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Tuesday, 4 June 2013

The Day Goes On Forever


Strawberry Creek balloons: photo by Dmitry Gudkov, 28 October 2004

We’re alone my shadow and me
You’re alone with your shadow too
The first day and the last day the same
First song same as last song

The stream weeps passing under concrete
Habitual deer have retreated
The earth is covered with vehicles
Meant to secure the unknown against us

The caged bird said this place is very pretty
Excellent for lunch fine for sleeping
But if I might ask one thing more
How come nobody thought to put in a door

Strawberry Creek by Gilman Hall facing East: photo by Coro, 13 January 2009

Strawberry Creek: postcard, c 1906, photographer unknown for E.P. Charlton and Company, San Francisco (via East Bay Creeks)

Waterfall at Stadium site

Water Falls, University Creek [Strawberry Creek]: postcard, photographer unknown for Paul C. Koeber Company, c. 1908: a section of Strawberry Creek with waterfalls wound its way through the site of the present stadium: photo by Phila Rogers (Lawrence Hall of Science)


Strawberry Creek I: photo by Sean Goebel (geekyrocketguy), 3 February 2010

Strawberry Creek III: photo by Sean Goebel (geekyrocketguy), 3 February 2010


Strawberry Creek coming out of the culvert from UC Berkeley: photo by Coro, 13 January 2009photo by Coro, 2009


Strawberry Creek as it drops to a lower level, just east of Sather Gate Bridge at UC Berkeley: photo by Coro, 13 January 2009

Litter around Strawberry Creek, UC Berkeley's main natural water source, flows into the Bay: photo by Rachel Gross/Berkeleyside, 30 March 2011


Strawberry Creek IV: photo by Sean Goebel (geekyrocketguy), 3 February 2010


Strawberry Creek V: photo by Sean Goebel (geekyrocketguy), 3 February 2010


 Strawberry Creek VI: photo by Sean Goebel (geekyrocketguy), 3 February 2010

Environmental services crews working on scene at Stanley Hall on the UC Berkeley campus following diesel spill into Strawberry Creek caused by pump valve failure at Stanley Hall bioengineering research facility: photo by Tracey Taylor/Berkeleyside, 11 December 2012

Booms in place in the creek at Strawberry Creek Park in west Berkeley following diesel spill at Stanley Hall bioengineering research facility, UC Berkeley: photo by Tracey Taylor/Berkeleyside, 12 December 2011

Sheen of diesel fuel on the surface of Strawberry Creek: photo by Tracey Taylor/Berkeleyside, 12 December 2011


TC said...

There are actually a few grisly and mostly silenced locals who recall the days before animal torture labs, brain imaging centres, bioengineering factories & c. took over this territory. The creek was once a relatively peaceful patch, a sanctuary of sorts, bucolic, vernal, a glade of green quietness and clear flowing water. Now it's merely another vulnerable landscape-feature permanently subject to technological revision in the midst of a totally bought situation. But then, what isn't anymore.

A couple of days after that spill at the bioengineering doom factory, some enterprising photographer snuck under the yellow tape when the authorities were out to lunch (literally as well as figuratively) and shot this bit of video.

I thought of this poem twice in the past few days. The first time came when in the middle of the night I hooked up the converter box to the antediluvian non-cable telly and picked up the one channel that comes in on this makeshift medieval rig, a Mexican superstation. A film was playing. We see inside some church-of-high-tech labs where some bored lab techies are busy having hormone rushes while idly monitoring a screen upon which we see a wee frog encased in a sort of glass cake dish. Harming no one, as it were -- just another sacrificial lab toy with biology included in the package giving up its wee life for the good of mankind, hollywood ho ho ho hum. Cut to knobs and dials and flashing-coloured-light techie displays (the new Hollywood-Ho version of neutered-sexy). A button says "Inject nano-meds". Girl techie pushes it. Rival hunky lab love-interests come and go, distracting her attention a bit. Now we see the frog's brain, invaded by greenish fluids. Now we see the frog on a monitor inside the glass cake dish. Its head has grown suddenly bulbous, and much, much too large. A viscous fluid is seeping out through its eyes. Poor froggie! Surely nothing good can come of this!

Watching movies in Spanish without a program guide is always interesting. The game is, Guess what the movie is.

At this point I guessed: Hulk.

Location shooting of the lab scenes in the film took place just up the hill from where the 2011 toxic diesel fuel spill occurred, at this cuddly place -- maybe a half mile or so above the site of the vintage postcard shot that's the fourth image in this post.

The second time I slowflashbacked the poem this week (why didn't somebody think to put in a door??) came a few hours ago, when I heard it read on National Public Radio. Sponsored by the pharmaceutical moneybags of Hulk, Inc. -- er, the Poetry Foundation.

Garrison Little Town in The Land o Lakes was away on a canoe cruise so the poem was read by a stand-in -- but that's a proper celebrity stand-in, naturally.

The Day Goes On Forever.

Lally said...

the realities described in your comment are certainly depressing but the poem transcends it in ways (individual, creative, etc.) that somehow elate (if that is the proper way to use that term, my post op brain unsure)...



"The first day and the last day are the same"

Despite the diesel and the booms and the skimmers that little red squirrel who makes an appearance at 1 minute in that "bit of video" seems to have found the door. Meanwhile and otherwise, good to see you've made your own appearance somewhere 'out there' on the radio.

light coming into fog against invisible
top of ridge, shadowed sparrow in right
foreground, no sound of wave in channel

positions form arrangements,
possible variation of

frame, space in the picture,
memory from elsewhere

grey white of fog against top of ridge,
white line of wave breaking in channel

TC said...


Yes, I was happy for that wee squirrel.


It's hard not to love that word, so that makes two brain-damaged lovers it has.

But I must also concede that the word and me have experienced a few bumps in the road over the history of our relationship.

There was a time c. maybe twenty-five years back, when I actually had the nerve to attempt to "pass", back-of-the-bus style to be sure, amid the dull-glazed glitterati of that grand U up on the hill.

At a dinner party for somebody, I think maybe it was Robin Blaser, I found myself in a small circle of academic-familiars, who, as it developed, held weekly gatherings at which everyone spoke in turn about the feelings evoked in them by a certain word of the week, chosen by the master of ceremonies.

At this precious event the word was, yes, elate.

Neither the word nor me has yet recovered.

But a fine word it is and I am entirely thrilled to have it resurrected here, henceforth I shall always love it with all my heart and tell it I'm sorry I ever cheated on it.

elate (v.)
1570s, literal, "to raise, elevate," probably from Latin elatus "uplifted, exalted," past participle of effere, or else a back-formation from elation. Figurative use from 1610s.

But the literal is good enough for me.

Annie said...

Did you know they'd be broadcasting your poem today, or was it further anecdotal evidence of synchronicity? (I like Mr. Keillor's Indian name. But it makes me want to eat a piece of toast slathered in butter.)

At any rate, I am happy for the heads up. I will tune in to catch the KALW broadcast en route to taking Quincy and Mojo out to run along the banks of yet another compromised bit of urban wildness, our next door neighbor, Guadalupe River. We usually go at dawn, but I had to drive my storyteller pal Olga to her knee surgery early today. Dogs are a bit puzzled, but I'm sure they will rally once I don the "magic shoes" that mean happiness awaits. Hopefully, we won't encounter either a skunk or a no-no NanoFrog.

I'm sure you deflated the level of pretension among the elite. Funny how association can taint an innocent word. Assuming there is such a thing.

TC said...


Virginia Woolf (who of course was such a terrible snob and given to saying things like "The poor are SOOO boring") had it quite right, I think, when she said, with just that perfect slight quiver of snobbish disdain that only the hounds can make out, "One never knows where a word has BEEN".

Words are like money in that respect, they've been touched by so many hands and traveled into so many places, who knows if we'd have wanted to be along for every lap of the ride?

Still they're all we've got, if we want to say things. So it seems we're stuck with them, and given that, it would probably be best to act nice and try to get on.

Of course I suppose we could always substitute animal noises, like "Awesome!" or "like" (as in I'm like..."), & c.

Sooo... To answer your query, I guess I kind of like did know, and it was kind of like almost awesome.

Canoe trips this time of year in the north woods, no paddle, no mosquito repellent, no buttered toast, no words, just Garrison and you and me and the words.

And Pinch Me.

And Garrison and the words fell in, and who was left?

TC said...

(By the way, Annie, that audio link is there on the Writer's Almanac page, to get to it just click the box that says LISTEN.)

Wooden Boy said...

How come nobody thought to put in a door

I guess there are no exits now.

Marie W said...

A fantastic poem, Tom. We're alone my shadow and me You're alone with your shadow too - this place is very pretty Excellent for lunch fine for sleeping. Of course I'm thinking of the pretty place my mice live in in their day that goes on forever. Never more than five per suite. Free food and drinks (variety could be improved though), room is cleaned and sheets are changed on a daily basis (by hormone-rushed techs, haha, you watching "Hulk" in spanish cracked me up). Is it even worse if the door is there but cannot be pushed open even by five snouts in joined effort?
Strawberry Creek, such a beautiful name, such a beautiful place it could be. Here in the lab we have to throw away used chemicals into well-labeled, separate pails/jars, one per category, never mixed or mixed up or even worse dumped down the sink. Everything following very strict regulations. But none of us has any doubt that further down the line they are just poured into one giant something. Sad.

Annie said...

Beats me. Like Merle, I learned the hard way about braving the wrong rapids.
Kern River

Yes, I normally would have just hit the audio link, but my pc currently has no sound card!

My old one ceased to be, after a series of near fatal collapses. Money being a vagrant bird in these parts, Devin called in a favor from a friend who, on the downlow, creates Frankenputers from parts gleaned from the reject pile at his networking company employer. Although I now have a monstrous amount of storage, I guess the morgue was out of sound cards. I realize they can easily be bought for about fifty bucks, but must hold off for the time being. Hence, the need to resort to older formats like the car radio.

Dalriada said...

Picture 7 in the sequence tells me that the world really is upside down

Simon Howard said...

"How come nobody thought to put in a door"

Or: THEY have thought of everything & have put in a door, which is precisely why it's impossible to ever cross the threshold:

TC said...

Thanks to all for helping me look for that door...


Didn't Kafka, with his hypersensitive paranoiac antennae, anticipate everything?

Franz Kafka: Before the Law

Simon Howard said...


I think so. Perhaps - following Benjamin on the Angel of History - Kafka somehow anticipated the past?

TC said...

Time is not a linear matter in any case.

(But what kind of matter is it?)