Image by Mari Helin

FANTASTIC GARBAGE ISLAND

ZEBULON HUSET

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.

                        Nothing still.


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.

                                                We're spinning
500mph and I can't hear what you're saying
because you're not here.          Like light.

                                                Like matter.
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

to Scotland.

                                                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,

                                                mutant             future.
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

         all that.

 

***

 

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,

                                                                        somewhere.

If not,              I command (into existence): A crown.

                                                                      Grandiose.

                                                                      Your presence.
I'd never discovered my regal ambitions before you


vamoosed.

                                    Now it's all kings and court jesters.
Banana peels

                        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.