Saturday, October 29, 2005

Special Edition: Our Private Devastation

(P1,2,3) Poetical, Philosophical, Political


All The Trees Gone

All those great welcoming trees behind our house,

How Like Gerard Manley Hopkins’
Binsley Poplars felled in 1879,

They so suddenly have cut them, chipped them
Carted them away in big-bellied hearses,

Cremains hurtling down the diesel-smelly highway
To be mixed with glue and particle-boarded

To become somebody’s cheap cabinets and end tables.

“O if we knew but what we do
When we delve or hew”

Nothing is ever lost – except the grandeur, the life,
The peace, the birds, the oaks,

Our neighbors, our teachers, the parts of us they were,
What paid silent witness to us, our lives

“When we hew or delve:
After-comers cannot guess the beauty been.
Ten or twelve, only ten or twelve
Strokes of havoc unselve
The sweet especial scene”

Such needless phantom pain each time
We gaze out windows to where they stood,

Where the red-tailed hawks clutching tall eucalyptus
Calculated the scurrying prey. All gone

Gone the hawks, the occasional osprey,

Gone the small birds, the colonies of fourteen
Woodpeckers gathering and storing acorns.

We learned they colonized, two breeders
And a dozen other screeching flying flames.

Gone the deer that came to us for apples,
Some limped from brushes with the traffic,

Gone the big racked bucks that watched
Over fearlessly foraging fawns.

Gone forever the foxes, the rodents, the skunks.

This is where, armed with our Audobons,
We learned of migration from towhees,

Bluejays, juncos, and swifts.
Are we to lose our family –

The hummingbirds, vultures, the mourning doves
Awakening us each day with plaintive love songs?

The quail?
Each year when a new family marched single file

Along our back fence, each year and again
They were “Dan, Marilyn, and Kids.”

I never imagined this poem might be
The most difficult for me to sit through its writing.

Its necessity invades as a matter of duty.
How simple next year or in centuries hence

To retain no image of what stood for so much.
Such a sin of omission I will not commit

In spite of the pain and the tears and the memory.
All that we’ve had. All that we’ve lost.

“Not spared, not one”

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fat girl said...

Oh my god! I'm so sorry.

Bill Cavellini said...

such devastation...the work of men who think that the only living things are humans........the only bright spot for me is being lucky enough to have seen and heard "the before", first can't do it full justice. thank you for sharing it with me. i was transformed to the place by your words.

Anonymous said...

I'm Crying, Damn You!

Anonymous said...

How very sad what has to happen to our surroundings. Some body should have a thriving business on that spot.


Don R. said...

Hi Eddie and Joyce,

There comes a time in life when all things come into balance.
Children out on their own, work and life's philosophy refined
and a beautiful home adjacent to trees and wildlife.

Suddenly the clumsy hand of unknown agents abolish that final
aurora of nature and the solace which nurtures the human spirit.

I can only say your pictures tell the story of ever changing forces and
the need for humans to adapt.

Best wishes,


Anonymous said...


This is devastating! Where, exactly, did this happen and why? I'm so sorry, for you, for the birds, the deer -- for the planet.


Edward Coletti said...

Thanks, everyone. Joni Mitchell's words from "Big Yellow Taxi" come blazingly to mind:

They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique
And a swinging hot SPOT
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don't know what you’ve got
‘Til it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

They took all the trees
And put them in a tree museum
And they charged the people
A dollar and a half just to seem 'em
Don't it always seem to go,
That you don't know what you’ve got
‘Til it’s gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

Gayle S. said...

My mighty wings spread to catch the last of the wind before I land,
but where I wonder?
My ancient mind searches
for a time like this.
There is none.
There is no story about such a time when there is no where to land.

No matter how much turmoil pleagued the two legged who walk with their heads
in the sky, but seem to have no sense,
there was always a place to land,
always a place to retreat from the updrafts of ignorance,
always a safe place to raise my babies,
always a place to find the familiar rush of connection,
always a place to belong,
always a place to find wisdom,
My mind stops
frozen in flight
I search for a place to land
on earth
but she has gone.
All that is left
is still dead white earth that does not move nor grow new life.
Weeping from my lineage of belonging
my body shudders in a wave of loss that goes beyond
my endurance,
and I, the last of my kind turn towards
the horizon
who welcomes me to a new land
I know not where.

Mickinsie RedTail [aka Gayle]

Chiara said...

The final picture broke a big piece of my heart, Ed and Joyce. The poem broke the rest of it. I love you, Chiara

Don R. said...

Hi Eddie,

After visiting with you a short time ago, I mentioned to Elaine, that we should sell our house and move on one of
the streets near where Eddie and Joyce live, a neighborhood that is settled, quiet and beautiful.
Little did I know what was about to come.

We are going through something similar in our neighborhood but not as profound as what you are going to experience.
We went to meetings for three and a half years and managed to have a 14 mega house project reduced to 8 houses
and fortunately only one on the hill above our Court. Where deer, turkeys and wild life freely roamed on
grassy hills, among old oak trees and then on down to the Creek where we live, there is now grading and gutters and noise.
Each day there is a strain of giant machinery, endless ding-ding-dinging of equipment backing up and slamming of steel against steel.
Contractors and sub-contractors, dust and dirt. Sometimes I long for the tranquility of northern Wisconsin were little changes
and nature is all around. Then I snap out of this illusion. We live in a vibrant, multi-cultural and dynamic part of our country were to live
is to keep learning and the climate is mild.

Best wishes,


Martin C. said...

Hi Ed,

Just checked out your blog - beautifully written! It's obvious how big a loss this is for you.
It was really surprising for me to see those old pictures again yesterday, after seeing nothing but bare soil now, and it made me realize even more how beautiful it used to be.

Give our hugs to Joyce,

John C. said...

my thoughts are with you

Anonymous said...

Ed and Joyce,
I am very sad, I have enjoyed the view out back many times. Sorry for your loss.

Kathleen Q. said...

I saw your beautiful posting about the cutting
down of the trees in back of your house. Very sad and
poignant. I feel for you. Some of the other postings
were beautiful as well.

Hi to Joyce.


Larry Carlin said...

Ed, I've not had time until today to read your sad and moving poem and the sweet sad lovely responses. Of course, I had to close the window in my in-home office because the noise of the bulldozers was so deafening. The next 18 months are going to be awful because, as you know, I work from home. The gorgeous music of my 3000-plus iPod songs will help if I crank up the volume high enough. Ugh!

As powerful as your photos are, they can't begin to do the horrific scene justice. Judy and I felt very angry when we first saw it the other day. It is T.S. Elliot's Wasteland come to life.

Sad even more for you and Joyce because it's out your backdoor. We've got a bit of a buffer. What a blight on our lovely neighborhood.
Larry C.

susie said...

Dear Eddie,
Thankyou for writing down what we, over here, were feeling.
"Nothing is ever lost". Except of course, Jerry.....
And (your beautiful words) "the grandeur, the life, the peace, the birds, the oaks."
The live oaks. Dead. After a lot of good years in that meadow, on this planet.
The "plantive love songs" probably not even sung that day. But we don't know for sure. We do know that if they were singing we couldn't hear them above the terrible noise of destruction.
It was so much worse than we imagined it would be.
Thank you Eddie for your poem. The only beauty in something so devastating.
Our hearts are broken.
Susie and Ted

Duncan Lee said...

Dear Ed,
As you know, I write straight off the top of my head as I find composing and editing seems to water down what I meant to say. So, sometimes my comments do not present a full expression of my opinions or beliefs on all subjects. Okay, that's out of the way and I'm sure no one really cares.

I am so sorry about the trees. I'm stunned, in fact. We, here, are trying desperately to get one, single tree to grow on our otherwise tree barren lot. You poetic tribute/lament is one of the best you've done. It's full of your pain, love and soul.

Now comes the dreadful question: What will follow on that raped land?

Unfortunately, God does not forbid, but if only He/She/It would, may a parking lot be forbidden.

Irv R said...

Ed: Sad that you had to write such comments. Sadder yet that this city we all love so much is so insensitive and allows such destruction in the name of revenue.

We all grive togther. I am not certain of the future but can the earth stand the amount of dirt movement that is goin on just a few feet from our door step. How sad. Shame Shame.

Hang in there. IRV

Caitlin Wolf said...

Hey Gramps=) Awww, that's sad, i don't really know what your yard looked like before, other than the pictures were beautiful, and i've heard alot from my parents! But thats still sad =( Sorry to hear that! Well, I gotta get going! talk to you later.. Love&Miss You!

Caitlin Nicole*

Edward Coletti said...


Thank you very much for sending your thoughtful comment and love. We're beginning to get used to the muddy mess behind the house, but soon there'll be more digging and construction for the next couple of years. Oh well, understanding like yours helps. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas. I understand you now have an 18-year-old mayor in Hillsdale.

Love, Grandpa Eddie Coletti

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