“Plight” – Lyric Essay by j/j hastain

A robustus at en.wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons
Turtle Hatchlings – A robustus at en.wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Aren’t we all just turtle hatchlings, trying to survive in this brutal and deceptive world long enough to find the place where we belong– just like the ones in “Plight,” one of four mini lyric essays by j/j hastain in our Spring 2015 issue?

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THE OBTRUSIVE AND MISDIRECTED LIGHT that causes photopollution is affecting the sea turtle hatchlings on the Florida coast. They are misinterpreting light cues (on which they depend to find their way to the sea in the dark).  Attempting to move away from the dark dunes from which they hatch, they follow an inverted force within them, they move with the compass of their small bodies open. How vulnerable! If fluorescent lights interfere too severely, they can confuse them so much so that they never find their watery nest. 6.2 million hatchlings die in Florida every year and many of them die on their way.

When I first read about how photopollution causes decrease in sexual function in humans (due to circadian disruption) I unplugged the only light and moved the whole light outside. I slept for days, dipped my diary pages in red ink to simulate the unseen blood loss of skeletal turtles on the beaches. It’s scary when animals die and you can’t see any of their blood in the process. Right away you are aware that, in addition to things having gone terribly wrong, something is missing. As I ponder, I notice that the wooden fan that I am using to fan myself seems to be leaking. Emissions are a kindness; they wisely help us integrate loss.

On a blood-soaked, driftwood beach I can see that the sea turtle skeletons are partially sunken on the brinks. They look like little bois, purifying forms of perversity. The tide keeps rushing in and out as I belittle the skyglow (with my head and fist raised to the place in the atmosphere where that light gets caught). Running along the shore I am trying desperately to caress all of the decaying bodies, attempting to touch each one. “Your neck bone is so beautiful!” or “I want to lay you gently in a tub full of corn,” sacred phrases particular to each. I want to offer them a light like candlelight reflection, a light that is unconditionally relevant, a light in which they can follow their inclinations all the way to their liquid hearth. I know no other way to offer infinitely relevant light than by a certain quality of touch coming from my own body on this cold beach on the periphery of the city.

It is beginning to rain a good ole’ fashioned Florida rain now. The droplets are penetrating the sand, making drum whacks on the softening shells of the turtles. The swamps will flood tonight; the sea level will rise to cover over their sweet, bloodless forms.

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Bio Next2j/j hastain is a collaborator, writer and maker of things. j/j performs ceremonial gore. Chasing and courting the animate and potentially enlivening decay that exists between seer and singer, j/j simply hopes to make the god/dess of stone moan and nod deeply through the waxing and waning seasons of the moon.

j/j hastain is the inventor of The Mystical Sentence Projects and is author of several cross-genre books including the trans-genre book libertine monk (Scrambler Press), The Non-Novels (forthcoming, Spuyten Duyvil) and The Xyr Trilogy: a Metaphysical Romance of Experimental Realisms. j/j’s writing has most recently appeared in Caketrain,Trickhouse, The Collagist, Housefire, Bombay GinAufgabe, and Tarpaulin Sky.

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