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
even the OJ tsunami.
The language is safe
for another week

Sunday, August 22, 2010


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.


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

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


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,