Monday, November 24, 2014

Acceptance: The Milo Review

Rebeca Morales, Editor at TMR, informed by that two of my poems will be appearing in the Spring 2015 issue, "Dinghy" and "Brightout."  This journal doesn't take much work, and it is beautifully professional, so I'm quite lucky to get in (and it seems all my editing paid off).

I'm trying to keep up my poetry even as I focus on finishing the novel.  Poetry is my therapy and spirit, without it I suffer. 

Tired, though.


Owl

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Poem: Speakhard

Published not too long ago in Dead Snakes.

Best To All,

Owl

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Speakhard

the strain of his eyes
becomes the fake of the paper on the screen.
breath bends over to tantrum,
as if it could by itself
batter out something decent
on the keyboard.

if only sobs
could articulate the profound;
or an undermined heart
wrote what it meant.  fingers
are just signposts of stripped feathers, 
desperate with lust
to free their knotted wings.

the machine on his lap
doesn’t care about crotch-throb,
or the twitchy hours
of cramps and aches--

as if the sweet white paper, such a liar,
were ordained to resist;
as if clouds of purgatory
had been rolled out flat,
and waited now like parchment--

for his confessions to tattoo
their heads, breasts, genitals, and arms.

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Ordinary Stupid


Here are a few randomish thoughts after the dismal ‘election’ in the  US Empire.  I’m tired from working on my novel, but need to process.  To those who don’t know, the elections gave more power to a party out of touch with reality, as discussed below.

First, though, remember this:  we live in a unique time among billions of years.  Are you feeling it?  Nothing has ever happened like--well, everything around you--computers, electricity, cars.  Coming soon to a location near you,all kinds of robots.  They will be in our homes.  They will drive our vehicles.

Let’s not forget nuclear warheads.  These are particularly important.  I’ll come back to them.

Also of utmost importance is global warming.  You know, that phenomenon where all the heat-trapping gases we’ve released melt the polar caps and raise the seas?  The party that won a landslide victory in the elections, the Republicans, doesn’t believe the phenomenon is real.  If you can get them to admit the planet is changing, they shrug and say there’s nothing we can do.  They don’t know why it’s happening, but there’s nothing we can do. 

To them, it’s some kind of mysterious phenomenon, which they liken to an Ice Age.  And yet Ice Ages take tens or hundreds of thousands of years to bring about the kind of climate change we’ve seen in a couple centuries.

What else are Republicans in gross denial about?  How about the mass extinction taking place? Yes, ours is a little window of time in which a huge number of plant and animal species are being extirpated at a highly accelerated rate.  This is not your natural extinction rate.  This is your extreme outlier bye-bye rate.  Our effect on the planet is in the category of a few other mass extinctions caused by planetesimals (huge meteors).  

Nota Bene:  It’s not only the death of so many irretrievable species, but the complete transformation of the environment that is titanic, in the full tragic sense of that word.

So, again, NOTHING like this has ever happened in five billion years.  You’re living in an accelerating funnel of converging metaphorphoses.  And yet most of us are like, ho hum, another day driving my car and flipping my light switches on.  Many of us, too, will go to McDonalds and buy the flesh of animals that have been tortured in crowded factories worthy of underworld myths (which, I guess, are not myths anymore--we have made evil real).  Or we will go to gigantic superstores, those dominanting boxes that blight many acres, and buy things made in China.  What’s wrong with China?  It is a country that uses slave labor and is against all the ideals--things like freedom of speech, assembly, religion, and so on--that we claim to stand for. 

In likelihood, China will soon be the #1  superpower in the world, thanks to so many of us in the free world buying so many things made by their unfree citizens.  Once supreme, China will be more able to undermine the ideals we claim to hold important. 

Nota Bene:  Having the US and China start another cold war will be incredibly destabilizing and holocaust-risking.  Remember all those pesky warheads standing underground in their underworld-myth-worthy silos?  Will such a cold war ensue as China flexes its biceps?  Absolutely.  The US is war-addicted.  Anyone born in 2002 or after has lived their entire life in a state of Imperial warfare.  

But, hey, let’s just ignore that and buy more cheap stuff made in China.  Smog in China’s air, global warming?  Who the heck cares!  It’s a leftist lie.

In a way, all this is as fascinating as it is atrocious, at least from a psychological perspective.  Let’s call it The Psychology Of the Ordinary Stupid.  Hey, look how numb homo sapiens can be!  How wrongheaded.  How disaster-bound.  Even when we claim lofty ideals, we act to contradict them.

And yet, we ARE capable of ‘waking up’, seeing the truth--of empathic, magnanimous passions and insights.  Heck, tens of millions of us are there now!  But we lost the election to the majority.  So, too bad, you are now officially impotent.  Welcome to ‘freedom’ in the Empire.

Actually, the spark of hope in the hearts of so many of us, this is what makes the Empire’s inexcusable failure so much harder to face.

‘Waking up’ takes education.  And Republicans are all about cutting education.  One of the first things you learn in any kind of college course that draws on science is that global warming is real.  A major chunk of the right wing platform falls.

Cognitive dissonance, anyone? 

Currently a college degree will sink you into a mire of burdensome debt.  Meanwhile, a single helicopter  missile costs tens of thousands of dollars.  You can pay a gaggle of half-starved adjunct professors on that.  But, of course, the goal is not to pay them.  President Einsenhower, upon retirement, warned us about the “military-industrial complex.” 

Hello!  It’s here!

Another thing you might get asked in college is, Why do you suppose we buy so many things made in China?  Those who steer the Empire want none of that.  They own the stores packed with Chinese slave-labor goods.

Philosophy, ethics, history, literature.  All anathema to the lockstep dogma of the right wing.  These disciplines, these humanties, after all, open the mind.  The right wing wants to replace them with two unsupported  principles:  (1)  Government bad, corporations good, (2) poor people bad, rich people good.  Corollary:  corporations and rich people deserve more tax breaks and benefits, government and poor people need to be punished.

There are many offshoots of this dogma, such as:  we should guzzle more oil and coal.  Why?  because global warming is a myth so all the gaseous pollution caused by oil and coal are no big deal.  Besides, oil and coal are associated with corporations, and corporations are good! 

What does environmental health and beauty matter anyway?  Mass extinction?  Who cares!

The income gap between the rich and everyone else continues its march into hideous extremes, with less that 1% owning 40% of the total wealth.  This is a clear statement of corruption in a mathematical nutshell. 

But the current President is black, not white, and that can be exploited by right wing leaders.  And they do play to unconscious (and conscious) racism.  Once hooked by your anger at blacks, and lacking the inoculation of college education, it is hard to get away.

In summary, we live in the rarest of times.  NOTHING has ever compared to this.  And, sadly, it will not be a time of triumph, but of utter debacle for humanity instead.  If we have a civilized future in front of us, not just barbarism after the chaos brought by sea rise (which in turn precipitates nuclear detonation)  those in that future will look back at us with horror:  at our ignorance, greed, and delusional consumption.  At our mass psychosis. 

The way that Republicans now mock those who try to spread the truth of global warming is the way that people in the future will mock our Empire as it functions now.

Functions?  No it does not function, it dysfunctions. 

It dysfunctions.

And the people of future will turn their back on democracy because of us.  They will point to us and say, “Look what democracy did for them!”

I actually hope that they see us for what we are:  monsters who consume in denial.  Monsters chained to the dogma of blind leaders.  We will not acknowledge the blood of slain truth leaking from our petty, rapacious jaws; and so it falls to those in the future, painful as it is, to see that truth, in order that they may not fall into the same selfish trap.



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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Why Absurd Irony Dooms Us



Dear People Of the Future,

I’ve taken to addressing you more than I do those in my time.  Anyone presently interested will read anyway.  More important, my fellow liberals understand my frustration as I watch the US Empire continue its slant toward catastrophe.  There are a good number of us, many tens of millions, who see the nested mass of problems.

But we are not enough.  We live in a time when tens of millions of anguished voices, all seeing disaster, are not enough.  We speak to a towering psychological wall, and we do not have a trumpet loud enough to crash it down.  

 You in the future no doubt scratch your heads, and toss out basic puzzlements like, “Global warming was obvious, and they had the means to deal with it.” “The wealthy had hoarded the wealth, yet society kept feeding the wealthy.”  In conjunction with this:  “They were the richest, most powerful country, but millions of their citizens could not afford a doctor.”  

 There are many more absurd ironies, of course.  Perhaps the following stands out for you.  I wouldn't be surprised:  “They kept hawking war and weapons, while a dozen volatile countries had nuclear missiles poised and ready to strike.”

If nuclear holocaust doesn’t claim us, rising sea waters will.  We live in a time when humanity had a chance to come together and save itself from an unprecedented planet-altering fall.  If this had happened, a victory of cooperation and insight, it would have validated the dominant ideals of the West:  democracy, reason, and freedom. 

However, instead of being heroes, we are providing the Great Lesson of failure, the most incredible ever generated.  We exemplify the gross failure of the Western way, and we serve as sad testimony for the need for something different.  Indeed, our citizens right now sow the death of freedom, even as they claim to champion freedom.  This sort of delusion, so well-known in the discipline of psychology, remains strong in the general populace, impervious to their incarcerated perceptions.

Here’s how it happened.  The wealthy folk, many of them anyway, began to seek their own benefit without concern for the rest of the people, or even America itself.  The grease for this wheel was Milton Friedman’s neoliberal economic theory:  that capitalist markets could regulate themselves through the sheer pursuit of profit.   In other words, greed becomes god.  It becomes our beacon.  Everyone competes to get more stuff, and business feeds off of that.  The result, in theory, is a harmonious interplay of material desires, one that leads to an optimal, efficient reaction to whatever problem arises, even on the grandest scale.

As you can see, this is basically a form of wish-fulfillment fantasy.  Of faith-based worship.  The chosen god was called, in fine Orwellian fashion, “the free market.”  It was the great deception:  greed as the ultimate standard of individual behavior, while claiming it would also maximize freedom.  Indeed, not only maximize freedom:  greed was freedom.  Since the dawn of civilization, greed has been considered immoral in all ethical systems.  There's a reason for this.  Greed is an obsession, a mental trap, a psychological pit that obviates the conscience and chains the afflicted, like Midas, to a foolish pursuit.

The US empire tossed all that ancient wisdom aside and proceeded to make the wealthy wealthier while everyone else sank.  The mechanism of this plutocracy:  the successful people rose to the top of the monetary pyramid, where they gained the ability to influence officials, thus subverting democracy.  The shift proceeded over decades, as laws were altered to transfer the tax burden onto the middle class, while loopholes, stock sleights, and campaign-donation tricks were created for a privileged few.  (A good book on this is, “Winner Take All Politics” by a couple of professors).

Of course, none of this works unless you can fool the majority of the people.  “The great masses of the people will more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a small one” said Adolf Hitler.  He was right in our case.  The wealthy (via marketing/propaganda) used the following strategy:  harness the unconscious (and conscious) fears of the citizens to channel their outrage at the wrong target.  Keep in mind, America started as a violent prejudiced genocidal nation, one that slaughtered the aboriginal societies; one that only ended slavery of Africans through a long bloody civil war.  On top of that is our fanatic claim of “Manifest Destiny,” used to justify colonization of the hemisphere for Machiavellian and plutocratic purposes (“War Is a Racket” says Smedley Butler in his classic indictment). 

There has always been a good deal of rabid patriotism and ignorant racism (plus sexism, homophobia, etc.) to harness in our country, which has always been cruel and expansionist.  We are responsible for turning the beautiful wilderness of North America, which existed since... whenever...  the time of the dinosaurs, into a lattice of tracks, roads, acres, industries, and cramped homes, all wreathed in smog, dearth, and ground pollution.

But I digress.  The strategy of Greed:  blame the poor.  The poor, in the minds of the many, are seen as nonwhites (especially black, the most despised minority), single women (also vilified) and their children (doomed to be miscreants via association).

One of the scariest aspects of this strategy is its self-vitalizing nature:  as citizens suffer more, they look more for someone to blame.  Their hatred intensifies, and the unfortunate scapegoat becomes even more effective as a diversion.  Meanwhile the rich take more of the pie, which increases suffering, which increases the hate and ignorance.  Round and round.  Stronger and stronger.  More hate.  More ignorance.  That’s the appalling iteration.

Once you have solid scapegoats, and the citizens focused on them, manipulation becomes easy.  If the poor are bad, the rich must be good.  If the ‘free market’ is freedom, denying corporations what they want is evil.  If government is supposed to be minimal and non-regulatory, then expanding it into a tool to help the suffering is wrong.  The suffering are to blame for their own plight.

 The ‘free market’, then, proclaims it is fine for the elites to fly around in helicopters while tens of millions of poor languish, unable to pay for medical treatment, or find a fair-paying job.

And since people are starved for decent jobs, “job creation” becomes all important.  If that means giving the oil companies, lords of global warming, more power to drill and produce, so be it.  Indeed, according to the strategy of Greed, global warming is a myth perpetuated by the hated liberals, who are lumped into the dark polar category of “socialists.” 

That’s a sketch.  The rich get richer, the people blame the poor, and also the hated ‘socialists', who try to spread the truth.  Indeed, if you try to spread the truth you can create cognitive dissonance, which can backfire on you.

As things get worse, this strategy only works better.  That is why I despair:  no matter how bad it gets, the truth will not be recognized, and hate for the scapegoat will only increase.  It takes catastrophe to wake people up.  But we cannot afford catastrophe.

One help is education.  But education is being cut back, even as the price of a single Hellfire missile could pay the salary of several adjunct professors for a year.  Even if you do educate some people, it is not enough, not unless you reach enough of them to influence elections.  The world community of scientists is currently screaming out about the dangers of global warming--but they are being ignored here in North America. 

“The truth will set you free.”  Maybe.  But no one can hear the truth.  That's the problem.  For the truth to set you free, you must be capable, psychologically, of hearing it.

Right now, "truth" is defined in terms of "free" economics, a falsity within a falsity.  Not science, not critical thinking, but rather the pursuit of accumulation reigns.  If you lose, too bad, and if you win, you become one of the elite gods of greed.

November, 2014, the United States of North America.

Owl

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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Samhain Prayer

Here is my Samhain Prayer, which I post every year. 

Best to you at this powerful time!

Owl

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Samhain Prayer

Let us hope that the humanosphere moves swiftly to break from its path of nuclear doom.

Let us hope that war is recognized for what it is: a black hole sucking us all down.

Let us hope that care trumps greed, and soon no one shall hoard wealth and ignore starving ribs.

Let us hope that swaggering tongues yield to wide ears, and the soft-spoken are honored rather than circumvented.

Let us hope that fanatics falter in power, and all gods are validated except those who seek to be the only one.

Let us hope that our leaders stop spitting terror out of angry mouths; and misled flocks stop kneeling before them in collars of fear.

Let us hope that all cultures mingle and mate in spiritual companionship. Should not all of us be lovers in this interlaced sense?

Let us hope that the light of education burns through webs of ignorance, freeing untold numbers of heart-led wings.

Let us hope that denial and discord melt into delight, and that we see as children again, with tears in our eyes; for each color or scent or taste or touch or song is rare.

Let us fall down and beg the Fates to guide us, away from our planet-poisoning path, the one that infects us when we buy chemicals in the name of a shallow shine.

Let us pray to be more than fussy ants, led by the pheromone of our purse strings: “consumers” who rush into Discount Hives where nothing is made with love.

Let us simply breathe, and realize what a treasure that one breath is, more than any ingot or jewel.

Are we not all winners in that most important lottery of all: the journey of Life.

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