FANTASTIC GARBAGE ISLAND
Who knew we'd both seen that episode
of Duck Tales? The grassy sargassum
Bermuda triangle tangling one of uncle
Scrooge's many ships in its grip. The adventure!
Of course the interchangeable nephews (we viewers)
got to tag along. Science!—bring your other
homework, we're oceanbound! But...
That wasn't our island. Our mix of Swiss Family
Robinson Crusoe and The Cay. Maybe
some Waterworld mixed up in the visionary soup
that sprouted from a short phrase misremembered.
And why island? Why both seeking the safety
of land when the spiral title of gyre came
attached to the pacific garbage some nondescript
face explained was poisoning the ocean. A gyre!
A fucking unstable gyre with its gravital gimbal!
Forgive my exuberance, this is serious.
This is metaphor.
This is both fuck you
and I love you.
But it's also about currents.
Fourth walls of houses blown down
by atmospheric maelstroms. Silly boxes.
Igloos only have one wall, yet Eskimos
are self-aware enough to be offended by term-tone.
Nome oceanfront eventually winters in Baja.
Sand will come. As will tide.
500mph and I can't hear what you're saying
because you're not here. Like light.
This isn't physics, Mr. Higgs. It's anecdote at best.
This is afterschool cartoons gone awry.
There are no garbage islands in the Pacific.
Just the last bit of broth from a buffet's vegetable beef soup.
The polymers we melt into plastic bottles
and hardhats, and grocery membranes
swirl in the deadland of the windless north Pacific
waters only truly manipulated with combustion engines,
carbon-ignition once again (measured in Equine metaphor).
Thousands of Chinese-made bath toys
were blown overboard before hitting Seattle.
They’re still cruising the currents,
stamping their passports everywhere from New Zealand
Our world tour.
The warm-toned, duck-yellow and beaver-red
have been completely blanched of their passion
to neutral, nearly transparent white,
while their cold-toned buddies
maintained their turtle-blue and frog-greens.
Stragglers but lost tourists in the gyre,
world of off-ramps,
of one-way cul-de-sacs filled with empty bottles,
the fire quenching off-day to day to day.
Which is why we agreed the hourglass
as representation of passing time is outdated.
We burn the midnight oil without ever seeing
the oil (that doesn't meet landfall).
We went with Acme bomb wick.
A cut scene.
Bland adobe wall behind the twisted cotton twine spiked
with wax and gunpowder, of course,
coolant and accelerant, love and the smolder
leading toward what must be a powderkeg,
but really, who knows what's below the screen?
Only the next scene.
But this is really about Duck Tales, isn't it?
About the ducklings' ship rushing into the kelp trap
which harbored the fabled sea monster
(was there a huge seaweed sphincter that closed behind them?).
It's at least [as associatively] about
the biological island which carried two iguanas
away from the damned world to Arcadian Galapagos
and the milieu of Captain Bounty or
the ensuing mutiny except that Gableless,
the widow's walk was somber, premonitory.
Our garbage Arcadia evolved from A New Hope-like imagery
as well as sargassum mat and kelp raft petri dishes
drifting life to its own happy, isolated,
We don't think of the early generations
in grand talk of evolution,
the freaks not entirely unique but still
So Fucking Weird. That's us.
A rebel army all our genetic own.
Taboo-breakers all. Fuck the world and
This one is ours. All ours.
Peel a wicked laughter's wrapper.
Ours! Our own garbage island to rule as we wished!
But a word to build it higher, grander.
Let the temperamental sun melt pebbles of plastic
into impressionistic pavement for our alleyways.
Every building with spiral fire escape ladder and slide.
Pillars and flying buttresses of bottles warped into place.
Bring me my crown. There's one around,
If not, I command (into existence): A crown.
I'd never discovered my regal ambitions before you
Now it's all kings and court jesters.
waiting on the stares to be stepped on.
ZEBULON HUSET is a teacher, writer and photographer living in San Diego. His writing has recently appeared in Meridian, The Southern Review, Louisville Review, Fence, Rosebud, Atlanta Review and Texas Review among others. He publishes a writing prompt blog Notebooking Daily and is the editor of the journal Coastal Shelf.