Chinese ambassadors arrived in Rome in 130 BC
Everything done and thought now is a recapitulation of those alive now or before
Not media’s dull rote of glee, sex, food, cars, trucks, ardor for the advertised
“Mass culture produces false memories, everyone feels the same remembering what they haven’t lived through” (Borges)
The channeled horizons, the endless tits-out and big package commercials, the flags and slogans, the relentless din and congestion, the cigarettes and sunglasses, the soda pop and snacks, real estate deals, casino vacation cruises, the relentless promotion of promotions, the accumulating sludge of noise and glut
That has not been before because the distribution, publication, dissemination technologies used now penetrate and are new
We have not long ago unwittingly shot over the sizzling nap of Thomas Hardy’s “precipice in time”
And in the new reality, the real for the younglings who know things to be as they are, are looking around perplexed
With the loneliness of now probably more intense than it’s been before
Single heads driving around one-to-a-car and then home to live alone, with a cat, a dog, no one near except on social media
Single people locked frozen on their screens to stare and scroll
Perhaps half a million Japanese kids are hikikomori, spending almost all their time alone in their bedrooms
A majority of the metropolitan world generally eat and sleep alone
Solitudinarianism a new identity
In the lonely acceptance, that has always been, of whatever the personal fate
Next to civil and clean White Street Pier
The mildly lapping wavelets in off the Florida Strait sough against the shore-thick windrow of dead seagrass
Through which, by the season, the willets, sanderlings and sandpipers forage
Where through millions of years other things had been

Driven off Cuban ships
Right out White Street to
Cow pen killing floors
Drained along what is now
The pier where turnstones
And willets knit one pearl
Two turn out sand fleas
In seagrass beached by
Wind that wafted slaughter
Stench inland while sharks
Slipped in for the offal
From stomachs terror tight
Frantic bawling in the chute

Much better at White Street Pier now then when it had an abattoir beside
Designations of where and what will be have changed
Butchery by the sword and elimination of people by fiat mostly gone
Capital punishment across the planet now spottily marginalized
And generally we don’t eat dogs
But so much existence is without alternatives with the close-in future inevitable as for cattle in a chute
All year at dawn the affable and often solitary arrive at White Street Pier violating their fate for a communal hush when the sun breaks the horizon
Many on bicycles, a lot with dogs, a few tourists in one of their few mornings in the Keys
To gaze at the sun appearing out of the Florida Straits warming and direct
Sunup there a permission for people to leave to go about whatever else they do
One of the nicer remissions
Where freedom from forced circumstances seems amplified
Avoidance of the general onuses of lousy jobs, domestic desperations, disease, depression, debilitations, dwindling alternatives, diminution of hope and dreams, thinning hair, credit card debt
And the worst of forced circumstances, detention
“Nationally, about half of all black men have been arrested by age 23” (NYT, 18iv17)
One in a hundred and ten American adults are in jail, one in thirty-four under some sort of legal sanction, and that number is one in thirteen in the state of Georgia
Then there has been slavery
Whale oil lamps and slavery as universal until the Civil War as undocumented labor and LED now
Whaling station butchery like the old cow pens at White Street Pier
Slave pens were nearly as common as used car lots are now
Blood in the water, whip in the hand
Petroleum for spermaceti and the smellier and more common right whale oil
Restaurant work, slaughter houses, yard work, construction, cleaning houses, factory farming, se habla español, instead of slavery
The world altogether is hell and remains the same
But still can be magnificent in the particular
There are all the wonders of it
All out geezer serene while remembering the eastern Pacific
The eerie anxiousness of swimming uneasily in warm seas extending four or five miles below you to the ocean floor
Afternoon cumulus-gathering toward a light shower before sunset, and then first the planets and the stronger stars before the great high fat spine of the Milky Way home-galaxy comes clear up there by the Southern Cross
All in air clearer than anywhere else on earth
On the reach making two hundred nautical a day riding the great mainsail wing
Listening to the rigging, testing the sheets, hanging to the backstays, leeward, windward, rain shadow fall
Pushed by the Trades
Twelve hours sun, twelve without, air and water equal, clouds and swells bulge and wane, stars wheel, rarely will there be a ship or a tumbling satellite or passing plane
Everything blue, and white and sun, except at dawn and dusk
Time is sun-passage moon-phase solitude
Water a blue of blueness almost beyond the quality of light, azurite blue, and celestial or celestial blue, sky blue, off a bice blue in the way cobalt is the azure of the cloudless sky
Cobalt marine is cobalt blue and blue turquoise in sunlight over reefs, a light greenish blue that is bluer, lighter, stronger than turquoise blue, and bluer and deeper than aqua
The jellyfish blue, all the ocean’s plentitude of blues
Strikes on the troll mostly yellowfin tuna, one ran eight kilos, another chunked against the drag like a downhill truck to leave the braided copper leader with a shiny rupture at the break
And a dorado as big as a calf lost a few yards from the gaff
Filleting red muscle warmth even in the air-water balance of hot and wet, eating raw bits right off the knife and cutting board
Mid-voyage during a midnight watch a mysterious migrating windbird once came in and flew flapping twice around the mizzen
Days at sea accumulate but do not repeat, flying fish, vitreous and glistening flying fish sometimes sputter out of the swells in brilliant sun
Clean cumulonimbus clouds around the eastern horizon at dawn then around to the west at dusk, open and high, piled back behind the curve of earth
Leeward, windward, rain shadow, rain fall
Maui to the Tuamotos, and then to Tahiti, south-by-southeast with the northeast trades, a distance like Boston to Los Angeles at eight to ten knots, speed of a touring bicycle
In the Pacific twice too high off the water, riding on steel from Tacoma to Inchon, and then after Korea, back to Tacoma
In old troopships with bunks five high in the holds with stale air and nothing but standing at the rail on deck all voyage amazed at all that open ocean
It is often gray at higher latitudes
Always in the then and now