Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Acceptance: Offcourse (Issue 59)

http://www.albany.edu/offcourse/

I'm looking forward to the release of the lastest issue of Offcourse, scheduled for December 24.  In it will appear three of my poems: "Closer," "Los," and "Break Up."  One of them is actually not a criticism of humanity's sheeplike ability to avoid asking tough ethical questions.

Thanks as always to the excellent editorial team of Drs. Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg!

See if you can guess which one from the first lines of the poems (to read the rest, check out issue 59 on Christmas Eve!):

Los


moon in smog scrim
lists behind Narcissus--he as a streetlamp--
as trash lolls, hunkering
down windy boulevards.
...


----------

Closer

sunset baked the folk, millions of them,
all flavored different the same.
...


--------


Break Up

=>wasn’t what he wanted, could/couldn’t,
so ineffectual in its swallow-of-the-tail,
an exasperative fix.
...

--------



Not too hard, right?

Have a good holiday season.

Owl


....

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Poem: A Reckoning

Originally published in Bitterzoet. 

Enjoy,

Owl

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



A Reckoning 

cold hunted
through the little forts in the walls,
chilling mice that murmured
on the perimeter of our bed.

we heard their lonely memories
above our whispers, and pretended
the candle on the nightstand,
shivering beside us,
was the last dram of a tiger,
defiant in our shared orange gaze.

we touched that night
as if our fingers were lava
and we would wake forever as one,
inscribed on the windy side
of some tragic mountain.

our kisses
offered the smallest of antidotes
to the prolific snow.
our hips limned an equator of desire,
turning away from the jaws
of insatiable February.

this home, our galleon, had been
among the constellations too long,
much older than the gyres
in our fingertips.

the sharp logic of the stars
poured through our bedroom windows,
vengeful as leaks
in a reckless container.

it was inevitable we would
merge in troubled sleep,
sensing the silken frost
bind hardbitten trees;

and the shoals of dragons in torn branches,
practicing their claws.


------------------------------
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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Another Depressing Entry--Don't Read!

I'm basically writing this to keep my depression in check through literary catharsis.  There's no point in you reading it.  I don't believe it will have much, if any, effect on you, except possibly a bad one.  This is my blog, the one place I get to be selfish.

You've been warned.

-------



The latest on the West Antarctica Ice Sheet:  not only is its collapse unstoppable, it is happening at a much quicker rate than previously supposed:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/12/03/this-west-antarctic-region-sheds-a-mount-everest-sized-amount-of-ice-every-two-years-study-says/

Global warming seems to be a hot-button topic for me as a blogger.  What shall I say about it this time? 

Hmm ...

Global warming has taken its place besides nuclear weapons as a major threat to our continuation.  On recent United Nations climate talks:


“WASHINGTON — After more than two decades of trying but failing to forge a global pact to halt climate change, United Nations negotiators gathering in South America this week are expressing a new optimism that they may finally achieve the elusive deal.

Even with a deal to stop the current rate of greenhouse gas emissions, scientists warn, the world will become increasingly unpleasant. Without a deal, they say, the world could eventually become uninhabitable for humans.”

www.nytimes.com/2014/12/01/world/climate-talks.html



If there are two major threats to civilization (nukes, GW), I suspect there are probably more that experts are soft-pedaling.  I know Stephen Hawking (famous physicist guy) recently warned about artificial intelligence replacing us.  All this adds up to grim probabilities of human doom.

Not only do we suck at dealing with longer-range threatens, we are masters of ignorance and denial.  Half of the Empire still claims global warming is a hoax perpetrated by the liberals, even though the polar caps are melting, and a plethora of other empirical evidence exists. 

If so many people cannot see what is right in front of them, simply because they don’t want to see, we’re really screwed.

What else can I say... My mind feels so sick and tired. 

It’s a tough time to be alive for those of us who are aware.  Making like an ostrich and putting your head in the oil sands has its psychological advantages.  Of course, that’s the problem:  pure selfishness is so much easier than empathy.  Drunk with technological and imperial power, my people, the privileged citizens, have been taught to wallow in consumeristic selfishness for a long, long time.  Brand name advertising was a devilish invention, superb at killing humility, modesty and general human virtue.

Anyway, where where where was my mind? 

I’ve apologized quite a bit to the people of the future in previous entries.  I don’t think I’ve apologized much to the Native American people and cultures.  They maintained this land for tens of thousands of years in a lush, abundant state of majestic beauty.  Yeah, they weren’t perfect, especially when they first came across the Bering Strait (theory in paleoanthropology) and wiped out a many prey species.  Not good.  Also, some of their cultures collapsed from overconsumption, including the Maya and the Anastasi (that’s the theory, anyway).

However, they worked it out and, when Europeans arrived, the multifarious tribes, in general at least, had an advanced spiritual ethos that treated the Earth with moderate respect, maybe more. 

Our economic system, capitalism, on the other hand, sees the Earth (and her creatures) as nothing but raw material to exploit, consume, develop, harness, fence, fight over, and cage.  Can you say, "spiritual dungeon"?
So, I apologize to the Native Americans for the decimation of their advanced, sophisticated worldview and its replacement by competitive, reductionist, callous Greed.  Look what a spearhead of whites has done, in just a handful of centuries, to a land once so beautiful. Utterly sad.  Best to close the mind and hide.  I do a lot.

I also apologize to everyone for selfishly blabbing on this blog.  I know I’ve taken on a romantic martyr/prophet role.  Not sure what else to do.  At least I’m trying to face things, albeit feebly.

What else? 

Oh, whatever destroys us--global warming or nuclear war or AI’s or whatever--it will be the final indictment of our governmental systems.  Democracy, capitalism, and so forth, will all be seen as evil.  The “freedom” we praised in our time will be seen as despicable and narcissistic.  A new system of management will emerge to replace it.  Worst case scenario:  despotic cult-worship based on barbaric force.  If that happens, well, it will be like going back to ancient Sumer and the whole cycle of stupidity will repeat!

What I’m hoping for, once democracy, capitalism and ‘freedom’ as we know it go down, is a benevolent dictatorship.  The key, really, is making sure your leaders are good people, and by that I mean they care more about the health of their society than their own aggrandizement, money, and fame.  Our leadership is currently infected with sociopaths.  People who can just turn off their conscience (if they have one) and lie with 100% convincing ease.  Sociopaths are also reckless and they see nothing wrong with bloodshed as a means to an end.

Please realize that saying the right thing comes easy to many people who don't do the right thing.  In fact, they say the right thing only to trick you.

Don’t let people like this get into power.  Our system encourages them.  Ours is a meritocracy based on who can hoard the most money and power.  Wicked people do well such amoral contexts.  Backstabbing, lying, cheating, killing.  Starting wars. 

Want to get more popular with the people.  Just start a war.  Done. To hell with innocent lives.

Whatever you do, people of the future, realize this:  brilliant, personable monsters will be your biggest threat.  They create fears and hates and wield them with terrible genius.  You’ve got to make sure--MAKE SURE--your leaders are truly good people.  If you can do that, you have a chance at a benevolent dictatorship, which will result in (as John Rawls proposes) a world that maximizes the well-being of the worst off class. 

Besides insuring that your leaders are not monsters under charismatic masks, you need a Constitution that prevents, not only the tyranny of monarchy (ours does that pretty well), but also the tyranny of wealth.  Once you get a super-wealthy class they bribe and seduce the leaders. 

My suggestion:  limit personal wealth.  Make leaders live in humble circumstances.  My leaders live in fat palaces and get rich.  No, no, no.  Outlaw rich leaders.  Outlaw leaders in palaces.  This is one stopgap to keep the wicked out of power.  You’ll need other stopgaps as well, though. 

Get it?  Honestly, it shouldn't be too hard to insure your leaders are good people.  Look at their entire lives.  Make them take psychometrically valid tests.  This is important!

Make sure, also, that your Constitution is detailed and spells out exactly what basic rights people get.

Another thing:  learn from Native American culture and RESPECT our Goddess Earth.  I say Goddess because we need to give women equality in our world--women are (speaking generally) wonderful healers and community-builders.  Right now, aggressive, war-eager males own our pulpits.   It’s terrible.  We are hell-bent on war.  The Empire is currently involved in three wars (Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria) and one of them is the longest in our country’s history; and none of them really makes any sense or shows any competency. 

Only rich weapons-makers and their allies profit.

Folks of the future, you must abolish nuclear weapons.  Heck, you've got to avoid armies, somehow.  If it comes to the absurdity of war, oh man, are you in trouble.  Create a world where no one is grossly rich and everyone has the basics to follow their dreams.  Otherwise envy, class warfare and hate build up!  They do!

If you create circumstances where no one is afraid they won't have their home and basic comforts taken away, war might be avoidable.  Create a world where everyone is given enough to life decently.

Look at the mess of ignorance, denial and avarice we are in.  We force people to work at jobs they hate by threatening to take away their money, which basically means they have nothing.

Don’t do this cruel shit to your people.  Don't!

So tired...

Owl