Culling the herd, an original poem

Here’s to a more contemplative, considered, measured Earth Day 2018 (on, around, or far from 4/21), as for all intended days of remembrance, tradition, action, and activism.

Here’s to an antidote to do-something-ism, the arrogance of action for the sake of acting without intelligent, careful thought, patience for information, debunking myths, withholding judgment, uncovering assumptions, probing conventional understanding, and placing a check on emotionalism. Certainty is impossible, but near-certainty must be earned, not used as an excuse or a form of denial beforehand.

Here’s to Earth, to people, to animals, to reason, and to love. To a balanced appetite for details and the big picture. To doubt, to questioning, to human rights, and never killing to punish. To you, if you’re with me on these–if you, too, would cull the herd mentality, whether it claims to come from truth, patriotism, freedom, control, justice, safety, mercy, love, or God.

And here’s a poem of sorts.

Culling the herd    © 2018, Carrie Tangenberg

Sometimes to love animal
 means to love human-animal balance,
 if love is a balanced act of
 compassion, reason, acceptance,
 for human is animal, too.

I couldn’t pull the trigger
 in everyday conditions,
 but I don’t begrudge the hunter,
 farmer, game warden, parks
 ranger, zoo keeper, veterinarian,
 wild survivor, adventurer, 
 conservationist, naturalist,
 lost traveller who may have to,
 want to.

Who am I to stop everything?
 Save everything? Or anything?
 Start something? What exactly and why?
 What is wisdom, wise action here?

Cull the herd, naturally.
 Cull the herd naturally.

What does it mean?
 What is natural? What unnatural?
 Where is the line between?
 And which herd will it be?
 And how?

Curiosity, discovery,
 fascination, wonder, awe,
 anxiety, annoyance, frustration,
 disgust, confusion, amusement,
 anger, sadness, startlement,
 fatigue, and sometimes fear—

These are the feelings
 of living among wild prey
 when one owns a dog
 and a yard with grass
 you don’t want dug up
 by any but yourself,
 and a house built on
 pavement ant pandemic.

But free will is never free,
 never without consequence.
 What if making a difference 
 means doing more harm than good?
 Did you know? Do you? Always? 
 Respect the what-if, at least.

I don’t get squeamish
 reading about creature
 death, butchery, predation,
 and harvesting for food,
 watching wild death
 on TV or the Web, or watching 
 vet shows, trauma, surgeries, 
 sorrows.

I would, I do not like to see
 blood up close, so bright,
 so red, so shiny, fresh, raw.

All it took was a clip
 of the quick on my dog’s
 left back toenail to
 send me into panic
 where I’m usually calm.

It wouldn’t stop bleeding.
 General Chaos conquered.
 It was Easter 2018.

Bleeding eventually stops,
 and so do breeding, foraging,
 fleeing, hiding, sleeping,
 mating, hunting, scavenging,
 migration, habitats, and life.

We can’t stop everything,
 but everything stops, even
 rivers, seas, forests, islands,
 valleys, mountains, plains,
 planets, stars, solar systems.

Even senses, motion, heart,
 brain, growth, and breath.

Even love, even faith, even hope,
 even panic, idiocy, evil, insanity,
 and this listing of word lists.

If this post or poem resonated with you, you may also enjoy:

Five-Phrase Friday (34): Earth Day, Every Day

Call of the Wild Poetry

Five-Phrase Friday (1): The Poetry Politic

Blogging me a good “what for”

As a first-time blogger, I am learning that there is a difference between starting a blog and starting to blog. It is easy to lose myself in the technical setup considerations as a way to avoid the writing process. I am grateful not to be able to say for exactly how long I reviewed possible interface themes before settling on one. While not quite a Luddite, I certainly have a complicated relationship with computers. And while I am no stranger to the Internet and online memberships, I do not have a Facebook page–yet.

I prefer to attempt the creation of a balance among aspects of life, between types of activities, meaning, for those of you who may not comprehend the idea, that not all of those activities are computer or device based. But the key word is “attempt.” Working online as a tutor and being a writer who tends primarily to use a laptop both help deter me from endless surfing and other virtual pursuits, but I am far from feng-shui-Buddhist-yoga-yin-yang zen.

Still, my main purpose in starting a blog is neither to improve my tech savvy nor to find my true center. I just want to write.

Write about . . . ? I do have some ideas. Among them, feminist re-education/recovery toward simultaneously greater ambition and greater self-acceptance, my ailing sweetheart of a dog (I already have plenty of material for this), poetry/essays on random topics, the musings of an educator in limbo, the experience of tutoring online, exploring some conflicts and unions of science and religion/philosophy, observing nature (I’m a birder), my new novel writing journey, or my The Artist’s Way journey. But I guess potpourri could work, just writing whatever comes to me regardless of theme. Some topics I’m interested in writing essays about include the merits of academic matriculation vs. lay learning, books and movies (thoughts or reviews on), and finding balance in an altered existence, perhaps dealing with particular, highly personal struggles.

I have long been wary of becoming entrenched in an irrevocable online presence, internally sighing at the accumulation of each new instance of username and password, fearing because I don’t really understand how online profiles and accounts work, how much information remains permanently floating in the electronic ether even after believing oneself to have cancelled or closed an account.

As an English teacher, I am aware of the double irony of both fearing what I fail to understand and writing online about my reservations concerning online activity. Personally, I believe we are all incurable hypocrites in at least a few ways whether we’re aware of it or not. Fundamentally, though, I eschew any sense of shame in my hypocrisy because I know it is human nature, and though I am a perfectionist by nature and long practice, I know I am not, nor do I wish to be, perfect, or superhuman.

There was a time when I wished for the latter, well beyond the childhood in which that wish took root. As a former recipient of chronic girl-gang bullying since before I hit a double-digit age, I understand well the desire to take on escapist powers of, say, invisibility or a force field shell, or even a steady generator of the perfect come-back to any insult or provocation. Trust issues thus issue forth. And here I am, exposed on the Internet, vulnerable to new attack and subsequent rupture. Part of the wariness of online exposure stems directly from the defense mechanism of wanting to remain unknown.

Both a natural performer and a highly sensitive shell-turtle, I seek the balance and the sense of freedom to express myself without fear of the destructive potential consequences. Living out loud has seemed for years to be a dangerous form of rowdiness rather than a satisfying form of self-declaration. I have sought psychotherapy in the past, and my preferred approach has become an amalgamation of self-help. Seems I fear disappointing even strangers who would be my therapist.

So, although it isn’t very original, this blog will serve as a mode of recovery, and discovery, of all the forbidden parts of myself that I have quashed or rigidly restricted over the years. I still have ambitions, I still want . . . something, and I am here in large part to identify and acknowledge those aspirations, if not plunge headlong into their pursuit.

“The first step is awareness . . .”

Seed pods in glass jar, C.L. Tangenberg; ebony pencil on paper, November 2013

Seed pods in glass jar, C.L. Tangenberg; ebony pencil on paper, November 2013