D.E. Steward


Note well that seventy-five percent of the earth’s land now is significantly altered and that over eighty-five percent of world wetlands are finished and cleared, gone.

The short season in May of the high black locusts’ ivory blossoms drifting diagonally on the breeze is over in days

“This morning is drunk with spring sun”  (Anna Akmatova, tr. Judith Hemschemeyer)

The little blossoms themselves, wherever they land, remain for a week or so

Blown around in the sunny air

Under the fresh leafed-out hardwoods off above the lawn

Body flash whiteness in the low evening sun of a bird off the top of a high dying white ash beside one of the flowering black locusts

Gray kingbird, Tyrannus dominicensis, a southern bird only casual here

The only now and then like fish crows here, which are shinier, smooth-feathered, shorter legs and smaller heads than the universal default  

Much of the botanical, insect and reptile inventory of the subtropics, missing here in the temperate zone  

But in spring and fall migration there are ospreys now since DDT was taken off the shelf

Absorbed by the fish the ospreys eat and softening the shells of osprey eggs

That DDT poison chain was like the devastating plume trade in egret feathers

Off down here at twenty-six degrees walking Collier County’s white fine sand  

By Big Cypress and Everglades National Park off toward the Keys

Fish crow patrolled, osprey surveyed, magnificent frigate bird determined, brown pelican picketed, black skimmer defined

Red, black, and white mangroves, lignum vitae, on the estuary inlets and barrier coasts   

The ancient baldcypress loft all gone except for the few big trees preserved

They were part of the lost totality of the great pre-Euro settlement forest  

Taiga to the Gulf of Mexico  

Here now even the seagrape and button mangrove are generally bulldozed and burned for the Collier County’s golf resort hotel and retirement tract development

Fish crows in twos and threes checking everything below

“Particle is to beach as pebble is to real estate. / Reality is to reality as sky is to earth.”  (Paul Muldoon, “Recalculating”)

There were random fishing camps and cabin settlements here before  

Very few other than Calusa grandparents were born here

En los esteros

Having to do with this coast’s deep past

The same as the whole of the Americas  


Les Murray wrote that reading a “real” poem, “is marked by a strange simultaneity of stillness and racing excitement. Our mind wants to hurry on and have more and more of it, but at the same time it is held by an awe which yearns to prolong the moment and experience it as timeless.”

Murray’s “wholespeak” envelops all that lives, and all that has

He died the next to last day of last month

“You and I will sit for awhile in the kitchen”  (Mandelstam)

Gilder’s white

Bone white


“You can get the idea of Ashbery in two pages, almost everything after that is sludge.”  (William Logan)

Logan disparaged les Murray as well

“We have done as much damage to the fate of the planet and its ability to sustain human life and civilization since Al Gore published his first book on the climate than in all the centuries – all the millennums – that came before.”  (David Wallace-Wells)

Cambridge University’s current answers to the greenhouse effect are mass spritzing of seawater into the clouds so that salt crystals make them more reflective, rocket launched small reflective disks to create a sort of parasol to shade the planet, and orderly groves of machined metallic artificial trees to filter the carbon dioxide    

”Civilization now depends on self-deception. Perhaps it always has.”  (Ted Chiang)

Titanium white

Der Spiegel claimed that in Germany an average of eight hundred people a year throw themselves in front of speeding trains

Key West remains

There due south of everything else in the lower forty-eight   

Elizabeth Bishop, John Hersey, Marie-Claire Blais, Jimmy Merrill only to his friends, Earnest never Ernie after childhood and maybe not even then, and Tennessee’s bizarre

Like Stevie Wonder’s harmonica in Dionne Warwick’s “That’s What Friends Are For”

Too much Cayo Hueso for metropolitans   

Where an American crocodile thrives in the salt bonds by the airport

No Burmese pythons yet, no closer than on Big Pine up the Keys

Pigeon-plum and gorgeous gumbo limbo

Coco-plum, strangler figs, melaleuca that Australian import, saltmarsh, locust berry’s white to pink to crimson blossoms

Hammocks, mangrove swamps, canals

Coral reef and oolityic limestone base

Los esteros

Being the flat-water passages and ponds where black skimmers feed, full under-bite lower mandibles skimming the surface for tiny fish at low tide, dusk, at night  

Black skimmer defined

They walk and run well, at times fledglings left ashore charge into the shallows, lower mandibles extended, to ape the adults skimming by

They live long the three North American coasts, and across northern South America to Bolivia and northern Argentina (have seen them over the Iguazu River on the flat water upstream from the falls)

In Africa south of the Sahara, and all over South Asia to the Mekong

Running west on I-75 now, Alligator Alley, into white-sanded Collier County in the lowering beryl evening haze’s occlusive glare

Birds galore flaring up off to the sides of the interstate but driving too fast to generally identify

But black vultures circling, an American kestrel high on a wire, a night heron probably a yellow-crowned

Two wood storks for sure, their huge mandibles flying flat look a lot like skimmers’                                                                                               

Half a dozen unidentifiables from over the steering wheel while going seventy-five

Headed for a big Shanghai wedding on Marco Island and all that entails and implies

Missing the keen intensity of the father of the bride

He stopped by when he must have known that he probably soon would die

Again, “You and I will sit for awhile in the kitchen”  (Mandelstam)

We shared times like that for many years

I asked him once where he would live when he was an old man, the US or China

He looked puzzled and then answered politely that he couldn’t say

He died at sixty-four  

Still almost impossible to accept that Yu Dingwei is no more

And happy as a black skimmer skimming to be so much alive

In this deeply empty evening light

Carib Florída high humidity early evening haze

About the author
D. E. Steward
’s five volumes of Chroma, seventy-two months each, came out in 2018 from Avant-Garde Classics/Amazon. Chroma is a month-to-month calendar book, a further volume of months is accumulating of which this submission is one.

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