Tale of the Turkey

Soon the amount of dead fowl being consumed will be more than the amount of living bodies thinking for themselves. It’s a frightening thought. And imagine what it is like to be a turkey right now!

I imagine some old wattle-faced wild turkey, his tail feathers battered, his wing feathers mottled like dun fern, with a young brood of jakes and jennies gathered around him, strutting in their false pride, and hens pecking into distraction, and chicks ungainly still in their baggy down. And the old Tom chews on some winterberries, casts a moony eye on the assembled clan and says, “He should have nailed that damn pilgrim when he got the chance!”

A young jenny, still in her nightgown, replies, “Oh Father Tom, will you tell us the tale of the pilgrim, will you?”

And Father Tom replies, “Indeed I will, since the moon is red and from the old wood I hear the cries of our dead kin. And with this bad eye, this seer’s eye, I see the fool of a turkey who took the seed from man’s hand. Cold Turkey I name you. You, who with your arrogance, entrapped us all. You, devil bird, usurper, mad old gobbler with no sense.

“You see it was that false gobbler who made our lives a misery. Once the pilgrim had him, he lured him back to the homestead. And our hero thought, ‘Ah, here is my chance for glory. I shall show the other gobblers that we, too, can exist like the sheep and the cows. Carefully tended and looked after. No more running around in the cold of winter hunting for a speck of dried moss or a frozen berry that the hording squirrels missed.’

“But our brother was deceived by a greater deceiver. He had no intention of domesticating and letting us strut freely about the yard. No! He wanted to smell our tender pink flesh roast to a golden brown. He wanted our breasts but not what beat within. He wanted our wings but not to esteem how quickly we could clear the yard of the silly chickens, our lesser and doltish kin. He wanted our legs but not to admire how fast we run. And our feathers? Our glorious coats that have made friends with the wind? To stuff his lice-infested mattress or to tickle the rub of love or to dip into a pot and scribble words that are worse than the chicken’s scribble.

“So in the coldest part of the barn, where it smelt of rat droppings and the stink of the milkmaid’s and the farm hand’s couplings, he took our deceived brother. And there under the arc of the fading light of day, he brought out the brilliant arc of a new light. A magnificent object, bright and sharp, like moonlight captured and wielded by a mad conjuror and cared for like a young offspring. And with a terrible ecstasy we can only imagine, the pilgrim severed our brother’s head with the new gleaming god of beauty.

“His flesh they roasted. His insides they threw to the dogs. His young bones they crunched on and spat out as if they had been poison. They pulled his wishbone and made unspeakable requests.

“And our beloved brother lay there on the table, his one wish, life, snatched from him while the pilgrims drank their fermented barley and hops and made fools of themselves. Thanked their god for the feast as though he had designed it when in fact it was the simple ego of our brethren that made the whole feast possible.

“So, my little clan, we should be thankful that we are still wild and still have a wits about us. Man may still hunt us, but it’s a fair game. Our will against his. Not tricked by unclean, New World monsters with an appetite for flesh.”

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Shooting off Green Peas to make the World Greener

Oh brother, where art the readers? Read a magazine? Who does? Show me the cocktail stick! Magazines are made to skim. They are the low-fat lattes that all the young mothers and housewives drink or they are the cud that all the husbands and young dads on a bender want to chew. And then there are those that pretend to be read but it’s all untrue because there are readouts and captions. Some are even called readers’ magazines, but then why the need for double-truck photos?

It’s all a game, isn’t it? Existence is just a game. Why do we as a society feel the need to hoodwink our felon man? Could it be because, in truth, we mistrust each other? Think the other is out to get us so we must get to them first? What a crazy, nasty place we must live in then. Give me croquet and I’ll whack my ball and let the rabid dogs brawl.

I don’t dislike people as much as get disappointed by their lack of imagination or the void in their intellect. Buying and selling is like the worm gnawing a path through the green apple solely to say, Hey, this is bad, let’s start all over again and sell you a really tasty apple. And then the damn worm does the same thing all over again ad nauseam. I like this quote from Ovid — it’s from his Ars Amatoria, which is basically a handbook for dating and lovers — and it’s this: “If some dust should settle/ In your girl’s lap, flick it away/ With your fingers; and if there’s no dust,/ Still flick away — nothing.”

What we need are books that make meaning,connection, and purpose in a world that presents life as an illusion. Books like The Myth of Sisyphus where Camus writes about either turning to recovery or suicide. And I believe that recovery is what we need, and so did Camus. We can recover from the consumerism and the paucity of thought and imagination.

Imagine a world-wide suicide! The Internet swamped with home videos of whole nations committing suicide. Not possible. Unless you believe that we are actually doing this by our failure to see the destruction of wars and the way in which we so mindlessly go about destroying this planet.

I would so love to find that place Fitzgerald wrote about: “The fade-out of a single sorrow.” I wish the sorrow of the world could be so faded out.

A Moomin Papa who pulls his big black hat down over his eyes and sighs it back up again.

Rage Against the Machine

If only there was more time to read! Phew. Harder than ever before because there are “smelly little orthodoxies which are now contending for our souls.” Orwell wrote that, I think. It’s bloody true, too. Poisonous doses of society’s holy trinity of conditioning, compromising, and obedience. It’s liberating to refuse outright. Sometimes I wonder who the fuck designed reality so that it is what it should not be. Who was the devil who cobbled together the idea that work, especially at a desk, would be the grand scheme, the liberating intoxicant for all mankind, enabling him to buy and work and slog away until the old sack of bones is ready for the barrow?

Just because a dubious structure works for the multitude, why must it be sanctified by a religion that dabbles in abstraction and intricate lies that works slowly on eroding the soul to obedience. Societies faux pretenses don’t enable an individual to be a citizen. I think there’s more life in a speck of dirt than there is in the moral certitudes that the social code dumps on us in cerecloth bagfuls. Resistance should be a moral virtue, not surrender.

And restraints should be for infants and lunatics.

I work 9 hours, therefore I am. Instead I should be out galvanizing my soul to life. This is the kind of hypocrisy I’m talking about. Religion preaches on and on from its rising mount that goodness is paramount to our survival and yet we are constantly as human beings displaying the opposite.

That’s why I can’t believe in this impersonal God who goes around bellowing up every bit of ash and dust to flame with indignation at us lesser folks who are burning with passions that are earthly and not always divine.

What do I learn by sitting here being irascible? I could be out in the world, running amok or sleeping in the shade of a dappled tree. I think it’s odd how we can allow ourselves to just flitter about in our risible pens of habitual patterns and call it a life when there’s a whole world to be explored.

Man Gone Wild

The idea of the word “wild” has taken a turn for the worse. It’s relegated now to grisly encounters with members of the ursine family, or a Cro-Magnon impersonator whose brawns probably once fed the entire clan but now demolish houses in the hopes of attracting swarms of avid admirers, or young girls exposing parts of their anatomy as if the idea of nudity just sprang from their loins. Maybe I’ve just a stray gene from EO Wilson’s idea of biophilia, where the interlocking web of life is essential to our own well-being if we are to be conscious of the rest of life. But that wild that’s temporarily gone to the tame dogs, is still with us.

Now you can call me an anachronism or any other long-syllabic euphemism — or you may just utter a short Saxon curse — but I think I can still find the wild where it most happily belongs. I found it today in Rockport Harbor. And it didn’t need a willing audience, just a simple appreciation.

It was an osprey wheeling in a raw blue autumnal sky. It was circling above the timeless sea searching for fish as raptors before it have done for eons. Nothing new in that scenario for the bird or for me. Except that the magnitude of its diurnal activity suddenly dwarfed any grandiose ideas I might be having about my place in nature. Here in the civilized and technologically advanced world of the present where I reside, there is still room for an osprey to act out the age-old rhyme of red in tooth and claw.

I had witnessed something wild and unknown to me without having to be titillated or shocked to a shadow of myself. The staggering distance that I alone felt between my existence and the predatory one of the raptor was enough of a jolt to make me watch it wheel around and around on its mocha-stained wings, its eyes ever alert to the smallest stir in the deep water below. What a gulf, I realized, existed between that bird and me. No amount of evolution could shine enough light to make me acknowledge the grand scheme that nature has for us in our DNA or in our environment. That osprey in its solitary swoops and arcs and widening gyres would someday die on a lonely promontory surrounded by water and never know a scrap about the civilized world in which it endured, and yet in a brief moment how profound its wildness spoke to me.

I don’t know if anybody else at the harbor saw the bird of prey. Maybe a wild fish eagle now is so commonplace that we feel obliged to seek with even more frenzy the borders of the unrestrained. I mean, who hasn’t seen an osprey? Who doesn’t know that it hunts it prey in the sea? You could say we’ve actually tamed the raptor with all the knowledge we possess about it so that its presence in the harbor plays as much significance now as the lobsterboat or the yacht — it’s just another part of the maritime experience.

And yet as the seahawk dove for a fish, the sharp arch of its long narrow wings displacing air, I somehow regretted that our genuine sadness over the loss of the wild world was in fact misplaced when it lives so near to hand.