Poetry and Rants by DC McKenzie

Posts tagged “poetry

River and Rock

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.

 

~D.C. McKenzie

—end transmission—


Crossroads no. one

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.

~D.C. McKenzie
~090309~


—end transmission—


Poem from the Asylum~no.two

14 May 2k9

4 West pt ii. ~Invisible

Just a few sentences from crazy
She says,
that’s all any of us are

Working in a modern madhouse
she would know
about creeping crazy

about how the bogeyman gets inside,
about people
tied down at night

become shadows unknown
to themselves
hidden away from our sight

where they are vulnerable to any bully
who wants
to take a piece of them

You could be insane and not know
She says,
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
old-fashioned closet-therapy

some mental manacles tight,
chemical restraints
to ease your plight

and then you’ll see the truth
She says,
there is no safe place

to scream, or to whisper even
in the darkness,
a few unguarded words

~D.C. McKenzie

Migrainous Rex

~*~

—end transmission—


Poem from the Asylum~no.one

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.

~D.C. McKenzie

Cognitive Dissonance

~*~

—end transmission—


Serenade for a Riot Cop

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?

~DC McKenzie


—end transmission—


Midnight Mischief

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…
Smashy Smashy.
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.

 

 

~DC McKenzie

~*~

the indignity of it all...

set them free

~*~

—end transmission—



Fou Roux—the pulse of life

17 March 2k9

“Mad Poet” you say? Fair enough, I’ve been called worse: leftist rabble, uncompromising eco-nut (as former AK Gov. Tony Knowles once quipped. I replied that it was better than being a Corporate Pimp…), arrogant radical, insane, disabled, cantankerous agoraphobe, chronic misanthrope, and of course, a fool. Before long, if you read long enough and stay with me Dear Reader, doubtless you’ll end up calling me worse as well. It’s sort of an occupational hazard. To be a poet, and still be able to face yourself in the mirror, one has to step on some toes now and then, rattle some cages, climb way out on a limb and start sawing behind you.

17, March 1901: an artist, whose popularity had been growing for some years, was given a grand exhibition in Paris; which could have been the big break for any artist, except this poor soul had already been dead for eleven years. Following this retrospective, and subsequent others in Amsterdam and Cologne, the work of Vincent van Gogh became known to the world. His influence rippled outward and is felt even to this day, more than a century later.

What we know of the man himself is often shrouded in misery and mystery, only lending strength to the legend of a tortured, mad painter; a man whom the people of Arles, France came to call Fou Roux “the redheaded madman”. Despite decades of conjecture by doctors, scholars, and pretty much everyone else, we’re not much closer to the truth of what happened to Vincent now than we were in the days following his suicide. And while it is hotly contested, many do not agree that suicide is necessarily a good indicator for what is loosely referred to as “insanity”.
Who can say if Vincent was truly mad, mentally ill, permanently slipped off of his cracker? And if so, is it really any of our business?

For reliable information regarding the myriad of questions in this debate, I recommend exploring the admirable work of David Brooks at: www.vggallery.com. There you can find a succinct biography, qualified historical analysis, and most importantly, good representations of his art as well. Further, it is the only website sanctioned by the museum itself, so you know they’ve got the straight goods. If you dig around in the visitor submission/poetry section you can find a poem there by yours truly. Guess which one it is and I’ll send you a donut. *limited to 1 (one) per household.

I chose to begin this journal on this date as an homage, as Vincent has inspired me through countless hard times. In the palace of my mind, his work adorns the walls. It forever shows me something new and surprising about myself, about how I perceive the world around me.
His perseverance in the struggle with his own demons; his dedication to his craft, no matter the cost to his own comfort; even his failings, which so many of us share, that would not stop him from creating some of the most challenging and beautiful art in history—these lessons have taught me, often painfully, to grapple with my own work: what does it mean, exactly, to be an artist, or in my case, a poet?

I still haven’t the foggiest clue, and that is the only honest answer I can give.

Other than similitudes, no gathering of words fully answers the question.
Perhaps in your own mind you carry a definition. But tell me, do you feel that it is complete?

Confusion waxes and wanes. Lately I have stopped asking such dangerous questions.
I have been listening instead, straining to hear the quiet voice guiding me deeper through the labyrinth, to the temple where my Muse sings her arias…
Poke an artist and many will tell you we do it simply because we have to.
We seem to feel a duty to our art that transcends mere ego:
revealing the best and the worst in all of us, it is a siren song of creation—
a daybright beacon in the darkness, composed of hidden symbols;
a cerebral conduit to the heart of humanity, without which we would be hollow and bereft.
Yet while connected to it, we feel the pulse of life.

~*~

Self-Portrait, Saint-Remy, September 1889

Vincent van Gogh—Self-Portrait, Saint-Remy, September 1889


~*~


—end transmission—