painting of a dam exploding and a river being released

Keepers Of The Flame

Featured image: Resistance. Acrylic on canvas. 2008. By Travis London. “With the successful devastation of the Washougal River watershed through intense logging and mineral extraction, there was only one thing left to do: install hydroelectric dams. In the early 1920s, construction of a third dam began down river from the outlet of Cougar Creek. The night the dam had been completed it was blown up. Dynamite reduced the structure to rubble and once again the salmon, eels, and crayfish passed unhindered.”

To this day, the Washougal River remains free flowing and supports populations of chum, coho, and chinook salmon, steehead, and cutthroat trout.


By John McGrath, 2004

Who will be the keepers of the flame,
when shepherds shame their flock and mock
the truth with every new transgression?

Should we be surprised to find a fork in every tongue
of young and old, when those who lead us
feed us daily, lies of such a size
we barely blink at indiscretion any more
from rank deceivers rotten to the core.

Yet some would call them heroes, after all
they’ve said and done
with word and deed, the very need
to justify themselves long gone.

Who will be the guardians of the light?

When might is right and wrongs are sanctified,
when innocence is maimed and sacrificed
in Freedom’s name,

when none will take the blame,
when every lie is truth and truth is lie,
Who then will be the keepers of the flame,

save you and I?

imagee of a satellite dish pointed at the sky

No, we are not going to Mars

A poem about stupid ideas

By Monique Milne

Some philosophers say
You define a thing by the context it’s in.
So, what then … is a polar bear in a zoo?
Or a human on Mars?
Am I the sum of my parts? Something more? Something separate?

They say bacteria are us
Or we have bacteria.
A sterilised planet has no life
Has no bacteria
Bacteria are life.

What do you call a human on Mars, going to Mars, dreaming of Mars?

Is a machine alive?
When every machine and computer rusts
We’ll still be here!
If the Earth turned to rust
No more humans.
Can’t make humans from machines.

LA hipsters know all about machines.
Use them to ‘hack’ your body.
Watch out for cell towers
The illuminati hacking you
Our bodies are meat-suits
That our soul inhabits
Our beautiful natural bodies
Meat Suits!

What part of you is your soul?
What of us is and always will be our body?
Breathing, laughing, crying, blinking
Your feelings are the real you
What does the feeling?

No, your real physical body is immaterial
Better hack your meat suit
Be better looking
Live a lot longer
Your true identity … Martian
Such a spiritual experience.

What ever happened to seeing?
Rejecting our bodies
Rejecting our Earth
Put your meat suit
In a space suit
And fly to Mars
Where you belong.

But you are not an alien
You belong here
You deserve your body.


By Jeremiah Potter

They drug them
by their necks
away from the sacred
to the televisionThey murdered
the buffalo, deer
and bounty itself
to feed them Wonder Bread
and pork

They poisoned their
rivers, streams, lakes
and oceans
to force them to drink
swimming pool water and liquor

They beat them
with Bibles
and the cross
in fear of
the beauty of worshiping the earth

They stole all that
sustained them
to smudge out
their freedom
to tax them
on the land
that was loved and defended-
their land
that can never
be owned or divided

Sitting here by this smokey fire
under the winter dogwoods,
maples, birch and hemlocks,
in the vivid sun,
I divide myself.
As I always have.

Vowing to not be like
colonist thieves, rapists and murderers

I vow not to
bury and squash
what has been,
and still is,
being done.

I vow,
to like them,
love the land and its

To turn my shoulder
to what they say
is right and wrong-
things so displaced
from actual honesty.

I vow to stand
against the utter
insanity of they-
in pure want of excess
and unchecked desecration.


By Max Wilbert

Seen on a sign
at the Quileute reservation
“the salmon helped us for thousands of years
now it is time for us to help them”

One thought on “Keepers Of The Flame”

  1. Three thoughts on “No, We Are Not Going to Mars,” and one on the third stanza of “They”:

    A few might go to Mars, though none of the idea’s most public backers are standing in line. And a more horrid vacation spot is hard to imagine. The “air” on Mars (such as it is) is extremely thin and toxic, less than 1% oxygen, and around 95% carbon dioxide. And the average temperature is -67° Farenheit (though it does get into the low 80’s at the equator in the afternoon).

    Visitors would have to live within sealed and manufactured domed cities (manufactured where, and transported how?), where any crack or fissure would be fatal. It might be fun for tech junkies for a short while. But over time, the suicide rate would surely exceed the birth rate.

    The moon (suggested by Newt Gingrich) is far worse. It has no atmosphere at all, and days and nights are each more than 13 Earth days long, with daytime highs reaching a balmy 260°F., and nighttime lows dipping to a chilly -280°F. Or vice versa. But the daily temperature swing is in the 540° range. Wardrobe changes would be frequent and radical.

    As for “mining the asteroids,” I suggest proponents sit behind a rail crossing between our earthly mining sites and mineral processing plants, and count the number of rail cars going by. Then multiply by the number of such trains on earth, and 10 years-plus for every round trip. Even if it were feasible (which it ain’t, except in comic books), the cost of discovering, extracting, and transporting a teaspoon of nickel or iron (which are imagined to be the major ores out there) would be somewhere up there with the cost of finding, extracting, and transporting a truckload of diamonds from South Africa to New York today. (I made up that comparison, but it’s a reasonable, ballpark estimate.)

    And yes, we’ll even run out of extractable terrestrial iron ore in this century, and thus end the production of steel. Industry’s own estimate is in 60 or 70 years, though at the rate of production between 1965 and 2015, it will happen around 2036.

    We’re using up the Earth as fast as we can, so that growing businesses can keep supplying a growing population with a growing list of necessities like Roombas, surveillance cameras, and video game consoles (without which I can scarcely imagine how our ancestors survived). As we all should have learned in high school, the way advanced civilizations perpetuate themselves is by maximizing the exploitation of a finite planet in the name of corporate profits. Economics 101, right?

    As for Jeremiah Potter’s verse about beating indigenous religions to death with a Bible and a cross: Where did we get the idea that God the father subjecting God the son to death by torture so that God the father could forgive sinners who believe in God the son — instead of just forgiving them out of his infinite mercy and compassion –was more imtelligent than doing a rain dance to end a drought? Wouldn’t you rather die dancing than nailed to a cross?

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