The New York Times Interview With Ms Ocean

A mermaid in a cab delivered her note, handwritten in wavering purple ink.
She chose a secret location on Long Island at midnight.
Strictly no pictures, no questions and I must come alone.
She said she admired my honesty and the scoop on Leonard Cohen.

The tide was out, the mist was in and it looked like a no show
when suddenly she appeared by the rocks, lapping quietly at my feet.
She wore a blue mac. A fedora pooled shadows over her eyes.
Such an honor to meet you, I began. Thanks for letting me tell your story.

This is not about me, well not much, she said.
Her voice rippled and skipped through the dark.
It’s about you guys. My warnings
aren’t getting through, not

even the tsunami of 04. You morons
have short memories and no understanding
of omens. We don’t know where we went wrong, me
and Neptune. We were good parents. Fuck knows

we tried our best. Ever since you crawled
onto dry land you’ve lost your way.
What do you mean exactly?
I asked.
I told you no questions, she replied and a cold wave rose up and slapped me in the face.

We sent clear signs, reminders every day. It’s hard work
maintaining the tides, the rhythm, all that pulling
and pushing to teach you the value of self-discipline, of balance
and how to give and take. We’re sick

of your abuse and the shit you dump in the water. I could
go on and on but I’m not here to give another
lecture cos the truth is, you’re screwed. No,
I’m here to tell you I’m quitting. 

Neptune hitched a ride to Andromeda
five years ago. He sent a postcard last month
and says he’s doing swell. I stayed behind, hoping
for change but now your time is up. There’ll be no

more marinara pizza, no more calamari fritters, no
more weekends hanging out at the beach and no
more yachting holidays for the jet set. There’ll be no
more clouds with silver linings and no

more rain on your dahlias. You will be forever grounded.
I’m off to Orion for my new job as Head of Desert Prevention.
My advice in these dying days is to forget love, it will fail you.
Read Dostoevsky and respect your cat, he is wiser than you know.

And before I could protest, she disappeared,
dancing and leaping into a vortex of spray.

 

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Photographic image created by the author

Tales of a Sea-Dog

In the old days I was Canis Marinus, Dog of the Sea.
I was born in a mangrove swamp of the Antipodes,
abandoned by Ma at first swim to the murky
mysteries of waves, death and capitalism.
I was crated frozen to the Land of the Free.
Now they call me Tiger, Blue, Hammerhead,
Great White, Art-wank. I prefer Sea-Dog
but they call me shock, ragged, monster, demon
or jaws (cue scary music and pearly sharps to die for)
the perfect engine and eating machine, soulless
beast, killer of slaves and pretty girls in bikinis.
I can morph into fin soup, a Chinese delicacy
or a shifty money lender. A role model for the aspiring
acolytes of Damien or a trophy tanked up on formalin
stinking behind the thin glass wall of privilege.
Predators queue and gawp
at the impossible.
I stare straight back
and what’s more
I never blink.

 

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Photographic image created by the author. The Heinz tomato soup can is a reference to Andy Warhol’s pop art featuring Campbell’s soup.

 

I was inspired to write this poem after seeing Damien Hirst’s so-called conceptual art entitled ‘The Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living’.  I found it disturbing to see a wild creature exploited and displayed in an art gallery.  My feelings of distaste and anger increased when I later learned that Hirst had several Tiger Sharks killed for his art work.  Even though the sharks are preserved in formaldehyde they start to decompose after a few years and need to be replaced.  Other animals have also been killed by Hirst for his art, including cows and calves for the piece titled ‘Mother and Child (Divided)’.   I find the morality of this indefensible.   It is one thing to kill for food or survival but not for art or entertainment.  Hirst’s pickled shark was sold for millions.

I also find it sad that humans have a tendency to demonise and label as ‘other’ anyone who is different from themselves, this includes other species, races, religions, sexual orientations, disability, etc.  Even sharks can respond positively to kindness and afffection.  They are not the vicious, mindless monsters portrayed by our culture but a beautiful creature trying to survive the best it can, just like the rest of us.  Please watch this amazing YouTube video showing a shark conservationist petting and playing with a shark.  Perhaps they are truly the dogs of the sea.

 

Storks, Tigers and Other Animals

The older I get the harder it becomes to see positive traits in the human race, to see beyond the war, abuse, selfishness and greed recounted in news headlines. No wonder more of us are retreating into our own little worlds.  But a touching story I heard recently about the love between an old man and a stork reminded me of the self-sacrifice humans are also capable of.

Croatian Stjepan Vokie has devoted the last 24 years to care for a disabled stork, Marlena. He found the injured stork one day when he was out fishing.  Her wing was damaged by a gunshot and she can no longer fly or feed herself.  Stjepan goes fishing twice a day to catch fresh fish for Marlena. He also helps feed the numerous chicks fathered each spring by her mate, Klepetan.  Klepetan migrates south to Africa every winter but sadly Marlena cannot join him.  Instead she spends the winters with her human best friend watching wildlife films on TV and riding in the car down to the river for a spot of fishing. In the wetland area where this odd couple reside storks are popular. Nearly every roof in the village has a stork’s nest and according to superstition the beautiful white birds bring luck and children to a household.  Stjepan has even built a ramp so that Marlena can walk up to her own nest on the roof! Disability rights for birds…right on!!

stork

Click on the link below to watch a short film about a special relationship between man and bird:-
http://p.dw.com/p/2joxG

Another good news story about animals comes from Russia. Siberian tigers poached nearly to extinction seem to be making a comeback thanks to the personal interest and intervention of President Vladimir Putin.

Here’s an extract from Laura Dattaro’s article for Vice News:-

“A recent census found as many as 540 Amur tigers living in Russia’s eastern forests, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). That’s an improvement over the last count, in 2005, which found between 423 and 502 of the tigers. In the 1940s, their numbers were no more than 40.

“It seems to have increased quite significantly, and that’s extremely encouraging,” Barney Long, director of species conservation for the WWF, told VICE News. “The fact that [the Russians] can sustain that over such a large area over time is what’s really impressive.”

Amur tigers, also known as Siberian tigers, are the largest tiger subspecies in the world. They also live farther north than any other tiger, historically inhabiting Russia, northeast China, the Korean Peninsula, and northeast Mongolia.

But due to poaching and habitat loss, they’re now confined almost entirely to Russia’s Far East, where the few remaining tigers roam a vast area of nearly 700,000 square miles, about the size of Alaska. Legal hunting in the 19th century drove their numbers down so badly that by the end of the 1930s, when a Russian biologist conducted the first survey of the species, less than 30 of them remained on the planet, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).

Image result for siberian tiger and putin

Russia has had strict anti-poaching measures in place for at least the last two decades, Long said, and has taken additional measures in recent years to create new parks and protect the tigers’ prey animals. In 2010, the country banned logging of the Korean pine, which provides food for the deer and boar that tigers rely on to survive the harsh winter months.

“The success has really been primarily due to political leadership,” Long told VICE News. “We’re talking such a vast area in the Russian forest, that to make impacts across that entire area you really need high-level political support.”

 

There’s more good news for wildlife lovers from China where the number of giant pandas in the wild has increased by 16.8 percent over a decade between 2003 and 2013. The hard work and dedication of conservationists in China has made a difference and the status of the giant panda has now been upgraded from “endangered” to “vulnerable”.  Successful Chinese government strategies include the creation of 13 nature reserves, subsidies for farmers, encouraging foreign NGOs to study pandas and loaning pandas to foreign zoos to raise more money for further conservation initiatives.

Image result for giant panda

The giant panda has long been a symbol for wildlife protection around the world.  Years ago I worked for the World Wildlife Fund as a fund raiser and the panda was our famous emblem.  Panda stickers, badges and posters were popular with the public.  We had a small but dedicated group of volunteers in our area who spent weekends standing in the rain rattling collection tins, running cake stalls at village fetes, doing sponsored walks and supporting charity concerts.  I have a quirky memory from that era.  I needed to borrow a large plastic panda with a coin slot in the top of his head from another group for a fundraising event. It was the sort of kitsch object you used to see sometimes on the pavement outside chemist shops. I had to drive over two hundred miles across the country in the middle of the night with the six foot fake panda wedged into the back seat of my car. In the shadows he looked very lifelike.  When  I was suddenly stopped by a police block due to a road traffic accident I’ll never forget the police officer’s look of surprise when he shone his torch into my car and saw a panda’s face staring back at him!

(all the photos for this post are borrowed from internet stock)