Saturday, December 28, 2013

Poem: Pacemaker

This is a retitled, edited version of the poem, "Standoff," which appeared not too long ago in Boyslut. I felt drawn to tinker with it.

Enjoy!

Owl

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

Pacemaker

he lived in a niche of
dusty books next to a vein
of stress-herded cars.

the quiet of his garret
throbbed from the arrhythmia
of stoplight and jump.

for all intents
his studious grind
was an inglorious itch,

a tip of pencil lead
broken off from previous times,
faint in the body

of the Pace.

doves mulled to coo in
the chimney, lullabied
the hearth.

the desk kept stacks
of outdated words
no one had time to believe.

he would die--someday--
of a heart attack in the same
way that the Pace--someday--

would fail to go on.
side by side, neither
could ever admit

the other mattered.




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

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Release: Offcourse #55

I'm happy to report that Offcourse has accepted three of my poems for their upcoming issue, which has just released:

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

All three poems criticize the declining imperial pyramid of lopsided wealth and naked selfishness the USA has become.

This journal is run by an emeritus mathematics professor who writes novels and essays. This man, Ricardo Nirenberg, is one of the smartest people I have ever encountered through the net.

As a famous journal used to say, long ago, "Good night, and good luck."


Owl


PS: A special note of gratitude to the marvelous co-editor of this journal, isabel nirenberg [prefers lowercase]

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Release: "Kindred" in Drunk Monkeys


http://www.drunkmonkeys.onimpression.com/



See my poem "Kindred" newly released in that eclectic intoxicant zine known as Drunk Monkeys:

Teleport to Drunk Monkeys

Gotta love these humble yet highly talented editors. So much going on! So well drunken!

I feel lucky and honored to be in the barrel of fun with the bonobos...

Best to all,

Owl

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Review: Juliet Wilson's Bougainvillea Dancing

VISIT BOLTS OF SILK


As well as editing Bolts of Silk with perspicacious elegance, Juliet Wilson is also a wonderful poet, and I am very pleased to review her chapbook, Bougainvillea Dancing.

This could be considered a failure of chronological etiquette, since it is an earlier work, compared to, say, her collection Unthinkable Skies. But Unthinkable Skies has already been well-considered by critics (who offer much praise); and Bougainvillea Dancing, I feel, has a special aura of its own: it both embraces and laments the dangerous passion of powerful forces, which themselves interact through a tension of opposites, mysteriously blending and colliding.

The poems draw heavily from this Scottish poet’s extensive stay in Malawi. Timewise, they meander back into the nineties, but focus on the 2000-2001 divide. In this aspect, they could be thought of as the planks in a bridge that spans two millenniums. The dialectic between Africa and Scotland, set in an extraordinary moment in history, is so pervasive as to be inescapable. Wilson, well aware of the fateful juxtapositions, dedicates one piece to 9/11, the day that terrorists commandeered airliners and slammed them into New York’s Twin Towers (“We fall, splinter/apart/in glass shards/Screams dislocate/all we thought/we knew”).

Another piece humbly offers the straightforward title, “Real Millennium” and leaps from a shoreline littered with “a wasteful century’s dross” into transformative renewal: cribs are fashioned of “driftwood and detritus” and we are led to “retrace the ancient tales/to find a glimmer of hope.”

This intense nexus of antipodes, both geological and psychological--continents, wars, and glimmers resurgent in faltering wrongs--suffuses Bougainvillea Dancing so thoroughly that the author might be pouring many of its clashes and surges subconsciously into her often bittersweet phrases.

If so, it is because the poet allows herself this openness. Forgive me for speaking in titles, but she dares to be a “Time Traveller,” and admits to a deep “Disorientation.” In “Reading the Leaves,” she visits a sagacious fortuneteller, who also turns out to be a cherished part of her personal history.

If you are looking for passionate odes to Malawi’s landscapes and moods, you will find Wilson’s brave lyricism replete. The collection starts with a triad of sensuously riveting works. The first two, “Drought” and “Tropical Rainstorm” present a counterpoint of extremes:

Eagles with cunning in their bills,
claw the shrinking lake, my ebbing blood,
scratching for small fish - usipa, utaka,
rage against the dying of the lake

And then:

First the wind
whistling down the wooded hills,
bougainvillea dancing in tune,
oppression slowly lifting



The third poem, “After Sunset,” offers an exhale of wonder in the aftermath of this thirst and tempest; a speculation to the stars about majesty and darkness. There is a kind of stalemate in this reverie, a fascination that cannot help but settle into reverence:


Above, Seven Sisters and Southern Cross
shine down on the lake’s constellation.
Black sky and black water meet in communion
and dug-out canoes become stars.


Praises to nature are laced throughout this booklet of longing. I say “longing” because Wilson is a profound thinker as well as a heartfelt artist, and erects a crucible of changing cultures and primal elements, which yields no simple truths. Ironically, only beauty and pain emerge with the force of valid conclusions, not the answers an empathic traveller would seek.

And Wilson is indeed an ethical empath, all too aware of “the dirty dark smell of the tea-estate trading hall,/the pittance paid for hard labour,/land stolen from food crop production” (from “Reading the Leaves”). She is so sensitive that she cannot have her future guessed without noting the callous causal chains.

Starting early in the chapbook, Wilson often takes on some imbued other--a “you” or “your” becomes the focus, often with a resonant tinge of regret. It’s as if the lines of her poems were violin strings, fated to echo with a vibration from an immortal yet distant music. There is love in this music, the love of someone very close:

Ten years on
your memory is elusive
as the mountains,
indecipherable as code

(From “Malindi Beach”)


One poem is even titled “You.” Not a romantic poem of loss, still it bears marks of pinnacle and plummet:

You touched me,
bruised my tired heart,
left imprints on my soul,
kept me awake at night.
Tarantulas and hunting spiders
invaded my dreams
when we said goodbye.


The above excerpt exemplifies a mystery: there is a kind of Mona Lisa Smile in Wilson’s use of “you” in this oeuvre. Sometimes her “you” concerns delightful birds: “Metaphor for free/you swoop, soar, swirl/sharp joy in my heart as I/watch you roller-coast the sky/sublime as operatic arias” (from “Swifts”). Sometimes she is speaking to a person, or maybe each poem a separate person.


And sometimes, to my eye, she is speaking to Africa itself, as in “Making of a Muse”:

Now continents and years away,
your likeness sits here in my soul,
a symbol, cipher, set in stone
for me to bring to mind


It is possible I am way off, and there is a simple linear meaning behind the second-person that threads through this poignant collection. But one of the great traits of Bougainvillea Dancing, as I see it, is the permeability: the various yous that can refer to people, to animals, to places and to Africa itself. Each “you” participates in a holistic invocation, which relies on the magic of the poet’s voice as she wanders through realms, pasts, and prophecies, touched in special ways along the route.

The last theme I will emphasize is a bit ineffable, a sort of tentative joy, a seed of happiness embodied in these poems, one still searching to blossom. Part of it is the virtuous humility of the writer, who never once brags of ecstasy. She is rightly wary of the tourist’s faux rapture, and stays in richer currents. Maybe the poem “Drumbeat” brings this out best:

In my Edinburgh flat, the drum
sits quietly, untouched,
its message stays unheard.


Even “Eating Mangoes,” a luscious aria, permits the adventurer only ephemeral glee:

I came back to the UK too soon
still craving that flavoursome mango
...
and every last one of them was green.


Maybe the point is deeper. Wilson implies, perhaps, that we are not worthy of catharsis. No great answer, enduring summer, unjaded love or complete relief. Why?

We are not because her poem “Refugee” tells us: “Hope lies lost in the desert.” We are not because (from “Victoria Falls”): “Where Livingstone stood is now/remnant rainforest on a tourist track.”

We are not because we are agonizingly “Connected”:

Mining coltan in the Congo
modern day slaves
who will never see a mobile phone
are forced to sacrifice their forests
on the altar
to an alien god.


Despite the horrors, accused with fervid candor, Wilson ultimately does what a great poet must. She confronts the multifaceted “you”--the you that is her grandmother; and also birds that “swoop, soar, swirl”: and, moreover, the land’s magnificence; and she sings of love, and yet also much more, until the reader is pulled into this rainstorm of senses, places and aches. Together they are the water of the heart itself, challenging the silence of drought.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Acceptance: Bolts of Silk

This might be my favorite journal, and I'm honored that my winter poem "Ponderance" is currently featured. It is one of my best efforts at a hyperborean sonata:

http://boltsofsilk.blogspot.co.uk/

Direct Link To Ponderance

I've praised Editor Juliet Wilson various times and many ways. She's a great leader, writer, poet, and healer. Her blog craftygreenpoet.blogspot.com is a phenomenal source of environmental beauty, art and harmony.

Few people have done so much to bring the literary community into rapport with our most magnificent Earth. I think I'll review one of her chapbooks soon!


Owl

PS: My wife and I are going to use part of this poem as the message on our yule greeting card:



...

if, now, a winter rabbit
ghosted from a pod of shorn birch,

with fur so wise it married
a humble snowdrift,

who would see?

...


(to see the rest, go to the above link!)


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

Friday, December 13, 2013

Interview: Crack the Spine

My "Wordsmith Interview" is the featured topic today at Crack the Spine Literary Magazine!

MY INTERVIEW IN CTS

Read the revelations of my soul, as I try my best to be succinct and incisive, while fielding sometimes-troublesome questions. Also, there is a nifty picture of my corporeal form wearing orange with a huge knife on the belt!

This interview is a tremendous happy moment for me, despite sliding off the ice a few days ago and totaling the car. Owls weren't meant to be in cars, anyway.

Fly Well In the Dark,

Owl

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Poem: Cassandra Reflects

Published first in that awesome, lithe zine, Viral Cat.

Enjoy,

Owl

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



Cassandra Reflects

the clock told puppets to rush,
fed their sins of competitive fever,
to breed that same old gimmick--

pangs of t-rex and cat--

only more morbid, faster,
horoscopes of sacrifice
on altars built deeper
for hungrier and more erectile
gods.

blithe on a cornice,
taxidermic angels
lorded over the savage pace.
herds of briefcases
butted in throes of fracas
and stress.

it was a headstrong underbelly,
where kindness couldn’t sing,
had no syringe or pill,
never trumped the peril
of losing one’s cute, prostituted
guile.


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

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Poem: Shadowy Room

Originally published in Chicago Literati. To view it in situ, with two other poems, go here:

CL Selection

Best to all and to all a good read.


Owl
----------------------------------




Shadowy Room

dark that pretends to be chairs,
and a father and mother
no longer dead,

and a sister much younger
though not anorexic,
and a brother
without his suicide.

faux hopes
that lack backbone,
aping memories:

imitations from the cerebellum’s
dime store.

they kiss odd stairs,
embrace splintery steps,
seek a corner in an attic
without height.

when the lamp clicks,
worry bounces off an inner white desert,
all shadows erased--

too fast to follow back to fake people,
or a home.



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

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A Unique and Special Moment

It had to happen soon or later. I have been writing in praise of various small-press editors for years. But an editor has finally out-kinded my kindness. You can click on this link to see what I’m talking about. You'll also find what seems to be a fading virtue: literary altruism.

Praise Of My Praise

It is nice to find someone who shares my basic approach in the modesty vs. trumpet-yourself debate. Even more so to find someone abundantly living a philosophy of positive affirmation.

I guess all editors tap into this philosophy a little, just by being editors. My view: we all ought to focus more on the good in others. And we all ought see the idiomatic pitcher of water as half-full, especially when it comes to looking at other’s deep-felt expressions of their psyche.

The USA has become a place of ruthless egotism. How much more special, then, are those who dare break away from the hierarchical mentality of ladder-climbing, and take the journey of life, instead, with humility.

Owl

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Release: Crack The Spine, Issue 91

Quick as a wink, Issue 91 of Crack the Spine launches! See my previous post for more on this fast, effective journal. If editing was like gunslinging, and issues were bullets, the editor would be Queen of the Old West, taking down all rivals.

I’m thrilled that my poems “Guitartist” and “Calling In Sick” start things off. And there are some very cool graphics that immortalize one of my favorite lines from “Calling In Sick,” which is:

“roaches 3am/when rioted by light/annihilate the myth/of a straight line.”

Visit 91 on Issuu.com to see more! Here is the link:

GO TO READ CTS 91


Thanks again to the incessantly diligent and perceptive editor, Kerri Farrell Foley.


Owl

Monday, November 25, 2013

Acceptance: Crack the Spine

Kerri Farrell Foley is unique among the hundreds of editors I have encountered in over ten years of sending out submissions. She runs a weekly--that’s right, weekly--zine called Crack the Spine. Even more astounding, it is continuous in offering high quality work.

The next issue is 91, which will include my poems “Guitarist” and “Calling in Sick.” I appeared in a previous issue of CTS but that was, I dunno, issue 45 or something. It seems like so long ago...

How does Foley produce a new topnotch issue every week? Personally, I think it is magic. A beyond-human feat. If I dared to speculate ... for one thing, the issues are small, each with a few poems and short stories. Indeed--

Issue 90 had one poem. Issue 89 had four poems. Issue 88 had two poems. Issue 87 had four poems. That’s eleven poems in a month (and even less in terms of contributors, due to multiple pieces being accepted, in some cases). In other words, the quantity pretty well approximates the size of a quarterly journal.

However, the weekly pace must require a lot more time-management, plus effort in terms of formatting/production. The sleek phenomenon of desktop publishing surely helps Foley with this. In fact, she seems masterful at using technology at its full zing.

Hold onto your hat: Foley is also, somehow, conducting interviews with writers in-between the issues. Her indefatigable variety, keenness, organization, and joie de vivre make her one of the most remarkable, dedicated, passionate impresarios on the net, or anywhere, for that matter.

Wait a minute, hold onto your second hat: Foley also produces quarterly anthologies! That’s right. In the time that it takes most editors to start putting together a single issue (and many take much longer), Foley is picking and choosing ‘best of’ work from ten issues. And packaging and marketing it.

Wowwwwazzza!

She also has a neat gimmick. A contributor’s chance of getting in an anthology increases if there are positive comments on the contributor’s work. Naturally, contributors cajole, importune and strong-arm their friends (and fellow grad students, I suspect, in some cases). In this way, Foley ends up with a good number of comments in her issues. Sometimes there are no comments, which is pretty common in most all journals; but other times, CTS manages to ramp up the activity in the peanut gallery.

The wording Foley uses to entice contributors is brilliant, actually:

“Remember that your work is now eligible for inclusion in one of our print publications, and we may take feedback left on our website or social media outlets into consideration when reviewing your work for print publication in the future.”

Foley is really smart, really savvy, and yet most exciting of all, she has the gift of discernment when it comes to stocking her literary shelves. The result is a prolific magazine that is also redoubtable, helmed by someone who is truly extraordinary, truly original.

Owl

Friday, November 22, 2013

Replaced By a Computer

Go to the link below at Samizdat Journal, and click on "listen now" to hear an internet computer read my poem "Over Cocktails," which ironically is a criticism of conformity. It's pretty hilarious.

Owl


Computer Reads My Poem "Over Cocktails"




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

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Acceptance: Drunk Monkeys


SITE LINK: http://www.drunkmonkeys.onimpression.com/

Drunk Monkeys is fantastically multifaceted. In fact, the first time I visited, I got pulled into reading movie reviews. And the second time. And when I visited again today, another movie review pulled me in. And then I started reading the interviews. There is also a music section, and, oh! literature, such as intoxicating short stories and vignettes. And of course, the poetry.

Ah, the poetry. They don’t publish much of it, but what they do give us--like the rest of their offerings--is high impact: boredom-busting and emotion-spiking. I’ve fallen into fits of goo-gooed ecstasy, knowing that my piece “Kindred” will be appearing.

I had trouble ferreting out the names of the staff. They are quite humble as well as shockingly good at what they do. Seriously, this magazine is a full pro production, one that dares to take on a whole range of art forms--and it succeeds.

The person who contacted me is Matthew Guerruckey, who, I learned by excavating through web pages, is Managing Editor. Some of the other staff are: Donald McCarthy, Gabriel Ricard and Ryan Roach. I’m pretty sure there are more of these cerebrally gifted gremlins; but they are a cryptic group, not especially fond of the spotlight.

But I think they deserve it. The interviews, for instance, are excellent. And their love of film, music and magical words is more than apparent.

Most of all, you have to admire how they have taken a title like Drunk Monkeys and retained its sassy naughty puckish flair, while at the same time tossing out handfuls of exquisite art. Because of their skill, which is only superficially silly, we all get to swing on the monkey bars.

Seven hoots of admiration and complete respect!

Owl

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Ants Have Journeys Too

Ants have journeys, too.

Irista Baphomet

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Poem: Capitol Shirt

This was originally published in Wilderness House Literary Review, and is based, ekphrastically as they say, on an artwork by Maine's brilliant anti-war artist, Natasha Mayers (picture below, used by permission).

Fly Well In the Dark,

Owl

----------



---------

Capitol Shirt

a ribcage of policy
flatters the tie.
paunches of marble,
silkblood river red.

liberty
small on the cupola,
weathered in green copper,
too shrunk to see.

the blue
of the imported wool
opens without hands,
without ears,

no face.
a humanless

authority.
little skulls in the potbelly’s
rotunda. pillars replace
the throat.

just one more
architectural carcass
of another patriarchal
turkey.


(inspired by “Capitol Shirt,” 2012, Natasha Mayers, Acrylic on postcard, 4x6 inches)


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

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Pushcart Prize Nomination

I was notified by Jessica Bell, editor par excellence at Vine Leaves Journal, that my contribution, "Hiroshima Shadow" has been nominated for the Pushcart. This is exceedingly rare for me. My poems tend to be taut and finely tuned, but relatively short, and they have trouble competing with more sustained voices. However, I finally paired with an editorial team that deeply appreciates the incisive pangs of emotion I weave into my meticulous brevity.

This is a very special moment for me. "Hip hip hooray" falls far short of my exuberant gratitude.

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to the Vine Leaves muses!!!


Owl

PS: For more on Vine Leaves, please see my previous post.

PPS: "Hiroshima Shadow" is an anti-war poem, which makes this nomination even more special.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Vine Leaves Best of Anthology, 2013

CLICK FOR THE ANTHOLOGY

On December 1, Vine Leaves Journal will release its Best of 2013 Anthology. I’ve seen the proofs, and I’m more than honored that my poem, “Hiroshima Shadow” starts off the entire collection on page one. When I expressed my gratitude for this, one of the editors told me it was her favorite poem of the entire year! Speaking of the editors, there are two of them, Jessica Bell and Dawn Ius. They have done a fantastic job rocketing Vine Leaves up the Duotrope.com charts, where it sits near the top of the list of journals receiving the most submissions. This is an outstanding feat, given that the Leaves have only been trellising since 2012.

To read my previous thoughts (basically a review) of Vine Leaves, go here:

REVIEW

Obviously I’m rushing to buy this anthology mainly out of pride (I get so many rejections that any acceptance reinvigorates me, even more when my work is featured), but one special thing about the style of Bell & Ius is their masterful fusion of art and literature into a syncretic whole, a formidable emotional journey through strands of woven media. The preview I’ve seen of the ‘Best Of’ anthology promises all this, and on a grander scale. It would be a superlative choice for any collection of cutting-edge magazines.

Regarding “Hiroshima Shadow,” it was created in a workshop, run by Lissa Kiernan, at the Poetry Coop. The title of the workshop was “Unbecoming Numb: Nuclear Poetics.” And I believe she is offering it again, in May 2014. This is one of the best workshops I ever took, and I highly--extremely--recommend it. Visit poetrycoop.com for more info.

Fly Well In the Dark,

Owl


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Poem: Samhain Prayer

Here is the Samhain Prayer I post every year, edited again!

May your New Year be happy and meaningful.

Owl


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



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.



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

Friday, October 18, 2013

Featured: Ink, Sweat and Tears

My poem "To Be a Fly" is currently featured at the excellent UK zine, Ink, Sweat and Tears. I'm ultra honored. My eyes misted up when I saw it. You'll see why it is so personal and cathartic for me.

Teleport to IST!

Many, many thanks to hard-working, alone-at-the-helm editor, Helen Ivory. She does a great job running this long-standing, well-known oasis of phrase. Her careful choice of this particular piece has made a lasting glyph on totem pole of my soul.

I'm returned from a three-day backpack, and exhausted. But so happy now.

Owl

PS: Here is the direct link (Oct 17) to the poem:


http://www.inksweatandtears.co.uk/pages/?p=5513

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Poison and Antidote

I'll be enclosed in my shamanic prayers over the next few days, in the woods, and won't be posting here or anywhere.

There is a poison of hate in this country, which has blended with a mindset of ignorance. I will be praying that the infection does not spread, and that it can eventually be cured, through compassion and reason, someday.

It may be that we are in for very difficult times. Remember, you are special in yourself, be good to yourself and let that goodness flow forth to the world, in whatever way you are called. There are infinite avenues. Some are yours and yours alone.

Also, appreciate the vast beauty of the universe, which manifests in the smallest thing.

Best of luck to all! You are part of my prayers!

Owl

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Racism, Elites, and the Tea Party

There are surely many valid lenses to study the Tea Party phenomenon, but I would like to focus here on the interaction of greed and racism. The basic idea is simply that, after WWII, America’s huge concentration of wealth gave greed much power to overwhelm the virtues emphasized during the Great Depression, virtues such as humility and frugality. As greed grew in social force, those who rose to the top of the economic ladder tended to focus more on accumulation and power than the good of the whole.

What we see in the Tea Party is the culmination of a wealth-making strategy, a political platform that seeks to maximize corporate “freedom” while minimizing government--and, importantly, this is wedded to a certain brand of social policy, the sort that preys on white fear of those who are not white, and especially black people, who have never been allowed to assimilate in the way that, for instance, the irish and the italians have.

This marriage of corporate privilege with social policies that harness, often subconsciously, the infectious psychic energy of racism has successfully taken over the minds of a large chunk of Americans, maybe around 20% (those who still approve of Republicans in the latest polls). This is no small feat of propaganda, and requires a vast mind-control machinery. And, of course, that is exactly what we see today in the presence of Fox News, the Wall Street Journal and the many other media outlets controlled by 21st Centurty Fox (formerly News Corp). Sitting on the back of this octopus, in the saddle, is one man, Rupert Murdoch.

Add propaganda outlets controlled by other moguls, such as the oil baron Koch brothers, who want more “freedom” for corporations, and the effect is truly Orwellian.

Greed harnesses racism (and sexism) to serve the unhealthy hunger of the rich. But the mind control has lost control by (a) creating a fanatic sea of followers, (b) toppling the economic stability of the country through the short-term, myopic grasping that accompanies an obsession for more and more (the Monopoly Game syndrome). No one is psychological healthy in this dynamic, neither the wealthy masters nor the hate-stoked masses.

The lesson here is that greed should never be allowed to get the upper hand over basic ethical considerations. Equality, human rights, fairness. The denigration of schools and universities is a symptom of this. It is the victory of ignorance over the light of education. Once the light of education is defeated, all kinds of delusions trot out. And no matter how absurd they are, these delusions are fully professed with glistening eyes. Things like: global warming is not human-caused; gays are evil; the 50 million Americans who can’t afford a doctor are to blame for their own fate; helping the rich directly will indirectly help us all.

History tells us that entire cultures can embrace, with fervor, large ‘realities’ that are not only false but gravely unjust. It also tells us that reason can possibly prevail, after long and difficult struggle. Let’s hope this current crisis, of such terrible magnitude, turns out for the best. I don't know what else to say.


Owl


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

David Horsey On the Tea Party

David Horsey's article, along with this image he drew, express well why the Tea Party/GOP is fully to blame for the looming disaster. In opposition to everything the Tea Party represents, this is not the time for denial, narcissism, evident racism, or idiot bravado. America could soon take a steep slide down the ladder of power and health into great misery.

The Empire, steeped in greed and materialistic ego for decades, is going down fast. The 2008 recession, apparently, was just the first throes of the regicidal convulsion.

Read the article here and get a better view of the image here:

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-republicans-blame-obama-20131006,0,2739790.story

DIRECT LINK




If you've ever wondered how someone completely out of touch with reality can bend the minds of those around them to join the effective psychosis, you need look no further than our own dysfunctional national family -- we are all going down together on this.



Sunday, October 6, 2013

Release: Samizdat Lit Journal, 09.2013 -- Erasures

Check out my conformity-busting poem "Over Cocktails" in the ultra-cool and incisive journal Samizdat. Do you know what samizdat means? Hint: it is a word of subversion, one that invokes images of underground justice, especially in police states. You can quickly find out more at the site:

http://www.samizdat.me/

CLICK LINK


Jeff Von Ward is the Managing Editor of this special venue, where brilliance and justice join hands sub rosa. He makes sure every poem is accompanied by an artistic visual. The visual with "Over Cocktails" is extra impressive. It is an electric sign, majorly phallic in shape, with the word "COCKTAILS" coursing through its bright neon! Even better, the poem positioned below mine (the format is tri-column, with the columns stacked down to who knows where) is titled "Lust" by Sumana Roy, who is an exceptional and candid writer.

Caution: the landscape at Samizdat shifts as new poems are added. Currently my piece is in the second tier, but any new additions could push it into the third tier, and might well displace it above its happy perch on "Lust." Just keep scrolling.

You don't want to miss this journal, trust me. I love the ambience, the ethos, the general trend of the poetic content--everything, including the awesome font.

Kudos and hoots to Editor Von Ward for making Samizdat a true and original nexus of excellence.


Owl

PS: direct link to my poem:

http://www.samizdat.me/cocktails/

CLICK LINK

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Poem: Shutdown

I’ve never posted a poem I’ve written just minutes before on this blog--until now. But, my friends, these are momentous times. An extremist right-wing faction believes that Obamacare is destroying America, and they are willing to destroy America to stop it. They are deluded, of course. But the fact is, delusions can and do grip millions of people in the blindness of hysteria. We tend to forget this ugly historical fact. And our mainsteam media, of course, never refers to the Tea Party as a group so out of touch with reality that they are delusional.

But they are.

And they have enough power, unless the rest of the Republicans stand up to them, to carry out the threat impelled by their delusion. They will bring America down, if they can. The key date is only a couple of weeks away, when America will, if they can make it happen, default on its debts.

Be aware, my friends. This is a very serious, very sad, very exigent time. Do not be complacent. Act. But do not give in to hate.

Owl


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

Shutdown

the heavy ugliness
of what was happening lacked sense.
but the facade of law
had been convincing.
and the lies so well written,
they dreamed.

and it wasn’t possible
to stop it now. emotions, it appeared,
just like meteors,
kept momentum.
and crowds subsumed
the fragile rational voice.

angels would go down
alongside the worst,
and children who never
had a chance, and monuments
to beautiful ideals
strangled long ago.

everyone
blamed someone else,
and though some of them were right,
in the fury and the woe
and the hateful ignorance
it didn’t matter.



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

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Four Brief Conclusions About the Tea Party

As the Republicans--leashed to the Tea Party--are about the shut down the US government over the ACA (aka Obamacare), here are four tenative conclusions, more of a sketch than anything. I'm extremely busy, but I just had to say something!

1. A majority-elected Congress and President brought us the ACA. Also, a conservative-controlled Supreme Court said the ACA was legal. Conclusion: the Tea Party minority challenging the ACA has gone rogue from democracy.

2. Without funding from oil moguls (the Koch brothers) the Tea Party would not exist as the powerful entity is it. Conclusion: Plutocracy is subverting our democracy.

3. National healthcare is accepted as a business-functional norm in capitalist countries such as Singapore and Canada. No country that is democratic and capitalistic functions without national healthcare (except the dyfunctional US). Conclusion: The Tea Party’s repulsion for national healthcare is dogmatic not rational.

4. A great deal of racism infects the Tea Party. Conclusion: the Tea Party’s attack on the ACA is psychologically based and in large part stems from subconscious or conscious hatred/fear of blacks.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Acceptance: Poetry Coop


poetrycoop.com

Lissa Kiernan, who competently helms the Poetry Coop, has accepted my request to run a workshop in March! This is a tremendous honor. The Coop offers online poetry workshops from top-end poets, profs, and editors, with the goal of rivaling the quality of a professional Masters program. That goal, in my opinion, has been more than realized. And guess what? While some of the workshops cost hundreds of dollars--a fair price given the celeb artists you get to work with--other workshops are still... Free! That's right. Kiernan, and this is incredibly generous and idealistic, is maintaining an absolute openness for anyone to participate, despite the huge cost of running an online project tantamount to graduate study.

Who is leading and teaching the free workshops? I'm not sure about this year. But in the past, I know that Brenda Hammock, Susan Yount and Kiernan herself have offered them. Brenda Hammock is a professor at the graduate school level, and is widely published. Susan Yount runs the prominent long-standing journal Arsenic Lobster, and is a major leader in the poetry scene around Chicago. Kiernan has been Poetry Editor for Arsenic Lobster in the past, and is a phenomenal and well-published poet. (All these folks have various advanced degrees, too).

I will say that the workshop I am teaching for the Coop in March will be ...FREE! More on this later, as we draw closer to the date.

I absolutely and utterly recommend the Poetry Coop. Visit and see what all the squawking and lowing and cockadoodling is about! You can sign up to be a member of The Coop without joining a workshop. The membership is gratis and informative.

I feel very luck and privileged to be a Teaching Artist with this organization. It's one of the greatest joys of my literary career. Much wild gratitude to Lissa Kiernan for her tireless efforts, which have resulted in a passionate, brilliant norm-busting place for writers to learn, share and grow together. Deep friendships have been formed here. And unforgettably experiences forged.


Owl

Friday, September 20, 2013

Poem: Basin

This poem recently appeared in Danse Macabre #72 (Oubliette).

The basin is an allegory for ... questioning stuff.

Best,

Owl


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



Basin

where sand pulls shawls over shoes,
and the moon brags louder than the blued sun.
you can kick up anything, brute sorrow or hate.

logic scrabbles
in the weird oblong of the rocks.
where birds are gourmands scrounging for glazed eyes.

it all looks like water because there is none.
heat plays oracle in armored shine.
where scorpions are courtiers

and the falchion of red dawn
parches the cuts in cracked lips.
the oldest omega where

blue-green salts pulse varicose,
thwart the strain of losing knees.

to struggle is to become the desert,
corrupted as a horny toad.

where you can’t go back because
the beginning is in front. to turn
is to elude your origin

and forget.



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

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Acceptance: Ink, Sweat and Tears

www.inksweatandtears.co.uk

Ink, Sweat and Tears has been offering well-wrought poetry since 2006, and is clearly an important and even crucial presence on the UK literary scene. The name of the journal implies intense struggle to achieve rare excellence, and this theme is deeply embedded in its fabric, perhaps in ways unintended.

I was struck by the Publisher’s bio:

Kate Birch took over the management of Ink Sweat & Tears in April 2011. She has never had any claims to be a poet. Indeed in response to her attempt to get on a poetry course at the University of Toronto in the 1980s, its tutor referred to her submissions as “doggerel” and “a complete waste of my time.” She survived this, at the time, rather traumatic setback and has spent the intervening decades researching and writing about subjects as varied as 18th Century politics, machine tools and tap dancing.

What a harsh and ridiculous statement from the tutor! This brutal story adds considerably, I think, to the pith of the words “ink, sweat, and tears.”

The bio of the Editor, Helen Ivory, is not quite so stark, but it is obvious she works very hard and faces a tough solo task, while being humble and intimately connected to the passion of writing:

Helen Ivory started as Deputy Editor at IS&T in 2010, and is now sole editor. She was born in Luton but now lives Norwich with her husband, the poet Martin Figura where they run the live-lit organization Cafe Writers.

Her fourth Bloodaxe Books collection is Waiting for Bluebeard (2013). She is co-editor, with George Szirtes of In their Own Words: Contemporary Poets on their Poetry (Salt, September 2012). She is an editor for The Poetry Archive and teaches for the Arvon Foundation, the UEA and for The Poetry School. She is also an artist and makes poem boxes, which she regularly posts onto her website.


The poetry at IS&T lives up to the ambience of assiduous struggle. In fact, I just looked over the September offerings again, and they drew me right in. My heart is still beating from the work of Geoffrey Heptonstall, Daniel Williams, Miklós Radnóti, and Rafael Ayala Paez. I had to scroll down a bit to find some women -- Lisa Oliver and Zara Raab -- and they are phenomenal too.

My favorite poems from the above are the one by Oliver, for its aesthetic yet keen study of identity, and the one by Radnóti, which is sheer genius in its dithyrambic fugue.

Ink, Sweat and Tears is a fantastic, emotion-gripping journal. You don’t want to miss the eclectic and cosmopolitan selection of poems, ranging from the philosophical to the feverishly passionate. I haven't felt this moved in a while, and I study poetry constantly.

It is a tremendous honor to be accepted. My impression is that Helen Ivory is a very special leader and source of inspiration in the poetry world.

Owl

PS: The poem taken is “To Be a Fly,” a mini-allegory of child abuse, which will appear sometime in autumn.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Kenny Cole, My Poems, and Parabellum

Artist Kenny Cole has started to immerse in his massive project, Parabellum, which is due to show at the University of Maine Museum of Art (UMMA) in January. He is attempting to paint four paintings a day, five days a week, through December, for a total of 246. In one of the greatest honors--if not the greatest honor--of my literary life, Kenny has decided to collaborate with me by using my poetry in the canvases. I supplied him with fifteen poems, and it is my intention to create a chapbook to accompany Parabellum.

But back to the artist. Kenny has already established himself as a ferocious and prolific voice. It is impossible not to feel the passion exude off his grotesque and subversive pieces. And you will be further stung because his theme is a continuous assault on the idiocy of war, greed and atrocity. If his work did not invoke the great specter of justice denied, it would still be indelible and momentous: but it does so invoke. Kenny overwhelms viewers' resistance and thrusts them into emotional and philosophical turmoil. His canvases teem, riot, roil and foam. The pulse of his anger and outrage shrieks. To be in a room of Cole art is to be surrounded by an ethico-psychical typhoon.

See art from his many previous shows at the link below. Be prepared to feel the utter wrongness of the Empire’s bellicose transgressions against land, flesh,and soul:


http://kennycole.com/


To read his journal on Parabellum, go here:


http://parabellum2013.blogspot.com/


I have known Kenny for a number of years now, and in my opinion, Parabellum is his most prodigious and multifaceted work. Having said that, I confess that I have only a nebulous understanding of the conceptual armature of the project: however, two important points here: (a) I believe Kenny wants the boundaries and layers, both physical and conceptual, to be ambiguous and permeable, (b) Parabellum is an epic quest of the imagination, quite daring in scope. It pushes the art-poetry nexus into multidimensions of space-time.

The basic thread through this aesthetic maze is a fictional character, an artist named Bans Revere. Revere goes pretty much mad around the end of the 19th century, driven into volatile reveries, titantic doubts and nightmarish thoughtscapes. The culprit? The very real horrors of war itself. This madness fuels bizarre and feverish spates of creation, as Revere accuses, condemns and personally deteriorates. He paints over what he has already painted, resulting in a palimpsest-like effect. Some of these layerings are brushed on old maps and perhaps flesh (or the psychic flesh of the madman), but the camouflage of the previous work is only partial, lending a weird and uncomfortable feel which implies that linear time is gone. Revere's odd portrayals and visual rants are peppered with symbolisms, flourishes and color storms, all of which speak of utter anguish. He climbs a summit of agony that, given the hellish wrongs of war, seems shockingly justified.

Kenny is creating his own mythology here, but even that is frayed. The audience is left with tattered strands piercing through other strands, all of it seen through the deranged lens of Revere. The artwork, maybe, is like a visual journal of Revere’s outpourings, yet jumbled into bayonet-torn insights. It is a metamorphosis that sacrifices patterns of regimented thought for brilliant psychosis.

But Parabellum is not done. The next aspect of the story is that Revere, perhaps ashamed, hides his work under wallpaper (or something). Revere dies and the location of his layered art suffers from dilapidation. When Revere’s trove is discovered, in our time, hidden behind banal cover in a decaying home, it is heavily disfigured. So you get disfigurement by nature on top of the initial derangement. I think the underlying theme is this: we can deny the past, but it will reappear still, despite fearful repression, in a stronger, more immediate and dangerous state. The greater the denial, the closer we edge toward irredeemable insanity.

Indeed, war has initiated this progression in our global age. It butchers, gets buried, and reappears to butcher even worse, in new and more efficient forms. War, then, is like a cancer that adapts to the body of our society, and never gives up.

Although it serves as a temporary shield, denial magnifies what it delays. Parabellum suggests that unless we face the infernal magnitude of our actions, we are doomed not only to repeat them, but also to die, as a species, from them.

My analysis above is sketchy and feeble. Kenny wants us to struggle with the depths of Parabellum. It is not meant to be easy to assimilate. I am certain this project, in its vision, is a work of genius. And I know that Kenny’s talent will serve as a formidable and capable conduit. Kenny Cole has reached that rare state where vision and expression merge, resulting in exquisite sensory prophecy.

I think the next four months for him will be more than intense, a spiritual quest. Greatness will be produced, I have no doubt. And Kenny will not be the same person once he emerges, in January, on the other side.


Owl

PS: here is a fragment of the work he has shared with me, including part of my poem, “God Explains War.”




Sunday, September 8, 2013

No On Syria


It is sick and wrong for the US Empire to attack Syria. The simple argument for violence is that, “We are either for allowing chemical weapons or against allowing chemical weapons.” But the Empire was fine with it when one of our allies used chemical weapons, and even assisted him while he did so. That ally was Saddam Hussein, who years later became our target.

The turnaround is but one of many cases of “blowback” that plague our foreign policy operations. Entire books have been written on the massive negative effects when end-justifies-the-means thinking initiates violence. Some of these books are Blowback by Chalmbers Johnson, Friendly Fire by Julia Sweig, and Legacy of Ashes by Tim Weiner.

Actual CIA documents showing US knowledge of Hussein gassing his citizens, while he was our ally and getting assistance, were recently acquired by the Bangor Daily News. Viewing these documents will send a chill through your conscience:

http://bangordailynews.com/link/cia-documents-showing-us-knew-of-iraqs-use-of-gas/

See also The Spider’s Web, by Alan Friedman.

So, the simple argument above (we are either for allowing chemical weapons or not) degenerates into “we are against letting anyone use chemical weapons who is not our ally.” And so the noble facade of our assault on Syria falls away, revealing an ugly, Machiavellian root.

I guess someone might argue that this degenerate version of the argument is still enough to justify attacking Syria. Apart from sounding ludicrous, such an approach is patently flawed. Given all the previous blowback from numerous poorly thought-out US operations, it is more than likely that misery will befall innocent people, on a very large scale, through unintended consequences, if we attack Syria. Escalation is always a threat. In comes Russia, or maybe China or Iran. Remember that WWI started with a small rebel group assassinating an Arch Duke in a small country. The whole middle east is a tinder bed.

Another possible blowback from helping the rebels, which has been discussed in the media to some degree, is that the rebels are as bad or worse than Assad (President of Syria). Indeed some of the rebel groups have ties to Al Qaeda:

www.nytimes.com/2013/09/05/world/middleeast/brutality-of-syrian-rebels-pose-dilemma-in-west.html

The US claims that Al Qaeda is the great terrorist enemy; but apparently that won’t stop us from strengthening Al Qaeda as we help the rebels by bombing the Syrian Army.

Adding another layer to this blowback mess: during the Soviet-Afghanistan invasion, we aided Islamic extremists, among whose ranks was Osama bin laden. Bin laden later used his skills against us, forming Al Qaeda itself (and successfully destroying the Twin Towers and hitting the Pentagon).

Apparently we have not learned from our previous failure at helping extremists. We are about to risk the empowerment of Al Qaeda and the creation of another bin laden.

Here is another very critical blowback problem: by attacking Syria the US will only worsen its international image, which is already absolutely horrible. The typical US citizen has no idea how tarnished and degraded--and, in fact, rotten--our reputation has become on a very wide scale across the globe. The US is seen as arrogant, greedy, corrupt, and willing to commit the most horrific atrocities.

As a quick example, look at the Iraq War: no one benefited except Dick Cheney’s Halliburton (Cheney, once CEO of Halliburton, was Vice President under George W. Bush. Note, also, that Bush’s father, a previous President, was also once head of the CIA), and also other wealthy segments of the military-industrial complex. Eisenhower warned us about the “military-industrial complex” long ago, but obviously we did not take heed.

The US Empire’s reputation of infamy and darkness has been a long time in the making. Maybe Sweig’s book, Friendly Fire, makes the best case. From the jacket cover:

In 1945, the U.S. ... presented itself as a paragon to inspire a less noble and divided world. Sixty years later, that perception had almost completely been reversed.

America had, in fact, quietly sowed the seeds of its own decline in the eyes of the world in its own backyard ... [In South America] we sponsored dictatorships, turned a blind eye to killing squads, and tolerated the subversion of democracy. Almost nobody knew, so it didn’t really matter, right?

Sweig goes on to obliterate the logic (if it can be called that) behind this facile question. We in the US need to own up to the sad fact: our empire has overturned democracies and replaced them with tyrannical monsters. The horror of this is starting to spread and grow in the world consciousness. For example, in The Brief Yet Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which won the National Book Award recently, author Junot Diaz shines a wicked light on the US’s chosen leader of the Dominican Republic, Rafael Trujillo, an utterly despicable man.

Yet Franklin D. Roosevelt said of Trujillo, “He may be a bastard, but he’s our bastard.”

What did Trujillo do:

Trujillo governed by corruption, nepotism, fear and violence - he banned all but his own political party, imprisoned opponents, bought and sold favours with American companies, and killed over 50,000 of his own people - as well as many as 30,000 Haitians massacred during an incursion into his neighbour's territory. But all through his rule, he was a favourite of America - providing Caribbean hospitality for his sponsors' richest citizens as well as a place for them to place their "offshore" investments beyond the reach and audit of any regular authorities. As revolution swept Central and South America in the 1950s, Trujillo and his family were seen as bulwarks of western interests.

http://viridislumen.blogspot.com/2011/02/payback-time-for-our-bastards.html

Trujillo and the other monsters the US Empire put in power are not going away--not their impact on the global collective consciousness, anyway. Poets, writers and thinkers of all kinds are seeking justice for the horrors the US puppet dictators inflicted.

It does no good for the US to go into Syria. We will once again, and rightly so, be seen as arrogant, callous, cruel and willfully ignorant of the effects. No doubt huge corporations will benefit from military profits or secondary profits from the action--and that will work against our reputation. Badly.

We will also suffer other kinds of blowback, as mentioned above, such as the rebels someday becoming our enemies. Escalation could occur, resulting in massive conflict, even WWIII, which will be the end of everything we know.

There is also the matter, not of consequences, but of simple ethical principles. Honesty. Decency. Goodness. None of these are served by the US continuing its decades-long pattern of infernal deeds: the “Legacy of Ashes” as Tim Weiner puts it.

As I have written in this blog a couple times, at least, the US status as a solo superpower was very short-lived. We are already on the decline, sinking below China, after only about seventy years of supremacy. It is ultimately greed that shattered this country. It divided the people into haves and have nots, and let the haves bribe politicians. And, in the service of avarice, we embarked on foreign policy strategies that maximized the stock market and minimized virtue. In the very short term, greed allows huge plumes of power. But look at the results.

No on Syria. Enough.


Owl

Friday, September 6, 2013

Poem: Nameless Wife On the Flood

Originally published in that super-cool journal of literature & art, Viral Cat.

You can read it here, if you wish, between the pastel crayon sketches Autumn III and Autumn IV by Lorna Ritz (there are also some nifty screenplays in this issue):


Why is she nameless?


Here's hoping we don't go into Syria,


Owl



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

Nameless Wife On The Flood

passels come and go
like inconsolable octopi.
no hope in their flourishes,
the muck on the flails of their grasps,

just bathos of the most selfish kind.

they exuviate and expiate,
but the ears of stone
on the people in the skyscrapers dare not believe,

until the lies
in their workaday blood panic,
and their stomachs
forget the license agreement
in the bargain for bread.

rain falls as thick
as a graveyard of listing masts,
spurs apologies from bewildered
and unexpected friends.

there are no poets
to decipher the sad babbling.
no Bird Women left,
unpinioned of passion
and honest enough to jump.

slow in the deluge,
masks of soggy throngs
tear to suds and dribble away.

god looks down,
as relieved as the clouds,
and sees nothing there.


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

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Anti-Social Poetry Disorder

"I've worked on making myself so sensitive, as a poet, that I am not sure I can be social anymore."

Livingston Quixenwilder

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Susan Cain On Introverts

Susan Cain’s nonfiction book Quiet provides a wonderful dose of self-esteem for introverts. Writing from a business perspective, she points out how introverts often make better leaders and CEO’s. And the range of her analysis goes much wider, into the realms of childhood, happiness and so much more. Steeped in psychological research, her arguments reveal a lot about the human brain and behavior, leading to all kinds of acute philosophical questions.

I think the most important, and controversial, point you can derive from Cain’s book is this: our culture has a major ethical problem due to its bias in favor of silver-tongued, magnetic social butterflies. Cain strongly argues this polemical claim. She writes that the most efficient and healthiest system gives parity to both personality types:

The most effective teams are composed of a healthy mix of introverts and extroverts, studies show, and so are many leadership structures (p.93)

Why the ethical problem with extrovert favoritism? For one thing, extroverts have high “reward sensitivity,” which means money or status can heavily drive them. They are more likely to focus on ends and ignore the means. This is established at the level of brain chemistry. Some people are wired for a task-oriented dopamine ride.

Cain links reward sensitivity to economic cataclysms, like stock market crashes:

Reward sensitivity on overdrive gets people into all kinds of trouble. We can get so excited about the prospect of juicy prizes, like winning big in the stock market, that we take outsized risks and ignore obvious warning signals. (p.157)

She spotlights the 2008 crash explicitly. The cause? Hyper-extroverts took over the reins, squeezing out needed caution. She presents the view of Boykin Curry that “forceful extroverts ... caused the global financial crash”:

"People with certain personality types got control of capital and institutions and power," Curry told me. "And people who are congenitally more cautious and introverted and statistical in their thinking became discredited and pushed aside.” (p.164).

Introverts, who are careful, deliberate thinkers, actually shine in the investment world: “[A] study of sixty-four traders at an investment bank found that the highest-performing traders tended to be emotionally stable introverts” (p.163)

Urgent ethical questions permeate the economic and leadership decisions in our country. Such questions require careful reflection to answer with proper diligence. Extroverts who let their reward sensitivity run free are not very likely to engage in the necessary careful reflection. The danger of this tendency is exacerbated by our consumerist society’s worship of reward sensitivity. It is considered the modus vivendi of the materialistic lifestyle.

Introverts are less prone to focus on the goal and more likely to evaluate the hidden (ethical) effects of the means. Introvert and and extrovert brains actually operate differently:

Introverts’ reflectiveness uses up a lot of cognitive capacity, according to Joseph Newman [psychologist, University of Wisconsin]. On any given task, he says, “if we have 100 percent cognitive capacity, an introvert may have only 75 percent on task, whereas an extrovert may have 90 percent on task.” ... Extroverts appear to allocate most of their cognitive capacity to the goal at hand, while introverts use up capacity by monitoring how the task is going.” (p.168)

Metaphorically speaking, if low-quality planks are being laid in the foundation of project, introverts will take notice. Extroverts will tend to ignore this factor and focus on snatching the trophy. As long as they rise high enough to snatch that trophy, it doesn’t matter if the whole thing collapses afterward.

Another factor: Cain finds association between introverts and “high sensitivity.” People with this trait:

tend to be keen observers who look before they leap ... they process information about their environments--both physical and emotional--unusually deeply. They tend to notice subtleties that others miss--another person’s shift in mood, say, or a light bulb burning a touch too brightly. (p.136)

They also are sometimes highly empathic. “It’s as if they have thinner boundaries separating them from other people’s emotions and from the tragedies and cruelties of the world. They tend to have unusually strong consciences.” (p.136-7)

Do we want empathic people with strong consciences in charge, or those who are less so? Those who instead focus on attaining the glowing numbers that stock markets idealize?

Note that "college students today are 40 percent less empathetic than they were thirty years ago" and "the study’s authors "speculate that the decline in empathy is related to the prevalence of social media, reality TV, and “hyper-competitiveness." (p.141)

Hyper-competitiveness. Right. That would mean focusing on money while ignoring whether your tactics are ethical or not.

Cain makes it clear, over and over, that a materialistic society, one that aggrandizes extroversion, is going to dig a lot of moral ditches. And a lot of skeletons are going to be buried in those ditches.

Highly reactive introverts are less likely to get away with lying, because they tend to sweat. However, “low-reactive extroverts sweat less” and are less susceptible to various social or physical stimuli in general. To get the “buzz” they like, they need to rev things up, which could mean something harmless like a noisy party or, conversely, it could mean reckless thrill-seeking, with potential negative consequences for many people.

Extroverts can prevaricate with relative ease. And “sociopaths lie at the extreme end of this coolness barometer, with extremely low levels of arousal, skin conductance, and anxiety.” (p.142)

Finally, the extrovert style, which is taught at Harvard Business School, embraces deceit as a fundamental axiom of managerial strategy. Some of the tips given to students:

“Speak with conviction. Even if you believe something only fifty-five percent, say it as if you believe it a hundred percent.”

“If you’re preparing alone for class, then you’re doing it wrong. Nothing at HBS is intended to be done alone.”

“Don’t think about the perfect answer. It’s better to get out there and say something than to never get your voice in.” (p.47)

In conclusion, the way of the extrovert, which is pushed by our profit-hungry society, rests on the idea of excellence in deceit. It puts speed above prudence, charisma above research, and it prioritizes short-term goals while neglecting the bigger picture.

The introvert way, on the other hand, is cautious and thoughtful. It is empathic and sensitive. Cain points to research demonstrating that introverts make better leaders in situations where workers are allowed to be “pro-active,” that is, where they are allowed to think for themselves. If you just want workers to keep their heads down and obey, extroverts are good at the necessary skills of manipulation:

Cain cites studies showing that introverts are better at leading proactive employees because they listen to and let them run with their ideas, while extroverts are better at leading passive employees because they have a knack for motivation and inspiration.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quiet:_The_Power_of_Introverts_in_a_World_That_Can%27t_Stop_Talking


Indeed, if you can make people conform, you can alter their brain chemistry to change the way they perceive reality. For instance, people can be made to believe that a drawn line is much smaller than it actually is (p.91), all because of group pressure.

If we want freedom of thought, not social manipulation and deceit, the introvert way is essential. Unfortunately, our society has a long way to go. At least introversion gets some much-needed stroking from Cain’s best-selling book.


Owl

Monday, August 26, 2013

Acceptance: The Gap Toothed Madness

I have decided to focus heavily on my novel-in-progress, which is sapping my time for anything else. There is, therefore, a mighty weight of guilt on my shoulders regarding The Gap-Toothed Madness. I want to say so much about this mind-shocking, soul-edifying journal. And yet whatever I pen here will be meager. I suggest simply checking out the site. You'll see how audacious, ambitious, and wonderfully unusual this outlier is:

Dive Into the Gap

From the home page:

The Gap-Toothed Madness is an independent lit mag out of Sacramento, CA.We want to publish a magazine of the best literature and art we can get our hands on.We want to do it without all of the pretension and attitude that seems to be so pervasive in the literary world. We want you to be a part of it.

The poems accepted are “Drifts” and “Tied Up," slated for the December issue. Editor Richard Barnhart is a self-described “passionate procrastinator,” so submit work soon for eventual perusal. Actually Ed. Barnhart seems pretty fast-working to me. Maybe that has something to do with Managing Editor Brittany Wright. Among her other duties, she is “charged with the unenviable task of keeping Richard off both his lazy ass and his high horse.”

Pretty awesome!

I want to ramble on and fawn over this journal. Alas, I can’t. But even when I was writing the cover letter, I felt a special energy from GTM, and swerved off my generic-ish format. I guess I’ll include that cover letter here (see below).

Seriously, this is a fantastic zine, unique in its semi-grotesque charm. Help it to zoom.

Owl

PS: Here is the cover letter I wrote with my submission


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

Dear Editors Barnhart and Wright,

Please find a five-poem submission attached.

I much enjoyed the incredible poems of Fred Pollack, especially “Scarpia” and “Mister Natural and Edgewood,” but all of them really. I thought there might be a little bit of Crumb in your appealing grotesque aesthetic, and Pollack’s work gave me another clue.

Anyway, I don’t have any illusions of acceptance, but please know the enclosed have been worked on very seriously, to honor your time and misson. By “worked on” I don’t necessarily mean “polished.” I just wanted to ride the chimera truthfully, if that makes sense.

Thank you for bursting onto the scence in an original outstanding way. I’m honored that you would consider my work.

Most Sincerely,

[Owl]


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

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Poem: Remembrancer

My 50th birthday has ambled under the lens of the steady clock, coming fully into focus--today!

I'd like to share a poem that is one of my 'prayers', which means it is a celebration of life more than anything else. I believe one essential reason we have been put on Earth is to enjoy the experience of being alive. If you were the Creators, wouldn't you want your creations to enjoy? To be in awe? To fascinate on the nature of it all coming together?

Isn't it strange, for instance, that we have these things called hands? How remarkable that the world around us is so trustworthy and yet capable of overwhelming permutations of beauty! Even a single pebble could take a lifetime to describe in words. Once you were done describing it, you'd realize you had described everything else as well.

Let us remember to be grateful. What a strange, fantastical journey we are all on, as individuals and together.

Owl

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Remembrancer

little we consider the gift:
those years that filled our senses,
made us drunk on the elixir of life.
how breeze on our topless backs
both massaged and aroused.
and the sun warmed us
because we are, still, its dream.

we have felt so much,
tapestries of memories, playful as liquid silk.
parades of brave thoughts, lucky hopes,
and flocks of sensation,
color the mind’s evolving sky.

if we die tomorrow, it only magnifies
the rich, luscious trail.
that all-ness of what we have seen,
through prisms of storm and winter,
roses and parapets.

such musics, aromas, and fantasias of touch.
our souls overflowed, once, to revel,
and overflowed again.
it happens even now,
more than we recognize:
joys and laughters echoing,
dancing outside of harnessed time.
more than we struggle to remember,
more than we dare to know.



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Monday, August 19, 2013

Acceptance: Samizdat

Visit Samizdat

I am extremely thrilled to have two poems forthcoming in this incredible venue, which masterfully presents art, fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction, and interviews. The zine’s name is brilliant. From the site:

According to Wikipedia, samizdat was a key form of dissident activity across the Soviet bloc in which individuals reproduced censored publications by hand and passed the documents from reader to reader, thus building a foundation for the successful resistance of the 1980s. This grassroots practice to evade officially-imposed censorship was fraught with danger as harsh punishments were meted out to people caught possessing or copying censored materials.

Happily the power of the work lives up to this subversive theme, though in many cases the authority circumvented is broadly construed: anything that inhibits the creative crucible of the mind. There are indictments, for sure, of various kinds. You'll find trenchant poetry that champions passion over the monotony of the norm. This includes the malaise of denial that keeps people from thinking in rich, multi-levelled ways suitable to the depths of their cerebral folds. One of my favorite pieces on the site, in all categories, is the art/poem by Robin Lysne, "Visual Deer"

http://www.samizdat.me/visual-deer-poem/

One of my favorite poems is "No Thru Traffic" by Eric Noonan (audio is also available for poems at SZD!):

http://www.samizdat.me/traffic/

Jeff Von Ward is the chief architect of this cathartic liberation zone. In addition to the great work, you will find awesome aesthetics, professional yet not typical, right down to the choice of fonts.

An absolutely daring thought-venture.

Rare editors like this give the sphere of poetry its essential patina of virtuosity.


Owl

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Poem: Bug's Life

This poem originally appeared in the latest issue of WHL Review (whlreview.com). Read it there, if you wish, along with two others.

Fly Well In the Dark,

Owl

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Bug’s Life

light exposes our wrinkles
for what they are:
nooks gouged by skin mites

who cringe
on a razorback of knuckle
in a land of mountainous teats.

little Scyllas

fixated in their drama,
spurred by goals of sex and gut.
thoughtless

consumers

who chew corpse
and exploit the inert,
who earn space

and battle hurdles,
swill to wallow,
rituals of desire and dread.

they

champion their wants,
not knowing the want’s why.
belittle what they crush, not sensing

the crushed pleas.

and when we look down,
‘they who tear flesh with numb mouths’
stare back,

precise as a mirror,

feasting at the trough
as if working tobacco.


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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Acceptance: Danse Macabre Magazine, No.72 Oubliette

VISIT THE OUBLIETTE

That maestro of the mysterium; impresario of the illusive and surreal; acute anatomist of sortilege; and honeyeater in the gardens of the subconscious, none other than Adam Henry Carriére, editor extreme, has introduced another issue of his fantastical pharmacopeia of dark literature, that audacious amygdala-teaser, Danse Macabre Magazine. The number of the issue being 72, entitled “Oubliette.”

“Oubliette” has long been one of my favorite words, and the provocative cover and content season my penchant nicely. This might be AHC’s most raw collection yet, a test for the tensile strength of the boundaries of the plausible. But he continues to lace his madness with genius, never becoming blandly pornographic or over-kitschified. True, he loves the genres of the Hitchcock era, and the original Frankenstein-movie era, and even going back into the celluloid archaeum, when cinema made its first foray into things vampire: Nosferatu (1922). But none of this dominates or obviates the lush originality of Oubliette.

Let me add a twist. Another of AHC’s various personalities adores a fetch of the gothic and the baroque. He infuses this, too, with a Poe-ity of the Romantic. However, the subthemes somehow cohere, latch in mutual fever, to birth a mutating body of art, one with a recognizable core and yet also worthy of the tumults of Ovid. Carriére plays wild and heart-nude in the fast-paced free market of online lit. Part of this is being immensely prolific. In addition to DM’s continuous churn, he helms Hammer & Anvil books, plus affiliated blogs, and webs of social sites, and all that.

There are hints that AHC’s siren-search might be approaching a climax. For instance, he has just released what he claims is “probably” the last anthology of DM work. The last one! Rumors fly. Is DM to pass? Is Carriére paying the price for seizing the throttle as if he possessed immortal vitality? Any mind is a fragile cask, even the most cauldron-tough, when attempting to harbor sublime daemons.

I highly suggest you visit No.72. See three of my pieces in the Poetry section. They are under “Drei durch Drei,” sandwiched between the impeccable Chad Anderson and scintillant Kathyrn A. Kopple. The former has led a slam team to the national semi-finals, only to see them, apparently with pride, voluntarily withdraw. He is also magnificent with publications. The latter is an NYU PhD in Latin American Literature, and has been in journals that have rejected me umptillion times, and will continue to do so. Dr. Kopple also has plenty of other phoenix-quality quills in the fire of achievement. You've got to read it to see, I mean--

Wow, what amazing people wait for you in the blah-shattering underworld of the Oubliette!

(My three poems are: “Basin,” “Uprising,” and “Sprezzatura.” Some of “Basin” is below to entice).

These ramblings offer just the tip of 72's iceberg of absinthe. I dare you to visit. Once you are inside, you might hear an immortal song-phrase seep from the nether regions of your soul:

“It's astounding. Time is fleeting. Madness. Takes its toll.”

Fare You Well,

Owl


PS: First three stanzas of "Basin"...

Basin

where sand pulls shawls over shoes,
and the moon brags louder than the blued sun.
you can kick up anything, brute sorrow or hate.

logic scrabbles
in the weird oblong of the rocks.
where birds are gourmands scrounging for glazed eyes.

it all looks like water because there is none.
heat plays oracle in armored shine.
where scorpions are courtiers ...

(four stanzas more...)



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Saturday, August 3, 2013

Poem: Drop of Water

This poem was recently published in Chicago Literati and is one of my favorties among those I've written. In the process of editing it, a plot line developed and the poem took over and wrote itself. The "drop of water" is much more. This is one of those rare times when my subconscious found the freedom I try so hard to give it (perhaps I fail, often, because I try so hard).

Best to All,

Owl

PS: the other poems in Chicago Literati are especially powerful, too. One concerns my childhood so is extra intense for me.

READ THEM HERE

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Drop of Water

it wasn’t as simple as she wanted,
ripe with transparent creatures,
each more cunning than the guile of the smallest itch.
it couldn’t be cut in half
though it could be parsed, and yet then you got
segments of competitors:
a rank glossy sphere of doom,
tragedy all over again.
it wasn’t like a pinch of sun
or a cc of dopamine.
it was a seed, all right, but cursed,
could eke out life in dunes
or a poisoned quagmire.
she wanted to drop it in the well
of her watery eyes, offer up
its furtive cyphers at
the altar of needy thoughts.
she was eager to, as a priest might fling
some terrible clue off a bridge.
she was underneath, looking up,
awed by its cold flood-birthed hang.
it wasn’t going to baptize her
or even sympathize. this
codex of battling threads.
this eon-strong message
housed in relentless pulp.
it would die and come back
after impregnating a cloud.
after being lost beyond hope
in brackish froth. it didn’t care
and never would. it looked down at her
through a prism of late day,
surrounded by the lives and homes
its armies had destroyed.



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Monday, July 29, 2013

My Book Gets A Five Page Review!

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Note: The link to the review is below

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An extremely rare and wonderful moment in my journey as a writer has occurred: a five-page review of my full-length collection Jugularity. The review is a tremendous morale-booster, much of it focused on sensitive analysis of individual pieces, which makes me feel like I’ve been truly heard, my muses exquisitely engaged and heralded through the internet. I can count on one hand the number of people who have made me feel so validated as an artist (my wife, though, gets a whole separate hand of her own!). Adding to my enthusiasm, the reviewer is Karla Lynn Merrifield, a fantastic poet , wilderness bard, and magnetic leader. Moreover, the review takes place in one of my favorite journals, The Centrifugal Eye, edited by the impeccable Eve Anthony Hanninen.

Over my eleven years of writing, Merrifield’s review stands out as a cherished nonpareil. Many seasons ago Lissa Kiernan (of Poetry Coop fame), reviewing my chapbook “Gordian Butterflies,” said, “It just might become a collectors’ item someday.” This brought me great courage to persevere. Now, I have another source of vitalization, based on a much larger selection of my work.

If you read the review (link below), you will see why I am so touched. There are many stunning compliments. I don’t want to wallow in transfixion, like some absurd mirror-dweller, but I would like to mention one point that particularly intrigued me: Merrifield said I might have created “a new kind of nature poetry.” This is heartening, for I have been worried about my connection to the Earth, and whether my attempts could be original and raw (hopefully shamanic).

I am also grateful to Merrifield in that she saw past the ambient agony of Jugularity, discovering its tender and even humorous sub-motifs. However, the general thrust in Jugularity fosters a harsh and treacherous psychological terrain. This relates in part to the publisher, Stonesthrow Press, which is affiliated with Danse Macabre Magazine, and its alarmingly morbid yet excellent editor, Adam Henry Carriére. Indeed, Jugularity contains distilled fugues taken from my dark side’s raves and howls. It would be understandable for any reader to shy away from this demanding collection. Merrifield dares to pursue all angles, while remaining intrepid and alert.

Regarding that alertness, it is honest as well as fearless. Merrifield is not altogether full of praise for my artistry. She suggests some style tweaks, such as indenting some of the lines for emphasis. More telling, in my regard, are her suggestions about phrase length, how I kept it “shortish” to maximize a compelling aesthetic/semantic sorcery, and yet thereby avoided certain modes of conversational tone. This much-appreciated appraisal brings up personal questions -- about how I sing out my passion--and why. Perhaps painstaking effort and relentless redaction have given my verbal brush a streamlined strictness, an efficiency that caters to certain kinds of flight (or submarine depths).

Merrifield is also insightful when she refers, near the end of the review, to my style as “hermaphroditic”; but I am not a fan of that particular word as a precise description of my oeuvre. It is true, I summon many voices through my pen, and they sketch various facets of psyche, both male and female. But “hermaphroditic” is too clinical-sounding for me, too neutralish, too mathematically balanced. There is also a stigma associated with this word in another context (not used in the review). This stigma uncovers trouble with its useage in general:

http://www.isna.org/faq/hermaphrodite

On the masculine and feminine: as a feminist, I have come to find the traditional gender roles oppressive. Modifying and transforming their respective elements is necessary for finding one's voice. We all can do this, and probably should, if we are to truly know ourselves. Toward this end, everyone must find their own path.

Confusion comes from stepping away from social programming, but also liberation. Artists, especially, need to walk through the firewall of cognitive dissonance--that uncomfortable feeling that arises from uncertainty--and dare to wander on the other side, where there are no simple anchors, though knowledge awaits.

Ultimately, I think of myself as primarily masculine; but the definition of “masculine” encompasses a range far broader than the old macho trope. I do not want to deny, nor should any writer who speaks through empathy, care, and openness, a strong feminine aspect in my being. I like "bisexual" as a descriptor better than the institutional "hermaphroditic," but even that term is not specific enough, not even close, to capture a single person's vareigated personality. “Bisexual” is also, of course, primarily a term of sexual preference; but I am talking more widely, about female and male characteristics in general, and the need to blend them to find one’s one unique being.

As you can see, Merrifield’s review elicited much reflection in me as well as joy. For both reactions, I am exceedingly grateful. And, again, I marvel at her bravery. Even I shy away from Jugularity, but she took the plunge.

I do have another full-length collection, a complement, which celebrates and fascinates on life. It is called Escape From the Orchard of Wheels. It remains unpublished, but I haven’t put much time into a sales pitch. I’d rather focus on creating new poems and attempting to learn from the many I edit. Also, the inevitable gamut of rejection is a draining time-eater, especially for a highly reactive introvert like myself.

Fortunately, wonderful people like Merrifield exist, those rare powerhouses who manage to turn their brilliant light inward and yet also shine it magnanimously on others. Such folks are most exceptional and precious, and those of us who they put on stage would do well to remember how we got there.

Thank you, Karla!!! You’ve added a permanent layer of subcutaneous bliss to the alloys in my soul.

Owl

PS: The link to the review is below. And of course you can purchase Jugularity, now, for only $2.95 at Amazon. Thank you for stopping by and reading!!



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To see the review:

(1) go to:

issuu.com/centrifugaleye/docs/tcespringsummer2013-punchlinefirst

(2a) Click on the cover and flip (click) to page p.74. Done!

or, optionally, to navigate through the pages faster:

(2b) Click on the two opposed arrows in the black rectangle near the bottom right of the screen. This brings up advanced navigation.

(3) Five thin white bars appear at the very bottom of the screen. Click on the fourth bar (pages 60-79)

(4) Now Pages 60-79 will emerge in miniature at the bottom of the screen. Slide your mouse pointer over them until p.74 is indicated. Click to open p.74. You’re there!

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Friday, July 26, 2013

Acceptance: Chicago Literati




CLICK HERE FOR CL POEMS


(note: if you follow the above, you have to click on "read more" to get the correct formatting)


See my poignant reflection “Shadowy Room” and two other intense works--“Drop of Water” and “Personal Identity”--now up at Chicago Literati!

Also, you will find a nude work of shamanic art (“Owl-Headed Man”) by artist Shanna Wheelock. One of my favorites. Such a blend of animal, element, and the primal masculine.

CL is a fairly new venue, but Editor Abby Sheaffer has terrific energy and an acute literary sense. Now would be a good time to submit to this up-and-coming blogzine. Within a few months, I predict it will be swamped with high quality submissions, as the word gets out.

Thanks to you for stopping by. And a huge Thank You to Abby Sheaffer for all the hard work and wonderful presence she puts into her flourishing journal.

Best To All,

Owl

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Poem: Definitive

Originally published in Mannequin Envy in 2009.

I have been thinking of my wife, who I haven't seen in weeks, and missing her.

Thanks for stopping by,

Owl

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Definitive

streams of moments
eddy into a long-sought face.
his fingers spiral
to follow the half-seen contours.
his breath makes the sound
of memory’s water.

the past runs clear and obvious
and glistening,
slipping through his fingers
like her hair.
minutes, years and seconds
form a shape. he can run his palms
over the seamless body,
the pure details.

he can feel the girl
that time has become.
her presence overtakes.
the ensemble of her silks, warmths,
softnesses and scents.
there is no morning

and night meanders
between awe and dream.
nothing is more real,
the rest of his life an afterthought,
a weakening ripple
from that far-off immortal
touch.


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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Release: Wilderness House 8.2

GO TO WHL 8.2


See three of my poems in the recently released issue of WHL, a great journal out of the Cambridge area, masterfully edited by Irene Koronas. Strangely, two poets I recently mentioned on this blog (AJ Huffman and April Salzano)appear close to me on the contributor roster. A strange flex of the collective unconscious.

Below are a couple stanzas from one of the poems in WHL, taken from its midsection. I’m hoping to whet your interest. If so, please go to the above purple link.

Best To All,

Owl

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All Knowing [excerpt]

it was a railway plexus
where any twinge could twist.
whatever boxcar could be
whoever in the whenever
of the how.

options bred
as signposts crumbled.
decades wound up
in tresses of medusae,
slipping through a grate.


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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Time Traveller Report!!!


The following was on a thumb drive that fell out of a homeless woman’s pocket. She seemed quite unusual to me, and had a beauty of presence. Maybe Native American? I tried to give the drive back to her, but when she saw me coming, she gave me a strange, teary-eyed look, and then ran away!

Owl


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Although it has been a great honor to be chosen to go back in time, it has also been most difficult. I see now why the candidate pool was huge, and the selection process rigorous. At first I thought I had won the lottery, but now I am feeling intense pain.

On a scholarly front, studying the decline of the American Empire firsthand, in situ, is fascinating. It is every historian’s dream to actually time-travel. And here I am, immersed in a country that no longer exists, two thousand years before I was born.

We consider the United States as the end phase of the massive genocide that followed Columbus’s contact with the Arawak, and rightly so. In the first half of its existence, the country decimated and deceived millions of Native Americans, wiping out entire cultures. In the second half, it became a world Empire, expanding on its “Manifest Destiny” in brutal and barbaric ways. At its height, it had solid tentacles of power latched all over the globe.

However, as quickly as it rose to world pre-eminence, the Empire faded. The whole process took about seventy-years, less that the lifespan of a typical patrician. If you were born in 1945, at the end of World War II, and died in 2015, you would have approximated the timeframe of the supremacy of the United States of America. This fall is considered, properly, as one of the greatest tragedies of unconscionable error in the history of civilization.

We tend to look back on ‘the Stars and Stripes’ with something akin to horror, tinged by a little fascination. How could human beings commit vast genocide, drop two atomic bombs, and engage in dozens of barbaric wars based on ignorant fear (e.g., the little known Philippine War of the late 19th century, Vietnam, and near the end, the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars)? We also ponder, perhaps a little too haughtily, how greed could have infected their institutions so thoroughly without their knowing? How could they have ignored all the signs of moral decay? Even blatant physical evidence, such as tangible environmental destruction from global warming, was unable to impact their mental walls.

From my vantage, now, ensconced in the early 21st century (I can still hardly believe it!), I will dare to draw one solid conclusion: we have been too harsh on the bulk of the American people. I would say that over 50% of them are aware they live in an ethically disgusting time. This majority correctly predicts they are headed for disaster.

As evidence, one of the big newspapers (as they were called then, in reference to writing on slim physical sheets called “paper”), The New York Times, just ran an editorial that is entirely accurate and heavily condemnatory.

It starts out this way:

On two crucial issues this week, the extremists who dominate the Republican majority in the House of Representatives made it clear how little interest they have in the future prosperity of their country, or its reputation for fairness and decency.

This coheres with our own understanding of the extremism and fanaticism that took hold of the populus. It could have been taken from the writings of one of my colleagues.

The article continues in this harsh yet absolutely honest and correct vein. A few paragraphs later:

These actions show how far the House has retreated from the national mainstream into a cave of indifference and ignorance. House members don’t want to know that millions of Americans remain hungry (in an economy held back by their own austerity ideology), and they don’t want to deal with the desperation of immigrant families who want nothing more than a chance to work and feed themselves without fear of deportation.

(Here is the ‘link’ from their simplistic unimind, for archival purposes:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/12/opinion/in-the-house-a-refusal-to-govern.html )


Now, this is truly amazing. This newspaper, NYT, is generally supported by many millions of citizens, and it is proclaiming loudly and unequivocally, well, I can’t put it any better than they do: a powerful faction has “retreated from the mainstream into a cave of indifference and ignorance.”

So, here is what I have learned. Not all Americans were blind. Not even most. All it took was a sizeable minority to lock the governmental process into stalemate. Quoting from the article, again: “On issue after issue, they have passed radical bills and then refused to negotiate.”

As my research proceeds, it is becoming clear that this minority is the primary culprit in the imminent collapse. Of course, it is not that simple. Those citizens that vote for them are also to blame. As are the huge business organizations--the “corporations” as they are referred to--that effectively bribe them (the corruption in the Empire is definitely as bad as we surmised, though not atypical in theoretical models of imperial degeneration).

And the large majority of folks, including the "liberals," continue certain woeful practices, such as buying products made in slave-labor countries.

Another huge caveat: the seeds for this self-destructive intransigence were laid decades ago, when the prideful country, brimming with wealth, went on a consumer binge. This stoked egoism and avarice, and undercut the social fabric of kind humility that had been prevalent since the Great Depression.

What is the demographic of this blinkered group, the Republicans? Their politicians are elected in districts that are about 75% white. This ethnic group, white, has been known for racism since the inception of the USA, and still stubbornly clings to its unethical privilege. In other words, whites who vote Republican are supporting racism, whether consciously or not. And this psi status has overridden their ability to see clearly (or “decently” to use the wording of the editorial above).

White power is slipping, and many whites refuse to admit it. It is too painful. It is too shocking to admit they have been greedy, racist, and, in truth, widely wrong. Indeed, it must be agonizing for them to even begin to face the horror: the Empire, associated for so long with white leadership, has fallen into a tailspin, pulled down by a heavy gravity of oppression and atrocity.

The denial is, in large part, a Republican mindset. This national denial produces rage, hate and the damming fixitive of stubbornness. It clogs Republican minds and they drag everyone into their vortex. If you challenge them rationally, they react with irrational attack. Their leaders are as intelligent as any, but use their skill to spin specious lines of complex argument, or to simply stoke up spite in the gullible. They are, in short, classic demagogues, those who have mastered the despicable side of rhetoric.

These are my current formulations. I can no longer look at the American people as we do in my time. They are far more sensitive and variegated, not a homogenous lump of stupid need. Many of them are more enlightened than many of us. We tend to see them as primitive and utterly lacking in conscience. But they are exquisite in mind. The difference is in their cultural programming and the resultant effects on their emotional lucidity.

It is true, they have no advanced understanding of swarm dynamics. They still consider themselves primarily as individuals. And though they are aware of the social forces of denial and racism (and sexism--the white leadership is mostly all male), even the wisest of them are like ill-placed corks bobbing in a sociological maelstrom.

I am even becoming shy to talk to them. It tears my heart.


Xyavai Mazw
Temporal Reconnaissance Scout
Los Angeles, California
July 2013