Sunday, December 25, 2011

Rhyme as Metaphor

Galton marks.
Print dust.
Chalk dust of 10 million algebra classes.
White cliffs of Dover.
The late cretaceous.
Crispy critters.
Critical theory.
Critical mass.
Mass defect.
Lie detector.
She was watching the detectives.
All along the watchtower.
Jimi Dylan.
Dill pickles.
Don Rickles.
Hammers and Sickles.
Armand Hammer.
I’d rather be a hammer than a nail.
Anvil breaking a hammer.
Her water broke.
Broker than the 10 commandments.
Stock broker.
Hammer lock.
Lock box.
Boxers of briefs?
Amicus brief.
Brevity is the soul of witlessness.
Witless protection program.
Protection racket.
Racketeering prosecution.
Elocution lessons.
Execution by electrocution.
The body electric.
Anna Karenina.
Cary Nation.
Cary Buck.
Buck v. Bell.
The Bell Curve.
“You can ring my bell.”
The chimes of freedom flashin’.
Flash mob.
Flash in the pan.
Glossal stop.
Full stop.
Full frontal.
Weather front.
Weather underground.
Worm food.
Crude oil.
Animal, vegetable, or mineral?
Twenty questions.
Questionable call.
Call of the wild.
American Idlewild.
Ugly American Gladiator’s aviators.
Quadrumanous gladhanding Gladstone.
Casting the first hand that Rockefellers the cradle.
Diego Rivera hangin’ round Orson’s inkwell.
All’s well that ends wealthier than Orwellian.
There is no wealth but a life sentenced to death taxes to please love and be wise-ass.
Mandatory health insurance agent 007.
I double-owe my soul to the company’s double-blind double crossing double-indemnity enmity.
The committee to re-elect the president really creeps me out.
While my guitar gently weeps its willowy brook trout.
Moldy bathroom tile grout and shower-curtain grommet rust.
Chrono-synclastic trust-fundibulum.
Somnambulant funambulist’s ambulance’s mirrorshrift.
Queer theory getting queerer and queerer theory and practice on a blind date.
Date rape.
Scene of the crime.
The myth of fingerprints.
Galton marks.

Monday, December 12, 2011

An Uncountable Infinity of Orgasms

My chapbook "An Uncountable Infinity of Orgasms" was published a few days ago by NightBallet press.

Many thanks for the diligent efforts of my publisher, Dianne Borsenik.

NightBallet is one of the few places you can get a copy, they are located here

Friday, August 19, 2011

Following post

The following post is just a bunch of links to Google image pages for different kinds of flowers referenced in a poem by Philip Levine, "Keats in California". You might want to read this in one tab, and then go to the flower links in another.

Levine flowers

Wisteria, plum trees, almond blossoms, iris, rose, tulip, poppy hillside, lupine, gorse, wild mustard

Friday, August 05, 2011

Annual Vietnam

At its peak it was an annual Vietnam in America: 50,000 dead. In a year.

And on an exponential growth curve. I think the hardest thing to recover now is that sense of the exponential growth. One had reason to be frightened over where this thing was heading.

There are people in their twenties now who have no idea.

And everyone who got it died, and died quickly, and nothing seemed to help. Nothing. There was one poison (and yes I'm talking about AIDs) AZT, that seemed to slow the descent ever so little, rather like holding an umbrella when you've fallen off a cliff. And that was it.

And then somewhere in the mid-90s, protease inhibitors came along. In a two year period, the number of deaths was cut in half. The epidemic ceased. The disease stopped being an instant death sentence.

This came about six months too late for Robert.

My partner's brother, the nearest person to me to ever have or die from the disease.

Two things seem worth holding onto at this remove: how suddenly the fatalism of the situation vanished, and how suddenly the euphoria over its vanishing vanished as well. And a third thing: how the happy ending is less than perfectly happy.

Even though it had really only entered mass consciousness in the early 1980s, AIDs had taken on the aspect of permanence we associate with cancer, or Alzheimer's. How swiftly learned helplessness is learned! Which is what impelled me to write this: to capture how suddenly the unchangeable, can change, and how quickly people accept something as unchangeable.

The most relevant analogy in my own life at the moment is my father's confrontation with Alzheimer's. I am like a lot of people I think in gradually resigning myself to the irreversible course of his disease.

But there is nothing to prevent the next protease inhibitor (or the next Salk vaccine, or the next penicillin) from arriving, miraculously, tomorrow.

It is very easy to mistake the unprecedented for the impossible.

My point is David Hume incarnate.

But we would be far more proficient in anticipating the remarkable were we to linger on the history of the remarkable. The sheer joy of the Salk vaccine, how seldom we recall it: the joy of parents, the purposeful columns of exuberant school children awaiting salvation in a sugar cube.

Nearly everyone old enough to remember Nixon has had abundant opportunity for the concrete of their cynicism over the war on cancer to solidify. Appropriate to the metaphor of war, vastly inappropriate and expensive weaponry has achieved only the most illusory of progress, while an aristocracy of vampires has entrenched the existing order. We resign ourselves to what 'must' be. But we cannot know that things cannot be otherwise.

Which brings us to the reality of happy endings: for more than a decade after the discovery of the remarkable healing powers of penicillin, it was hugely expensive and so, hard to come by. After decades of widespread use, it has lost much of its effectiveness.

With protease inhibitors it has been much the same, as vast numbers of people with AIDs in lesser- developed countries are unable to afford them.

We do well to remember both that the impossible is often possible, and that it is always short of Utopia.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Thank a LIBERAL philosopher

"Christians" like those of the Westboro Baptist Church should recognize they are allowed to spew their hateful anti-gay rhetoric only because some 18th century liberal philosophers of the enlightenment first recognized that freedom of speech was a freedom worth having.

LIBERAL philosophers.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Permanent Magic

gone the days of your childhood,
almost gone,
the wonder-eyed youth,
when each minute reveals permanent
magic, and nothing but fails
to improve.

The stardust that blesses your slumber,
and guards against waxing concern,
runs low as the days start to number,
filled with lessons you'd sooner unlearn.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Rushmore, Reagan, and Mary Shelley

They want to put Ronald Reagan on Mount
Rushmore. Ronald
on Mount Rushmore.
Ronald Reagan on Mount Rushmore?
I mean, isn't that like
just exactly the opposite of what
Mount Rushmore is there for? I mean,
isn't Mount Rushmore supposed to be reserved
for the Greatest (think here of Muhammad
Ali) the Greatest of presidents?

People like George Washington, the father of our
country, and Abraham
Lincoln, the freer of the slaves, and Thomas
Jefferson the father of our Independence
declaration, and Theodore Roosevelt, the father of the,
the father of the,
OK well,
so I'm not so sure what he's even doing up there, but Ronald

Reagan? Ronald Reagan?
Why do you want to honor the guy who sent Donald Rumsfeld to make
nice nice with Saddam Hussein? Why do you
want to honor the guy who created Al
Qaeda by getting the CIA to train
Islamic fundamentalist terrorists in
Pesha-war to go fight a terrorist war in
Afghanistan? Twenty years later
and we're still cleaning up the big old messes he left us,
the two Great Frankenstein's
monsters he created in
Saddam and Osama.

Which is not to mention the people hacked
to bits in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua,
the thousands and thousands of people raped,
beaten, tortured, dismembered and mutilated
all with the training, assistance, and "material support"
of the Boland-Amendment-violating CIA. Or the way he
dismantled the constitution so he could sell
missiles to the terrorists in Iran, or the way he
helped Nicaraguan terrorists to smuggle
cocaine into the US --- like starting a crack
epidemic was some kind of urban
enterprise zone for South Central LA. He was
so horrible, so-o horrible, why would anyone want to
honor him? Why would anyone want to put him right
up beside Washington,
and Jefferson,
and Lincoln and Roosevelt?
And that's when it hit me.

Didn't Washington send out what he
himself called "scalping parties" during the French
and Indian War back when he was still fighting
for the King of England? Didn't he
deploy them with explicit
orders to kill
civilians? Wasn't the father of our
country really the founding father
of American terrorism?
Didn't he steal colossal
tracts of land from native Americans,
and foster a climate of genocide against them?
Didn't he own a lot of slaves and so,
wasn't Abraham Lincoln really
at war against him?

And didn't Jefferson, wasn't he not only
the owner of slaves but a slave
Didn't he rape Sally Hemings?
I mean, seeing as he owned her,
seeing as she was a piece of his property,
she didn't really have any right to say no,
and so isn't it rape where the
thing you are
fucking does not give
her consent because she has no consent
to give?

And as for Lincoln, didn't he
start the bloodiest war in American history,
didn't he shut down the press and, sans
habeas corpus jail his
own people for voicing dissent? And didn't he
support slavery if it preserved the union?
Didn't he continue
slavery, in the very text of the Emancipation Proclamation,
didn't he continue slavery in the four so-called
border states, the slave states that never joined
the Confederacy? Which then leaves

TR. The
star of San Juan Hill, back in a war we
for empire. The man who continued
the slaughter in the Philippines: 200,000 dead in a war of
imperial conquest. 200,000 dead in a racist war for white

And so looking at Mount Rushmore with its
quartet of murdering, raping, conniving, torturing,
genocidal terrorists and thinking about the real
Ronald Reagan, I came to realize
he belongs there just fine. It's just
we need to change the way we
see the place, from a place of heroes,
to a place of demons; maybe by changing
the name from Mount Rushmore
to Mount Frankenstein. Mount Rushmore to Mount
Axis of Evil.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Consolations for a Cleveland Winter

What would I do with all that
prodigal sunshine,
day after changeless day, and the way it
bleaches unliving colors
to pastel? Far better to
dwell here,
in wired concrete igloos,
parked in the arctic precincts of a
supposedly temperate
climate, where the dense gray
perpetuity of cloud
supersedes shade and curtain, where
no luminous nuisance trespasses in the sky,
opacifying the lenses of your eye with the
glare of film noir third degrees.
Where you can sleep for weeks without missing a single
shadow. How reassuring,
not to have to worry about the cat
exploding in the unvented four-door.

And then, there are the economic benefits;
the costly, sloppy stickiness of the
sunscreen you won't be needing,
the money unspent on the darklensed
fashionstatements you won't sit on
entering the car, the superfluity of
bikini waxes beneath layer upon layer of
goose down, wool, velcro, Gortex and Thinsulate.
None of the wastefulness of frozen-drink
parasols: instead, the allegory of marshmallows
melting in hot cocoa, the music of
whistled steam gossiping about the impending
arrival of scalded pots of tea.

Who would knowingly trade the
palping rapture of cashmere
coiled in gentle neck-snug, for the
goo gunk of tropical crotchfunk, and
pitstench? And then there’s the boon
to marital fidelity, the erotic temptations
of fishnet nymphettes
preempted: the very thought of provocative textiles
foreclosed by the horripilant chill-threat of
bristle-hair gooseflesh. No apocalyptic water bugs
skittering eerily from
unknown places, just a preternatural
feeling of brotherhood
for the lonely burdens of prehistoric
glaciers, and sympathy for the fate of naked
graveyard statuary.

Far better to start each morning with the discourse of
shovel's-edge rasping flagstone or blacktop, even
the cranky percussion of twostroke engines chuting
geysers of crystal into driveway-lining
ridges of freeze-dried sky-squeeze.
Listening to the sizzle-hiss of woodfire, its
narrative about the liberation of stored
sunshine, how preferable this to the trademarked
thrash-ratchet of idling middle-aged stockbrokers.

Needless to say,
mountainside fiberglass waterslides
rank a very distant second to
the doorstep thrill-ride of each morning,
as, improvising your way along the
newly arrived canyons of spontaneous
car-devouring roadcrumble, you
fishtail through slushstreeted
rush-hours. And there can simply be
no moral comparison between the
generosity of the snowplow rock-salt
that leaves the entire northeast
corner of the state saltier
than a frozen-margarita rim,
and the isolating managedcare selfishness
of tinted-power-windows and factory-air.

There is nothing in the radiant scorch
of hot sun on tanned skin
to make you desire anything
but escape; nothing that
remotely begins to compare with the way that,
numbing your extremities, a Cleveland winter
lectures about how you have stopped
feeling, and long
to feel

Friday, January 14, 2011


(Generally speaking, cliches are to be avoided like the ... H1N1.
But especially when you mean something as a song, they're actually better than originality. I hear the following as a song, and to hear my own dubious attempts to capture this, you can check out Chomsky in Chains, the podcast.)

Been a war every day of my forty-four years.
Been a war every day of my life.
Been a war to show everyone killing is wrong.
Been a war to prove killing is right.
Been a war to keep dangerous secrets.
Been a war to make some secrets known.
Been a war of defensive invasions,
in the name of protecting our homes.
In the name of protecting our homes.

Been a war to make everyone sober.
Been a war to get everyone high.
But the truth is that war is a banker,
selling peace for a lucrative lie,
trading peace with a lucrative lie,
while the Tomahawks litter the sky

And I been wondering why-hy,
murder's wrong but murderers rule,
spend one day honoring Martin,
three-hundred-SIXty-four like he was a fool,
and I been wondering why, why, why,
peace is always being denied,
peace is a classified secret,
but we treat war like it’s our national pride.

Been a war while the guns have been firing.
Been a war while the guns have grown cold.
Been a war for the wealthy and greedy,
to take the whole world for their own.
Been a war for the lies that they're screaming.
Been a war to cut out the truth's tongue.
Been a war to profit the rich and the old,
fought by the poor and the young,
lose their lives for a lucrative lie,
while the Tomahawks litter the sky

And I been wondering why-hy,
murder's wrong but murderers rule,
spend one day honoring Martin,
three-hundred-SIXty-four like he was a fool,
and I been wondering why, why, why,
peace is always being denied,
peace is a classified secret,
but we treat war like it’s our national pride.
And I been wondering why.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

New Year's Day on Mars

When, in the year 1000,
the year 1000 was celebrated,
it marked only a century or two
of reckoning dates from the birth of Yeshu
(the Aramaic correlate of the Greek 'Jesus'.)
it was not the year 1000 of course
since Fibonacci had not yet (until 1202)
introduced the Arabic numerals into Europe
(which he at least, having studied in Tunis had
the good grace
to call
the 'Hindu' numerals.)

It was the year 'M'
that being in Roman numerals
the symbol for 1000,
the Latin for 1000 being 'mille'
from which
the English
'mile', 'million', and 'millenium'.

Although it was a Roman
numeral, and the Aramaic speaking Yeshu a
Palestinian subject of the Romans,
that Roman numeral was not the Roman year, which,
reckoned A.U.C.
(anno urbis conditae, from the founding of the city)
was 752 at Christ's birth
(ignoring an apparent four year error),
and so the year M would have been
1752 according to the
whose numerals,
designated it.

On a recent trip to Thailand
(which they,
ungenerous to English sensibilities
insist on calling Muang Thai),
I discovered that the Thais,
having generously adopted a twelve month
solar calendar beginning on our January first,
still date their calendar to the birth of the Buddha
(the number of their year being 543
greater than ours ( and dare I mention
the twenty years
gone missing
from the Indian

The Muslims,
by many accounts the most numerous
religious group in the world,
start their calendar with the flight (hegira)
of their great prophet Muhammed
from their most holy city, Mecca,
in fear of his life (not,
of Jews, Christians, Romans, or Persians but
of fellow Arabs from the same clan),
about our year 622
(with the exception that the Muslim calendar
gains a year
on the Gregorian
once every 22 1/2 years.)

Jews in the East had
for many centuries
used the Seleucid calendar
that began in 312 B.C. when,
in the ninth century,
European Jews began dating
'anno mundi',
to the beginning of the world,
or 3761 B.C. in Gregorian terms.

What was God thinking when,
in his infinite wisdom,
he decided
to make the period
of the earth's revolution
a non-integer multiple
of its rotation?
Perhaps he meant it
as a WPA for astronomers.

It was left to the infallible
Gregory XIII (although this does beg
the question about Gregory's XII and XI)
acting on discrepancies found
800 years earlier by the Venerable Bede,
to set things straight
by declaring
the day after October 4, 1582,
to be October 15, 1582.

Ten days,
up in smoke.
Amazing the things
you can make happen,
if you happen to be Pope.

But perhaps this too is a bit
simplistic, since Protestants,
being what they are,
against a Pope's having the gall
to be accurate.
And so whereas
the appropriate days disappeared
in Spain and France,
they took two years to vanish
in Luthered lands.

The British government,
being what it is,
cherished recalcitrance
until, in 1752,
September 2nd was followed by
September 14th,
throwing in the change of New Year's Day
from March 25th back to January 1st.

Recent cosmological data suggest
that the universe is
3 thousand million years newer
than previously thought,
only 10 thousand million years old.

2000 approaches though 1000 never happened.
It reminds of the singer Prince ---
'Tonight I'm gonna party like it's 1999'.

Why not?

It is.