Tuesday, November 30, 2010

O Proud Death

Regarding the monopolization of wealth in my country by less than 1% of the populace, and the profound obfuscation of this fact by every aspect of society with significant power--media, government, business--and, further, in regard to the sick wars we are locked into, like some kind of debauched slaughterhouse of tangled sin, I feel utter contempt, despair and impotence. I feel free speech has either failed us or become nothing but another useless cure for an inveterate ill. I feel my words mean almost nothing and that if doom is the trajectory of our greed and evil, me and those like me (and there are millions) are powerless to alter that vector. I feel speechless and crippled as a person with a sensitive heart, and so I will quote from Hamlet, not because it will make any difference, but because I feel as much like a feckless prophet as I can:

O Proud Death, what feast is toward in thine external cell.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Creating The Urge to Splurge--Not!

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/28/magazine/28China-t.html


On November 24, the New York Times Magazine featured a massive 14-page article by David Leonhardt titled, “In China, Cultivating The Urge To Splurge.” The basic idea is to transform the Chinese citizens into the “next great consumer society,” following in the footsteps of the United States. In other words, turn their citizens into materialistic creatures who love to buy, buy, and buy some more.

Leonhardt alternates between fretting about how hard this will be, given that the people aren’t inclined to be rabid fans of extraneous stuff, and arguing that it absolutely should happen, because it will create jobs across the world, particularly in the US. We should now turn the tables and become manufacturers for China. Presumably, a large number of products in their country will say “Made in the United States,” instead of the other way around:

The Chinese consumer is one of the best hopes for future economic growth. In the years ahead, when the United States, Europe and Japan will have no choice but to slow their spending and pay off their debts, China could pick up the slack. Millions of Americans — yes, millions — could end up with jobs that exist, at least in part, to design, make or sell goods and services to China. This possibility helps explain why Democrats, Republicans, economists, business consultants, corporate executives and labor leaders all devote so much time to urging China to consume more. One subtext of the recent G-20 meeting in Seoul was the encouragement of Chinese consumption.


This strategy is absolutely wrong and horrible for many reasons. If it succeeds it will turn the Chinese people into shallow petty purchasers, who are constantly bombarded by advertisements that subliminally work to make them insecure and especially needy for the latest fix, whether it be cosmetics, beer, a new sweater, or a pet rock. From a spiritual perspective (take your pick of any great religion) this envy-inducing form of economics is degrading to the soul.

Not only that, it engenders a callous mindset that cares less about preserving our fragile Earth’s ecosystems than owning the next piece of froufrou. The environment and the animals be damned.

In philosophical terms, this paradigm is narcissistic and anthropocentric instead of compassionate and ecocentric.

Consumer materialism pits neighbor against neighbor and ultimately leads to the kind of me-me-me you see in the United States, where people would rather let their fellow Americans suffer without affordable healthcare than endure a tiny tax on consumables like sugary soda, cigarettes and beer.

Already in China there is a divide between the haves and the have-nots. Leonhardt's plan simply ignores this disgusting injustice, and the gross extremes of wealth and poverty an infection of consumer madness will foment.

If we become manufacturers for China, the nasty little secret is that many of us will become sweatshop workers. Suffering bad work conditions will keep the price as low as possible at the Chinese version of Wal-Mart. Perhaps this is the karma we have earned by our own tacit acceptance of forced labor; but how sad to see our own ignorance and dismissal of our fellow human beings spread across the globe.

Consumerism curses whatever community it can, from the town to the nation, with a sick sense of self that renders existence devoid of sacred purpose. It will be a sorry day when the Chinese have gas-guzzling cars with bumper stickers that proclaim, “Whoever dies with the most toys wins.”

If there is a Goddess to judge us after we die, anyone who succumbs to the obsession with accumulation, leaping through endless hoops of vogue, will be sent to bake in hell. Of course, capitalists don’t believe there is any kind of judgement after death, whether it is Christian, Buddhism, Hindu, Wiccan or whatever.

What if the capitalists are wrong? What do you believe? Are your actions in line with your spiritual beliefs? Or do you trundle off to Wal-mart or Target or any other humungous corporate store, without a thought?

What is life about? I will bet my soul that it is not about acquiring fancily packaged products whose manufacture involves raping the Earth and putting millions of people in subservient roles as sweatshop workers. It is not about becoming as selfish as you can be. It is not about being handed your sense of esteem by advertisers, who lead you along by the psychological nose, as far away from empathy as they can.

Look what capitalism did for the United States. It wrecked the moral fiber of the people. We care more about status symbols than Goddess, or Planet, or the workers who make our stuff. We fixate on an extra dollar at Wal-Mart while our purchases push China, a police state, toward the world’s pinnacle of power.

As China ascends, concern for human rights descends. China’s priority is not free speech, free religion, or any of the other dignities that our Founding Elders believed in so strongly that they emblazoned them in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.

Did the citizens of America think about the consequences of buying wave upon wave of goods that were made in China? No. We mindlessly drove our own country into massive debt. Why? Because we are addicted to stuff, and we mortgaged our homes and maxed our credit cards--

And how stupid and morally corrupt do we look to the world now?

If China follows in our footsteps, the result will be the spread of greed to a billion people. It will be Mammon’s greatest victory. The Earth will totter from the strain, Goodness will take a major blow, and we will fall even farther away from an emphasis on human rights. We will heighten the pyramid of inequality that blights the world now. And we will have lost a great opportunity to move into a Cyber future with noble minds and ethical hearts, instead of a fascination with titillation.

How sad to see the human soul, with such potential to flourish, instead languish, yoked in a muck of base needs.

Shame on us all. I guess we are going to destroy ourselves, for that’s what greed does.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Owl Medicine

My very talented wife, who is an artist of rapidly growing stature, took this photograph of me next to one of my favorite works of art, called “Owl Medicine.” It has inspired me for years and helped produce a lot of poetry.

THANK YOU, SHANNA! I am VERY VERY grateful that you are in my life.


All My Love,

OWL





Sunday, November 21, 2010

Acceptance: The Earth Comes First (TECF)

The Earth Comes First

The Ivory Tower


If you want an alternative to Duotrope's overwhelming lists of places to submit your writing, why not try The Ivory Tower? This free site is managed by John Darling, who also happens to be the editor of TECF.

The Tower has over a thousand entries, and the links take you right to the submission guidelines. I found the poetry section to be superb, with no dead ends, and quality zines. New additions are indicated by a star.

This portal outperformed Duotrope in the sense of providing quick access to approachable editors. In other words, less clicking and hunting was required to get me what I wanted. If you are squeezing submissions into a busy schedule, The Tower may be your best bet. Heck, it’s a fine choice anyway!

Although Darling doesn’t tell us how long he has been building this withering protrusion, I suspect it is quite a while, given its height. This vast construction seems a selfless and generous act, which must require a great deal of time to maintain.

Darling describes himself as a nice guy, and even humbly suggests that his own poetry might not be as good as the reader’s. However, I found one of his poems, “Greenie,” at his new journal, The Earth Comes First, and I thought it was very very fine:

Greenie

The poem originally appeared in 1989, in the Fine Arts section of a magazine called The Reporter, run out of Ventura, California. Adding a bit of historical flair, Darling pasted the page of the magazine directly into TECF. Very cool!

As mentioned, The Earth Comes First is a recent project from this talented and long-standing poet. There’s only one thing I love more than a good journal, and that’s a good journal suffused with an undertone of virtue, which in this case concerns the beauty and health of the planet Earth.

I’m extremely honored that four of my poems are scheduled to appear in TECF. More and more, I am trying to include themes of goodness in my work. Why? Because humanity is currently pushing its global habitat to the point of no return.

On one side is corporate greed, and on the other are people like me who envision a future of moral maturity, where war, consumption, and technology no longer threaten to overwhelm us.

I hate to say it, but sometimes it does seem that black-and-white. If humanity manages to survive for another ten thousand years, not a long time on the scale of things, do you think the game of Monopoly will still provide a good description of the state of economics?

By then, society will have evolved to a higher level or self-destructed. The United States Empire is going to look mighty primitive and stupid to the citizens of the future, if there are any.

Darling is not only one of the good guys, he’s also a very special leader.

May TECF flourish and sow salubrious seeds!


OWL

Friday, November 19, 2010

Target the Dog Is a Symbol Of Our Failure

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/19/us/19dog.html


The accidental euthanization in the United States of the hero dog Target is a symbol of how stupid and twisted the entire war effort has become. Target was a hero in Afghanistan, saving the lives of soldiers by snarling and confronting a suicide bomber. She has been on many TV talk shows and had her own celebrity Facebook page. Now she’s dead, because the owner didn’t have tags on her and he irresponsibly let her run wild, and an animal shelter employee mistook her for another dog and, using their euphemism, the employee PTS’ed her.

In plain language, the employee Put her To Sleep or, quite bluntly, killed the famous dog that had won the hearts of probably millions of Americans.

This would be a comedy of errors if it wasn’t so sad. Just like the wars we are fighting would be a comedy of errors if they weren’t so unethical. If there is a God, we are going to be judged very poorly for what our country has done.

As Thomas Jefferson said, “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just.”

Target’s death suggests a callous bureaucracy that is strangling the good out of the United States. Her sorry end is also an ironic chance for us to wake up. Even when we try to be good as a nation, we are getting bogged down in ugly sinful behavior.

Why have we been in Afghanistan for ten years, the longest war in America’s history? What are we accomplishing again?

Hasn’t it been shown that Karzai is incredibly corrupt? Aren’t we working with thugs and heroin dealers who are using us to satisfy their own despicable power-lust?

Did you know that Afghanistan has been identified as a country that is incredibly rich with mineral wealth? Isn’t it strange that we are at war in two countries whose natural resources are incredibly valuable to us, if we can control them? In Iraq, it is the largest untapped fields of oil in the world. In Afghanistan, it is:

huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — [that] are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/14/world/asia/14minerals.html

Look at that. We’re not fighting for justice, people. Our two corrupt inept wars are about minerals in one case and oil in the other.

Shouldn’t that be obvious to you by now?

Target is indeed the most innocent of all of us, apparently even more than our young soldiers, because we grieve more for a dog than we do for our dead young people on the frontlines of a senseless conflict.

Ask yourself: why?

The strange thing is this: Target could become an even greater hero in her death, because maybe in death this brave animal, one we instantly love, will force us to (a) wonder why we are grieving more for a dog than our soldiers, and then lead us to care more about our soldiers, (b) realize that Target’s death is symbol of an overall wrongness, one that has infected our bureaucracy, which seems more about pettiness now than what it used to be: caring for each other.

If it takes a dead dog to wake up the citizenry of America to the horrors of war, so be it.

So, wake the F*#@% up, people! Fate is speaking to you through a beloved animal hero, because you are apparently blind to the deaths of your fellow human beings. They can’t move you. They can’t reach into your ears. But Target can. And her tragic senseless death is barking out:

End The Evil Wars!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Poem: Boulders At Beach

This poem was originally published in Blueline, a lit journal out of SUNY Potsdam.


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



Boulders at Beach

shattered crab bones
litter scoured slabs,
smashed by seagulls
that slurped their piths;

but life thrives
in slimy gouges
where larvae jerk,
shimmying S’s

near flies that walk water,
dogfighting in blinks--
then once again
strutting the miracle.

down where drunk ocean
hammers the cliffs,
you have to marvel
at bruised seaweed
parrying like tridents.

barnacles own
the plateau here,
glommed into scabrous mats.
their sharp hatches tear denim,
defend a glut
of small-minded doors--

hungers that sit on each other,
lean against fences of mussels,
blue-black pikemen
knotted into clumps
within cracks.

you have to marvel
at the strength
of the rock-life’s mediocrity--
its all-powerful urges,
its stoic cramming,
the hardbitten, paralyzed
rage.


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

Monday, November 15, 2010

Unlike any other species, humans can compete in a very special way: by choosing not to compete. And so we all win.

Adriana StormDancer, Lessons of Haeart

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Release: Kill Poet 9

http://www.killpoet.com/issue_9/issue_9.html


Kill Poet 9, Drawn & Quartered, is ready to leave its harsh mark on your psyche. It is a jagged, gruesome and yet somehow metaphysically incisive look at the dark side of the world, which is pretty much everywhere.

I’m honored that my poem “Anxiety Disorder” is among the offerings.

It is not hard to be impressed with the ambience and asperity of this mean zine. It will make you uncomfortable, maybe even angry, but the writing is good and the wounds are palpable.

Step out of your safety zone and into the littered streets of Kill Poet. You'll become super brave or a tremendous coward. It depends on whether you take the red pill or the blue pill.

OWL

PS: See my rather lengthy rave about Kill Poet here:

http://owlwholaughs.blogspot.com/2010/08/acceptance-kill-poet.html

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Poem: Killing Guilt

War rips apart a soldier's soul. We are corrupting our youth by sending them off to not one but two senseless wars. Paying lip service to veterans grants no license to psychologically mangle our younger generations.

This was recently published in CounterPunch.

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

Killing Guilt

the blood on his hand was smiling,
but it wasn’t there,
or below his eyes like war paint.

there was a war but now
he works in a grocery,
avoids the meat department,

showers every morning
with lots of soap, leaves no zone
unscrubbed.

sometimes the suds
whisper or twist,
not quite human but familiar,

a hint of grimace,
the sort that stretches sinews
in the mind.

he hears them snap,
recognizes the muzzle laugh,
but it washes away

in the shower—

and he goes to work
in a yellow vest,
never looks at the steaks,

the truth leering
from the fat strips
and the red.

Monday, November 8, 2010

At the heart of the calyx of the Blossom of our Good, let this wisdom be most sacred: One cannot act as a demon to achieve the goals of an angel.

With this rule, we see an end to avarice, skullduggery and war.

Iris Sextamegistus
(Attributed to Aristine Eaglewoman of the Eleventh Light)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Homeless Story of J, Part 13

The views expressed are not necessarily those of the author.

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

XIII


These are grim times. The United States, on a material binge for fifty years, has finally crashed. In the aftermath, neurotic citizens blame everyone but themselves, and gravitate to charismatic demagogues who provide convenient scapegoats. Meanwhile, wealth continues to concentrate in the hands of an ultra-rich faction: "the 1% within the 1%."

Universities are labeled “liberal indoctrination centers.” Anyone who challenges the angry uneducated horde is "elitist." In the words of Robert McNamara, "rationality can't save us." The psychology of the majority rules.

Things might get worse, much so. But I have come to a revelation, encapsulated as follows: there is a Divine Good. Perhaps this sounds Christian. Or Hindu. Or Taoist. But I am talking about a plane higher than any particular religion.

I refer to some magical presence that can be glimpsed through a body of truths which transcend custom and convention.

Some would call mine a "natural law" view, yet I much prefer "natural beauty." Thomas Aquinas had a similar view, associating the Earth with God’s will. But, importantly, he identifies the Great Good with a particular deity, the Christian, and so he fails.

The Good transcends attempts of supremacists to pin it to their faith. The Divine Good is a wellspring of ambrosia from which all religions draw, yet they become selfish. Exclusionary.

I have decided to worship the "Forces of Goodness," which I suppose will take a certain shape for me. Everyone's relation to them will be different. Everyone has personalized interactions with the spirit world.

Again, my theory is one of natural beauty. The term "natural law" does not capture the passionate essence of things. The good manifests,in all realms form the artistic to the juridical. It encompasses both mind and physics, blending them (as happens in Quantum Mechanics).

As the postmodern polis deteriorates, individuals can steer a noble course. Such is my salvation in these times of bigotry and effigy.

I pray to the Forces of Goodness. Maybe they will take the form of a Woman, in my case. (prayer, here, is conceived to be a spiritual not religious activity).

A danger arises now. My allegiance is not to a country but rather the Divine Good. However, I can uphold all that is good in the Constitution while not obeying corrupt leaders.

This I know:

We live in purgatory. This planet is a stage. The good will judge us by how well we lived in terms of fostering and advancing its beauty.

Even as I write, I feel a healing Goddess. She is real and I worship her. This bond will give me strength. Even in the darkest night, the good watches.

J


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

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Poem: War Plea

Leaders and populace alike ignored this topic during the election season.

Folks, we can't eliminate our horrible karma by denying it.

Stop grubbing for money and get ethical.


OWL

This poem was originally published in HazMat.

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






War Plea

don’t bark at me with your
black tongues or spit your red.
don’t carve my name
with bullets into marble.
i was only walking by,
a little angry to find your tank
in my garden,
a bit distressed at becoming a flea
under the fury of your gaze.

let me hop away. i’ll eat
sand and drink stones.
i’ll pretend my grandfather
didn’t plant fruit trees
near your craters.

i’ll set up shop
in the smallest grave
of shadow, whittle
spoons with parched
old hands, and pray
in ways you’ll never notice
that the hearts of my children
remain sweet as pomegranates.



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

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Release: Vox Humana Third Issue

http://voxhumana-lit.com


Vox Humana Literary Journal and Vox Humana Books are relatively new and yet clearly professional. The website is aesthetic in detail and impressively unique.

Authors represented by VH display the highest caliber of writing. There is no doubt that this is a serious enterprise aiming to enrich culture and foster dialogue on a world scale. Editor Philip Hyams is a Canadian/Israeli novelist, poet, artist, journalist and film producer; and he must surely work diligently and painstakingly on this generous venture, which includes novels, books of poetry, a literary journal and writer representation through Impressum Books, a daughter company of Vox Humana.

Although open to submissions on a wide variety of topics, VH has positioned itself to specialize in a critical niche market: work that concerns Israel, Palestine and the Middle East. There are already excellent novels on these themes available through VH Press. You will also find poetry by extremely accomplished writers like Ruth Fogelman. Elisha Porat and several others.

This is a young journal, but it is very likely to gain a holdfast in the best echelons of the literary world. The focus on Israeli-Palestinian issues, combined with a broader call for global insight, is compelling. Editor Hyams has obviously put his heart into finding those rare writers who are capable of fomenting widely relevant discussion.

I’m very thrilled that three of my best poems appear in this Third Issue of Vox Humana. You can access them via the following link, but I’d recommend spending some time on the site, reading the works of other poets. It will gratify your mind.

One last thing. As a triad, my three poems at VH sum up the meager amount of wisdom and philosophy I have managed to gather in almost five decades. I’m pleased and honored they have found such a special home.

OWL


http://voxhumana-lit.com/?page_id=581