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Quoting myself on this 4th of July (poem)

Message Gary Lindorff
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Here is a poem

(And it was f---king hard to write)

Because I'm back from the island

Where we go

To get away from it all


When we are there

I write lots of poems

Because my mind begins to clear

And I begin to accept the ebb and flow

Of life on an island

I spend a lot of my time there on ledges

Looking out at the sea

In a poem I wrote there

Right before we left

I imagined not leaving this time

Just letting my roots sink there

But how if that happened

I would never be able to leave

Because "it would be all wrong /

The mainland I mean /

It would be a fractal mismatch /

It would make me sick and crazy"

I have never quoted myself in a poem before

I have never had any reason to

But I am quoting myself here

On the 4th of July

Because here I am

Back home on "the mainland"

And I can feel both the sickness

And the craziness of this country

That would love to move in on me

And steal away what's left

Of the island-consciousness

That I managed to bring back with me

I guess you might call it


In my poem I quoted above

I describe it as the condition of

Living in a place

Where "my edges conform

To the ledges and the sea"

But back to the fractal-metaphor

On the mainland I experience

A fractal mismatch

Which feels like little gears grinding

Out of sync

So there is always some tension

Between my inner gears

And the gears of the outside world

Whereas on the island that tension

Was nonexistent

There were still problems

But they were local and

They were not my problems

I felt in tune with the island itself

I don't know how else to explain this

I just know that I have found peace

On other islands in my life

Namely Inis Mor off the coast of Galway

And Iona

When Covid shut things down

I wrote a few long poems

About my life during the pandemic

They were not really poems as such

But poetic narratives

It was a hard time to process

It was a hard time to write about

In any meaningful way

It was hard to find the metaphors

And I am having the same problem right now

Poetically processing

What I am experiencing

But now that we are emerging from that time

I see that only parts of the world have emerged

And much of the world has not emerged

And needs a lot of help

And I am angered


It deeply distresses me

To be living in a country that seems to have no

Global perspective

No sense of itself in relationship to other nations

I am worried because I have seen

How happy I was on an island

It's like missing the smell of the sea

Except a hundred times more real than that

It is like I am missing the smell of a better life

And I realize that that abatement of tension

That I describe above

Was only possible when I was off the Mainland

And the fact is

Even Vermont does not heal me that way

The peace I found there was insular

It had to do with

How the physical landscape

Of that tiny island

Conformed to my own fractal-edges

Also I miss living in a place

Where I remember my dreams

People warned us of the heat wave

That was blanketing the east coast

And large swaths of the country

But when we were leaving on the ferry

Something strange happened

Something ominous

Halfway across the sky turned a neutral color

The sea grew leaden

And the air began to heat up

As the land-mass of the continent

Loomed into sight

I felt like an inmate

Voluntarily curtailing his own parole

To return to the gulag

To life behind the (metaphorical) walls behind which

Poetry comes hard

And dreams are rarely remembered

I felt the heaviness of my return

And I began to compare myself to those asylum seekers

Who are routinely turned back from our borders

Who bring fresh dreams

And a vision of hope to this place

But I'm the one they should watch out for

The pissed poet

Who found sanity

For fourteen days

Ten miles out at sea

Off the coast of Maine

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Gary Lindorff is a poet, writer, blogger and author of five nonfiction books, three collections of poetry, "Children to the Mountain", "The Last recurrent Dream" (Two Plum Press), "Conversations with Poetry (coauthored with Tom Cowan), and (more...)

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