The Small World

by John Grey

It’s blanched white tunnels

that tube-worms dig,

swirling around in complex patterns

like the trail of a child’s finger in cake frosting.

Or the emerald gleam of glowworms.

Or tiny scarlet and blue-jeweled crabs.

The world offers small

as much as it does large.

A lizard stares up at me from beneath a rock.

Its eyes are two black pinheads.


There’s a drowsy buzz

where dragonflies feed.

And blenny darters skirt

the limits of a pool,

feasting on midges.

Even the leaves for grass are in on the miniature.

A cricket pivots on one.

A second is free but blustered.


I am on my knees,

immersed in a world.

strong in detail

but thin on drama.

But then a bobolink

claims an unwitting fly.

I spoke too soon.


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Sin Fronteras, Dalhousie Review and Qwerty with work upcoming in Plainsongs, Willard and Maple and Connecticut River Review.

Anthropomorphization: Ward & Executioner, Prt 3 [Coda]

In the previous installment of this millipedesque series I attempted to examine the ways that innate pattern seeking can lead to philosophies which are either distanced from human-valuing (whether proportionally or in sum-total) such as certain Christian-influenced strains of right-leaning esoteric naturalism (Man is insignificant to Mother Earth) or outright opposed to them such as Greenpeace Envirocrats (Man is detrimental/antithetical to Mother Earth).

Though I roundly criticized the reactionary notion of GNON (though it is highly useful) and the progressive notion of “Enviromental Human Impact-Reduction” (which is similarly useful but more dangerous) I would like to make clear that I am not possessed of that most singular desire to burn things for the sake thereof. One might recall one of those pin-striped, botoxed GOP’ers who, grinning like a hyena and adjusting the Israeli lapel, will proudly declare, “I’ll buy a jeep if I want. I’ll drive it as much as I want. I’ll use as much fuel as I want. Why? Because that’s freedom.”

This ideology, silly as it is (and yes, I gave a purposefully hyperbolic example), actually exists and is, of a absolute certainty, more oft to be found in those members of the GOP and their sympathizers who hold as gospel the collective works of Ayn Rand and believe Bernie Sanders to be literally insane (he isn’t, his ideas are just bad). This kind of thinking is basically, “Because I can, I shalt.” It’s low, low time-horizons but hell, it’s damned patriotic.

Nor am I unconcerned about the environment. Indeed, it axiomatically follows that without a stable and life-conducive environment human life would not be possible and as such there are few things in the long-term that are more important (provided one cares about Man’s continued existence). Where I differ from the shamanistic Envirocrats is that I am primarily concerned with the propensity of a environment to contribute to human survival and flourishing. In short I want environments that are good for Man whereas Greenpeacers generally prefer environments that are good unto themselves. Naturally, this makes little sense and to illustrate this let us consider a world that is filled with nothing but trees and grass; is there such a thing as the good in such a world? It seems highly unlikely given that trees are not possessed of any discernible cognizance and even if it were discovered that they were in fact cognizant a further question would need be plied – to what degree? To a degree equal to our own sophistication, to that of a dogs, a dolphin’s? I think not.

We could go further and take life out of it altogether for the sake of simplicity just to drive home the point. Let us consider a world all of rocks and water, proto-earth – is there a good or a way in which The Environment could be improved or degraded? No. There would be no conscious agent to impart meaning and meaning is lost in the death of the witness. A world without a witness is a world without meaning (which one might remark in passing, is the great tragedy of God – a article on that another time).

Therefore, we should place our primary concern upon human flourishing as the highest priority and not seek to live in some kind of hippy-dippy “harmony” with nature such that our concerns and “Her” concerns are equally taken into consideration. “She” hasn’t any. “She” just is.

Aesthetics of the Terrestrische Lehramt

We, the ceaseless et ferro, reject all art for its own sake. First and foremost due to the logical incoherence of the proposition; art can in no wise have a sake for it has not a self! The creation of art for its own sake – pah! – such is the narcissistic impulse of ego massaging, a pastime of the directionless or the self-deficient. Man’s ego needs not furnishing or some kind of “dressing up” but rather a grand bolstering in both strength and magnitude.

We affirm, in all quarters, the artist whose craft is brought into delicate synthesis with the whole of his goals. That daring soul who realizes that all avenues of terrestrial action lead back to the will and forth to the realization of it’s directionality. No more will we craft or applaud the works of the escapists and the neutralists – those ossified and fascicle purveyors of utopia – remember well the genesis of the word, “Nowhere!” and such is just where it shall lead us! Rather than escaping from the banal, the tedious, the painful, the arduous and the terrifying, the artist should be actively working to confront and stamp out all those aspect which he had hitherto flown from. Such purpose should be central to our art.

The Critics we shall applaud and dismiss in the most high-handed of fashions those who frump and pout, screaming, “Everyone’s a critic these days.” They invariably say it with a theatrical shake of the head, a note of venom on the tongue, the faux-exasperation of the socialite with too much time on his hands – as if it were a bad thing. Every man should be a critic and a most scathing, blunt and incisive one at that. Our works shall be critical tools, first for the smashing of art with a capital A, the calcified remnants of dogma and “institutionalism,” then plied to the creation of dynamic new artistic collectives.

We affirm the bohemians and the hermeticists, both whom exalt art for a purpose higher then mere, blase stimulation, that gateway to hedonism, and champion their methods; first, art as communal binding, second, art as sacral crystallization – we shall add the third – art as driving mechanical force, a leaping off the high, jagged promontory of the age and free-flying above it’s accumulated filth, inhaling the salted breeze as we turn our faces, not skyward, but to the roiling earth below.

In our flight we envision soaring mega-structures of concrete and iron, glass and steel whose roots seek down the very heart of the earth, encompassing the globe like a great chitin shell, a godly suit of mail, reflecting our unshakable, metallic resolve. We see criss-crossing railways that snake across, above and beneath the tilting ambit of those ominous structures like the luminous, colossal tendrils of our very souls, heralding sleek, titanium vessels that roll out and down from the hundreds of thousands of tracks, into and out of buildings and under and out of the ground, dispatching “the road” with their stupendous omnidirectionality. We spy factories who billow clouds of smoke as grey as that which whisks from the cigarettes we smoke in symbolic delight, out of whose clanking innards pour a ecstatic conglomerate of sweating, straining eisenhausers, who, by fiery and stolid drive to terrestrial mastery, drain the fetid bogs and muck-filled swamps, cut the trees and bushes, divert the rivers and streams and glass the snowy wastes! We envision, in those conquered lands, the erection of industrial academies who hurl out upon the world a magnificent cavalcade of warrior-poets who dispense with the adage: The pen is mightier than the sword. Adopting instead the battle-cry: The pen IS the sword!

With this vision in mind we reject with utmost fervor the doctrine of separation, that codification of unwritten laws which reads: Art for the stars, man for the earth. Instead we shout: Art for the reshaping of the world – the stars can wait!