Robert Banks Foster ≈ You Know The Facts




You Know The Facts

Forestry Notes For

Arundhati Roy

……….The new earth is coming, on a quiet day I can hear her breath.


Jack Layton

……….Always have a dream that’s longer than a lifetime.

With thanks to Michelle Mungall  for inspiring Part III



Part I


Forest still green

end of September the whole way to the coast

but back of the hills in my mind

Roundup readies the forest for harvest.

Memory knows loggers broken

begged in the streets

too many accidents to call them workers

no WCB because

Run it just like an insurance company

Take no risky business

just like fishers just like rain

Reduce uniqueness to utility.

The dark wood becomes the poisoned wood.

We might as well get something for it.

Woods getting dark around me was a childhood dream.

One friend saw

checker boards sprayed

in public parks

2 x 2 foot squares of herbicide

blow at swing and slide children

Who cares about the dead

when dead money grows.

Zombie multiplication.

You know the facts, I know the facts:

as the puddle fills with poison

at first the tiny bit around the edge

hardly shows for the longest time

when at last you notice

well it’s only creeping inward

then well, it’s crept more

you turn around twice and it’s half full

& you blink or stammer

all dead, all gone.

But does it change mind

this sustainable last death?

The table the chair

the floor the wall

the lamp the frame

the library the books

the book cases the pictures

and if not made of wood

made of oil

the former life of the earth

Get fat at the table and complain

there isn’t any more.

But Mom said, “You’re too fat, you’re too fat,

have some desert or dessert.” I did.

We hear when buildings

fall, not trees.

Our members need open

access to timber;

that’s what we call sustainable.

The dark wood becomes the poisoned wood.

Reduce uniqueness to utility.

That’s what we call sustainable.

Look here on my cell phone.

That’s what they left: 5 foot stumps

where we could walk among life.

Worse than the meteor at Tunguska.

The coast is toast.

Mother nature strikes back.

Hell hath no fury like a forest scorned.

A door opens on stumps.

I’ll build you a home in a meadow

and if there isn’t a meadow

I’ll build you a home out of

what will be the meadow

and if ever I should leave you

before it’s done

your door will open on stumps.



Part II


Half though the journey of our life

I lost my way in a dark wood.

At the rally someone said, “We are the forest.”

The leaves of the trees are for

healing of the nations. 

At a mountain lake an hour from my door

We bounce on an ill kept road;

old growth forest beside us.

Cool high air breaks a hot day.

Less than half an hour around

the lake seemed larger than

our minds or world allow.

Teeth of some sort, rough, untried, high up mountains

rugged tree ring between

hanging lichens covered dying trees.

When the rhetoric dried away

I knew how much I wanted to be there.

This is the era of

superficial formations

. . . . . . . . . . . not

that one leaf differs from another

and a chorus sings of multiple voices

the voice of waterfall or forest

grass that folds in the compost

junk stored in the hut

purple leaves each about to fall

their own way

weathered roofs and fading paint

nowhere the same as another

and the mountains, not only their

outline not the same but their sides

logged or not in regular and irregular

patch but clouds casting transforming shadows

the glimpse of change in and out of the mind

grays, greens, browns

never the same

wind, motions of branches, never the same

the noise of expectations

the fractal dimension



Part III


What can I do?

. .  Gather.

. . Listen.

. . Study and listen.

. . Hear the wind in the leaves.

. . Wait.

. . Share.

. . Wait until you and others must speak.

. . Hear the wind in the leaves.

. . Become visible so all see you.

. . Become vocal so all hear you.

. . Share, study, and listen.

. . Hear the wind in the leaves.

. . Feed others, share, study, and listen.

. . Hear the wind in the leaves.

. . Begin.


A two page version of this poem will shortly appear in Jack Layton: Art in Action, edited by Penn Kemp.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: