Orogeny Is a Geological Mountain-building Event. Today in the U.S. People are Struggling Against a Mountain of Racism Built Out of Ignorance and Hate.

As I was going through the poems in my soon to be released chapbook, Paradox and Illusion, I was struck by the significance of the poem below. It carries weight because of what’s happening in the U.S. right now. We have lost George Floyd, Breonna Taylor,  Ahmaud Arbery and many other black lives to racial injustice and racism’s inherent, unequal treatment of our fellow human beings. I’m standing up to ally myself with those brothers and sisters who have suffered too long under the thumb of racism. 




Paradox and illusion define this coast

built by the subduction of Juan de Fuca plate. 

This is the birthplace of mountainous rock

where magnetic reversals align

themselves against the pole’s forces.

We struggle to define history. 


While we walk, I analogize history

as struggle: a beating against the coast

of our beings, our internal forces

dragged down by sinking plates,

morphosed dense material fighting to align

and not to align, like this rock. 


Walking a rhythmic heel-toe, I rock

back and forth between geologic history

and my own.  My body aligns

itself with the waves along this coast. 

I try to think about tectonic plates,

avoid all reference to internal forces. 


But these are not to be denied, these forces

that push against what I want to know, that rock

my belief, leaving me with an empty plate,

making me face my history, our history,

unable any longer simply to coast

on an ignorance of what does not align. 


And then I see it.  There is a line

beyond which we have crossed.  It forces

collisions and collapse.  We cannot coast

safely past this rough rock. 

It is made of habit and history, 

the stuff of which we have filled our plates. 


This story is dark with lithograph plates

that do not equally align. 

We have printed an orogenic history

full of anticlines and stratified forces. 

This shifting sandstone is the rock

that built our coast. 


We must leave the coast, trudge the uplifted plate

where a horseshoe of rock moves solidly along a line. 

We must attend these forces and shape our own history. 



This sestina is from my new collection, Paradox and Illusion. It was first published in Raven Chronicles Vol VII #2. 



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