31 October 2k9
~A poem for Samhain~
Once upon a time… A time before Hallmark Halloween and Hershey Bars; before trick or treat. There was a time when many cultures, particularly the Gaelic peoples, celebrated Harvest, and honored the dead on this night.
It was believed that the barrier between this world and the Sidhe became thin, allowing for all sorts of trespassing both from and into our realm of the living. Being the final harvest, it was also a time of hard choices to survive the coming winter.
In many hidden faiths, this day and night are balanced against the Spring festival of Beltane on the Wheel of the Year; Samhain is considered to be a time for celebrating the lives of those we love who have passed from this life.
Surviving down through the centuries, sculpted to serve each new belief system in its own way, this night nevertheless retains a powerful hold on our imaginations. For this one night out of each year we stop and pay tribute to the Unknown.
Considering how much we do not know, this should be a large tribute indeed.
On this night let us acknowledge the bitter Darkness that we might cherish the fertile Light.
The Cycle of Life
that cannibal poem
—credo quia absurdum
few of us truly believe
we will draw the short straw
and be killed for food.
or that behind sterile walls
hidden away from prying eyes
spiders are silently plotting our demise;
and even now creatures loosed from the zoo
might be amassing to stage their coup.
there may come a fine summer day
when this fuming parking lot
is a fair field of honey hay;
when sharks swim upriver
hunting in swimming holes
for an easy dinner.
and packs of piranha prowl poolside patios,
while here at this barren bus stop
there will be a grizzly bear buffet.
some things are so absurd
they must be believed:
that in this youniverse
there is room for a me.
the trick, it seems, is to know
—when to run
instead of standing around gawking
—when to dance
instead of sitting there talking
it does you no good to live in dread
of things that are slithering beneath your bed.
when morning comes and finds you still alive
just shake off that tired, old bogeyman jive.
now, it’s easier to will a comet
down into your loving arms
than it is to outgrow being a fool.
yet, in the end, it is far better
living round within square rules.
some consider it misfortunate and macabre
a sign of narcissistic hypochondria
to entertain the rather gruesome idea
that there might be a tumor
lurking somewhere inside us
a wild growth
we will never see
waiting to undo us.
yet, life is finer when you snuggle up
to the Reaper; the meat’s so much sweeter
when you make a friend of Death
so, here I stand, atop a heap
of defeated worries and bony woes
waving a stone club over my head
howling at the heavens to awaken the dead.
for it is easier to believe i could do the eating
then be eaten.
the future, you see, is certain,
minute by minute,
the only question
is whether or not we are in it.
12 October 2k9
A poem for someone I greatly admire. Someone who, though disabled of the body, has a mind all the stronger for her many painful trials. Someone who, instead of retreating into isolation and depression, summons the strength of a bright, compassionate spirit, and formidable will, to help others every day. Many are often in a time of despair. Vulnerable to the demons at our backs, you show us that we are not the sum of our failings, or our illness.
And rather than trying to heal our wounds, she somehow finds a way to help us find healing within.
Sensei, you are to us as the patient river is to eternal rock:
slowly helping to reshape us over time, gently coaxing out the beatific within.
With gratitude, I dedicate this poem to you.
the bent wing
A convocation of crows has gathered,
raucous beneath an Elder riverside Oak.
Rough northern sister of the steaming Delta,
the mighty Mississippi River churns in Her cradle.
First road of the New World, She bears our burdens still,
Taking what the Iron Range sends Her.
—In our hearts, the word for patience is River.
We deny Her:
We measure the rain and pray against Her rising.
We build a stone girdle for Her, with deep steel locks,
and the bargemen sing that Her curves sway for us alone.
When we sleep we think the River is not changing.
—In our hearts, when we read the future,
the runestone always says River.
We dredge Her like a clumsy lover
and believe we have revealed all of Her secrets.
When the Lady of the Lake
fled the ruins of the Old World,
fled the smoke and plague of
the last siege of Avalon
She rose from the water
and looked to the West.
When the Lady of the Lake
fled the ruins of the Old World,
She came to the Mississippi River.
Yet we deny the River, with noxious veils of toxin,
with shackles of reeking effluence.
We deny Her suffrage and this can come to no good.
I dance among the cryptic crows, wooing my muse
from Her moonshrouded bed. I caw and croon into Her dreams
of the warm summer sun as She shuffles chunks of dirty ice.
Restive, in the corsets we fashion of sandbags and cinderblock stays,
She murmurs that the spring floods are coming.
—In our hearts, Love is a River and the embrace of
some bridges remind me of Consequences.
A bent wing glides above me
whispering black the River Song.
Scattered leaves at my feet,
brown from winter’s grasp,
have become frozen in the ice.
A piece of my heart there resides,
waiting for the River to rise.
3 September 2k9
~In Memorial, Gayle Janecek~
more words on ashes and loss
Grief is the circling of our hearts against the unknown.
Devoid of boundaries, or limits of space and time,
grief cannot be “gone through”, cannot be fled from;
it must be allowed to permeate, then endured—no more.
Grief the Bogeyman waits around every corner
to remind us of the fear rooted in our chests.
Hidden within our lullabies, woven into our faery tales,
grief is the pitiless Taskmaster
teaching us to treat each day
as if it were our last chance to make things right.
We must make our peace with grief at every chance.
Because every day, often in each moment,
grief confronts us, assails us
with the terrible finality of its truth.
For grief is the acknowledgment that, at the last,
we face death alone, taking with us only memories
of those we love beyond the bright gates.
We who remain must learn to dance on the ashes of our loss.
13 July 2k9
“Oh, my dear boy, sometimes I know so well what I want. I can very well do without God both in my life and in my painting, but I cannot, ill as I am, do without something which is greater than I—the power to create.” Vincent to Theo~Letter no.531
In his definitive 1977 catalogue raisonné “The Complete Van Gogh” Dr. Jan Hulsker quoted Picasso in the overleaf, who asked, “Why do the Dutch mourn for Rembrandt? They have Van Gogh.” Dr. Hulsker continued, “Indeed, for many people today van Gogh’s vibrant paintings, created in torment and struggle, are more meaningful and closer to their own concerns than are Rembrandt’s…”
Without detracting from the true mastery of Rembrandt, I heartily agree. And it is as true now as it was in 1888, 120 years ago…some 44,144 days have passed since Vincent sat with Eugène Boch and painted what he considered to be but a “first sketch” of a much grander portrait. Time is the Judge, however, for as Dr. Hulsker wrote, and to which I would not add a word, “There seems scarcely any reason to want a more finished version; the portrait as it stands ranks as one of the most personal and impressive works Vincent painted.”
Hence I feel I must ask, with a heavy heart—had Vincent known the impact his work would have on the world, would he have perhaps been able to stay his hand? If only for a short time.
Time enough, at the least, to find some peace of mind, some ease of the soul.
Letters 505, 531 & 546 revisited
Once, Vincent, you daydreamed into reality the portrait
of Eugène Boch, in Arles, during the autumn of 1888.
A ‘fellow artist’ you named him;
and wrote to Theo that—he dreams great dreams.
You wrote that he works as the nightingale sings:
because it is in his nature.
Compassionate, almost worried, you laid bare
his expression. Green eyes become hazel, keenly seeking…
You painted infinity for a background:
an azure void broken only by the palest
of argent and rose-gold stars.
Such beacons, like Spring blossoms
rising up from an ultramarine mind-field of muddy laments,
such stars burn clean through our hidden expectations—
Illuminating, and thus forever changing,
all that their delicate, eternal radiance falls upon.
29 June 2k9
…a poem you have always liked.
I dedicate this tonight for you Gayle, with all of my love.
I believe in miracles.
I stomp in mud puddles.
I let the wind have my hair.
I believe in love,
so I learned to dance from laughing Raven.
The sight of pavement still makes me cry,
so I carry a piece of bright blue chalk
to speed the passage of my feet.
I have seen cunning Fox abandon fleeing Rabbit
in the running swiftness of a hunt;
transfixed by the sight of a triple rainbow
we stood alike panting, rooted by sheer wonder.
I know the words to Imagine by heart—
I am not afraid of them.
I speak Coyotes secret name. I call to her
through braided runes of driftwood smoke
rising up to the Spirits; in the hushed night,
our song to sister Moon is a love ballad, a feral lament.
Once I met wounded Bald Eagle, long exiled from the sky,
who had only one wing. He lived in a round, steelscreen
cage to keep away chatty Magpies and jeering tourists.
Caught in the constant wind tugging at him,
forever whispering to him,
a piece of ivory down
floated from his ruined flank into my palm.
I carry it with my bright blue chalk.
If you can live without flying
I have stood in mute, salt despair
as human thunder rolled through a forest;
Goblin-greedy poachers had shattered mother Bear.
Her spirit left forsaken—
through boles of witness Red Cedar and Spruce,
floating woeful on raw, autumn mists.
There are days when I am a stranger
to my family, to my tribe, and I see Raven soaring.
Blackwing trickster above our concrete forest,
I see Raven soaring—
there rides my spirit.
1 June 2k9
My Neighbor Tells All
—Rage city tales pt. 7
While taking a roll through the neighborhood
I happened on a roadgang raising havoc
with a gas-fired wood chipper.
Stopping to watch, I soon became mesmerized
by the verdant, leafy pile disappearing;
pushed by diligent minions
down into a metal gullet.
Mesmerized, yes, and excited as well
by my own wanton appetite
for destruction of the ogre machine.
Hardhat sycophants feed it the green limbs of trees
dismembered for their ugly appearance,
or where they happened to be growing.
From within the danger-yellow, dented maw
there comes pandemonium—
the sound of doomsday slouching forth
a ruckus of Wood Nymphs enraged
the sound of civilization ending by rending.
While, from its diesel-driven bowels,
out spits nothing but chunks
and clouds of greasy dust
spewing up into an arcing fountain.
A drift lay piled up in the back of a waiting garbage truck.
…Grinder will gobble up everything one day…
the maddened ogre murmurs
within the mayhem of exploding dinosaurs.
“Man, you could pulverize a body with that thing!”
My neighbor bawls, booming into a silence
created by the sudden killing of Grinder’s engine.
It’s not silence really, rather it is an emptiness of sound
—a riot of molecules screaming into the vacuum
once filled by a furious and vengeful demigod.
In the clamor he has snuck up on me,
is standing right behind me, this neighbor.
And I am perfectly certain that my heart
really will leap up out of my chest,
flee from my shocked, witless mouth
and fly straight into the waiting gob of Grinder.
“Yep! You could chew through a whole body
pretty quick with a monster like that.”
Quieter now, but no less disturbing,
his voice is hoarse—almost reverent.
We have rarely spoken, this neighbor and I.
He’s heavy-eyed this one, with a Gorgon gaze:
acting as if by his keen weather-sense
he feels capable of Judgment—of sussing out the malingerers,
of rooting out the unworthy, of meting out punishment.
His stare is weighted with thinly-veiled
contempt; as if I reek of weakness
and he can smell me wherever I go.
I have always given him dubious distance.
In this moment I am not sure why that was
—only that I was right to do so.
He looks to me for some kind of response, and
sensing the patience of a bully in him, I realize that
I am not sure what to say.
He has a compelling face carved over a long age.
its surface is a lunar field of fissured craters,
belying an eternal battle with volcanic acne.
Ever the old soldier, he still worries at those war wounds
such that they are perpetually on the verge of eruption.
Seen up close, his eyes are chipped marbles of blue;
almost dreamy, those eyes give scant hint
of the heat seething inside the brain.
Iceberg eyes set slackly adrift;
until, upon voracious Grinder, a fond,
brutish stare is avidly affixed…
absently stabbing with one blunt finger
at an angry lava vent on his forehead.
Trying not to wince, I bobble my head vaguely,
neither up, nor down exactly.
Squirming slightly in my wheelchair.
Where to start with such an opening statement?
“Yeah,” says I, “but—”
Grinder, gnashing-demon of the trees,
roars to sudden life:
shocking me like a cat out of one more life.
My neighbor, this Judge of Humans, stands
wearing a child’s smile, arms akimbo;
utterly free of guilt at loving such a terror.
“Sure,” he yells into my ear, “the skull would bounce
around for a little while, skipping on the blades, it’s true…”
He whips one finger around in tight circles,
“But, eventually, you could shove it right through.”
14 May 2k9
4 West pt ii. ~Invisible
Just a few sentences from crazy
that’s all any of us are
Working in a modern madhouse
she would know
about creeping crazy
about how the bogeyman gets inside,
tied down at night
become shadows unknown
hidden away from our sight
where they are vulnerable to any bully
to take a piece of them
You could be insane and not know
so many of us are
Crazy is as crazy does as crazy is
she shudders slackly,
they say it’s not contagious
but hang around long enough
to get some good
some mental manacles tight,
to ease your plight
and then you’ll see the truth
there is no safe place
to scream, or to whisper even
in the darkness,
a few unguarded words
12 May 2k9
4 West pt. i
We are the Hallway People—
Shuffling aimless…discordant, dissonant
Flinching at the slightest touch of any stranger.
In vain, we try to decide whether
Our rooms are a sanctuary or cell:
A less than empty space
Too quiet not to be lonely
Inhabited by souls too burdened
Not to be somewhat mad…
We are the Hallway People—
Saying little, yet broadcasting much
Into air thick already with fear
And a smog of illness, but tinged with twilight hope.
When confronted, our gaze retreats,
Or lashes in sudden, defensive vehemence.
We are manimals, trapped in a fetid braincage,
Haunted by the knowledge that we squirm
In the cage by the working of our own minds:
Castles in the darkness we build
Of despair, a fortress high
Of joyous mania, spires twinkling bright…
We are the Hallway People—
Who sing a lament of the fractured mind.
Arias to love lost, and relentless, tock-ticking time;
The broken life…once so safe, so secure,
Become now a webwork of cracks and missing pieces:
A wisp of spider silk tangled in a branch
A child’s toy tossed aside…
We are the Hallway People—
Who have grown into riddles of ourselves.
We are puzzles without defined borders;
With no more than sharp edges to cling to,
Nor similitudes to find solace within.
30 April 2k9
Posted here with love and thanks for another patient, who likes this poem. Someone beset on on all sides by pain and challenges, yet rises to face life every day.
You are a mentor, an inspiration, and above all a true friend.
Waiting for a brain MRI is a little like waiting for a subway train,
things will be different afterwards, but one can’t really be sure how.
Despite what the people who work here may believe,
waiting rooms are really for deciding if we want to do this, or not.
What does one wear to have a brain MRI? The Polynesian block-print
Nancy gave me last year perhaps; it is beautiful, and what’s more
Nancy survived a brain tumor. She has walked the line between
luck and faith. How would the world change if we all had to do that?
No, the black cat shirt is best after all; it suits my sense of the sardonic.
Besides, its hissing, arched body and beady little eyes make me smile.
Excuse me, I’m here to have my head examined—
Usually, I don’t have a good reason for stopping the protons in my brain.
I allow my atoms their autonomy, knowing as I do how hard they work.
Yet the smooth flux of their particle dance has grown a bit erratic of late.
Wedged inside the GE machine now; while, bound like demons, huge purring magnets
are waiting for Adrian the Atom Wrangler to blow her whistle: Simon says, STOP!
Inside the machine:
WEEEWAH! WEEEWAH! CHUNK! CHUNK! CHUNK!
Earplugs reduce Cacophony to a dim Titan. There is the feeling of barely restrained
dissonant fury whirling around me as I lay transfixed within a magnetic maelstrom.
Inside the brain:
Frank was right, ‘Fear is the mind killer. Fear is the little death.’
I must face Fear or it will climb my back. I am not afraid of the machine.
I am afraid of what it will find.
Adrian listens to the radio frequency of me, astronomers listen to decaying stars.
I suspect they sound the same. You are tuned to WDON. EFFF EMMM! No static at all…
What flavor would the Grim Reaper’s popsickle be?
We learn to live under a vast weight of many small things gathered.
17 April 2k9
i. Chinook wind
Chinook wind knows nothing of a shooting in Fairview;
gustful, she lifts the curtain of night’s mystery away.
Reveals concrete-box buildings capped with dirty snow
and asphalt ribbons, frozen yet running, at their feet:
Cop lights swarm and nightclothed people gather
at the cordoned off edges of a tragedy;
One more kid lying in a pool of police procedure.
There is not much more than yellow caution tape fluttering
Playful in Chinook wind—which knows nothing
of gunpowder or methamphetamines—
Separating one group from the other,
separating gunned down son from undone mother.
Until this moment he did not know what it meant
to be ‘made cold by the universe’.
Clinging cold; as the black bottom of a river in winter
he is learning for the first time what it means to be truly lonely.
Knowing solves nothing. Right now, and all that came before,
crash together—beneath him the pavement feels warm.
ii. go away
I have found a scared woman
coiled tightly upon herself
head in hands,
at temples like two dazed birds
fallen from the nest.
She hunches between old cars
rusting forlorn, in a junk strewn lot,
hiding where she might not be seen.
staring not seeing
until it is far, far too late
this barbaric scene
unfolding in Fairview:
I smell acrid fear on you,
all too familiar to me—
the burnt, copper taste
of his gasping grip
the spine breaking
compression of his weight
in you, all around you,
pushing out the last dregs of air,
leaving only sour panic.
Pushing, tearing for your insides.
He wants to push you out.
He wants to scrape your shell clean,
leaving nothing inside but
the awful residue of his sick self.
—when I asked
if you needed help
you did not answer,
but crept quiet to the
other side of a derelict car.
There hugged arms
‘round your body
until you were tightly closed,
as a dayflower at midnight.
I sit on my wheels,
wretched and helpless—it feels
as if the cops will never come;
as if you are bleeding out fast
and I cannot reach you.
Weeping, you are nearly silent
making only frightened
panting steam into air, grasp for fresh air.
chuffing through splayed nostrils—
Leave me alone.
He’ll see me.
Just go away.
iii. What I said to the Soldiers
hanging out on 4th. Avenue
looking for a good time
chugging two-dollar beers
in rock-bottom bars.
They smoke out on the sidewalk
basking under a dusky sun
as if they own its fire
and all it patriotically falls upon.
Their sense of entitlement
swollen and swinging
between their legs;
their common sense
shriveled and scarce,
hiding in their bellies
under all that sour beer:
They decide it might be amusing
to block a cripple’s way.
Snickering malicious smiles
frame bright, orderly teeth.
They look like menacing green insects
beneath blank black sunglasses.
Where you goin’ gimp? Asks one.
Down this sidewalk, I answer,
and point through a buzzing knot
of clammy muscle and adrenalin.
You sure? Asks another.
Yeah, pretty sure.
I reply and begin
a can of bear mace.
Smiles fall from faces
behind shiny shades.
One or two look as if
they would like to be
holding a gun.
Well, let the man through,
last soldier says, reptilian,
drooling venomous sarcasm.
In his voice runs the
unmistakable undertone of
—I’ll see you later…
Get bent, you fucking mercenary.
I answer, and roll through their
abruptly deflated gauntlet.
Neck flesh crawling
with the bugs of their blank glares;
it is better not to listen
to the silence in my wake.
I push harder.
Better let it go,
’cause ya can’t ride a slut
with your face all fucked up.
First soldier says to last
to restore mirth and morale
in the American Way.
To hell, boys—
you can go straight to hell.
iv. Sparkler Rhythms
At the Bus Transit Center
laughing profanity cuts through
the traffic; suddenly comes a starburst
of street rhymes, bantering beats,
and secret statements of individual
power in the face of all this…
Passing lines back, forth,
in the symbolspeak of
young and rebellious poor
—yet (if only they knew it)
staggeringly rich with life.
Laughing rhymes of elegant,
cynical, ease finally shake me out of Cummings
(Oh, how you would love
this new world, Estlin)
and, curious, I stop to listen.
I sit both alienated, yet unafraid
of their honed, measuring stares;
peering at me in the wheelchair
with dark eyed, old-world,
inquisitive gaze behind
the smoke of my pipe.
Their raucous fun has frightened
a gaggle of tourists—who sort of fucking
deserve it. With their disdainful,
clearly thinking that this was not part
of the sales package of The Great Land—
I roll, an iceberg obstacle, in front of these
delicate daytrippers of the Last Frontier.
Gawking with their cameras a-dangle,
ready for capturing the richness
of Four-Leg wildlife;
certainly not for poor,
I obstinately blockade their progress.
Until, along with me, they must listen
to the ruckus-rap-rhythms of these young
Native-Alaskans and African-Alaskans
whom have wooed me from E.E. Cummings.
I want to growl at these vapid visitors,
flay them with the hairy eyeball.
I want to snarl that: This is Alaska!
And these beautiful, sleek, Two-Legs,
who pop sharp rhymes between them,
with words aflame like lit sparklers,
these are the Children of Alaska.
Author’s Note: a version of part 3 appears on the page Body Hammer, wherein I explain how that poem was written and the special conditions from which it sprang. Please see that before feeling I have disrespect for all who sacrifice to Serve our nation, far from it…no, just these disgraceful men in particular. Thank you.
3 April 2k9
“Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.” ~George Washington
“What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless,
whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism
or the holy name of liberty and democracy?” ~’Mahatma’ Mohandas Gandhi
In London, the G20 Summit has ended for some, but for others the misery is just beginning. No protest occurs in a vacuum, and there are always consequences…an unknown number are still jailed, legally or not; people who need help soon, or they will be eaten by their system. And there are the walking wounded who need attending, some of whom can’t even walk, along with uncounted others whose wounds are invisible to the eye, yet catastrophic nonetheless; for PTSD is common on both sides, and a typically understated byproduct of any mass-demonstration. Often it is due to the fact that, despite prayers and pleas, not all have learned to embrace Non-Violence as the only real viable protest tactic. When you resort to the methods of despots, you allow that despotism inside your heart, and thereby become yet another tyrant.
By all accounts, including some first hand, this protest was no different. If you have not been to one before, and you’re at all interested, see my post entitled Dark Hours for a quick sketch of what it can be like, here in the Good Ol’ USA. Although, it appears the UK cops used less chemical weapons this time, and were more nightstick happy. (Actually, that sounds a lot like NYC cops, now that I consider it.)
If you’re up front on the Hassle Line, or get caught in a skirmish, this can really suck. One pair of badge-bearing sociopaths once fractured my jaw after kicking me repeatedly, just to get my gas-mask and helmet off…one of them then proceeded to pound me like a steak. Unfortunately, a little nightstick goes a long way. And yes, you do see stars, but not pretty ones…just asteroidal, flashy ones, that make you want to puke, again.
Not to fear Dear Reader, for the next day—while being detained for a few hours, roughed up and down, intimately searched (while the complete contents of my possessions were photographed) without a warrant or even probable cause, and rudely interrogated without the dubious benefit of a lawyer—I took my vengeance:
During the whole tiresome ordeal, I spent the time reciting my own most subversive and seditious poetry to them…which, needless to say, pissed them off mightily. I would have gotten my ass kicked for sure, except one of them was actually a decent Police Officer. (I do recognize a difference, and it comes down to the human being inside the uniform.) As you would guess, even though I was a bit worried, there was a high ratio of my fun to their anger, and I didn’t mind showing it either. By the time the thugs were done, and the Good Cop was just plain embarrassed, we’d all agreed to a mutual, abiding, disdain for one another; and I was told to “Get the fuck out of their city.” in exactly those words. As far as those korrupt keystone kops were concerned, the word Constitution apparently has something to do with bowel movements. But, as Arlo Guthrie once lamented, That’s America…Also, I’m pretty sure they hated my poetry.
Therefore, in my continuing contempt for sadistic riotcops, who just give good police officers a brutal name. And in gratitude to the thousands who non-violently marched in London for the marginalized millions, those kept poor in the name of profit, at the G20 this year, I’m just going to leave this growling mutt of a poem right here…
Serenade for a Riot Cop
Malo Periculosam Libertatem Quam Quietum Servitium
Admit it, you miss the heyday of the Black Maria,
righteously flailing us to our knees.
You see your duty, doubtless,
To create Law and Order.
Why can’t you see that it is our duty
to create Justice and Peace?
It is a noble oath you take, to Protect and Serve.
But exactly what is it that you are trying to preserve?
You know this is not how it is supposed to be.
What did you suppose would happen
to our nation, our daughters and our sons,
when you applied the law with your stinking guns?
You have nothing that can ultimately stop it now
it does not matter what you do to us,
remember—Sic Semper Tyrannis: To Tyrants Ever Thus
Our aims, our desires, are not much different:
Cast aside your bloody nightstick,
the riotgun, the filthy gas.
Throw down your body armor,
the tin badge, the black mask
and step up, step out into the street
vulnerable with us, before the Fist.
Stand before the fuming others
who once were your brothers
in unnecessary arms.
Free your voice, outraged, in a defiant cacophony,
tell them you will make no more mishumanity,
that you will no longer lock people in cages for money.
Their pepperspray will be a baptism burning in your lungs.
Discover how it is to stare down the other side of the guns,
with naught but your humanity for a weapon or a shield.
Take your beating with us, learn what it takes to wield
your body, with civil disobedience as your last defense.
With us, draw a line today, understand what it takes to disobey.
Join us now in a united stance, or soon enough we will all lose the chance.
If this is truly the promised Land of the Free
then c’mon Riot Cop, tell me if you can
—why aren’t we?
26 March 2k9
“There are nights when the wolves are silent and only the moon howls.” ~George Carlin
set them free
And there came a night when, at last, I could take no more:
It was act, or a coward I’d remain,
I had to do the deed demanded
in the face of our awful disdain.
Tools I packed, in a large canvas bag:
cutting torch, pickaxe, folding spade, bolt cutters,
a large pair of insulated dikes, 12″ catspaw,
5 lb short sledge, and a few other necessary odds & ends.
The walk was short, but the chill night seeped into bone and tendon alike
I looked about at all the other prisoners until my blood was up again.
And an ember of stoked rage blew aflame,
long since fired into a brittle glaze.
The hostage was waiting just as I knew he would.
Where, after all, was he going to go?
Certain that this was illegal,
although not exactly sure why it should be, I set to work.
First to go had to be the ten thousand little lights.
White and pretty yes, but tell me, would you wear them?
He hated them.
Clipped & taped, stripped & scraped off along with fistfuls of ragged fliers…
Into the street.
Then came the abandoned freakin’ bikes, only four of them today.
All bent to shit, and kicked by every asshole who passed that way.
He was shackled by these metal carcasses, yet nitrogen froze the p.o.s. locks,
then smashy smashy with the 5 lb. short sledge, and off came the mechanical stocks.
Into the street.
Warmed now, by my disgust, the adrenalin reality of my open rebellion—
which, after far too much turning of the cheek, was indeed, truly sweet.
Next was the cast-iron grill, the cell of his prison,
like something dreamt up for an Inquisition.
Prior inspection told me the locks were for show,
that the diabolical thing had been welded ages ago.
A welding blanket I wrapped ’round him tight
and lovely blue-white fire lit the winter night.
While watching through goggles black and thick,
a whisper warning floated through my brain,
“This is usually when everything kind of goes to shit,”
then shoved away the nagging thought double-quick.
“So what?…wouldn’t be the first time…” I sniffed in disdain.
One, two, dripping metal on my shoe, and there it was, an opening new…
Into the street.
Working hard, hurry now Scurry—tick-tock tick-tock, up against the running cop clock,
I yanked out the pair of ornate sidewalk grates,
you know, the ones that so many treat like ashtrays…a clattering they went.
Into the street.
Then I began on the cobblestones:
smashy smashy with pickaxe, then shovel shovel with spade.
Repeat. Gasping. Repeat.
Into the street.
An old-school handful of M-80s, saved for such a night:
deftly taped tight, and carefully placed just right,
(crossing fingers) blew a few goodish chunks out of the curb,
and made it easier to pickaxe-peel back some asphalt.
Into the street
Fight or Flight, mixed with fear and sweat, was trickling down my spine;
knowing well the cops were scant minutes from this place where I’ve scratched my line.
Running rolling a dumpster over to the pile, mostly for aesthetics to tell the truth,
I jammed up its wheels and stood back for a look.
It appeared as much like modern art, as it did a small blockade.
Breathing heavy, I lit a few magnesium flares and tossed them in
amongst the wreckage: candles to start the parade,
and to avoid any accidents…after all, this wasn’t that kind of cabaret.
When I fled back into the night,
savoring only a tight taste of glee,
there was an undeniable barricade
burning merrily in the street.
And when the cops finally did make the scene?
Standing tall in the red flicker-light,
what they found was a magnificent Tree—
one that could, at last, sort of breathe.
set them free
21 March 2k9
“You cannot will yourself to write a poem, as you cannot will yourself to be struck by lightning.” ~Robert Pinsky
“Everywhere I go I find that a poet has been there before me.” ~Sigmund Freud
In 1999, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared that March 21st. would thereafter be celebrated as World Poetry Day. As a poet, though some would argue for ‘fool’ as an identifier instead, I would like to extend my sincere thanks to UNESCO for recognizing this vital art form; which over thousands of years has been for humanity a beacon in the darkness, around which we cling to each other; an art which has illuminated and strengthened the umbilical connections between our minds, our souls and the Universe we call home. Therefore, in honor to my peers, and with gratitude to our patrons and readers, I offer a poem…
From the Schaumburg Woods
north of Chicago. Walking in such melancholy
places helps my friend mourn, and for me
nothing more of Why need be asked.
It is fall, but within the thin wood there are
katydids and cicadas singing yet. A raccoon came
to see what sort of nuisance the human was about
and, satisfied, left without saying a word.
Nevermind the airplanes above, Brian says—
Here all is enrapt with sunset,
full to brimming with sunset:
barely-hardened amber, plum, ocher, and delicate russet
reflects from the mirror of a murky pond.
Under such light, the vaulting boles of mossy trees
have been reforged into pillars of marble amidst the undergrowth,
veined in van Gogh yellow, cream copper and emerald;
ruins perhaps, of a long-forgotten Temple to the Sun.
Now tuned to the subliminal song of this place,
his grief seeps into the ground, is painted into the landscape,
such that the next wanderer to venture here
will surely find the place haunted.
Tramping amongst the white-noise crackle of leaves,
which lie colorful upon countless generations of moldy kin,
-who once lived and died in their own spectacle of Autumn-
he is soothed somewhat, and our talk soon turns to easier things
—of sealing wax, the price of gas, and the downfall of current kings.
Until we exchange the latest of our frequent farewells.
He called again, after a time,
to tell me that he had run over a squashed skunk
and could not escape the death-heady stink.
We concluded finally, that so it must be
with the spectre of Death we face each day,
and the constant reek of our own oft buried fear.
We become immune, inured, numbed-from-within—
although in truth, never quite comfortable with it.