Sunday, November 29, 2009

What up is

(By way of House of Cats, thanks Wendy)

NASA got so
pissed off about the Russians selling slots
on the international space station to
millionaires like Dennis Tito and Mark Shuttleworth, that they
promulgated new rules, new
criteria, for just who can, and who can’t be
what people are now calling
space tourists.

dishonest, criminal, infamous or notoriously disgraceful
conduct, (apparently discrete disgrace is just fine), suffices
for rejection. My mind thinks “they’re worried
about OJ.” Can’t you see it,
the tabloids would have an
outer space field day. Low speed
chases in orbit, OJ in a space suit.
They’re trying to nip this publicity stunt
in the bud because everyone knows —
astronauts prefer

But seriously, the other
factors that can disqualify you
from space-flight include
fraud, excessive drinking, and
drug abuse. And I’m trying to picture this,
thinking of some 800 pound gorilla. Some
smoke-stacking reefer
madman playing three card monty
with John Glenn. You know they say
weightlessness can cause spacesickness even without
someone’s chasing screwdrivers with
tequila shots while he watches the
moon rise. Imagine it, way up
there above the continent-sized
lacey galaxies of cloud, luminous
spiral white fluff poised against
the blue-glowing ocean, a
giant opalescent, marbled jewel
sprawled against humanity’s
intensely arbitrary conception of
is. Imagine that scene
wasted on someone in orbit
before he even
arrived at the launchpad,
some moron too high on
himself to notice the glorious
beauty that surrounds him

He’s getting
queasier and queasier by the minute,
until the swollen weather balloon of his
zero gravity stomach starts to collapse, eject, and
catapult-spew the vile, putrid Mulligatawny
stew of his chemically-ridden,
industrially irradiated, and
genetically modified diet of
ever-so patriotically American

No. Now I’m seeing him in a space station
that’s become a gargantuan
of his own making,
because if he is weightless then his vomit
is weightless too. And it is sloshing and
bouncing and rebounding all around
the cabin. It’s got nothing
to stick to, what with all the
precision-machined metal and plastic
surfaces designed to repel it. And just then,
imagining this intersection of progress
and malnourished disgust, what do I see
but the balding domed septuagenarian pate
of John Glenn, and he’s flushed with all the
senatorial outrage he can muster —
and dodging puke, and I think to myself:
wait . . . WAIT.
This is perfect. This, is,
perfect. I think
“what better place can there be for all the
nauseous politicians in the world?” Every
president, prince, king, pasha and potentate, every
emperor, czar, dictator, and shah,
every grand mufti, premier, and papal nuncio
each vice chancellor, senator, and MP,
even the representatives of the Icelandic
Althing — load them all onto some
international space station.

After all they like to think of themselves as
above the fray, ten feet tall.
Loftier minds, concerned
with the big picture.

Upper class. High
brow. If they want to
look down on us why not
let them? Why not make them do it
from a place high enough so they can
piss all over everybody in the world,
— but where their piss,
won’t fall? Where they’ve got to live with their own
predigested messes which won’t
trickle down. Where people drunk
on power have to dodge their own
projectile vomit. And like the poverty and war
they make for the rest of us,
there’s no escape.

I wonder how long it would take before they stopped
concentrating on their own emissions, bodily
secretions and ex-
cretions for long enough to notice
that there are no borders and no skin colors
painted on the land and sea
down below. Wonder if the mid-day sky,
black as Texas crude
might not wake them up to that thing so near,
and impossibly far, the news
they hold in the palm
of their hand, like us,
the rest of their victims,
the reality that we’re all equal,
the miracle of the life
we are.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Terror for Christmas

(This will be the last post before Thanksgiving, and so it's time to resurrect this classic from the vaults. I dedicate it to Jdimytai Damour, the man trampled to death in 2008, in a Wal-Mart Black Friday sale stampede.)

Well the terror alert had been raised to high,
so our F-15's were patrolling the sky.
Keeping us safe, keeping us free,
protecting the homeland security.
Every day of the week, every week of the year,
we're armed to the teeth so we got nothing to fear---
except maybe,
fear itself.
Except maybe,
fear itself.

The kids were asleep all snug in their beds,
while visions of Predators shot through their heads.
They were slaughtering badguys like you wouldn't believe,
with their Hellfire missiles there on Christmas Eve.
They were pint-sized heroes in an army of one,
and for Jesus's birthday all they wanted was guns;
guns for Jesus,
and fear itself.
Guns for Jesus,
and fear itself.

Well the terrorists are always around,
so you better never lower your guard.
So while we celebrate the baby Jesus,
you know they're trying extra hard.

It was just after midnight and NORAD radar
showed that something big was coming in fast.
There was no time to think, and no time to argue,
act now or it might just be your last.
And they mighta thought twice,
and they mighta thought better,
but the terror was already so high,
well that was the night that the US Air Force
blew Santa Claus outta the sky.
We blew Santa Claus outta the sky.

And it was raining bits of blown up reindeer
for hours and hours on end,
and none of our jets,
and none of our missiles
could put Santa back together again.
And though fear and hate,
may keep you safe,
from everything the enemy sends,
the problem with answering fear with guns,
is that you're gonna end up killing your friends.
The trouble with answering fear with guns,
is that you always end destroying your friends.
With nothing to fear,
and nothing to love,
except maybe
fear itself.
Except maybe,
fear itself.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Uncountable Orgasms

(This poem is indebted to Rachel Maines' "The Technology of Orgasm".)

'When did God make men? When she realized vibrators couldn't dance.'
---Roz Warren?

Leave it to mathematicians to invent something called a
countable infinity; a contradiction
in oxymorons to the lay ear. What they mean
to convey is that whereas infinity is something you know
you can't count to, nonetheless, if you have an infinity
of integers at least you know which one is next.
If you reach 3,458,753 you proceed to 3,458,754.
6,400,079,010 leads immediately to 6,400,079,011.
But then again if you start trying to count what they call real
numbers --- it could be something quite small, 15 perhaps,
you don't know what the next number is. In theory
if you just step to 15.000000001, there are still
uncountable millions of fractions in between. In the
case of 'real' numbers you don't know what the 'next one'
means. In both there is an infinity of numbers
but in the latter case an infinity between each step towards
infinity. It's like the difference
between not having a prayer of getting
where you're going but at least knowing the next step,
and not having a prayer of getting where you're going
and being clueless
about what the next step is.
Almost like two different types of people.
A countably infinite person looks down on
an uncountably infinite person for lacking direction.
The uncountably infinite contend that the countable are,
regrettably, not very deep.
I was reminded of these two different types of infinity when I was trying to imagine the total number of times in history
women have faked orgasms. I figured it was such a large number
(probably one or two for each grain of sand on an ocean beach)
that you might as well call it infinite
in that same poetic imprecision one lets slide with sand.
You see I've been reading about the evolution of vibrators
and medical douches and I've been,
let's see, it's hard to find a word for it….
flabbergasted? (Really, more like gabberflasted? ma-zazed?
fumdounded? sta-monished? pur-srised?
stump-jarted? ) to realize not just how often women fail
to achieve orgasm from plain old vaginal
penetration, but also how long this has been going on and why.
How often, throughout history, they were told this was because of something wrong
with them and they were frigid. That if they tried to satisfy themselves they'd only be made
more frigid, perhaps infertile. And so women would become
physically ill from unsatisfied sexual desire, diagnosed as
hysterical. Up until 1952 hysteria was one of the most commonly
diagnosed illnesses in hystory. What an amazing thing that the social
construction of sexuality can get so close to a person, so far
inside her head, that it could stand between a woman and her own

The prevailing treatment for women
diagnosed with hysteria? Go ahead, guess.
Would you believe me if I said
genital massage? Yes, 'genital massage'. As far back as the second
century A.D. the leading physician of the time, Galen,
provided a detailed description of how to bring a woman to what he called, 'hysterical paroxysm'; his description complete with
vaginal contractions and release of vaginal fluids leading to
'relief of symptoms'? As Rachel Maines (the author of
'The Technology of Orgasm') observes
doctors have had their hands full throughout history
satisfying the sexual needs of
women otherwise unmet by their husband's penises.
She calls the term 'hysteria' social-
camouflage for 'sexually unsatisfied'.
'Hysterical paroxysm' camouflage for 'orgasm'.
Historically then, doctors have functioned
as (albeit socially prestigious) sex slaves, or,
given the differentials in pay, lucratively
rewarded prostitutes.

I imagine there are those who think such pursuit
the stuff that dreams are made of, but medicine
even then being a volume business, and paroxysms often
requiring up to an hour of devoted physicians' attention,
doctors were quite eager for any technique or device
that could save them labor, increase turnover
so to speak. This explains what might otherwise
strain belief, at the end of the nineteenth
and beginning of the twentieth century, the wide
dissemination in doctor's offices
of that new invention, the electromechanical
vibrator. Responding as it did to a need both
urgent and widespread it nonetheless proves a little shocking
to twenty-first century sensibilities
that the medical vibrator was patented
fully a decade before that
other great labor saving device, the vacuum cleaner.
Achieving regularly in five minutes what men's penises often failed
of for years, and which even a skilled surgeon's fingers might
only succeed at in ten-fold the time, the technological imperative
of such a machine is clear. But
as so often happens in materialist culture what begins
as curiosity soon evolves through convenience to household
necessity, and an earnest and thrifty market learns
to bypass the middleman. So it came to be that
medicinal electromechanical vibrators were widely advertised
in the sorts of ladies journals read by knitting circles
and elderly spinsters, and even the Sears-
Roebuck catalogue.

What then? Shall we call it revealing
or call it odd, that nature (or was it God)
should design a woman's genitalia
in such an inappropriate fashion
(or at least unflattering to the male anatomy?)
That the act of procreation should so often fail
to satisfy feminine lust or (truth be told) masculine
ego? And once this fact concealed
how quickly the healing profession, dominated
by men, should substitute its agency
for prostitution, which because invested with social
prestige, could never be perceived
for what it was? But more again how a
foreign hand should improve on a lover's
virile member, and how a hard, dead, anonymous
vibrator should, at least functionally, improve
on either?

We sound these nether regions imperfectly
with the mind --- finding our egos
always there arrived
of us. But such creatures as have conjured
incubus and succubus alike
to explain what they, neither male nor female, can
comprehend, should only pretend certainty --
with caution. Beneath the skin such turbulent
purposes contend with reason
we both must, and cannot begin
to fathom. Resigned sheerly to function,
our technology has surely rendered us already
superfluous; once the markets
demand it, vibrators will undoubtedly
dance. But these shall sooner coax stars out of the sky
than entrance, whoever the fool and however foolishly,
or achieve the starry devotion of a lover
in the uncountable infinity
of a beloved's sparkling eye.

Saturday, November 07, 2009


Copyleft, copyright,
copy in the stars tonight.
Copy jungles, tiger bright,
burning twinkles, mind delight.
Money profit, forest laws,
copy right the conscience clause.
Own ideas, patent genes,
money nose what money means,
and when the lamb in molten wool,
lambent shines its starry spool,
the lawyers in their tiger suits,
announce the rules that time refutes,
and bankless loves in left bank flesh,
apply the fingersong touch caress,
for better terms on love's tontine,
disdaining tender's legal green.
Like fools with hearts they reeve their gauche,
while kingly brains make fools reproach,
and tight as drunken souls bereft
leave copyright their copy left.