Navigating in Woods

Ben Adams

Australia

Ben Adams is a writer, retail clerk, festival worker and research assistant whose poems have appeared in Australian Love Poems, The Grapple Annual, Indaily and Tulpa Magazine. His first complete collection of poetry, A Synonym for Sobriety, won the Friendly Street Single Poet series competition and was published in 2019.  

something for the climate sceptics, conspiracy theorists, news corp hacks and you

 

with apologies to Charles Bukowski,

after his 'something for the touts, the nuns, the grocery clerks and you'

 

crimson sky, blood

bronze—the moon a talisman

of death

 

this is the world we have

not the one

we’d wished for

 

and your calls

for considering

alternative explanations

 

from those provided

everywhere

by experts consumed

 

with desperate knowing

about how this slouching beast

was birthed—

 

—strike me as nothing more

than a choking hazard

worse 

 

than each

and every

wave of smoke

 

crashing

over bunkered cities

and burnt towns in this

 

new world order

you—and yours

have wrought

Scotty from marketing

 

—wants us shimmering

in the horizon haze

dumb beasts

 

cannibalizing

a fire-butchered

carcass

 

and burning divine

for the worst

of what Luther meant

 

never charity

without a cost

never seeking forgiveness

 

for the sins of our past

without a sideways glance

and whispers that—

 

despite the facts of history

it’s really them who should be forgiven

by us

 

for talking back

and daring to ask

not just for love, but recompense

 

because love

of all things

should not be

 

an incantation of the elect

—of some imagined unity

but a working-for

 

self-critique

and truth

and equity

 

the best of what Luther meant

was that people should work

for and in the light of their own lord

 

which, I guess

means something like

justice

 

and positive freedom

—a radical empathy

that doesn't ask the lamb

 

to get along with lions

love

is not a baptism of fire

 

but slow smouldering

solidarity

and difficult thought

 

not dumb beasts slouched

burning divine for the worst

of what he means by God

 

 

who kills the world?

 

Hitler was—

a tortured artist who loved animals

a vegetarian

 

and Charles Manson

was a hippy, a small-time muso

who called white American youth the young love

 

and sought to ensure the Age of Aquarius kicked off

with a helter-skelter race war that would end

conveniently

in his sole dominion over the remnants of a dead earth

 

don't always accept what people say

they believe in, vaguely—ask for specifics

 

don’t assume that words can’t be misunderstood

or misused

to hide their true meaning in a given context

 

take love, for instance

as Dr Hibbert once said

when Mr Burns returned from a walk in the woods

 

glowing radioactive hallucinations

of an uncharacteristic kindness toward his fellow citizens

in the guise of an alien benefactor—

 

does that mean the kind of love

between a man and a woman, or the love a man feels

for a fine Cuban cigar?

 

does it mean love for self, or others?

narrow love for land and nation

and worse—or solidarity with the masses

 

and those who may not look

or live, or love

like you do

 

don’t believe in gurus

no matter how convincing their performance

of understanding is

 

and know that all this

is a more complex game than just determining

good from bad, heroes from villains—

 

John Lennon asked us to imagine

all the people, sharing all the world as one

—but his gender politics were pretty shit

 

ask for specifics

 

because the thing is, I’m not saying

you can’t like John Lennon’s music

I’m not saying that art can always be equated with

 

or defined by the flaws or crimes

of its creators, but—

 

people like to say that real heroes don’t wear capes

but real monsters, too—dangerous people

don’t have to be anything other than ordinary bureaucrats

 

or nice guys

who stay angry on the inside

 

that boy you met by a campfire

who cares more about some godlike vision

of mother earth and the natural order

than he does about any human being

except himself

 

so—who kills the world?

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