Friday, December 10, 2010

2010 Terror for Christmas

(Since the true spirit of Christmas is rabid consumption, I tend to think of the holiday starting on Black Friday, and extending to the 25th. Also, the "terror alert" level seems to rise around now, for some, strange, reason. That said, this is dedicated 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 20, 2010

Fix the Roof

The other day my friend DJ observed that in general it was not a good idea to run a deficit, and he felt like the federal government really needed to cut spending. I fumbled through a response which mentioned the words “Paul Krugman”, but I felt hopelessly inarticulate.

I have reflected on this a fair amount since then, and have tried to formulate what it is I think I have garnered from repeated consideration of Krugman’s work, and the most apt summary I’ve been able to come up with is what follows.

My wife is the executor of her recently deceased father’s estate. It is not a large estate, and was fairly low on cash at the time of my father-in-law’s demise. The principle asset is the family home.

Now suppose the roof started leaking. It would make a great deal of sense for the estate to borrow money in order to fix the roof. Not fixing the roof would cause irreparable damage to the house, and the house could not otherwise be sold because it could not pass inspection.

The point here is that the value of a productive asset stands to be destroyed unless money can be borrowed to shore up its value.

In this case it would be idiotic not to borrow the money.

Viewing this as allegory, the house is the American economy. The leaking roof is the Great Recession. Borrowing money to fix the roof is federally funded economic stimulus. The value that stands to be destroyed is the wasted productive lives of unemployed human beings like you and me.

Every allegory simplifies, and every simplification is an oversimplification.

One concern is whether or not the estate can find a lender. In this case, the allegory tells us that lenders are abundant and willing to lend at interest rates so low that they are without historical precedent.

Another concern suggests that the money has already been borrowed and has failed to repair the roof. Here the allegory tells us that not enough money was borrowed to fix the roof, but only to put a stop-gap patch on the roof. The patch is already showing signs of imminent failure.

If we fix the roof, the patch will prove to have been worth it.

If we don’t, the trillion dollar patch will prove a worthless boondoggle. The decision is in the balance, as are the productive lives of unemployed human being who in their humanity, if not in their employment status, are just like you and me.

Now, frankly, I have somewhere very close to zero credentials as a professional economist: I try to make sense of the few economists I trust, and make no effort whatsoever to credit economists in the employ of corporations who are legally obliged to lie when lying is profitable. It seems to me there are all sorts of factors that neither I nor the most recognized economic theorists can justly consider.

Yet, the decision is up to us.

Just remember, this is the family home.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Power Makes Stupid

_________________________________________
-----------------------------------------

English, Hamburg, Lehman, Schenk,
Darden, Johnson, LaRocco, Rosty.

Rosty?

Yeah, Rosty baby,
Danny Rostenkowski.
You remember him, they indicted his ass
on more counts than Bill Bennett's got virtues for.

Anyway, where was I?
Long, Smith, Glickman, Barlow, Bilbray,
Bass, Klein, Hochbrueckner.

Hochbrueckner?

Yeah, Hochbrueckner baby, New York's first,
the one and only, in New York anyway,
one in the first, ain't that cute.

What in the hell are you talkin' about?

Me? Me?
Surely you know I'm just readin you a list,
and I'm talkin about politics,
congress to be exact, congressional politics.
It's the Republican revolution,
and I am just listing, in order, alphabetized by state
and district number
the complete list of all the incumbent Democrats
who lost their re-election bids in the
great Republican landslide of '94.
I counted 32 of them, but I'm not quite sure
because I had to count them myself for reasons
we'll get into later.




But wait a minute, wait a minute man.
I said WAIT A MINUTE;
I thought this was supposed to be poetry or something;
I thought you were trying to write a poem.
You can't just go reading some random list of names
that no one's ever heard of.

Yeah, yeah, I heard you baby,
and I couldn't agree more;
you can't write a poem like that,
and this isn't poetry.
And that's the great thing
because this isn't politics,
this isn't democracy,
this isn't no two party system ---
I'll give you the two, but what I wanna know is
where's the party baby?
And so the two are kind of made
for each other.
Poetry that isn't poetry,
and politics that isn't politics.

And really, I couuldn't have said it better myself,
no one's ever heard of these guys.
They're simply 32 of the 535
most powerful people in the most powerful country
in the history of the world,
and nobody's ever heard of them.

Well ain't that cute.

And let's try a little channel surfing
and see if we can find some
American Gladiators somewhere.

And nobody's ever heard of them
---- except for Rosty of course,
but that's like Lou Reed said,
"Does anybody really need,
another crooked politician,
caught with his pants down,
and money stickin' in his hole?"



Lancaster, Price, Mann, Strickland,
Fingerhut, Mezvinsky
--- but cutting to the chase a bit,
the way I've got it figured,
and if you get my point I've had to get down
to the bedrock of the names and I've had to figure for myself,
86% of incumbent democrats were re-elected in '94.
86%
Which is to say that even in the midst of
a Republican 'revolution',
nearly nine out of ten democrats were re-elected.

Revolution; Republican; change.
Yeah, the more things change.

Which added to the 100% of Republican incumbents
who were re-elected
amounts to well over 90% of all incumbents
returning to Washington.
(And a lot more if you count lobbyists.)

This, folks, is a revolution;
90% stasis, and 10% change.

And you are quite right, absolutely right,
you can't talk about percentage points in poetry,
I mean it just isn't poetry when you get done,
and that is my point exactly.

It's like what the president said,
the president of the United States, Mr. President
William Jefferson Clinton;
"We're all Eisenhower Republicans and
they're Reagan Republicans."

I'm not making this stuff up,
and if you want to check it out all you have to do is
hop in your car and drive down to Yale
and wait 40 years for them to release the documentary evidence
Bob Woodward deposited there for his book "The Agenda"
under stipulation that it not be released for 40 years.



40 years.
40 years.

Go ahead, have a cup of coffee,
you've got time.

This Woodward character, what a trip.
Yeah, that's right, Redford played him in "All the President's Men".

Redford.

Well if I remember correctly that was a little bon bon
called Watergate,
and there was this guy,
what was his name,
yeah, Nixon, I think --- well and didn't he have
something to do with Eisenhower at some point in time?
All in the family,
all in the family.
Yeah, Julie and David; how's that for closure?
Eisenhower to Clinton to Woodward to Nixon to Eisenhower.
Around the horn.

Well anyway, Redford, I mean Woodward,
is playing intellectual footsy with the librarians down at Yale,
and it's all so god damn cute that I'm just
dying to know
who Deep Throat was
(remind me to ask Justice Thomas if you can get that on video) ---
and I'm not even talking about Linda Lovelace and Harry Reims.
And he is so far into the woodwork at the White House
that sometimes you think he is in Clinton's
god damn boxers (kudos to MTV for that one.)

Anyway,
they call this power.
They call this control.
They call this politics.
Change. Revolution.
And all the time the poor bastard can't find a measly billion
for 'putting people first.'
Sure, it sounds like a lot but it is less than one tenth
of one per cent of a
1.5 trillion dollar federal budget.
One tenth of one per cent.

Okay, okay. If you can't talk about percentages in poetry
you certainly can't talk about tenths of a per cent.
I mean, what is this, some kind of god damned mathematics treatise?

Alright, alright, I apologize, I apologize.


The point is that here is the most powerful man,
in the most powerful country,
in the god damned history of the god damned planet,
elected on a verbal barrage of rhetoric about change,
prostituting every last principle he ever dreamed to hold dear,
working day and night with the energy of a Kerouac benny addict,
a god damn Rhodes scholar
(yeah baby that's the Rhodes who used to harpoon niggers down in South Africa),
with a brain the size of a planet,
----and he can't change one single mother swiving god damned thing.

NOT ONE THING.

Let's stop on a dime here and take a little cross product
into a new dimension.
We can do that you know because our minds are agile,
and we don't have to just think in one direction
like some idiot machine.
A sweetness of directionality that is melodic,
poetic, rhapsodic.
What I want to do is to mention my old friend Nietzsche,
Fred, or Friedrich if you prefer ---
(and that whole Nazi anti-semite rap just doesn't stick.)----
and his dictum "Power makes stupid."

Power makes stupid.
And what really could be the point of power
if not stupidity?
I mean where do you go from here?
Once you've got all the power,
and all the control,
and all the money,
and you own the lawyers,
and you own the courts,
and you own the universities,
and you collect royalties on freedom of thought,
what then?
Whatta ya gonna buy then baby?

It's like what Adam Smith said in "Wealth of Nations",
the whole point of all production whatsoever is consumption.
Consumption.
And what is consumption but taking it and wasting it,
squeezing the thing for all it's worth
and throwing it all away.
And that is about as stupid as stupid gets.
And that, then, is the point.
Power makes stupid.
And so,
super-power makes super-stupid,
and we're the world's sole remaining superpower.

It's like what Kissinger told Oriana Fallaci
(and she can give me some Oriana Fallaci any time she wants to
I mean she is seriously hot in those Italian leather miniskirts);
'Intelligence is not all that important in the exercise of power.'
That's first hand experience talkin' huh Mr. K.?

And now you see we are finally at the point
where we can start 'Bringin it All Back Home.' Okay.
And I know that this has been a long time coming,
and that poems aren't supposed to be this long,
and that even this apology is making the whole thing longer,
but just try to hang with me a little while longer,
cause we are almost there.
(I feel like a god damned dentist sayin' this shit.)

I've always felt that Kissinger's whole life was ruined
when Peter Sellers beat him out for the lead
in "Dr. Strangelove."
It's just like what the President Sellers
told George C. Patton and the Russian guy,
"Please, gentlemen, we can't have people
fighting in the war room."
So Kissinger did the next best thing
and started having 'secret bombings' and 'secret wars.'

What the Fuck is a 'secret bombing?'
I'll tell you one thing baby,
it ain't no fuckin' secret to the people being bombed.
"Mein Fuhrer."


I don't know exactly why it is,
but Allen Greenspan has always reminded me of Kissinger.
I think it's the wrinkled skin and the coke bottle glasses,
and the fact that they were both there in the Sellers
uh, the Nixon Whitehouse back in the days of
non-denial denials, when bloody Agnew was still taking cash bribes from the Baltimore bagmen at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
And so here is Alan Greenspan,
seat A6,
February 17, 1993
on all four major networks,
seated between the new Eisenhower Republicans
--- Hillary and Tipper.
(Protect our youth from dirty lyrics Tipper.)
And where does the White House beat end Andrea,
and the Federal Reserve beat begin?
And Woodward has gotta be lookin' over his shoulder
at Kissinger and Oriana saying that power
is the ultimate aphrodisiac,
the secrets locked like Deep Throat in the archives at Yale.
It's only money, but while your at it,
who owns the Federal Reserve?
'The buck starts here.'


It's the Grammy award ceremonies
coming at you live via satellite
with all the slickly marketed
superficial importance that modern technology and
creative hair dressing know how to manufacture.
It is 1991, and among other things
they are giving a lifetime achievement award to Dylan.
DYLAN, baby.
That's right, Dylan.
Well you know, infinity is definitely going up on trial.
The Persian Gulf War has just started,
and the Seven Sisters are getting what they paid for,
and everyone is getting just a little tired
of watching death, live.
His is a body of work to fill a lifetime.
Dylan, the anti-war troubador.
And, after all the video clips,
and words of homage,
and tribute and honor,
the man arrives to play his own song
and take a bow.
And he is blasted out of his mind,
knocked out loaded,
stoned, and barely able to walk.
And even people who normally love Dylan
can barely make out a word he is singing,
and all the news reports the next day say
that nobody even knew what song it was.
But if you listened hard and you already knew the lyrics,
you could make it out.
It was 'Masters of War' baby, 'Masters of War.'
And so here it is,
the triumph of a lifetime,
surrounded by a generation of millionaires
who grew up listening to you,
the rich and famous, the glitterati of electronic influence,
beamed out to more millions than you can count,
over the same satellites that have been beaming in
the missile-mounted images of destruction.

Success.

Got the picture?

A generation of revolutionaries.
'The times they are a changin.'
You know, "I'll stand over your grave,
til I'm sure that you're dead."

Who could look at the death-crazed,
frothy-mouthed, Saddam-hating multitudes,
the computerized 'smart' bombs,
the sanitized reporting,
and think that anything had changed
but the degree of war's mastery?
Kill more with less risk, less effort,
and our side wins.
And make millions singing songs about
how horrible it all is.
The pro-test,
is part of the pro-cess.



So now I'm thinkin' about another Dylan.
Thomas.
And the lovers,
'their arms wrapped around the griefs of the ages,'
and I'm saying that's it.
They are all one grief.
All the same grief.
And they are all as close as the person sitting next to me,
or you,
it is one person.

And so now the world is down off the satellite,
and the TV phosphors are that greeny black,
and the mikes and the soundstage are all switched off,
and we are sitting here clothed in the heat of our own metabolism,
and the exigencies of this moment,
right here, right now.
You know that power is out there,
but we've been there,
and frankly, it's more than a little too late to go back.

So what am I sayin'?

No, I'm sorry, I think it's off of me now,
and onto you.
This burden, this sustaining it,
if it connects,
it connects into you,
right here.
And I have got to let go.

It isn't out there, and I'm just about out of energy.

If I could, I would make you as open as a child's mind.

So,
how to end, how to end?
Eternal life is no great shakes, just ask the Sibyl.
I can't help thinking that I want to steal it from Elliot:
Da,
Datta.
What have you given?
Does any of us really know how to give?
To give?
To give?
Wrestle with your soul over that one a few times
without calling it love.
How do I know how to give?
What?
This crushed heart is so weak ---
can it bear even more pain?

Open as a child's mind.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

*

---------------------------------------------

So the king was really a phony,
all those homeruns were only a scam,
and Frankenstein needed a needle
to build the higher man.

The gods of your youth were illusions,
and all the old dreams were a lie,
caught up in steroids and opiates,
was the one thing that money can't buy.

Off stage your heroes' allies,
all commerce in illegal drugs,
while your heroes enhance their performance
abetted by criminal thugs.

Like jet fighters piercing an Afghan sky,
truncating Canada's sons,
while opium poppies bloom in Helmand,
and amphetamines fire their guns.

But what made Barry Bonds do it,
or U.S. pilots over foreign soil?
For the lord of the Afghan drug rings?
Or was it our addiction to oil?

Who is the authentic addict?
Who the certified chumps?
The ones with the go-pills and steroids,
or the ones filling up at the pump?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Nomenklatura

_________________________________________________
-

Secrecy answered terror with a silent question.
What was it?
Privacy ceasing to belong
to individuals,
now the property of the
patriotic state.
Clearance alone freeing in-
formation.

Fear named all that couldn't be said,
where everything illicit flourished like a bumper
of springtime poppies. With security
excusing the galaxy of pleasure,
however pronounced, if unspoken
and in the national interest, profit became
a pension fund limitless with loss
off the books.

Police, crooks alike
banked on strategic leaks
propagating news. Living seed
of truth sheathed
in a rubber tomb, safe.
From an unmanned drone,
evidence of freedom:
a video feed encrypted
in the no-fly-zone of a
trademarked sky, existing
only to be forgotten and deeply,
classified.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Cutting Edge Research, like Columbus Washing up on the Virgin Shores of Intellectual Property

Total control led to total cruelty. The Spaniards "thought nothing of knifing Indians by tens and twenties and of cutting slices off them to test the sharpness of their blades."
--- Howard Zinn quoting Las Casas

If you want to find drugs in a city you've never been
in before, she said, ask for a street
named after Martin Luther King. The legacy
of civil rights parodied by America's
automated response to demands
for economic justice; assassinate,
commemorate, obliterate. She had been running away,
tried every illegal drug
she could find; heroin, cocaine, both
powdered and crack, PCP, amphetamines
she was losing her mind ever
since Robert died of AIDS. I remember him
joking about the pot he was smoking being the only good
that ever came out of the North American Free Trade Agreement,
back in the days before marijuana was medical,
when the disease still possessed the
je ne sais quoi of terror, the fear that it might spread,
might not remain just a disease of
gay men.
There was nothing like it
again until a short few weeks in the shadow
of the anthrax attacks on Congress
when no one knew if there would be enough
Cipro to go around, and its German maker Bayer
insisted on upholding its patents, its so-called intellectual
property rights. There was this palpable fear,
it was openly frightening, not just that this
new man-made plague
was being epidemically spread,
but that the heads of business and politics would
profiteer on disaster. For a brief time,
middle, upper-middle, maybe even some
upper class Americans felt a hint of what
millions of Africans have been exposed to
as the disease that killed Robert devastated
their continent, and the multi-national conspiracies we call
corporations, continued to press for
blockbuster profits from their research
investments. Needing to become addicted
to live, but denied such addiction by patented
science, and its chairman of the board addiction,
to cash. Substance
abuse, but which substance, and whose? Maybe,
maybe, if they promised to become good
slaves, very, very, good slaves,
we could save their lives,
a free trade of intellectual for human
property. As if some new middle passage
returning to African shores
spread the Faustian spores of an
ever stranger fruit. This is what America and
its hereditary plutocrats stand for; extending the scientific
horizons of ownership. Like Columbus washed up
on the shores of the new
virgin territories of intellectual
property (the preferred substance of profitable abuse),
conquistadores deploying tactics that remain unchanged:
assassinate, commemorate, obliterate.
And you wonder why she was running away,
trying to find every street named for
King, in America.

Friday, October 08, 2010

“Arbeit Macht Frei”

*******************************************

Gedanken experiment.
Die Gedanken sind frei.
Gedanken Donuts.
Karl Dönitz.
Paul Nitze.
Picking nits.
Peking Duck.
Duck Soup.
Groucho Marx.
Grouch potato.
Tate Gallery.
Sir Thomas Malory.
Sir Edmund Hillary.
Tenzing Norgay.
Oslo, Norway.
Norwegian Wood.
Tiger Woods.
Tiger Woods’ irons.
Jeremy Irons.
Jeremy Bentham.
Jonathan Lethem.
Lethem eat cake.
Cakewalk.
Walk on the Wild Side.
Wilderness area.
Area 54.
Car 54 Where Are You?
Car Talk.
Money talks.
Mad money.
Mad dogs and Englishmen.
Chinglish.
Chinchilla.
Sensimilla.
Mia Farrow.
Clarence Darrow.
A red wheel
barrow.
Better dead than red.
Cosmic red shift.
Hubble Constant.
Benjamin Constant.
Benjamin Netanyahu.
Nothing but net.
Netflix.
Flexing your muscles.
High-brow pose-off.
Off-color.
The color of intellectual property.
The language is community property.
Artistic community.
Intellectual community.
Thought crime.
Thought experiment.
Die Gedanken sind frei.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Just Outside Death's Automatic Revolving Door

Whirls of ice-dust sparkle in air brittle with advanced
January. Eye-skewering rays
ricochet from the thin layer
of snow-scrunch that was yesterday
's clouds and obscured sapphire
dome. Bundled in Gortex and goose down,
we near the hospital's automatic
revolving door, only to re-emerge
within the hour, with Robert
and his compromised immune system.
The institution has no room
for smokers, and the automatic door
shepherds us into
the sub-zero blast
of the last December Robert
will ever
see.

We cannot know this.

He has scouted a corner where
the freeze is less
deadly, to inhale his nicotine
fix. Between drags there is talk of
travel, Florida seeming
(the icy breeze spiraling along my neck)
impossible. Smoking, I muse, considering his
death sentence, is hazardous
to your health.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Landscaping the Gated Community's Factory Farm

Keep a fire burnin' in your eye,
pay attention to the open sky,
you never know what will be
comin’ round.
---- Jackson Browne

'Fleissig' the Germans christen it.
At first hearing I
thought it the manic, agitated,
continuous, pointless, franticness of a fly.
Fly-sig -- lighting, darting, buzzing,
circling -- literally, industriousness.
As busy implies busy-ness, so both
industry and then industriousness.
The activity in question
a dedication to motion, activity
for the sake of nothing
but activity. The root notion is one
of spreading --- and this allies
etymologically with strewing, straw,
structure, construction, stratagem,
stratocracy, perestroika, bremsstrahlung, prostrate
and street --- the chief architect of contemporary
spread.

Again, with landscape we are nearly
at a dead
end. Find only the root 'lendh'
implying OPEN land, see connected only
island, home-land, hinterland,
lawn and the more obscure
auslander. Perhaps this suffices
to demonstrate the innate
contradiction of 'landscape' and 'industrial',
that the groaning,
commercial weighting of the land with titanic
furnaces, smokestacks, and thousand
acre walls, the boutique gift-wrap
retail shopping mall good
cop to the Love Canal bad
cop and his rusting skull
and crossbones steel drums --- that
the sprawl or razor-
wire and cyclone-
fence handcuffing ownership to the bureaus
of land-title, spread out only to close the
what-in-its-essence only is
when open; the open-ness of land.

I begin again.
Imagine a prison
and, following Hamlet,
a prison within
a prison. What then do you mean
by escape? Did you ever know
captivity before release
and had I chosen
my metaphor (or is it an allegory) differently,
perhaps a cave within
a cave, would this ensnare me
in a plagiarism of Plato, and then
what Shakespeare and his
play within
a play. I have heard it called a founding
myth that the founding fathers
gazed out on panoramas of virgin
land. The Romans were more honest
in tracing their empire
to an entire community
of Sabine rape. The Chumash
farmed Pacific shores with fire
long before the constitutional
liars invented their conspiracy of one-sided
equality. And so the dialog of vegetation
with the human
animal -- everything from the germination
of wildflowers to the age
of forests was a poem
of our-kind's construction for
generations untold --- but an industry with living,
breathing blueprints, with margins of
error and toleration -- breathing room,
negotiated without the distant
dictatorship of imperial
jurisprudence written
in irrevocable ink. How are we
to think of how we might
have thought without the Guttenberg
technology? The press gang of the printing
press has stolen our within without
our knowing. How close the words
library, liberty, and liberation? How,
shy of Oedipal blinding, free
ourselves of reading? (Not just the deed
but the ability?) Can you
see no prison here and who made
the decision? Were you
competent to decide? How
affix a signature to choose
either for or against
literacy? And once the ability
to write and read has stolen from the stolen
land into and about you how
undo, how even begin to un-
do the exponentiating corrosion of epidemic
industry, construction and production?
How regulate the consternating
avalanche of regulation, where
even the sky --- air rights, flight
plans, stationary orbits in outer space ---
are obliged to written
law?

There are heights no wings can fathom. Beyond air
buoyancy ceases and so
even flying resembles freedom
only within
limits. There is always the reciprocal
of intention, by convention we open
the frontier only
to close it. Once
opened to closing
everything --- the planet's constriction,
conscription becomes itself
conception and we prevene
to stage even authenticity. The tide
suffers its reflection
from the breakwall of intended
escape, while the gargantuan lifeless
hulks move on to manufacture
imagination, construct
the information of their own
perpetuation where everything is
owned and bartered even freedom,
conceived as nothing
beyond question.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Pyramid

When the hospital called,
desperate to find you,
I guessed what it was,
and gave them your cell.
When the phone rang,
two minutes later,
I didn’t have to guess.
A trap door opened
into a place you had,
without knowing it,
been preparing for
all your life.

It just so happened
the nearest exit was
the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
As you scrambled to
regain your breath
from the decision
to intubate
your father,
I couldn’t help imagining
the floodlit glass pyramid
where you startled
at your own inability
not
to shiver.

Once again, I was reminded of my regret
that electrons
cannot give hugs.

Now, as you cancel
the land-line that has protected
you your entire life ---
fifty years at the same number,
these words
are my hug.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Breakwall

When compelled, speak of death in the voice of beginnings ended and never ending, endings both begun and unbegun, but explain only what you know and know totally. Unqualified. Completely.

Leave in it no room to be doubted, no questions as troubling as space, no deceptions or half-deceptions half so puzzling as time. Pitch it in no key requiring tense. Dis-place it from moment, from history. Bereave it, and leave it bereft, from any contingency, from all that might not have been, from all that is or was, of might. Render only the soundings whose knots you've fully fathomed.

Extol such truths as will outlive it; dwell there only in what is not and never can be, degraded. Of the pure word beyond hope and passion, of the pure thought, beyond word or deed, of the pure feeling, beyond thought, without need, speak of these in the glimmervoice of ocean skin, the gossip of waves, the murmur of rote, frenzy of froth in the lull. Stammer in the hoven tremble of gullwings, the urgent surges of well-heaves authorizing heaven.

After this, will you still have need of tears? Will the sand befriend your tears like an army of desert skeletons dressed in jewels, a throng of vultures for choir? And where will you find the jeweler of these bones?

Should your voice devour the sun, or capsize a thundercloud, if your lips provoke an asteroid, and your lungs unseat the moon, make answer from the windburned hemorrhage of sunset, kisses blown to the ivory stars, armor spun from mirrored rain.

Divulge all the zeroes in infinity and the infinity of every zero, divulge it in speech of encrypted simplicity, in the paradox of a truth unexpressably expressed, unmissably missed, unjustifiably justifiable, that both does as it doesn't, exist.

For no moment pretend this will repair the crazed blossoms of grievance, pacify the glower of ill-used daisies, rebut the winter's cremations; no words will ever ransom bread from the oven, or clay from the kiln. It is not given to us to sedate the sob in its hurricane, nor to furlough the sweat on its guillotine, nor to decoy for the fragile eternity of one single light-second the incinerator's glowing greed.

No purpose beyond tingeing the whispering lens-glass with hints of meaningful color. To sheath the hopeless fracture in the cushioning plumage of river-snow.

For the sea affords no coronations, accounts no single drop king. Each moves as well as the next, in every and its own direction, knowing that it is the breakwall that is broken, as the moving instant opens on unbordered horizons, where shine spears the void, refuting nothing, with compassion, in each eternal act, of choice.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Downsize Blues

You know I worked my whole damn lifetime.
Since I was ten plus two.
Worked like that was all there was,
now what I'm supposed to do?
Cuz I been downsized.
I got them downsize blues.
Although I'm upwardly mobile,
I got them downsize blues.

On the job before sunrise,
home after Letterman's through,
worked every weekend and holiday,
until I got the news,
that I been downsized.
I got them downsize blues.
Now if profits are shooting up,
why I got downsize blues?

CEO says lean and mean,
next thing he's leanin' on you,
means to take your job away,
expects that you'll approve,
or you'll be downsized,
you'll get them downsize blues.
Now its a corporate phenomenon,
you'll get them downsize blues.

Billions in stock options,
golden parachutes,
tellin' me that more is less,
but more is for the few,
that's why I'm downsized,
I got them downsized blues,
now if profits are rocketing,
why I got downsized blues?

There's something I keep wonderin',
it's got me pretty confused,
if all this work has disappeared,
what work is left to do,
after you're downsized,
you got those downsize blues.
You know somebody's gettin' rich,
but you got downsize blues.
You may have upscale ambitions,
but you got them downsize blues.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Props for Propaganda

With the recent "surge" in public ignorance measures, I was reminded of some poems I wrote in the late '90s, based around language use in the publication "Advertising Age". All in all, the propaganda system seems to be doing just swimmingly.

Advertising Age: March 9, 1998

"The historians and archaeologists will one day discover that the ads of our time are the richest and most faithful daily reflection that any society ever made of its entire range of activities."
Marshall McLuhan

Brand building
motivated. Slamming-policy
touted. Licensing deal formed and a CD-ROM
in your cereal playing
virtual baseball. Optimizer edges claimed
while eyeing major shifts
in daytime. Dunking for competing
Donuts, as new facial lines are
readied and national anti-drugs
slated: Sicilian pies aimed for American
launch. Prices are click-
throughed, rental campaigns
pushed, tombstones
flagged. Diversity slow
but coming. Surveyed brochureware dominates
as Pokemon invasion nears. Systems-
integrators compete between agencies placing a
Red Sky premium on creative genius.
Organic blaze of online trails, interactive
boxtops in LA, and Robert Duvall
does not rate well "in key
areas like stylish, recognition, fun,
sexy." Hurricane Monica
outstripped
even the OJ tsunami.
The language is safe
for another week

Sunday, August 22, 2010

$AT

Asked for
validation of the test, they
give you correlation with results
from another test. Validation
of that? Still more correlation.
In the end, standards are founded
on the Almighty. And God isn’t answering

His email. The Inbox
is full. Sure, the Auto-Responder lets you Know
(Nietzsche aside) He’s there. Thank you for
your civic participation. But the Bible had
already answered your questions before
you asked.

Start there.

Trust
US.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Spark, or Even Friction Sheds Light

Above all they are what scrapes from the underside between street
and rusting car-muffler streaking way past midnight on a
desolate interstate, the conflict of opposing speeds teased into
microscopic flames of irreconcileable disagreement between
destination and being,
the inadvertent hulk of long-delayed repairs, the chug-rumble of
industrial horsepower and diesel fumes mixing with inherited
poverty and the urgent need to be
where we are going.
Even friction sheds light when it gets hot
enough, this is the law of whetstones,
the way fingers can feel grit pregnant
with spark.

How easy it is to forget
that the invisible is always there
even when you can't see it
as clearly as a filling spinnaker or parachute,
even when it isn't slapping your face
blowing through a lover's hair as you watch
the engine of the full moon
rising with the tide from the sands of a tropical island.

But when some sky-diving meteor
sprays the night atmosphere with solid air's
ignition, made light by supersonic
collision, having pierced heaven
from the fathomless cliffs
of nothingness --- who can separate that
fierce and frantic dance from the
romance of luminous vibrating frenzy?
It is an instant you think you will always
remember, as fate rumbles on
with its deafening
muffler.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Happy Fifth Birthday

Today is Jackson's 5th birthday. What follows (or is it what precedes?) is something I wrote about 6 months before he was born. Before he was born, I referred to him as Noam.

Coordinated magic

1/30/2005


Dear Noam,

The ultrasound, unhearable, has made you, invisible, tangible. Inescapable. Or, with a bow to Wallace Stevens, your reality has been made more acute, by the unreal.

As I struggle to write this, I'm repeatedly amused at how there is no way to say exactly when "now" is.

As I write? As you read? Or, inbetween? My future, your past, existing as it always must, always has, nowhere, except, in imagination.

Each day you perform miracles. The way ten tiny toes is a miracle. Ten tiny fingers. A heartbeat from a heart the size of a pea. This synchrony of coordinated magic, mundanely predictable, profusely anatomized, and just as unapologetically, unfathomable --- it is so hard to be awake when all the miracles are already named.

At some version of "now", the whole of you is the size of my pinky knuckle, floating in a sac of seawater, sucking food from your mother's blood through a straw of flesh in her womb. While at some other version of "now", ten million unknowable chances farther along, you attempt to parse (why will you care?) the bemused thickness of my diction.

In case you haven't guessed, I can't wait to speak to you. In fact, I'm in such a hurry to speak to you that, keyboard in hands, and ever so one-sidedly, I have already stopped waiting.

You have arrived at a fantastic time, and a fantastic place.

Your mother and I are so glad to have you and to welcome you to this "cruel, crazy, beautiful" planet, and the limitless possibilities of a human race.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Natarajan Sick Home Blues

Shiva said to Vishnu,
'hey man what've I got to lose,
I got a bad case of them
Nataraj blues?
I feel like dancing but J. Robert
Oppenheimer's got me so confused.
He's playing Jesus
while Mel Gibson's up on TV
reading the news.'

Stop makin' waves,
or we'll send a tsunami.
Stop preaching peace,
or we'll call you a commie.
Stop asking questions
about lies the authorities tell you are true.
You better start stopping now or you're gonna end up
with them Natarajan blues.

You ask for dinner,
but the plates are tectonic.
You ask for justice,
get a plague that's bubonic.
You ask for freedom
and they ask you 'hey will terrorism do?'
We've Gitmoized your rights
as the orchestra plays the Natarajan blues.

Needed a vacation
got sent to Abu Ghraib,
where the dogs of liberation
are so rich they can't beg.
The prisoners all wear leashes,
and the German shepherds do whatever German shepherds do,
while a man outstretched like Jesus
wears electrodes and a hood to dance the Natarajan blues.

Sure must be homesick 'cause my home
makes me sick.
GI-Jesus in the White House
has a miraculous new trick.
Speaks so loud that you can't hear his lies,
but his big stick it wears Edward Teller nuclear designer shoes.
He makes Fallujah disappear while
Mel Gibson reads the Natarajan blues.

Talked to the sheriff,
I said we needed a posse,
but he looked highly suspicous
that I might be highly
Selassie. And on his way to Nuremberg a soldier asked me
'what am I supposed to do?'
I said 'we all gotta Nataraj but
when your orders lead to Nuremberg, hey man,
refuse.'

Saturday, July 24, 2010

U-Haul

________________________________


In Greece, a moving van
is a metaphor. Not
a metaphor for a metaphor, just
a metaphor. In English a metaphor is not
a Greek moving van,
and so a moving van is
an English metaphor
for metaphor.

Poets speak in movingvans.

Bad poets in dead movingvans. Good poets
in movingvans that chirp.
The more we chirp the more our words become
Greek to us, our very beta-alph
reverting to worms and myth.

Invisible feathers tickle distant ears
at seven hundred miles an hour,
transfer their furniture to
myelinated houses
as soft as swans.

Like it or not
we all speak Greek.

Chirp chirp.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Surpassing the Test

Everybody knows the dice are loaded
everybody rolls with their fingers crossed.
---- Leonard Cohen

If you're over 18 you've probably taken the SAT or ACT at some point in your life; the great gatekeepers for the college dream, the drawbridge of the nation-wide scheme that purports itself to be an educational meritocracy. Now I'm sure that there are some people who'd disagree but remain convinced that most of you who've been exposed to this know that whatever it is these things measure it is not an ability any reasonable human being would be proud of or identify as central to the highest shared aspirations of humanity.

Oddly, despite the fact that we all have first hand experience of the absurdity of these tests, they persist, as if they were inevitable facts of nature, changing about as fast as continents drift; a mental form of torture inevitable as tooth decay and dental drills. Despite our living in what is supposedly a democracy we don't vote this absurdity out of existence; as if perhaps our democracy were spelled 'm-o-c-k'.

Now part of this I am sure stems from the degree to which we have internalized the hidden premises of these tests and think our own less than perfect scores reflect something that is terribly terribly wrong with us that might not be obvious as long as we just keep silent. But what exactly are the premises of these tests? They suggest that what they measure is 'scholastic aptitude', but unlike any other aptitude, say like with a hammer and a nail, this is supposedly one you can't improve by practice, one that does not reflect previous educational opportunity but depicts an innate and unchanging ability.

Doesn't it seem like there are two Grand Canyon sized holes in this theory? First, if some people's innate abilities are lower shouldn't they be exposed to the best universities and education in order to promote justice and equality throughout the society -- to give them an equal chance to compete? (Where is the sense in giving more advantages to those who already have them, especially if they in no sense earned them, remember this 'aptitude' is supposedly innate.) And secondly, and even more importantly, don't we all already know that nothing these tests measure is innate? Why is it that even second and third rate schools have special courses to do nothing other than prepare kids for these tests, that there is a whole industry for doing this? And can anyone really believe that you could give the same test to someone who spoke French, or Swahili, or Chinese and that they would have every chance to do just as well as native English speakers? Clearly a person who couldn't even read the questions could not do well on such tests; but the language someone speaks is just as clearly not innate. Even if you translated the questions directly into French for example you would still confront the fact that something as basic as grammar is a social construction; whereas double-negatives are banned in English they are required in French, ne c'est pas?

But then again, doesn't everybody know the dice are loaded, and roll with their fingers crossed? That if your middle name is Dubya for Bush you have a million times the 'innate intelligence' of someone whose middle name is N for Blackman or G for Asian? And isn't that what people are really saying when they claim they 'just want what's best for their children'? If parents want to love their children don't they want that love to make a positive difference and improve their chances for success? Can anyone really blame a parent for wanting to make a positive difference, for wanting to make all the positive difference that they can in their children's lives. And when you try to make sure that your kids get to go to the best schools aren't you at the same time making sure that someone else's kids are in the worst? Unless you're living in Lake Woebegone Minnesota there is no way that all the kids can be above average; for every school that's above average there has to be one that's below; that's the way averages work

I remember I once asked the poet Major Ragain if the world were constructed in such a way that you could either have the greatest pleasure coupled to the greatest pain, or the least pain coupled to the least pleasure, how would you choose to live your life? And without skipping a beat he said 'right in the middle'.

Maybe that is the key. Maybe we can meet in the middle. Maybe instead of denouncing this as mediocrity we can recognize it for what it is: centeredness, well-roundedness, and understand that its opposite is not 'ex-cellence' but ex-tremity, narrowness, and that this leads to a gated community version of success that only regards itself as free when the universal surveillance cameras are watching behind the razor-wired walls. That the only true education is the one that encompasses and seeks to embody the cosmopolitan diversity of the world's rainbow, and not the blind bland blonde ideal of monochromatic Aryan supremacy? And don't kid yourself, the inventors of those self-evidently ridiculous tests, the SAT's and their predecessors the Stanford-Binet's and Army Alpha's and Beta's, these people were avid hereditarian eugenicists. Buried in the premises of those tests, the one's we use to choose who is anointed in our Marquis of Queensbury struggle for survival, is the rock-ribbed conservative belief that the Nordic races that first murdered their way into the manifest destiny of American rule were innately superior to everyone else --- and they have routinely finagled the numbers to the convenience of whatever drool-lipped spit-head happened to be in charge (what were George W.'s SAT's?) ever since.

When you look at the pedigree of these tests, see how they were used to restrict immigration quotas, ultimately preventing many European Jews from escaping Hitler's concentration camps, and used to justify state policies of forced sterilization against poor and minority women continuing on until 1972 (many if not most of whom were of normal intelligence but who were miscast as imbeciles by these innately flawed tests) --- how can anyone, anyone whose fingers aren't crossed, believe in these flagrant intellectual frauds? How can people who consider themselves educated, much less educators, professors, and educational leaders --- how can they ally themselves to this system of intellectual atrocity perpetrated in the name of the very education it defames? This would defy belief even if they'd been eliminated 70 years ago -- the tests were obsolete before they were invented, and the fact that they are still in use is a blatant warning that the people who are in charge and who have been in charge of education for more than a generation are incompetent and worse, and are not to be trusted with taking out the garbage much less the living treasure of our children's and our society's future.

And the only, I think the only thing that can be said in the defense of the history of these tests is that we must not allow them to be replaced --- by something worse. That if the interests of the persons who have been misrunning this system from time immemorial are allowed to continue to define the policy and direction of the country's schools, then it doesn't matter what the tests are, or what the rules are --- the plague of selfish founding-father hagiographic ignorance that has governed our states from their slave-codifying constitution will continue with the execution of the ideals of justice and human equality which alone can make for a better life for all, a life worth living, and what is truly, a more perfect union. And this can only happen when the ideal of the middle overcomes the illusory ideal of the extreme; when balance outweighs excellence; sharing replaces winning; social commitment surpasses obsessive personal security. When we stop speechifying as if we were in this to win, --- and begin to acknowledge that we are in this to--gether.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Joe-fisted

Before I even open my crumblegrit eyes,
moneymaker this day as yet
unshaken, the deathgurgle sounds from the kitchen
and in she comes,
Joe-fisted --- ambidextrous with
100% mugged-
Columbian.
Caffo-trafficker,
a steaming stream of liquid
consciousness-raising hanked
to each wrist. I savor the electric drip
simplicity of it.

The potter's wheel of morning
has renewed the sky to fired bisque,
and in this slumberspace,
quilt-stitched and down-cushioned,
I am as rich as four walls and a
nailgunned ceiling
will admit. Robed in white terry, she smiles,
her tumble of brown curls
still wet.

For a few ecliptic degrees
the world can wait like 35 cents
of newsprint on the porch
outside
the door.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Freedom Fighter

Lady MacBeth had it wrong. They were sure.
With enough elbow grease and ethnic cleanser you can
eliminate just about any stain. It helps
if dissent is properly ordained, and
only secular priests allowed
to survey the crime scene. It helps.
Assassination policies, proxy wars, germ banks…
preached with the right disdain, as for a dumpster baby's
uninsured mother, the lifestyle illness
of some gay arriviste --- erased almost
effortlessly from the arsenal of official history.

They could tell you that history is a drumfire
where the poor and weak-minded, homeless,
warm their vagrant hands on the cinders
of their rights. An oil drum.
That life is a grave and death
a grave robber. Murder, a freedom
fighter, for and against. They could
tell you this, for a price.

But instead they will recite parrot arias
on inadvertant lethality. Censer-headed
exhale their words, a cloud forest
of gorilla mist and cavesmoke.
Lip sync the gospel of personal
responsibility like an ethnic weapon,
a living weapon aiming for controlled
incapacitation. They will issue their fatwas
in the name of piecemaking: heard wrongly if not
interpreted under a spell.

Why this sacrament of ruby throats
at the hummingbird feeder, wings
too fast to be seen
at a single place in time, the fact
severally located and ghostly
transparent? Why this big budget
blockbuster offering in the darkness of a movie
theater, strobing like the rotor of
a crashing medevac chopper
into the dream-ending ocean
of peer review?

History will not be told
by the needles of Australian lip sew-ers. They are run
over by search engines that take them for
sewers, enlightenment
refugees frightened by illumination
rounds fired over satellite phones
to the midnight Potala Palace
of cable news network chain-
store commercials.
Nor will it be told by those chased beneath
ghetto birds, windbeaten like pallborne leaves,
living donors basting in the land of the free.
History is a pasteurized op-ed piece
filed by the dean's list
of a warlord academy, a cold
fusion of sub-munition bomblets, lilac
scented machetes, magic carpet bombings
for Baghdad thieves, ghostwritten national interest
waivers, and ion beam
sterilizations, totally lacking adult
supervision.

Not to remember, but celebrate,
the luminaria are lit. Surviving no longer
than a smile, refusing
to submit.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Sure Thing

I remember when dollars-to-donuts used to mean
a sure thing. Now,
it’s just a mosquito’s eyelash
from even money, and
you don’t need the Palomar observatory to see
where this is heading. Of course

I have always preferred
the donut, its spongy luxury and
silky goo, the
stubbled sweet intensity of sprinkles,
the raucous variety of frosted and jellied
stickiness; the donut is a universe of
transcendant pleasure and you can
have that empire of ice cream.

All those years when I never heard anyone
make the inversion: donuts
to dollars. The unstable dilemma of its
proposition: long shot
or someone just being
clever, or just a subtle way of
anticipating the inevitable
reversal of the unexpected and the dead
certain. Getting great odds,
on a sure thing.

As if words were designed
to unsay themselves. Unmean
themselves. Un-
donut themselves.

Dollars-
to-donutholes.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Dear Osama,

I strongly oppose answering violence with violence, and so do not personally approve of your vile sponsorship of the attacks of September 11, 2001, despite the fact that you and the entire Arab world do have justifiable grievances against the US Empire.

But as long as you are determined to be, all the terrorist you can be, I think you should consider an entirely different approach to the terrorist ... biz.

Have you heard of "Epstein's doctrine of regulatory takings?" I know it sounds sort of dry, but hear me out. Richard Epstein is a professor or law at the University of Chicago and Osama, forgive me for being so bold, when it comes to terrorism you don't hold a candle to the leading lights of American jurisprudence. I'm sure you did your best to learn from the CIA agents we sent to train you and your forces during the good terrorist war in Afghanistan, but they were strictly --- minor league.

Well, to cut a long story short, Epstein got the idea that a lot of big US corporations could make a fortune if, instead of being forced to obey or even minimally cooperate with US environmental regulations, they could just sue the government for having the gall to try and limit them. The practical upshot of this is that if, say, a US mining company dumps poison into the water supply of some community which then passes a law to make them stop, the mining company can sue the government for the lost profits that have been "taken" by this "regulation". Do you see where I'm going with this?

If you want to kill huge numbers of Americans with poisons, or bioweapons, or chemicals that would melt a cockroach, all you've got to do is --- become a corporation. As long as your cash flow is in the tens of millions, you won't have any problems.

Look at the beauty of it; you get to kill tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of Americans, and nobody will dare to touch you. The courts will be on your side: the police, the FBI, the chamber of commerce, most of the endowed chairs of the top universities in the country, they'll all be outraged at any hint of someone trying to restrict your free trade rights (they might even call this your free speech rights) to poison however many people you want in the patriotic pursuit of being, if not filthy rich, then, filthier richier. You get rich terrorizing the country you hate, and its poor pay extra taxes to reward you for killing them.

My motive for giving you such good advice as it were, gratis? Honestly, and this is the God's honest, I figure that if you start a corporation that gets government subsidies to kill people, well, (and Osama I hate to be the one to break this to you but you are really not very popular here; your image consultant has got to go) people might finally... connect the dots, and realize that corporations using NAFTA's Chapter 11 are just as guilty of terrorism as you are, and we should be putting them in jail just like we should be putting you in jail.

And that wouldn't really be such a bad bargain even from your perspective. OK, sure, you go to prison for the rest of your life. But without these corporations and the governments they've had in their pockets for the last 200 years or so, your country could learn how to govern itself in accordance with its own culture, without the interference of a greedy superpower.

And free from the Pravda-style corporate-controlled news, my country might start to regret its role in violently dominating others. You'd have to go to jail, but you'd get to be a martyr, and somehow, that seems like something you've been aiming for.

As that famous American philosopher Hunter S. Thompson once said "when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." And when the going gets terrifying, the terrifying… incorporate.

The only thing I ask is that you let me use you: as an example.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Pullin' outta here to win

As my mom tells the story, she was doing light chores at her mom’s house shortly before I was born.

When her sister Gayle, a registered nurse, asked how far apart her contractions were she said, “five minutes.”

Gayle, whose temperament was mercurial in the laziest of times, went apeshit. “GET, TO THE HOSPITAL, NOW ”

This was a second pregnancy, and my mom who had had a long delivery with her first didn’t realize that second pregnancies are a whole different animal. Express delivery.

But there was no car. My dad was out buying a surprise (washing machine, two in diapers.) So the only thing to do was to get a lift from the neighbor, Mr. Toohey.

By trade he was an undertaker. His car, a hearse.

I was ferried into this world in a shiny new hearse.

It was my birthday. Friday the thirteenth.

I was reminded of this juxtaposition when, on my fiftieth birthday, I heard the news that Tim Russert had died at 58. Another Friday the thirteenth.

To tell the truth, I was never much of a Russert fan: too centrist for my taste, too obsequious to power. If you want to see the world from a viewpoint of about six inches distance from a politician’s ass, he’s your political genius. But if that’s an aroma and an ambience that fail to entice you, Russert holds little charm.

Nonetheless, I think his demise pinched a nerve in the body politic, a sense of the ubiquitous proximity and unpredictability of death. How you can go out even when you’re at the top of your game.

In the final analysis, I could easily have forgotten the whole incident had I not chanced across the follow-up report on his funeral on the evening news, where John McCain and Barack Obama were forced to sit side by side, shoulder to shoulder, at his funeral. Two men vying for what soon will seem an inevitability, the title of the most powerful man on the globe, forced to submit largely in silence, by the power of the grave.

As they rolled the credits on the NBC Nightly News, they played a clip from the funeral: it was Bruce Springsteen by satellite hook-up performing “Thunder Road.” The payoff for a lifetime of political butt-aroma: Springsteen performing at your funeral, and the most powerful men in the world pretending to be friends, or at least behaving civilly.

It’s been a long time since I’ve listened to Springsteen, and I got the idea of checking out “Born to Run” from the local library. But they didn’t have it when I went, and so I made due with what they did have: “The Ghost of Tom Joad.”

From the first incredibly poignant wail on the harmonica, steel wool tumbleweed with spangles of silver, he had me. And the echoes of Steinbeck’s original...

“Now Tom said Mom, wherever there's a cop beatin' a guy
Wherever a hungry newborn baby cries...
Wherever somebody's strugglin' to be free
Look in their eyes Mom you'll see me.

... I was just enthralled. And I started wondering, why hadn’t I thought about Tom Joad in such a long time? “The Grapes of Wrath” was such a wonderful book, why has it been almost completely forgotten?

And I was reminded that despite a couple of decades of Steinbeck’s being surveilled by the FBI for possible communist sympathies, he ended his life as a prominent supporter of Lyndon Baines Johnson, and the Vietnam War. He actually wrote dispatches for the Long Island newspaper Newsday from Vietnam, and provided intellectual cover for Johnson at a time when intellectual cover for the war was sorely lacking. The creator of Tom Joad as cheerleader for the napalming of millions of Vietnamese Okies.

The switchbacks of history are truly myriad.

Which brings me back to the National Cathedral with John McCain, and Barack Obama, how McCain the war hero and POW would not be who he is but for America’s invasion of Vietnam, how he was, at least to some small degree, the product of Steinbeck’s political cover.

How Obama had the foresight to try and head off another Vietnam, George Bush’s Vietnam, by opposing the invasion of Iraq.

And I ask myself, when I look in their eyes, do I see Tom Joad?

Nothing of the sort.

These ideas have been rambling around in my head for months now, but just a little short of complete, as if the jigsaw was missing just one piece. And then this past week, it hit.

After 80 years, the specter of the Great Depression has risen from the rubble-pile of history lessons and paraded onto the theater marquee of front page headlines, and evening newscasts. As the sons of Vietnam’s Steinbeck vie for the presidency in Tim Russert’s lee, Tom Joad, the son of Oklahoma’s Steinbeck, stirs from his stock-market-crash grave.

Who will foreclose on the Joad family farm? Who will bail out the billionaire bank-sters?

Of course, in the end, it wasn’t “The Ghost of Tom Joad” that Springsteen was singing, but “Thunder Road,” a different Springsteen altogether : “it’s a town full of losers, I’m pullin’ outta here to win.”

Friday, June 04, 2010

Seen at the War Protest, April 20, 2002

I believe there is no place for two people in our country… Palestinians are like lice. You have to take them out like lice.
---Rehavam Ze'evi, Israeli Minister of Tourism, assassinated by Palestinian extremists in October, 2001.


Someone has removed the Star of David
from the center of a
light blue-on-white Israeli
flag, and replaced it with a Nazi
swastika. Accustomed as I am to
the gruesome inversion
of Palestinian cobble-slings
and the underdog King
of the Jews --- Goliath now
a battalion of Israeli tanks ---
this new semeiotic
violence succeeds
in shocking even
me.

Certainly,
certainly, I tell myself,
there must be a difference of degree
and kind
between the exterminations of
the Master Race
and the depradations, universally
denounced, of Sharon's
invasion of the West Bank.
Not just
the numbers,
smaller a thousand times,
not just
the culpability of terrorism's
provocation,
not just
the lack of any attempt to kill in-
discriminately.
But attaching to this Hitler and Auschwitz
the atrocity
of the Shoah.

But the facts of the matter,
the revanchist facts
on the ground, testify
with cartographic eloquence,
from Ma'ale Yisrael, Ma'ale Adumim,
Givat Ze'ev, Kiryat Safer, Gush Etzion,
and Har Homa where 90%
of Umm Tuba/Sur Bahar has been
disappeared, settlements
spliced to mesh net into noose.
With holocaust
survivors rising in the Knesset to denounce
the use of identity tag tattoos on
Palestinians being mass arrested,
while the XXX pornography
whip-pans from satellite to TV screen,
jump-cutting the whirlwind
scene to obscene
from the Passover massacre in Netanyu
to the rubblecadaver that once was
Jenin, I keep asking,
why? Why, why, why, why does it take so much
slaughter, to continue to lie,
to yourself?

Cut down in high feast
as the shards of their self-
detonating assassin
penetrated them at their Seder,
what in the hell were they
celebrating? The deliverance
of Moses? The Divine
infanticide of the first born
of Egypt?

What type
of Promised Land
is this? AB-? O+?
Or Texas light sweet?
I am tired of having my collar tailored
with the blade of Abraham.
I am tired of having Jerry Falwell and John Ashcroft
play George Orwell's Big Brother.
I am sick to death of having Never Again
being used to excuse
it Never Ends.

Isn't it time,
hasn't that midnight tolled,
aren't we too old for that pumpkin
to still be a carriage?
Isn't it time
for the horses of this apocalypse to turn
back into mice?
Isn't it time
to admit that the One True God
with the Three True Multiple
Muslim-Christian-Jewish Personality disorders
needs to be worshipped freely
in any way
that isn't
literal,
or lethal?

There is no more room
for faith based initiatives
launching passenger jet missiles
into the occupied territories
of downtown Manhattan.
There is no more room
for faith based initiatives
bombing gay night clubs
and family planning centers.
There is no more room
for faith based initiatives
engaging in pre-emptive retaliations
to colonize the land of God.
And there is absolutely no more room
for faith based initiatives
launching bunker busting nukes
from Dimona, Lop Nor, Islamabad
or the nearest B-52 to service
the insatiable 4x4 god of
Iraqi-Kuwaiti-Iranian-Sa-udi-Arabian
Caspian basin crude.

Somebody has replaced the Star of David
with a Nazi swastika,
my God my literalist fundamentalist God
I say from the protest in Washington,
I wonder who.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Naming

------ for Chris Burden, Maya Lin, and Arthur C. Danto


When I stare at the stars of a winter's night,
and think how they too are far wiser than we,
unthinking obey their own stare decisis,
relentless explode but do not disagree,
I am
reminded.

When I walk by the black wall of long dead invaders,
when I walk by the black wedge that numbers the dead,
and I think of how they were betrayed by their leaders,
in the white marble dome where the Congress convenes,
I am
reminded.

When I look at the black and white photo of children,
as they scream and they race from the chemical fire,
and Pan Thi Kim Phuc the eleven-year-old naked,
the terror on her face as the naked skin sears,
I am
reminded,

that the wall of their dead would continue for miles,
that the wall of their dead rises high in the air,
that the unnumbered millions graffitti the silence
to the space and the silence the nameless adhere.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Tectonics

Icebergs of granite float on an ocean
of fire, a luminescing sea of
liquid rock. We know this.
We know
this, though we talk about it
little, agree for the purposes
of discussion to heed
the pock marks of lava only
intermittently, when active
or threatened.
'Like a rock
I was wet as I could be
Like a rock
I lit up reality.
Oo-hoo, like a rock.
'
As if solid ground meant more
than an eggshell on molten
albumin, shaved ice
in a boiling martini, as if
the bubbles did not
wash up the erections
we call the Himalaya, as if
the collide-ascope of continents did
not shift with the churning
currents below. The certainties
we call foundations, the bedrocks
of knowledge vanish
with a swirling dream we are merely
too quick to see.
Just so, just so.
The hard becomes
soft, the permanent
fleeting the dead
alive with candent


heat. Our metaphors
fail
us. Erroneous as sight,
shaky as a cliff,
solid as the wind,
superficial as the sea,
our metaphors fail
us, and we
them. We rehearse
the chains
of thought, the script of progress pre-
ordained. Know that
we ignore and in ignoring
know,
beneath the script of marble
tongues the very planet
lives aglow.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Cosset

Oh to be cosseted with russet
potatoes, gussets on our crockets,
our pockets full of Rimbaud
and ducats. Banquets of suppose,
rainbows of ribbon,
troves of Flaubert
and busloads of Gibbon.
Oh to be nestled in soft down and kittens,
nuzzled and cocoa-ed with steaming hot milk,
songs that are Orphic and tunes out of
Rilke. Oh to be jolly in gullies of
golly, to spool like a fool unaware
of Fate's tally. To rally around
like a kid in no hurry,
amused as a goose
in a Newfoundland flurry.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Division of Labor

At least you had a mother. All four of mine
denied responsibility. All four denied
maternity. The sensibly-shoed girlnextdoor
firstwife of my selfmade
millionaire sperm-parent: my
contracting-mother. The chesty blonde neo-Aryan
Ivyleague Phi Beta Kappa who skipped Con-law
to mine her uterus for its haploid yolk-sacs; my
egg mother. The highschoodropout daytime
soapaholic who
triple-trimester-timeshared her belly
with my wormfishchildlike zygote: my
gestation-mother. And last,
the onetime stripper trophywife with the
silicon-valley for
cleavage: my
custodial-mother.
What, with a post-restante
prenatality, an au pair roulette-wheel
upbringing with a
UN's-worth of nationalities, and
the synthetic mother's-milk, it's
as if nothing in my life isn't
artificial, isn't queer as having a
hypodermic needle for a sex-partner.

I spent my formative years with
laboratory mice wearing human ears on their backs:
among french fries classified
technically by FDA as a natural
insecticide: where cornfields grew human
antibodies and Monsanto implanted patented
Terminator sterility into next-generation
seed.

Is there something wrong
with me that I wanted
a mother's love and not just
a fertility protocol and a sequence
of genes? That I resent being conceived by
the division of labor? That I
need something more than
things to eat that have been -- "linked to"
items that were once
food? That I suspect these biotech
improvements have less to do with
feeding the hungry than
digesting their souls into intellectual
property.

Only Hallmark loves me
on mother's day.
No one's ever even bothered
to hate me. It's like I'm a jigsaw puzzle of a
Jackson Pollock and it doesn't matter
how, or when, or even if
the pieces ever fit
together, the box makes it clear:
some assembly required.

Why should you, why should anyone
care about me, this handful of nucleotides
grown on a culture medium of
fee-for-service medicine and
recombinant genetic pride? When three-fifths
patented, the motherless mammal leaves
a five-fifths hole, in the for-profit
subsidiary, replacing
a once human
soul?

Friday, April 30, 2010

Got Milk?

There's a sequence in the film "Life and Debt", explaining how American dairy exports are so heavily subsidized by the government, that American farmers would still turn a profit even if they gave their milk away free. You see hundred-count pallets of fifty pound sacks of powdered U.S. milk forklifted off cargo ships in Jamaica; dried udder-spurt immune to the tropical heat.

Black waiters in flawless white blazers, white as antebellum cotton, bear glass pitchers of this primordial mammalian babydrink to the linened tables of international tourist hotels only too happy to serve globalized cornflakes for breakfast. These are luxury multinational conglomerate hotels with gun-turrets, where armed guards survey whitewashed stone fences crowned by double helices of razorwire.

But in rural areas where bare feet trod dirt roads to bring five gallon buckets of fresh squeeze to a local distributor, where, unsubsidized, they can't afford to sell their backbreak for less than free, thousands of gallons of calfsuck constipate the shiny holding tanks, stainless steel breasts of local industry: the market so tied up the owners sluice the spigot to flood the concrete floor and unpaved streets with latex sheets of bovine goodness. Streams of milk gorge what passes for gutters, which with the scant exceptions of catlap and doglick, speed to curdlestench rot.

I imagine this scene magnified; land drenched by thunderheads of milkstorm. Billionshot enfilades of tropical milkdrop tit-pelt downpour. Churnsplash of Nestle-less Quick; bubblefoam arroyo-surge, frilled into cancan petticoat ruff where jetskinned tumblesurfers choke-drown-ride a Klan-colored cataract, dragooned into a transcontinental milkshake by a double-edged and lobby-bribed freetrade agreement.

For-profit-export-dumped, the milk is more lethal than free; the process resembling the torture of men force-fed water with their penises tied off; at once glutted and stopped, unbearably pained from the inside by an urgency they can by no means relieve.

From atop a Bretton-Woods fiat-money Matterhorn, the newly christened Level-Playing-Field, the torturers broadcast whirlwinds of bombast about the dint of hard work and personal responsibility, about getting ahead on your merits.

Systematically, and with epic condescension, any suggestion that merit should not be inherited is blown out by a privately owned and nuclear powered windtunnel whose name has been copyrighted and trademarked. It is called, The Free Press.

In this Panglossian Free Press, only the best get ahead, and all is for the best. Worry is superfluous, criticism insane. It will not be heard, it will be blown out. If need be, with your brain.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The History of Futurism

This is a standardized test
in the history of futurism
the vortex of vorticism
the Rubik's cube of cubism
the Boccionian continuity of unique forms in space
traces of a nude descending a staircase,
some Duchamps disingenue disarmed
by the porcelain art found
in a urinal. This is the story of the glacial pace
of educational reform, a summer snowstorm
above the clearcut
treeline, making an a-bee-cee-dee-line
in the number 2 graphite of the promised land.

How did P.T. Barnum do it?
How did he turn the schools into
the domain of trained seals
and dancing elephants, a chartreuse
box kite of groupthink
plutogoguery? How did he induce
this permanent state of slovenly
dishabille, simultaneously banal,
and surreal, free to think or feel
nothing beyond a curriculum
a light-second wide
and deep as a carpenter ant.
Where some Turkey born on Mt. Ararat
effervesces fulsomely about the infanta
flooding the world with Velasquez
and the rest of the conquerors, so there's no time
left for Juan de Pareja, or Sojourner
Truth, so there's no room
to consider inconvenient genocides.

Sometime. Sometime.
Sometime before you die there will be
a chance for you to boycott,
this gunshot, shotgun shackled demockracy,
boycott the snoring scar of feather-tar
platitude, boycott the Avagadro's number
of lies you were made
to memorize, before being apportioned
some small opportunity
to criticize.

Even surprise, after all may await
the first sign of winter
plumage, even surprise may not cease
from breastfeeding until it's well
into its teens, and the rote necessity demeans
creativity, the rote necessity teems with the deplorable
snoring passivity of Boer wars, and more wars,
and star wars, what's-in-the-store-wars
crocheting espionage with cactus needles
skirting the de-facto evil
of doing what you gotta do
saying what you gotta say
being what you gotta be
to get through.

By contrast
money is a McNeil River grizzly bear
with a mouthful of fishtailing,
not-much-longer-to-be-living salmon,
money has the Woodrow Wilson luxury
of playing Jesus Christ in some World War I
hall of mirrors Versailles.
Money has the option of buying the biggest
gun, reaping what it Clemenceau's.
Sometimes, sometimes, sometimes
you're the grizzly, but most of the time
you're the wiggle-tailed fish
no matter, no matter, no matter how much
you wish things were
otherwise, the all-too-well funded facts
abet your indecision and downward mobility
abet your studied imbecility
abet your drill pressed well oiled school ruled
facility of keeping the bunions of defeat
up against your own jugular.

You would have to quiz Einstein about the possibility
of living without Schwarzwalder kirschtorte, without
bittersweet chocolate, cherries, and whipped-cream schlagg,
about living without the fourth dimension
and what Picasso enclosed in those guitars and rose
colored gypsies, how he enclosed Gypsy
Rose Gaza Strippers, why he drank
espresso from fourth dimensional kiosks.
Ask not, ask not, ask not
what your Picasso can do for you, ask
not the smell of Venetian canals in summer.
We are just piazza pigeons cooled
by the fountain-mist of genius, we are
the fiddle-headed smoke curls
of recently snuffed votive candles. Suffocated
anacondas issued life jackets
of barbed wire. Oh Picasso,
I need Dramamine. Oh Einstein,
I need you to mention the Geneva conventions in
Guantanamo Bay. Need you to mention this
in the land where dissent is heard
only if it is ordained and brought to you
after a word from our Sponsor,
who art on Wall Street. Hallowed be thy
chain store curriculum, thy chain gang
brainwashing curriculum come
in the name of educational reform.
Give us this day our daily Oedipus
and his tragic flaw. Oedipus and his
tragic flaw, the man
who lives above the law,
the man who lives above the law
the man who lives above the law
is a motherfucking murderer.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Quotation Marks of War

My dirge is for mothers
unchilded,
to re-member the toddlers
not there,
the smiles that once flashed
from young faces,
replaced by blood dried
in fine hair.
No quote will undo their
slaughter,
nor the lucre of conquest
rescind,
no words will rekindle their
spirits,
such words are for quoting
the wind.

The dust and the ashes
will sizzle,
on the miles in the library
stacks,
the guns and the fetuses
nuzzle,
the moon and the concrete will
wax,
and jewelry once fashioned from
miracles,
offshore by the islands
within,
will laugh as it weeps
at the silence,
made of teardrops for quoting
the wind.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Corporations on Welfare

(audio)

They may be talkin' free trade,
but the corporate raiders,
been shakin' down the welfare state.
Promisin' jobs just to feather their nests,
panhandlin' for a tax rebate,
and the pinstripe desperadoes,
want the workin' man to stick 'em up high,
despite their eight figure incomes and
their million dollar bonus,
say that profits should be subsidized.

Corporations on welfare,
tellin' me we gotta compete.
Corporations on welfare,
advertisin' corporate deceit.
Well if you want a free burger you're a lazy bum,
but a tax deferred billion's just cute,
only thing that matters down at Gucci gulch
is how to get yourself a share of the loot.

You can try to complain
bout their corporate reign,
but they keep tellin' you to let em eat cake.
Things'll be fine long as profits keep climbin',
no need to reevaluate,
and the limousine bronco busters,
want their diamonds on the workin' man's dime,
pay their big name attorney's just to buy the name Justice
as a trademark for corporate crime.

Corporations on welfare,
tellin’ me we gotta compete.
Corporations on welfare,
but my taxes subsidize their deceit.
When it comes time for dyin'
it's everybody's country,
other times it's just what you own.
Sometimes I wonder when the land I was born in
was sold out for a corporate loan.
Sometimes I wonder when the land I was born in
was sold out for a corporate loan.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Wake the ... Heck up Cleveland, You're Living in Denial

(audio)

Disembodied severed heads,
everywhere I go I see,
disembodied severed heads,
while I buy my groceries,
disembodied severed heads,
even walking down the street,
disembodied severed heads,
when I'm watching my TV,
disembodied severed heads,
when I'm driving in my car,
disembodied severed heads,
lying on blankets in the park.
Disembodied severed heads,
T-shirts worn on fat man's chest,
disembodied severed heads,
babies suck'n on mama's breast,
disembodied severed heads,
on-the-hats of selfmade millionaires,
disembodied severed heads,
on-the-bus they ride with poor man's fare.
Disembodied severed heads,
they smile at me with big white teeth,
disembodied severed heads,
they smile at me with bulging eyes,
disembodied severed heads,
they smile at me like men set free,
disembodied severed heads,
when killed by broken treaty lies.
Disembodied severed heads,
we paint their skin fire-injun red,
disembodied severed heads,
makes no difference now their dead.
Disembodied severed heads,
Sambo Wahoo that's OK,
disembodied severed heads,
if he can turn the double play.
Disembodied severed heads,
we broadcast red faced golliwogs,
disembodied severed heads,
killed like they were rabid dogs.
Disembodied severed heads,
in broad daylight try to hide,
disembodied severed heads,
the facts that cannot be denied,
disembodied severed heads,
the founding fathers' genocide,
disembodied severed heads,
we treat like it's our city's pride.
Disembodied severed heads,
while Wahoo plays our city's shame,
disembodied severed heads,
is amplified with every game.
Disembodied severed heads,
disembodied severed heads,
disembodied severed heads.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Cycladic Architecture Refuting the Premises of Abstract Expressionism and the Greenbergian Critique of Illusionism




(A little more than a decade ago, I traveled in Greece. Among other things, I got to go to Asclepius' temple in Epidaurus. I had a wonderful time ferrying among the Cyclades, impossible to capture literally. My itinerary was, to some extent, influenced by Henry Miller's inspired "The Colossus of Maroussi")

I have become a
blue shutter on a Cycladic
window that has melted into the spiraling streets
of an endless
white
city.

The city has disappeared
into a mountain
of shaving foam cloud
suspended in the sky
of my heart, land-legged
in a yawing sea.
Chalk white mosquito the size of a
hockey rink, humped
by a blue elephant. I am a Matisse
beneath whitewash, invisible symphony
dancing to a Charybdis of lava,
imprisoned by walls of nothingness
unimaginably thick. A whirlwind paper-clipped
to a turn-the-world. Place has
collapsed to a rectangular center,
a cubeless Picasso of Miles-horn and
Bernaise sauce, wildflower fireworks in a green sky,
a Memphis of marble tessera,
ironic gravity,
levitating geraniums
envased in shamrock,
an Acropolis wall-papered with postcards,
battalions of hemlock-Pepsi,
hemlock-Coke,
maieutic suntan,
heuristic dialectic.
Egyptian L'Ascaux.
A cock for Aesclepius,
a rock for Prometheus,
an orphanage for Rousseau,
a spider of Damocles
for a gigolo Odysseus.
X-rays with planetary half-value-layers
compress a rib in Tribeca
on a Roman fresco:
a song in St. Louis
on a skin of Drambuie.
Satellite to an eardrum,
laser to guitar strum,
megastar to drunken bum,
asphault of innuendo
tarnish on a monster of Loch Ness.
The shutter incandesces like the water on the sun
and I am all the Kodachrome in all the world,
tears that wed, bury, baptize,
birth. For-profit sex acts, numberless
once-in-a-lifetimes ubiquitous,
a flutter of milliseconds in
automated darkness,
eternity throttled with endless
loneliness -- borrowed memory.

Everywhere, the gods are at play;
in the afternoon,
in a shuttered room,
we sleep in love as if we
pray, shadows of a ferry's fumes
that dance while fast they blow
away.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Optimism

(audio)

What we don't understand can't hurt us,
except that what we do understand can't hurt us either, and we don't understand this,
and so we don't understand
that we don't understand what we don't understand, and it hurts even to think about it
--- understand?

Not so much the understanding as the hurting;
how can you hurt what can't be worse? How can you
hurt what must of its own accord
die, which amounts to nothing
more than the sod it
in sleep so much
resembles. If,
as Socrates said, death is a positive
boon, if so there be no harm to it; a murderer
sheds our blood with favor, and we ought
savor the throes from whence it's bred.
Such palaver as spills kips of blood
on pricks of pins but empties butts
of senseless sin. Immune
to harm as a storm to invective,
alike to gain, we
disdain nothing more than the
encroachment of that,
inevitable as gravity,
which in our hour of direst
need, befriends us.
No oath knows the like certainty.
No vow the like trust.
Despite the fustian casuistry of
centuries of syllogizing sophists, the victimless
dockets of doubly-blinded justices
stuffed with guilty innocents
--- the outlandish yarns fool none
but the wise,
and these too have born their foolishness gladly.

Madly.

We return to that we cannot escape,
escape to that cannot return:
the diurnal frenzy of a cipher calculus,
a dispaltried paltriness,
of urgencies soon crucially
forgotten.
What harm then this in mis-
or under-
standing when so near attending
our truest friend,
spurned yet peaceful waits our certain
ending.

Friday, March 05, 2010

As a Cat to Lap

(This is the first poem I ever read at an open reading.)

Audio

There's no use crying over spilled milk.
There's no use crying over spilled milk.
There's no use crying over spilled milk.
There's no use crying over spilled milk.
What's done is done.
No use crying over spilled milk.
Time is time for moving on.
No use crying over spilled milk.
Here today tomorrow gone.
No use crying over spilled milk.
A present lost, a future won.

There's no use crying.
Tears are bootless, facts are blind.
There's no use crying.
Sadness cannot change fate's mind.
There's no use crying.
Sorrow loses, cheer will find.
There's no use crying.
Be practical, leave tears behind.

There is no use.
This fret and strut achieves the grave.
There is no use.
All is lost, nothing's saved.
There is no use.
The free man's just a shallow slave.
There is no use.
These shadows never leave the cave.

There is.
Not here.
There is.
Not near.
There is,
But cannot be.
There is.
But is not me.



There.
Here, but that which not.
There.
Other in which what.
There.
Now again before ahead.
There.
Another, than from fled.

There's no use crying over spilled milk.
But what if milk should turn to blood?
There's no use crying over spilled milk.
And war's tears rain in dead flesh flood.
There's no use crying over spilled milk.
This mother's milk in corpse coughed mud.
There's no use crying over spilled milk.
This saline spite of shrapnel's God.

Milk of kindness, milk of death.
Spilled milk spitting Gatling breath.
Milk of useless, milk of use.
Milk of every profit's truth.

Those are ghosts that were his eyes,
and at his mother's milk-spilled cries,
war's rich banker trembles.
A use without a usurer's prize,
which tyrant heads of state despise,
from which too common truth
dissembles.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Snow Refracting on Cedars

When you made love in the shower the morning
before he died in the boating accident,
you wore nothing but your wedding ring, and the
sight of the two of you,
through the pebbled glass of the stall door,
the sight of the two of you,
had there been anyone to see,
had the daubed thickness of a Van Gogh,
the swirled livingness of a Renoir,
the beige desolation of a desert O'Keefe.
Only the lustrous annular permanence of that
precious metallic band seemed
out of place as,
with him behind, your fingers clawed
at the door, everything
else a rushing, steaming, wet, soft, fastness
racing to a conclusion passing then,
past. Again, had there been anyone
looking at the keepsake pictures of your deceased parents,
they could have observed the sheriff climbing
the steps of the porch,
then knocking just outside the screen door
--- his uneasy regret-to-inform speech ---
they would have seen it all reflected in the
framed glass that protected
those photographs, as in the
tranquil precision of Vermeer.
Had there been anyone to brave
the snowstorm outside the courthouse, the air
solidified into a three-dimensional rush-hour of
unique flakes, distances diasappeared
behind the strange shapes of gusts
--- tumbleweeds, funnelclouds,
horizontal tracer-streaks,
layered laced curtains pasting themselves to
the rooted wings of weary cedars --- as if nothing
far away were real, and
only what is close to you
exists --- and had they peered to see
the black mesh of your mourning veil
on the witness stand, draped in gloomy shadows,
the courtroom wick-lit by oil lanterns
with the power out --- justice
extremely dark but never blind,
it would have been the chiaroscuro of Caravaggio,
with a pointillist haze from Seurat
that met their eyes through
the blown glass panes.

In the darkness of that room
was the sound of snowfall. Caught in the glass
of your tears, a single aquifer whose wells
are legion, clung the scent of pines,
as if hung in a museum to distant lovers
(the ones who do not exist),
beyond the scrub of reason,
or the clutch of years.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Typecasting Porn Stars

(audio at chomsky in chains podcast)

Another case-law floor exercise:
some four-door snuff-film needs a
skywalking deadbeat with a
divining-rod and execution-stay to
rule on a decision. Days like this make me long
for my birthmother, or at least
her business card. From the faith-healing on the
day bed, the restraining-order in the
breadline, before there was even time to
typecast a porn star, bar-code a
cloud chamber, rent-control
the exit-wound of a coffin nail,
you could still lip-read contradictions between
cash flow and crop rotation, landing-
gear, duty-frees, dry-ice-smoke and
overloaded lifeboats.

If you could attach greaseless eye-shadow with
lugnuts, or fickle proximity-fuses with
magnetic-tape, you could eliminate the grab-bars and
love-handles, burglar-alarms, Miranda rights,
and the universal-precautions
surgical-gloves.

Criminal Justice.

Eventually you will discard the bracket-creeping lynch-mob,
and the bounty-hunting day-trading for the
forced-march from assisted-living to
estate-planning; combination-lock on the cutoff
man. That you could find a countable-infinity
under house-arrest, a sex-industry in
riot-gear, a pleasure-calculus with
release-forms--- what jackbooted think-tank would have
thought? Some chain-smoking creation-scientist,
some home-schooled creation-scientist goose-steps
through the airdoor with a bench-warrant for a
condom-swallowing drug-mule and demands that he
childproof his dime bags.

We arrive at the graveyard
shift. Intensive-care booster-cables jump-
starting the occupational-disease of
hedge fund coronaries, the electro-convulsive contact
HIGH. All the double-dutch clockspeed in the world can't quench that
Los Alamos controlled burn: gut-bucket in the daycare,
hack-saw at the eye bank, stiff-arm at the NICU.

Life will be served au-jus.
It may make you homesick.

Friday, February 12, 2010

She Really Gives Good Abstinence

She Really Gives Good Abstinence

(audio at the chomsky in chains podcast )

She's such a good good girl
she's been born again it’s true,
doesn't fool around
but she knows just what to do.
Where her parents’ lead her
she's always gonna follow,
no matter what they feed her
she always gonna swallow,

because

she really gives good abstinence,
I found religion with her down on her knees,
she really gives good abstinence,
she’s still a virgin but she knows how to please me,
she really gives good abstinence,
doesn’t need a course in sex ed,
she’s just using her head.

Feel like such a lucky stiff
when I see she’s goin’ down,
sure ain’t a movie but
you know it’s sensurround,
saving it for marriage,
that-don’t-make-her straight-laced,
she’s such a connosieur
she’s got such a lotta taste,

because

she really gives good abstinence,
I found religion with her down on her knees,
she really gives good abstinence,
she’s still a virgin but she knows how to please me,
she really gives good abstinence,
doesn’t need a course in sex ed,
she’s just using her head.
she’s really using her head
getting ahead on her head
she’s really using her head