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Poetry From the 3:15 Experiment August 2, 2002: what to believe

December 21, 2009
We hike up to Two Trees
fossilized shells under feet
one spiral whole in my hand.

When I was five maybe seven or eight
my grandpa and I walked up
the steep dirt hill
walked on seashells.

Why Grandpa how Grandpa–
my mind trying to wrap itself around
someone carrying these shells
up here to leave behind–
did they live here?

I knew the Chumash
left piles of shells in their middens
shells as trash
shells as beads
shells as money
the shells deep in the dirt.

I kneel and want to pick up the pieces:
there are more shells here
than I have ever found on the beach.

My grandpa tells me
these are ancient seabeds we walk on
high now above the shore.
The mountain used to be underwater.
The mountain used to be the beach.
This is sand.

I would be swimming.
I would be underwater.
It was very different then he says.

The shells I have found
he holds in his hand.
He may have named them.
He knew these things.
He was a tough man, a sharp man
funny sometimes but not friendly
to children always.

I knew he put a caterpillar in his mouth
telling a child they were tasty.
The child didn’t believe him.
My grandpa rolled the caterpillar
under his tongue but the child
saw it—so he swallowed.

Was I too being fooled?
They tell you so many things
these adults and they expect
you to believe them:
dinosaurs, planets, Santa Claus.

From the 315 Experiment: August 2, 2002; the broadside  is available for purchase. Let me know if you’re interested!

Don’t miss another poem or eclectic offering here at Art Predator–subscribe by clicking the link in sidebar! For more poetry, jump on the Monday Poetry Train.

One Comment leave one →
  1. December 22, 2009 11:43 pm

    Yeah, dead good!
    Belief can be a sort of diy thing,
    die if you do (believe it) die if you don’t!
    Dead as a dodo, perhaps?

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