fire, again, this time, too

Everyone in the campsite woke up early.

We know that smell.

Having survived this before.

Fuck.

Dense, toxic forest fire smoke comes snarling up at your sleeping face pressed into the down sleeping bag. Like a machete drifting around the room slicing open and infecting everything it touches.

The Forest Service says one word: arson.

There is someone out there who is very, very sick and sickening. We need to find them before we loose Appalachia.

They cannot live among us.

Which is what is often said about the kids in this jeep (I am in the back seat with three back here, who are looking at me and rolling their eyes because I am madly pounding away on an iPad, photo folders all ablaze, and three boys upfront, and yes, it can get crowded, but I have always driven jeeps, and I need access to backcountry because that is where I live, where I work, where I write, where I photograph image after image they are a sea of images and Arizona is a three day drive and the big smooth rocks you can climb upon, way way, south) and once again, we are racing away from the fire. We just refer to them as numbers, and some of us have this history of coming last, and we have no idea what the fuck is going on.

Even as we assume out the window of the jeep which seems to be driving through passages, this view of the mountain rekindles memory of the last fire, or sets of them, obscuring anything you cannot step around like sharpened blades and the cutting down, it shits earth, the earth does not care, it has seen other atmospheres and they are of no consequence to the planet which is an almost entirely molten stinking rock in a nowhere galaxy by incisions cut through that figurehead in terror having thrown at us and thrown at us and thrown at us, and I used to believe humanity was out of control on vitriol, like bitter, acidic curses of the earth, and the fleeing snakes drag the dark along.

They say, the earth is extraordinary, but as an artist, it’s my responsibility to articulate that what humanity has done to the planet seems self-defeating, and not unlike the behavior of whales where entire beachfront communities of whales who have given up, give themselves over to the step arounds of the species, the ones trying to keep them alive by bucket brigade, by kindness, we are only mammals, too, by kindness, we swell with ourselves done good we did but look behind you, and the fact that as a species we don’t actually give a flying fuck, and fuck the planet, fuck the North Koreans, and fuck the long history of stench even as you move from tree to tree — and there isn’t a single tree left in the Namid Desert clutching drowning in the vestry chairs burned like a mirroring shields as far as the eye can see.

Our species lest we forget we are only mammals, too, too often driven with a sense of overinflated hubris just look around the neighborhood because summer is coming, it’s been coming, for a long, long time, and it is too late to stop it. This, too smoke of the mind accepts is inappropriately austere and the more sharpened knives go for the weakening men who slump man by man we recognize that everything is conflicted.