April 20, 2010 – 10:00 pm
When the only light is flame, I run to the end
of myself. Metal bridge mangled, other men
jump into the ocean’s open
throat, choked water somewhere
under smoking blackness. Pray the waves
aren’t stone-faced when I meet them.
Is this the night we were promised, the fire
My skin already razed by a midnight sun,
everything I touch is hotter than a gun’s barrel.
The air reeks of singed metal
Free-falling into the dark
against darkness, the water grabs me
and doesn’t recognize itself.
In Nicherin Buddhism, which I practice, there’s a concept called “esho funi” which means “oneness of self and environment.” What happens in our environment is a reflection of what is happening within us – individually and collectively. The destruction we have created in the Gulf, I believe, is a manifestation of a deeper malaise: a tendency toward self-destruction; why else would we continually disrespect and destroy an ecosystem that is so crucial to us? Saving the Gulf (in every sense of that phrase) is not only about preserving the integrity of the natural environment, but about saving ourselves. One transformation cannot and will not happen without the other.
Saeed Jones recently received his MFA in Creative Writing at Rutgers University – Newark. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Western Kentucky University where he won the Jim Wayne Miller Award for Poetry. While at Western, he was the poetry editor for Rise Over Run Magazine. He currently teaches in Newark, NJ and is a regular contributor to Union Station Magazine. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in publications like StorySouth, Barnwood Magazine, Splinter Generation, The Adirondack Review, Ganymede, Mary, and The Collagist. His blog For Southern Boys Who Consider Poetry is dedicated to emerging queer poets of color.