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In Memory Of Our Poets

Richard Arnold (1954-2017) - Class Of 1972

Richard Sidney ARNOLD

May 29, 1954 ~ May 4, 2017 (age 62)

English Professor at Vancouver Island University, British Columbia, Canada.


M.A. (Victoria)

Ph.D. (Alabama)

B.A. (South Alabama)

Ecological and environmental literature (especially English Romantics, American Transcendentalists, and recent writers such as Edward Abbey, Wendell Berry, and Mary Oliver), nautical literature (e.g. Melville, Conrad, Cooper, London), 20th/21st c. Canadian and American Poetry.


Ph.D. Dissertation: “Conservation and Uses of Nature in writings of Thoreau, Muir, and Abbey”

MY TEACHING PHILOSOPHY:  I am most interested in enabling students to develop a “voice”: not only in the classroom but in life. I always strive to identify and make students aware of their own talents. I frequently get my students out of the classroom, onto the trails, and into the woods. I believe that all human success is ultimately directly related to how we treat our natural environment. Education offers one of the few viable means by which to address any number of crises we are facing. These include Race, Gender, Economics, the Self, and Nature.


STOP!

or the only
nature that’s saved
will be wild hairy comets
with venomous tails

unen(deer)ing
un(bear)able
ir(river)ent
un(earth)ly

attacking from jungles
of light-years and dust
to teach us too late
how much (love)ly we’ve lost

2003, Richard Arnold 


Richard Arnold grew up in Alabama, then moved to Vancouver Island, British Columbia, in the 1980s. He teaches English and Environmental Lit at a small university. He has found that one of the few effective ways to address the destruction of nature is through creative writing. 
Poems by Richard Arnold

Tendrils

Hot dry June. Before driving
 To watch his son graduate
 He goes out to water the garden.

Tending the grape, his favorite.

Young vines cling like
Tiny green hands
To the fencewire—

Relentless, tugging, tugging.

He notes encroaching trees
Have blocked the sun, so
Snaps some branches, clears a spot.

He's gone! he thinks, and walks to the car.

In his throat something bubbles
Both bitter and sweet,
Like wine too long contained.

Abortion in the Woods

exploded
into a million matchsticks
or dropped (a clean dead log)
with one quick shot
and flushed down a river to Japan

brutal either way

the mangled roots
the womb bereaved
the life truncated
the aching mother
the bloody tools

Earth Day

An orgasmic shudder—must have been two whales
To reach his ears across a billion miles
Of space, where he's pulled off to rest in an eddy
And ready his weapon, between Io and Ganymede.

The ancient waves of pleasure make him desist
His preparations to unleash the beast
He's chosen to destroy the target planet,
A blue-green drop of water in the blackness.

He recollects the last time he stopped here—
A thousand years ago, and he discerned
His creatures burning each other in giant ovens,
The fumes of charred flesh stinking up to heaven.

Today, expecting they've not only killed
Themselves but all other created life as well,
He's returned to purge the dead and worthless
Rock from his yard, using a brilliant scourge.

But then the vivid cries of joy ascending,
And something fills his eye that he remembers:
The soft "Yes! Yes!" of April rain on lilies
Away down there—heads gently nod 
affirmative.

Relenting, he makes an entry in his ledger:
"Weapon not expended; visit next millennium."
Turns north and plots a course toward Orion,
Dragging his cheated comet still on its chain.