth, has stared at the moon in the manner we stare at the high Stonehenge circle

Our wondrous energy sapient awareness

Every one of many “millions of them who have vanished into air / into moths and stars”  (Jimmy Santiago Baca)

As tophra lofted into the stratosphere

In 1980 gloriously manic John Bennett mailed me tephra from Mount St. Helens when it blew, a film cartridge container of it

Sticky intensity of gray, the components of Earth’s mantle

Ultimate matter

The material of the universe



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.