Locust Seventeen - April 2003

Locust Seventeen
ISSN 1529-0832  Vol 1 No 17 - April 2003


Once again a quotation...Can a quotation be credibly used to support an idea? That's a very dangerous start indeed! Notorious tricksters have skilfully quoted and misquoted philosophers, writers and poets, re-arranging their words and punctuation, pruning their sentences here and there, just to make them say what they--the tricksters--wanted the man in the street--such a credulous species!--to believe.

The following words were written by Jonathan Swift almost three-hundred years ago, but they are so sadly timeless. Are they only trite pessimism? Fatalism? Misanthropic ravings? Or just the wisest insight yet into human history?--which really boils down to Swift's opinion. Life has changed in many respects, but why can't global history move on otherwise?

"He [The King of Brobdingnag] was perfectly astonished with the historical account I [Gulliver] gave him of our affairs during the last century; protesting it was only a heap of conspiracies, rebellions, murders, massacres, revolutions, banishments; the very worst effects that avarice, fraction, hypocrisy, perfidiousness, cruelty, rage, madness, hatred, envy, lust, malice, and ambition could produce."

April 2003

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~ A Poem by Jake Wilbon ~

I wear a cloak that kindles
Duo of lava sandals
Pants wove with reddish magma
Stolen from Krakatoa (*)

In bowels are boiling geysers
My throat releases steam bursts
For this heat I shout Amen!
I'm Jehovah's Oven

(*) Krakatau, an island volcano between the much larger islands of Sumatra and Java, erupted in 1883 in one of the largest and most devastating eruptions in recent time.

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~ A Poem by Candy M. Gourlay ~

Days pass away like people,
seasons slip through gaps unnoticed
and eating becomes a ritual
performed for survival.

There was a chewable time, tongues
aware of fuchsia; pine, when digestion
was an act of God and we savoured
just about anything.

Those days are gone; evacuated
through bowels of selective memory,
where the world is tasteless
and we are past caring.

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~ A Poem by Winston Willis ~

Who rattles the chain on your neck?
I am convinced he doesn't play dice
Like those hagglers in the park
Who stand in the cold rain on Sundays
God, those guys like to play your soul.
Maybe he likes playing chess or poker;
Man, he must have a good poker face.
Anything where he's in control
And calling the shots. Except
When he doesn't have the reigns,
You know he has front row seats
Like Nicholson at the Lakers game
In those cool black sunglasses
Chilling out on Sunday nights.

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~ A Poem by AprylFox ~

A tired man sits behind a desk in a tired skyscraper
he is not thinking of anything work-related
in fact he is thinking of last summer when he took the
kids to Disneyland,
where they got to shake Mickey's hand and rode
the rollercoaster

that was so long ago
the kids are grown up now
Billy has a tattoo and Jenny is just about to get married,
and he wonders where has the time gone and pokes
in his jacket pocket for a slim cigarette.

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~ A Poem by Stephen Mead ~

Slow as congress, as war,
Though the inner pace careens,
A business, the same leftover
Business picking up as if
The start were different--
This is the rumor of change,
This, a fresh breath,
Blowing progress back
Backwards angel,
Progress, the storm,
& I saw a guy, sweet
Jesus, fallen
Onto a sewer before
     Some bus
Picked him up then
     Circled, circled
'round & 'round 'cause
it was lost

     but he didn't know this
     he was sleeping
     sleeping easy, salvation
     in the motion, dark
     night city, lights
     kind of like tears, star
     spirals, star echoes, the speed

of sound, & I, a seat behind,
just as quiet,
listened & watched
for the way
an angel may wake,
come together
with this pattern
blowing blowing
over the sky oceans old

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~ A Poem by Joshua Williams ~

Kill ugly TV
she said

Unaware that Hollywood
interiors regurgitate concrete
and glass not Idaho
T-shirts asking
Can you handle life?

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FOUR POEMS by Devin Davis



until all aphids crawled
away, it lay with a urinal;

&, upon this,
the ladybird, finally,
abandoned her sunflower; my

own great fear rested there...
roaring yellow lion hair. so long
after his head was cut, i thought

that she might last
awhile. not leave



dad had his skinny pig's head; he
whittled a project log, between knees,

and turned an invisible lathe,
as the cur-gray bark stripped
too yellow to stain pink.



that hanging
polyurethane curtain is
closed; a shower, 'round

your crown; &,
the glow within it
rolling slowly down.



they made an appearance...

a set of young lovers; eager, after sharing their chrysalis,

to emerge early from dreams; beautifully formed, one morning;


large like a gentle tiger's face.

autumn came and went.

winter flew; then

hotter days stretched.

while, on wide green fields, others ripened soft, yellow-striped, black and white bellies;

turquoise buds also sheltered, in a sea only unfolded elders have seen: shells

ready to be empty; all tawny, or darker still;

which will rise, differently composed; those thirsting from lavish past lives; loving the nectar of every flower out. slim stems. scales lighter.

summers were long on promise; just bristling, as with youth.

this was some time ago, before so many homes, vacant lots sat below overgrown hills.

such spots aren't a part of the maggots' estate;

far and away any hayseed flies.

we're permitted sweet, tasty cream.

magnates have memories. as we must, ever since our migrations amassed between canada and california;

our cousins spanning toward florida in the northeast.

seasons allow us recall; that we may weather any variation. thus

stories of family travels followed from milkweed stalk to stem that late blooming.

tales told: colorful souls, dearly departed; these fluttered, almost clear as ghosts. ragged were their values; in a range of uplifted spirits;

dusty myths of moony moths suffering for the sun. a tragedy.

maybe it was beryl who first noticed hugh. perhaps, he saw her for the leaves missing.

since hugh cherished beryl, he saved her the most tender. often she halved them beside him.

they matured, narrow as worms; very likely, by design;

but was it--as is claimed--to overcome some possible aerodynamic problem?

or, rather--had ardor so overwhelmed everyone else--that they would simply lessen themselves? it has been said.

traditionally, we've always climbed for plumper trunks.

nevertheless, as there would be a lack of competition on shriveled branches, our pair rested where drier fiber was preserved. there,

the freshest leaves left felt wilted; somewhat want for water, and withering.

(it's a fact that this betters digestion. by then, much of a plant's fat content has dissolved).

desiccated white syrup fed these caterpillars; a crystal plantsugar, more bitter than milky incidentals.

this was living! abundant as a picnic ant; and everyone knows, no bug--or insect--can gather like an ant at banquet.

pleasing and ample as preflight stirrings...

hugh and beryl had a pale blue shell they assembled. it barely fit them.

within so thin a housing; their walls were soon browning under hot sun.

stuffed in, and quite weakened, they could see well past that opaque cage; it cracked, easily, onto the closing season.

even keen-eyed hardwings regarded these two slight bodies as appetizing. nearly edible; less bitter failures.

prior to their airy union, hugh & beryl remained relatively separate;

at least they'd once fancied becoming a butterfly...the kind that none had.

and after, they abandoned each other's wanton, unmatched, zigzag path.

she deposited eggs of their offspring.

quietly, the yellow pollen flurry blew.

now down to mexico, where monarchs lodge on sparse, short trees.

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~ A Short Story by Nathan Leslie ~

I spend my days perfecting the chronometer. How this is done is through a more precise chronometer. Yet the one that is more precise now will become less precise upon the completion of my series of tests. I must wind the chronometer at 8:00 and 0 seconds and 0 milliseconds exactly. A half second too late and I will lose all respect, not to mention self-respect. The test must continue for five years, three months, six days, eighteen hours, five minutes and thirty-four and a half seconds. When this period is over, I can go home.

I live in a geodesic dome to minimize vibrations and temperature irregularities. I had it completed on the day the tests began, an icohedron with twenty faces, twelve vertices, thirty edges, not truly a circle, but as close as you can come within a free-standing structure. The clouds of each arc intersect to form the circle, structural elements connected by the shortest possible lines. Yet the dome can withstand one hundred and fifty mile-per-hour winds. I think I would survive most hurricanes without, more importantly, damaging the chronometer. Thank you Buckminster Fuller, wherever you are.

Once a colleague tried to tell me that human life is the most precious commodity on earth, presumably as a result of our ingenuity. "How untrue," I told him. "If it were the most precious commodity, we would live forever." He seemed befuddled by this logic, blinking and shaking his head back and forth in amazement. He said something about the human spirit, the human potential. I replied: "Time is greater than the human spirit. It was there before we existed, and it will continue regardless of our presence. And after time ceases there will be nothingness."

"Very true," he said. "Yet, we can only live within time."

"That's my point," I returned. It's simple.

The new chronometer is maintained in gimbals, enclosed in a wooden box, which is enclosed in another wooden box padded with cloth, and then enclosed in another padded wooden box. This is, of course, to protect the chronometer from vibrations and temperature variations. The last box is my contribution to the study, for it will further reduce vibrations and temperature variations, by my count, making the chronometer at least ¾ of a second more accurate over a month's time. This is considerable.

Otherwise, the new chronometer is the same as the old chronometer. It contains the same variable lever device, the same temperature compensating balance. The super-imposed dials are identical. The fusee is the same. My creation is simply the third box, which allows the chronometer a greater amount of precision. Yet, the tests must be done before the patent, before the notoriety.

I look forward to death, for my colleague is right, this is at least the end of my personal experience of time. I want to see what lies on the other side of the continuum. If only I could experience nothingness myself. Now that would be something.

At exactly eight and O seconds, I wind the chronometer. I drink a bag of liquid protein and sleep for hours. When I drift, I feel time leaving me. Perhaps this is as close as I may get for now.

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