activism conservation travel

A drone, a few machetes, and a bit of rope.

Surveying the Land: by foot, by boat, and by air

… With our surveys, we watch the towns spread with octopus-like arms. We watch the expansion of the gridded plantations with their artificial lines and right angles – but we also get to glimpse the forests of Borneo as they were before.

When we’re lucky, having trudged in deep black water swamps, crawling along the streams that snake through the underbelly of the forest or flying with our drones near the clouds, we get to see a different view.

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personal essay

“My” piece of the Berlin Wall

I was there when the Berlin Wall fell. I toured with the Rolling Stones. And I was in a stroller at the time.

I have a piece of the Berlin Wall to prove it.

My parents got it from the source – the wall itself. The wall had been built the year my mother was born; it fell the year I was. By the time we got there, there was still enough of it left that, as my mom tells it, half of Europe was there to party and hack off what they could.

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Peel back your skin

your skin.

There’s a
underneath – don’t you
feel it?

Doesn’t it
It’s made of bone
and not yours. Haven’t
you felt
your body
fight it?

Peel back
your skin
for me – and we
will paint
your features back,

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Words my own

I want words my own.
I want them mine,
olive-tinted pearls
of lime and plum.

I want to pierce through
the mucus drops
with an bone awl
salvaged from
my splintered thumb.

I will treasure them
when strung on a strand
of my hair, conscientiously
plucked from a strange pillow
and I will wear these
words around my neck,
where they can be clutched
in times of muffled confusion.

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Retrospective Premonition

– Read this, – she says.
– I thought of you immediately, –
she says by way of explanation
for the magazine she’s placed in my face.
So I obediently murmur through the first
few paragraphs as she continues,
– Burma,it’s horrible, just tragic! –
And I nod, yes, yes it’s (unspeakable,
intangibly tracing patterns a tattoo
outlined repetitively; just twitching;
a lizard tail still moving; a beaten dog)
–Yes! – she interrupts,
– That’s it, that’s what they say, exactly!
Just less poetically than you put it, and –
(the place I had visited, the people I had met,
they had been past pain)

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personal essay poem

Tell me my story

Tell me a
story, they
say (ask plead)
and I am stuck
(trapped stilled
muted) because my
glass (jar urn) is filled
to the brim and should I
open my mouth to sing (cry
laugh lecture babble) I do not know
what else would slip out. It is not hope
that I have locked away and my name is not
Arachne nor am I married but my loom (tongue ink
keyboard) unravels itself faster than I weave, faster
(slower) than I think and I am buying time for conjunctions
or, failing that, waiting for a blade sharp enough to find the edges
I cannot see. I have torn the thread in my teeth, pulled out the seams,
and I have placed a pirate’s patch
over my good eye as I climb in the dark, gripping each step with my toes,
unable to look backwards for fear I’ll never go home again.
I have amalgamated your folklore to my memory.
My metaphors are but dreams, for I write poems in place of dancing,
draft tears to memos, and to the chorus (peanut gallery) only is my rage
exposed. And none of this remains (escapes flees transcends coagulates).
I write that which I do not (remember guess) know and don’t know
what I say nor have said and Sing to me, Muse, sing to me of
the girl I might have been (to be) for I do not know my skin
these days nor even my edges (limits endoskeletal) and I
do not know when my voice and yours diverge
(two roads in a caged bird) and I write about
writing as if conjuring a prophecy and
wonder what happened to the meta

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Said the men of Babel

have drifted loose from
words – which lacked the
weight to hold them
in, having themselves seceded
from the hierarchy
of syntax (forsaking
the patriarchy of phrases).

They float
to my ears and my brain
reassembles them
to my Mother Tongue – nearly,
a dialect close enough for

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Tell Tale

My guilt is
in the to-do lists I can no longer
to face. They laughed at my pain so I
them, citing the plausibility of accident.
But they continued to
in my mind and to gain a little
I took to scrawling
in the margins, on the walls,
across my palms and down my hands.

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Translation, America

Pregnant Pilgrims
beware of Big Brother
who watches
the videos, voyeuristically.
A curled
preliminary to prolong the punishment as
antiterrorists are accosted to account
the deprived depraved dead
delayed deadlines.

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I’ve heard God’s in the sock drawer.
Not that I was looking for him,
Not that I found him myself,
Of course –

– I’m not sure I have any matching socks,
Much less a drawer to keep them in.
And now that I think about it,
That might explain a lot.

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