Axis Mundi

A poem and photo essay by Connor McMullen.

Axis mundi is a Latin term that can refer to a central place where the Heavens meet the Earth. These sorts of places have been on my mind a lot lately, and I took a walk through The Hague to try to get them out of my head. 

Eyes black
Not looking back
A King's gift
Long since escaped
Making home in a new place

Invading birds

looking for some nests to pillage

No place in the city

Next stop

The beach village

Feathered friends

Follow the humans

Forever reaching further

Without limit, in all haste

No matter to what ground 

They lay waste

Lines align
First verse
And already cheating rhymes
Women and children first
Out of the boat
And onto the tram
One of the many weird rules of life
Always give way to the pram


One of the few left
From yesterday
Most the best
Long fallen
At the hands of we


Old souls cry no more
They've lost sight
Of why they were supposed to fight


The world's tired
And the earth burns
Only thing to
Is take solace
In the few that still do


Like the hand that made the tram
Because it's when things look the worst
You'll find that
The right lines align

A single metal finger extended
One of millions of hands
Reaching up from the land
Accusatory protrusions
Jutting out the sand

Screaming to the stars
"How dare you

show yourselves to me!"
Blinding lights
Drowning out the night

Giving us

Just another way to forget

What it's like

To lay beneath an evening sky

Looking up and wondering "Why?"

Too far down, I'll have to go around. I have that choice.
The world does not.

Some things are better

when you don't try
Just let things lay
Wherever they want to be


So if this is the path
The many choose
What's it to them?
If it doesn't sit well with me.
Seems that's how these things go
How much sense does it make
To push back

Against the whole of human history

Not the only soul
Braving the cold
To come toss dreams
Unto the deep
In the sea
Where all things eventually sleep


Wether it falls from sky
Drip-dropping down in subtle splashes
Or breaks from the edge
Crumbling against relentless crashes


The sea is forever
The other place that connects us
To what we used to be


Now beyond that one thoughtful soul
Stands man's play abandoned play things
Today mostly hollow
An empty pier no one needs

The child with the fox tail
Tries run to no avail
Beyond the colorful threshold


There the world becomes slightly more wild
The dogs can run free here
Like I said, slightly.


But here even we just can't let things be


Construction booms loom
The city slowly sprawling
Eating sand dunes
One at time


But don't worry
It's all going according to plan
We'll stop growing


Someday

But probably not before

The wilds are no more

A working dog
Out of work


Generations bred
Mouths they fed
Today just another commodity


Little thought given
To what the relationship

Used to mean

Hand and paw

Side by side

Needing each other to survive

Today still loved

But like our connection

to the great mysteries

Broken by technology

 

they gets food from the store

Just like you

No longer are they a necessity

 

A once proud lineage

Now caged in houses 

and walked down concrete streets

A reflection in the image of we

Another animal that's forgotten

What it is to truly be free

A weathered feather
Last flight
Long ago flown


Dying in the sand
A long time still


Until it's next life is known

Straight troughs
Crooked columns
The hand of man
Ever imprecise


Another forgotten mystery
The are few who can still hack and hew


Few to turn the earth
Live all winter
On all summer's work

It's not better
Now or then
It's just different
And at have so few things
To connect us
To them

When everything is askew
Pretend it's all normal

That's what I do
Pretend like you're oblivious
To the chaos around you


For a moment
My mind forgets
The purpose of this time
Ideas interrupted by others

 

Save it for later
If at all
Let them recover
I'm just here
To try to see the truth

In a thing or two

Off the main path
The style lasts


Out in the street
It's all the capitalism you can eat


An invented holiday
Proclaims best wishes


And what's a few kisses
Without flowers and chocolate


Or maybe ring
If that's your thing

But you better spend

If you don't want your love to end

Eyes down
Missed the step
Got wet


Followed the tracks
To get back home
Where I will sit alone


And ponder out future
Together traveling faster from the past
Then ever before


So what?


We've forgotten a few things.
Lost sight of the old ways.
But look at what we've gained!
Look at all these things!
We have it so easy!
Not everybody,
but soon.

Another numbered beacon
Beckoning from above
Calling to mind
Maybe a future time
When the saucers so fly


And all those questions
Are answered
With a whole new set of ones

That's the last hope

The true story we've all but forgotten

Our rescue can't come from within

We're too corrupt to see

What life could be

Too distorted to see past

Our shared history

It takes an outsider

To set the prisoners free

The night fades
After the day
A sad soul
Searching for comfort in the arms of another
No peace
Even with a lover

The end is beyond us
Yesterday it was nigh
Now it's gone
What you hear now
Are just the first notes of a swan song

 

We've all but forgotten

How to live any other way

We've forgotten all the old myths 

Bringing knowledge and the wisdom 

From that far away

 

There's no story-store

No other place we can find inspiration

Once our sky's blotted out

Our oceans boiling with waste

Our wild places relegated

Too tamed pets and depressing zoos

These special spots we can try to save

Keep some bit of sky open

Keep the big beach clean

Leave a sliver of Africa and South America uncolonized

Not because it was too hard.

Just because it was too far.

But every day 

Our sacred sites close up

One by one

taken over by innocent people

And greedy industry

I lay awake at night

Pondering this tomorrow

 Hoping I can do something

Anything 

To save one or two.

But I still worry for humanity

Every day another place blinks away

Cutting us off from the axis mundi

And I wonder about these places.


How many?


Are too few?

Special thanks to my friend Nils for inspiring the second stanza of the first poem. The lines "Invading birds looking for some nests to pillage" are his. 

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