On Beaches

by Eric Chaet

I’ve stood on beaches of sand & beaches of stone
&, barefoot, paced the shallow surf
scanning vast quiet & vast tumultuous surfaces
considering depths, pressures, currents
& species—larvae & mature—
& distant lands I’d never know—
struggles for survival & power.

I’ve stood awed at the limits of my capacities
peering back into my own past & into history
before today’s particular circumstances—
celebrities & unknowns, audacious, timid
scrupulous or not, articulate, or silenced
by ridicule, force, or threat—
or just because apparently everyone
seemed to believe nothing could be otherwise:

Weapons & money
migrations, wars, taxes, prisons, executions
machinery, buildings, vehicles, tools
the geared economy
punishing whoever dares to appear different
assets & liabilities
relatively ignorant or informed
warlords & casualties
born plutocrat & born pauper
investors & employees, creditors & debtors
wild & domesticated plants & animals
storms, grudging drudgery, births & deaths
thrilling triumphs, disappointments
sudden steep anxieties
love & sex, infants, schools, rebellions
memories, games, melodies, rhythms, rhymes
accidents, illnesses, plans, superstition
dogma & advertising, religion & nationalism
megalomania & resentful, aggressive humility
widely held or eccentric beliefs
some crazy, some wise but shunned
tenuous, flames cupped against the wind
some raging & fiercely affirmed again & again
however harmonious with or antagonistic to
what others do, or the nature of the world—
drifting plankton, before & thru-out history
orbiting migrant Sun & accelerating galaxy—
awareness dawning—process, moment, self.

How might I contribute
to a future better than what prevails now?

I will change my thoughts & behavior.


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