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Nat Lipstadt Aug 19
Alaska:
“though the whole world should be mad at once
though the elements should be changed, though the angels should rebel: yet verity (irrefutable truth) cannot lie.”  
                                                         ­                  Erasmus of Rotterdam

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for BJ Donovan, a fine, fine poet
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verity, irrefutable truth, cannot lie,
or belie it’s non-contradictory nature,
even, in a small airport, a one runway affair,
somewhere in Alaska
ribboned tween icy crags and dagger-ous peaks,
low cloud coverings of sub-zero visibility,
that inquire, in an indigenous tongue
of the flying fool pilots,

“really?”

if I or you ask me why I’m here,
Alaska,
the answers come in only three Heinz varieties,
true or false positive, no differentiation needed,
the other, is called
“one who doesn’t know how to ask”

you know him,
the simpleton, the simple one, me,
who can’t frame the question without

risking that he frame himself

betraying and displaying his woeful ignorance,
a veneered confidence of knowing so little about much

in the shed, a/k/a
‘the terminal,’ we wait,
me and an ex-Buddhist priest,
head stubble shaved, of course, round horn rimmed glasses wearing,
stone washed jeans blue, the color of his eyes,
reflecting mine as well as the blue glacier ice
surrounding us both, we,
the extraneous human eagle interlopers

showed him the Erasmus quote, provoking one of them,
thin lined, whimsical, eye-glinting smiles of those
who know the answer
to the knotty ones, or,
know better, that knotty questions one asks himself
when high up in the mountainous glacier ranges,
get answered just by silent patience

he smiled for an eternity of
at least five minutes,
my heart pulsating big time,
this modern man anticipating, in his calm, dulcet two tones,
his understanding of another ancient translating another,
even more ancient, speaking:

”the world is indeed mad,
through neglect letting the elements warp, glaciers melt;
the angels have indeed rebelled at the
foreseen fated falsehoods perpetrated,
verity,
torn asunder,
and the line between balance and imbalance,
so jaggedly ripped in too many places that verity a victim
so badly assaulted, its face is no longer identifiable by AI, worse,
so covered, dying, undiscoverable.

but you ask!
ask of yourself, asking of others, and tolerating
uncurled, uncut uncertainty, you retreat and reconsider,
this then is your answer!
it is the
ASKING,
that is verity, itself! there can be no lying thing in the
quest of questioning
that accepts, rejects, and unceasingly asks again^

this is a the only irrefutable truth and what it asks of you:

never accept the illogic of belief, let your own eyes be the best judge;
ask and ask thrice, be satisfied that being disastrously dissatisfied
is the norm, the mean,
the line toward a perfection that may not ever exist(ed)
for our flaws define us, thus so much greater is our truths when we
we reshape them, ourselves, for verity itself is not so hard to find,
but the finding of one self is too difficult for most


for asking is too painful,
too primordial, and why I am no longer a priest nor teacher,
but a simple observer of the answers that can be found in the
silences of places,
the Alaska’s inside of us,
where nature’s sets
an open table for anyone
wiling to just ask...”
8/18/19
S.I., N.Y.

^”It is not in the asking, but in the searching and wrestling that we gain clarity.”
hannah Jul 3
black,
crested with water
beneath my sinking feet,
the sky is a shaking grey
filled with
fumes
from a saltwater tide;
while the sun lays a hollow,
swollen bleed
above my shut eyes.

i can taste the ocean,
i can hear the rising breaths
before they flow from up her lungs.
and in that moment,
the briefest, most fragile moment,
before her hands touch my skin,
I think i feel your ghost,
creeping up and soaking in.

her body wraps around my toes,
as the silence brings your voice.
harsh, in the wind,
i realize that you aren't gone,
you've embedded your soul into the
crisp blackness of her.
and so I breathe.
I swallow the air.
because no one really dies,
they just find something else to live
through.
Jo Barber Jun 17
The days went fast,
but the nights moved slowly,
like a sad country song
or the Alaskan summer sun -
forever trying to set,
yet never able to do so,
leaving the sky with
the coloring of perpetual dusk.
Jo Barber Jun 11
The air is filled with lilacs and pine.
The summer scents stuffed into the air
overflow with old memories.

I miss my father.
I miss his smile, crooked and hard to win though it was.
I miss his love, warm and abiding.
I miss his broken nose and his gruff wisdom.

These, however, are not gone
but merely transformed.
I feel and see them everywhere.

The rain beats down harder now,
blurring my vision of the cloudy summer day around me.
I love the sound, quickening every second
until I feel like it might break the window pane
and come rushing in.
It reminds me of the day he died,
although he died in November,
and surely it couldn't have been raining...

Grief and time do strange things to the mind;
they bury some things and clarify others.
Prose poetry about my father's death and how my grief continues to evolve. Thoughts and feedback are always appreciated.
**EDITED VERSION
Jo Barber Jun 5
The leaves all fluttered in imperfect synchronicity.
Like a dance,
unchoreographed,
yet so beautifully so.
The day was filled with flaws,
but the pure, effervescent blue sky
against the too-large green of sprouting trees
made all the rest melt away.
A hill that was covered by snow last month
now screams with yellow dandelions.

When humanity fails,
man may always return
to where we were never meant to leave:
to the blue, green, and yellows of nature.
m May 23
anchorage alaska, 9:40 a.m
the mountains, 9:41
the dead trees, 9:42
the snow, 9:43
your face, woven into the scenery, 9:44

it is beginning to hollow,
the night, kindling it's daggers around the day,
and i tell you, so silent
as to not wake our voices yet,
"the train is coming."

you are on the boulders,
naked feet,
shoes lost in the shore
and you look at me and smile
and my eyes crease,
like thin wrinkles,
like wire, pulling them shut,
and i smile back.

i cannot think.
the train is approaching,
rumbling over the tracks
like a thunderstorm,
like an avalanche.
and you open your mouth to scream,
but it comes out a roar.

like accumulating rain
in the groove of a gutter,
you're there beside me
and we're both screaming.

and I can feel myself lurching
towards the rails
because at 9:55,
as the train passes us,
i look over
at the naked boulders
at the rising tide
at the burning tracks
and you're gone.

The night wrapped its skeletal arms
back around your ghostly form.
the rain had stopped,
the gutter was clean,
and everything
was a miserable empty
i miss you
Jo Barber May 21
It's hard to feel sad
when the sun shines in rays,
persistent as a mother,
and just as sweet and caring.

Green, microscopic leaves
flutter like the wings of fairies.
If cleanliness is next to godliness,
I feel like I'm in the clouds.
In Arizona last week
the migrating Painted Lady butterflies
were dancing and flitting
in stunning numbers.

In waves across the desert,
they'll live for about 6 weeks, if lucky.
Over the course of generations,
they'll migrate to Alaska.

One soon-to-be summer day,
a distant relative of this Painted Lady
will float on the breath of Eagle River valley towards
Mt. Susitna to waltz in the light of the midnight sun.
From far away, everything is glazed with whimsy and ease.
Pebbles to rocks, rocks to boulders,
which an ancient Titan, surely, piled one on another to mold
the slanted peak.

Mytikas is the tallest peak in Greece.
Ch'atanhtnu was the Dena'ina's name for Matanuska,
"the River from Which Trail Comes Out."
Who decides what is remembered?
I can see it in mine, and yours too - the corners
of eyes and mouth sag, weighted by our slushy urban slog.
Unurbane, we melt into the night like Dali's clocks,
Counting, counting the minutes of loss.

Soon I'll look into the sun that cleans
every corner and highlights the dust,
and diamonds the snow, and delivers
from darkness my laden soul.

I bargain, beguile, beg for ten degrees
to turn disconsolate rain into sanguine snow.
So snow now,
                   now
                          snow,
               so we may play in the light of the darkest day.
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