D. E. Steward

“I could not shake off the impression of having been submerged in someone’s delirium”

Like Saul Bellow’s appointment with Trotsky on the day of the assassination, when arriving at the house after the event being mistaken for a journalist and allowed to view the body

From Broadway in Camden, out to Kaighn Point to stare at South Philly’s urban desolation across the river

In North Philadelphia, two-story nineteenth-century row houses, most dilapidated now, were built for people who worked in the riverfront factories

Immediately to the west, three-story houses for managers, farther west the factory owners’ mansions on Broad Street

It had been our Osaka

Its present cityscape of prisons, beer distributors, bars, abandoned row houses, muscle cars, crack and cat houses, aluminum siding, take-out food litter and trash-pile empty lots

Here in strip-mall land we have massively destructive airstrikes by terrorists in 767s, anthrax, the Christian Right, Washington profiteers, bankers’ derivatives, hypocritical religious petroleum wars

And starkly, Beuys’ Blitzschlag mit Lichtschein auf Hirsch at MASS MoCA

As on the Indus in Dera Ghazi Khan, a skinny white horse moves at a trot while harnessed between a cart's shafts

Eyes rolling, lips lifted, it rears back in terror trapped in a rolling bank of teargas laid down by the Pakistani police against pro-Taliban rioters


And following 1945, there was a clear world consensus that bombing civilians was in the league of using poison gas

But the United States has bombed civilians repeatedly in the years since

Heavily, relentlessly, wanting to order the world

As Colombia is a chronic, large-scale guerilla conflict commanded by people who are sunk in delirium, funded in the hundreds of millions a year by North American drug users, six hundred tons of Colombian cocaine and ten tons of heroin annually

Recruiting the hopeless from poverty-ridden jungle villages, at war against brutal right-wingers who are crazed by a spirit of vengeance, according to Alma Guillermoprieto

E grusigi Weltlag

Eine grausige Weltlage

All strangely apropos of Mahler’s Titan

Scored for two piccolos, four flutes, four oboes, English horn, four clarinets, E-flat clarinet, bass clarinet, three bassoons, contrabassoon, seven horns, five trumpets, four trombones, tuba, kettledrums, bass drum, tam-tam, cymbals, triangle, harp, and the traditional strings

Marvelous Mahler

“The main obstacle was his Jewish origins, so he accepted Catholic baptism in February 1897 and was appointed Kapellmeister at Vienna two months later”

Stupendous Shostakovich

Would be pleasant right now to be absorbed with a family of energetic Tibetan ground-jays jay hopping around the yaks and yurts

Off on the grassy plains and foothill slopes, scattered boulders and sparse bushes above the Tibetan plateau's tree-line

Jays, behaving as jays everywhere, partial there to yak-grazed pastures and cultivated ground near monasteries and small settlements

“It is good that I did not let myself be influenced” — Wittgenstein

Waiting outside the Basel Munster’s apse fingering the seam of temblor cracks from the great earthquake in 1356

Chilled night river fog in light from a square with chestnut trees above the Rhine exactly the site of a Roman forum

Fingering the deep-tongued fillers and shims from matching sandstone cut to fit the cracks in the apse, tied in with iron jams soon after the event

In the improvising manner of their delicately contrived liernes-strung Gothic world

Thoroughly apart from our plastic- and epoxy-ordered world

Our techno-standardized numbing noisy lives

Where historical epiphanies are either intellectually-enhanced insights or cheap commercially-induced thrills


But aura of place is still there within a Romanesque or Gothic cathedral, Chinese or Greek temple, Roman ruin or Polynesian lava boulder wall, pre-Columbian plaza or pyramid site

In the air hanging in a Roman arena two thousand years ago

Approach up the tunnel ramp

Come out on the sand and glimpse the sun, stare at the high clouds, as the sky looked two thousand years ago above Arles and Pula and Nîmes

In the motion of the air is the past, both in imagined time and time present

In the Tour de France topping a crest to run a turn’s sinus so fast that when the peloton is gone you remember no specifics of any rider, only their hissing passing sizzle

Like the streamlined rush of air when rounding second going for a triple

That reality

The moving air

Off from the stasis of stiff sedentaries with Roz Chast eyes who live circumscribed in place

Coexistent with the blasé insouciance of tens of thousands at any instant aloft in muttering jets, blinds down, oblivious to the verities of landscape scrolling out below

At rest perhaps too much in self-sufficing solitude

As though it could have been written even of our time, Haydn reached far into the future with the Finale: Fuga a 2 soggetti of his early F-Minor Quartet, Opus 20, No. 5

Plaintive, straining, moving directly into the remote key of A-flat minor

Ahead like the explosive second section of Schumann’s Fantasy in C Major, Opus 17 whose pianistic flares jump generations like fire shadows

Back, forward, and on, in continuous loops

The time of imagination is in no manner absolute

“Attitudes toward mountains were beginning to shift in Europe, a sign of the medieval world slowly yielding to the modern one.... Bruegel’s landscape drawings, part fantasy, part faithful, seem on the cusp of history” — Michael Kimmelman

Bruegel passed across the Alps in the 1560s within months of Thomas Platter’s last legendary trans-Alpine journey, so he and Platter could well have met in Basel or on the track across the Jura

Platter’s already modern sensibilities ranged ahead of his time and they would have had a lot to say to each other

Watch a young Atlantic green turtle in a tidal pond sunning on a snag

Eerie, wonderful, its front paddle feet hanging at the ready, a frisbee-sized Chelonia mydas mydas glowing green

To get a seat when traveling rough on the Indian National Railways, eat meat before boarding and the smell will assure plenty of elbow room

And to get through airport security smoothly smile copiously and hold level eye contact

“Life is beautiful but the world is hell” — Antonia Fraser

D. E. Steward’s “Octovre,” like his “Septambro” in Anomalous Press 3, is a month in a sequential project running month to month, underway since September 1986, bringing the number finished to date at 305 with over 200 published. They generally enter tables of contents as poetry, but that is always an editor’s call. The months cycle, Chroma, is an attempt to note, to build on, and to enhance some of the reality of times. Search “d.e. steward poetry” in the search engine of your choosing for more.