My poem "Who Will Hear?" recently went up on the UMM Rainbow Ball Website. I'm so honored and pleased to be part of this--such a wonderful social momentum of validation and esteem-building.
Saturday, October 11, 2014
Parabellum, an art installation by Kenny Cole that incorporates nine of my poems, has shown in two places now. First, at the University of Maine Museum of Art, and second on Governor’s Island in NYC, as part of the annual Art Fair:
To find out more about Parabellum, or P, you can go here (see also related links at the site):
I’ve written about Kenny and this collaboration with him on P a number of times on this blog. I’m not going to repeat all the approbations and analyses here. Today, I would like to share a most generous gift I received yesterday, one of Kenny’s paintings. He said he was giving it to me for my help on Parabellum. In fact, I deserve no special gift. He did all the work, incorporating my poems into his multi-layered gouaches. This is the sort of man he is, virtuous in a non-self-centered way. As his art tacitly proclaims, we all need to work together to overcome the war-mongering malaise that infects our globalized society. He lives this ethos, reaching out to others, and showing extraordinary empathy and kindness.
Below is an image of the gouache he sent me. The title is “Pray For Rain,” and it is from his I-95 series. This image doesn’t begin to do the real artwork justice. It is much bigger, vivid, textured, and so on. You can feel Kenny in the actual canvas:
This is a piece I have long admired, one of my favorites among the many Cole masterpieces. It says much through a vehement swarm of brushstrokes: Suicidal patriotism. Infernal materialism. Rabid politics. A frenetic tempo, one that drumbeats toward doom. The red-white-and-blue around a nuclear storm cloud. The tentacular limbs reminiscent of leviathan corruption. The slashing reference to drought, global warming and environmental curse. Cole offers us an impressionistic ardor of anguish. And a prophetic nod to Hieronymus Bosch. These, as I see it, are some of the broad overtures of the piece. I haven’t even begun to discuss the symbolisms in “Pray For Rain.” Staring at it, here in person, makes my eyes sting from many feelings.
Thank you, Kenny! Paint on! And write on! For, yes, you are a poet, too, of the most original and mesmeric kind.
Tuesday, October 7, 2014
Once upon a time there was a kingdom called Us that believed in freedom. There was another kingdom that did not believe in freedom, and treated its citizens with great cruelty. The name of this mean kingdom was Cha.
Cha was not strong enough to take over Us, so they made cheap shiny things that the people of Us wanted to buy. As time went on, the people of Us bought more and more, giving lots of their money to the lords of Cha.
Us quickly became dependent on Cha for things. The Us citizens craved the latest sale of Cha goods, and forgot all about the fact that Cha was opposed to everything they believed in. Cha continued to treat its own citizens very badly. In fact, it made them work in huge slave factories to make the goods that the people of Us purchased.
But the people of Us didn’t care. Human rights, their Constitution said, were supposed to apply to everyone. But as long as they weren’t forced into slave factories like the people of Cha, those in the country of Us were happy to buy and ignore the great oppression.
But as they gave more and more to Cha, the people of Us had to work harder and harder. They forgot about equality and rights. Instead, they simply competed, toiling constantly, to see who could get the most shiny things, or any shiny things at all. Some worked merely to get enough food to survive.
Eventually Cha became so strong that its influence spread across the world. The people of Us were shocked that freedom was disappearing from the planet. Cha started buying huge areas of land right in the heart of Us.
The quality of life in Us got worse and worse. Cha had won the battle of money and also of ideas. Freedom as a goal faded away. It was replaced by the ideal of hard work to serve your leaders while police watched over you very closely. Also, Cha did not believe in protecting the environment, so the Earth everywhere got uglier and uglier.
The moral of the story is this: Do not forget what you stand for, and do not be seduced by cheap things and the desire for material status. Never forget what happened to the people of Us.
Saturday, October 4, 2014
This blog is pretty old in blog terms now, I guess, and every once in a while I trot out my same jaded argument about buying things Made In China. Why do we do it? Are we pro-freedom? We claim. Is China? No. Are we for religious freedom, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, protection from cruel and usual punishment, and democracy? So we claim. Is China? No.
And yet we trot off daily, in our carbon-chugging cars or through the wonderful internet, to buy things Made in China, thereby making the country stronger and stronger.
Every once in a while, the US media notes something horrible China is doing. Not long ago, a bunch of monks burned themselves to death to protest China’s oppression of Tibet and takeover of Tibetan Buddhism. The Dali Lama, who we claim to admire so much, lives in exile. What more powerful statement can you make than to burn yourself to death as your religion and country is locked down by a colonizing Police State? And yet off we American consumers go--to buy Made In China.
The most recent reminder of Chinese anti-Bill-of-Rights behavior comes from the protests in Hong Kong. Hong Kong, though under the sway of China, has enjoyed western freedoms. That is about to change, so the citizens are protesting en masse, filling the streets, crying out. What do we Americans do in response? Trot off to buy more stuff Made In China.
I won’t even go into the environment problems of buying Made In China, or the amazing psychological phenomenon of about half of Americans refusing to admit global warming is human-caused. This while Miami is starting flood on a regular basis, and record droughts hit the western States. All that carbon gas we continue to spew into the atmosphere--for decades and decades--does it trap heat? Sure. Have the concentrations of such gases drastically increased? Sure. Is this the cause of global warming? Apparently not. What is the alternative theory? Apparently the deniers don’t have one, only faux science. What do they do next? What do all of us do next?
Trot off to buy more stuff Made In China,
China is one of the most ethically bankrupt and heavily polluted countries in the world. And it will soon be the globe’s #1 superpower. Why?
You know the drill by now.
But hey, don’t worry, be happy (our own hedonized version of a Buddhist doctrine). And be sure to buy more stuff Made in China!
Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Originally published in Ithaca Lit (Summer 2014). A very difficult yet beloved poem for me, which I worked on for almost a year.
it was written.
the holes between the letters
formed small eyes. looked up.
all that code
soon to reach around the Earth.
parades of happysad tomorrows,
always something fresh.
the phrases would make
their own revisions,
rescript the plot,
fruit the novel’s weight.
it was never
intended to finish in the first place
or specify a start.
now that she had created
the twined characters,
they wrote her back,
were what she was, pulled her
into their expanding personas,
every urge a seed
on an unpredictable trip.
she couldn’t take credit
for the garden the chapters would become.
it was embodied
before this all began,
had pricked the pace of her will,
unfurled the ardor
of her desperation.
to capitalize Love
and reached for the pen in
those final moments,
before the nuances in the ink
nestled into a glisten of skins