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a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society

Section 4: Sun/Consciousness/Birth

Scott T. Starbuck

Magic Hat
A Tale of Lucifer…
I’m in a 6 a.m. Cloud 9 Shuttle in San Diego with blasting radio
and the host describing an early November fireball.
“I thought it was the Big One,” says another DJ.
“Imagine if it hit us” offers the driver.
“It already has,” I reply. “People just don’t know it yet.”
It is the day before Typhoon Haiyan will hit the Philippines
leaving four million homeless,
and I’m thinking about declining red knot shorebirds
which sources note, in some areas “could disappear within five years”
due to global warming, which also brings northern migrating viruses,
and moose infested with ticks from British Columbia to Maine
being driven insane as they rub off fur on pines
then die from hypothermia.
The driver turns the radio down as we wind
through Point Loma hills in silence, which,
as any reflective person knows,
are never really silent.
Magic Hat
The truth is
you can’t pull
a rabbit
from an empty hat
but you can
make people believe
like politicians
trying to convince
we can have oil wells
and clean water,
minimum wage
and families,
and anything resembling
The Tale of Lucifer, an Old Man, and The University of Arizona and Vatican Telescopes on Mt. Graham
“Later, when I ask Corbally if he would want to baptize aliens, the painful conflict of the interventionist duties of the Jesuit versus the detached objectivity of the scientist is visible.  Corbally knots his legs into rope and wraps both his arms behind his head. His soft voice almost disappears. I must lean forward to hear him murmur that, yes, he would try to baptize them.” – from “Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial?” by Jack Hitt, The New York Times Magazine, May 29, 1994   “A new instrument with an evil-sounding name is helping scientists see how stars are born. Lucifer, which stands for (deep breath) ‘Large Binocular Telescope Near-infrared Utility with Camera and Integral Field Unit for Extragalactic Research,’ is a chilled instrument attached to a telescope in Arizona. And yes, it's named for the Devil, whose name itself means ‘morning star.’ But it wasn't meant to evoke him, according to a spokesman for the University of Arizona, where it is housed.  [ . . . .]  Lucifer is part of the Large Binocular Telescope, which happens to be right next to the Vatican Observatory on Mt. Graham in Tucson.” – from “Lucifer Instrument Helps Astronomers See Through Darkness to Most Distant Observable Objects” by Rebecca Boyle, Popular Science, April 23, 2010   Working with San Carlos Apaches to stop University of Arizona and Vatican telescopes  on Mt. Graham,   I recall how my fellow Greenpeacers howled with laughter when Tucson Bishop Moreno allegedly wondered how to baptize outerspace aliens if the new telescope discovered any.  “If they live on planets without war, and where everyone is fed, they should baptize us,” I offered.   The University of Arizona wanted to name their telescope Columbus, apparently unaware of Barry Lopez’s book Rediscovery of North America, which shows the explorer spearheading  “a ruthless, angry search for wealth” that still desecrates Native sites. The Columbus name was withdrawn after public outcry but the Lucifer name stuck.   The Tribe protested the scopes but the Vatican would only accept physical sacred evidence such  as a church foundation, apparently unaware of Jesus’ words in John 4:24  that "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” According to,  “[In] August 1997 Apache Wendsler Nosie [was] detained by University of Arizona police while returning from praying on Mt. Graham, cited for trespassing. Nosie [stated]: ‘For an Apache to be detained and cited for praying on our sacred mountain by a public university is an outrageous act. Apaches have been praying on Mt. Graham since time immemorial…It is our religious right.’” Somehow the Lucifer name was starting to make sense.   Over 20 years ago, on a drive through San Carlos Apache Nation, an old man offered me his house so that I could live with him. “You won’t learn about us with books or videos,” he said,  “but only by walking with us in these mountains.”  I continued to Mt. Graham then back home    because I had papers to grade, and classes to teach, without much time to contemplate gaps between knowledge and ignorance, patience and force, spirit and money, life and Lucifer, clean water and coal, respect and desecration, health and uranium, sustainability and oil, people and policy, blood and gold, song and silence, and what in our time and place remains wholly real, partially real, barely real, and just plain bureaucratic illusion.

Scott T. Starbuck, a 2013 Artsmith Fellow on Orcas Island, feels destruction of Earth’s ecosystems is related to spiritual illness and widespread urban destruction of human consciousness. A former Oregon charter captain and commercial fisherman turned creative writing professor, his newest book The Other History . . ., published by FutureCycle Press and reviewed in the June 2014 issue of Amsterdam Quarterly, is at His eco-poetry blog posts are at Miriam’s Well: Poetry, Land Art, and Beyond and at South 85 Literary Journal. His eco-poem “Thinking About AWP 2014 in Seattle” is at The Monarch Review. These items are linked on his blog at

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