February 24, 2015 Poetry , POETRY / FICTION




Wally Swist


The Melting of the Poles




Yes, it is alarming, especially

if we consider that it has been barely a century that


there was a race to the pole. 

Now what is named as the Amundsen Ice Sheet


is melting at a rate that is more than the entire

weight of the mass of humanity taken altogether.


That weight of humanity taken all together is ironic. 

We, perhaps, are the cruelest species on the planet


and certainly the most destructive. 

If the earth is a speculative planet for souls


who need to work at certain aspects of their growth,

then those same souls are actually


ruining their communal home.  What to make of this? 

There is still enough glorious earth to praise;


however, we are losing it at a nearly incomprehensible

rate, which may be why, unconsciously,


there is so much darkness and madness rampant:

from the beheadings at the hands


of the religious maniacs of Isis to the political depravity

of the conservative parties, particularly in America,


who are misguided by their false sense of entitlement,

and their blind refusal and practiced ignorance


to acknowledge global warming,

fueled by their greed for the economy of coal and oil.








Manifest Destiny



Vacuity everywhere, especially in the Millennial Generation,

of a frightening solipsism, in thinking about anyone


other than themselves, combined with a sense of entitlement,

dripping with narcissism.


Vacuity in the poems of the MFA graduate, who read on and

on and on—essentially about nothing at all except


what he purported as being brilliant forays into surrealism—

surely the new Rimbaud, hubris seeping from every pore.


As I suggested to Carol, The thing is that he doesn’t see

the forest, nor does he see the trees. 


He sees absolutely nothing, and lacks the vision his work only

purports in being emblematic of.


Vacuity everywhere, even this morning, at the laundry mat,

as a woman, who I noticed browbeating her husband,


asked me if her laundry basket was in my way, as she ever so

closely pushed the basket towards my basket,


not just once, but several times.  Actually both she and it were

in my way, as she opened the door


to the washer beside the washer I had selected, but I chose not

to enter into combat with her;


so, I said, No, you’re not, smiling wryly.  Her behavior not only

exhibited entitlement, but was reminiscent


of western expansion, a Manifest Destiny of the spirit, that may

be unconscious in Americans.


However, it was paired with a combative element, that if

I should speak up, especially as a man,


since she also had it in for

all men, that she was going to press the button that would


empower her psychic free radicals, as Caroline Myss,

a modern mystic, refers to them,


and enable the subterfuge controlling her to, like drones,

destroy and conquer.









Wally Swist

Wally Swist’s books include Huang Po and the Dimensions of Love (Southern Illinois University Press, 2012) and a new interpretation of The Daodejing of Laozi, with David Breeden and Steven Schroeder (Lamar University Press, 2015). Some of his new poems appear in Commonweal, North American Review,andRattle. Garrison Keillor recently read his poem “Radiance” on the daily radio program The Writer’s Almanac.



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