Saturday, October 31, 2009

This New Year

This New Year,

Let us hope that the humanosphere moves swiftly to break its vector toward nuclear doom.

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

Let us hope that care trumps greed, so that by next Samhain nary a person believes that cash is more important than a starving child’s ribs.

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

Let us hope that religious fanatics lose their sick grip, and that all gods are validated except those that seek to be the one King.

Let us hope leaders stop spitting terror out of their angry loud mouths, and that flocks of fools stop kneeling in collars of fear.

Let us hope that lovers of all races mingle and mate, at least spiritually in deep companionship. Are we not all lovers in this sense?

Let us hope the light of education burns through webs of ignorance, freeing untold millions of mental wings.

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

Let us fall down and beg the Fates to guide us away from a planet-killing path, the one we travel when we buy earth-poisons in the name of a pretty shine.

Let us pray we can be more than fussy ants, led by the pheromone of the purse, rushing into a Discount Hive to penny pinch.

Let us frequently take a deep breath, and realize what a treasure that one breath is, more so than any ingot or jewel--

That we have all been winners in the most important lottery: the Lottery of Life.
Down we go, into the lost wells of our minds. Some say it is healing. Others that we will never come up again.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Poem of Love: Without You

Below is my most popular love poem, based on the number of people who have contacted me about it. It was written for my lovely and gifted wife, and appeared in an excellent journal, Poems Niederngasse, which is now silent.

I never learned what happened to PNG, despite some feeble attempts. Part of my curiosity stems from a bittersweet happiness: I had a second poem accepted and scheduled to appear. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be.

The editor, Pasquale Capocaso, seemed an extraordinary editor whose life revolved around shared passion. PNG existed from 1996 to 2008, a long and marvelous run. Such an impressive and virtuous accomplishment needs not only to be remembered but revered.

It’s a shame how great accomplishments languish under the sands of days, as we self-absorbed consumerists fret on little preoccupations.

I salute Poems Niederngasse and Pasquale Capocaso, and always will. Two of the greatest gifts the modern poetry world has ever received.


Without You

if my heart shatters
like twists of angels
tumbled into dice,
gin dissolving
the last of their wings,
you are gone from the
metropolis of my blood,
the achy fountains,
the soft esplanades,
the bridges heaving
over storms.

without you, the stars
waddle like geese on ebony grass,
dumb white-patched heads
drifting where you once thrilled
the linger of summer.

the weepy flesh of guitars
does not shudder like you—
you are the sound music craves
but will never be.

i am jagged without you,
stairs lacking rhythm, sine waves
flung off cliffs into petunias of foam,
into silent black bellies,
fish that clutch lightning and drown—
far from slender candles
seen though wineglasses,
their incautious pulse.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

NO On 1 in Maine, Support Gay Marriage

In several days, the people of Maine will vote to support or effectively condemn gay marriage. I am fully in support, which is why I am voting NO on Question 1.

I will be so proud of Mainers if Question 1 fails. We will be the first state where the people stood up for equality, and cast off the thuggish weight of parochial intolerance. This kind of vote has apparently come before various localities on over thirty occasions (New York Times), and never has the right outcome been reached.

This is Maine’s chance to lead the nation into a fair and ethical future, where even California failed (the recent debacle of Prop. 8).

Below is the op-ed I wrote on this topic, published in the Bangor Daily News on May 15. You can also access it here:

Let it come to pass that gays and lesbians can with pride join together and receive all the legal and financial benefits of connubial heterosexuals.

I am sick of the constant battle with old world prejudice. Sick of ignorance and especially sick of the demagogues who whip it into hate.

Patientia Victrix,



Equality is Ageless

IPods that store whole music collections. Hand size computers networked across the planet. Miraculous as these would seem to our ancestors, there is an ethical achievement even more stunning: the joyful spread of equality.

Equality is old news, you say? Not for women, not for blacks, not for Native Americans, and not for gays and lesbians. Even the first glimmer of equal treatment, which applied only to landed male gentry, emerged about a century before the Declaration of Independence and its famous self-evident truth: “All men are created equal.” Given that humanity has passed the ripe old age of a hundred thousand years, this proclamation is the clarion call of a brash young heretic.

We live in the era of a mind-blowing fact: Over generations, in halting increments, civilization can wind a path of reason, even if that means deviating from barnacled social norms. Old habits die hard, but they do indeed marry the dust, even those stubbornly justified by appeals to “human nature” or sacrosanct tradition. Whatever happens next on our shared cosmic journey, we have shown that standards of justice can rise above privilege, bureaucracy, and selfishness, evolving in wonderful ways as unknown to the past as antibiotics and heart transplants.

And this is a good thing. We need flexible thinkers to deal with the implications of a headlong lunge into a future as daunting as science fiction. We need to be open-minded to merge the wisdom of the past with the liberations of discovery. Backsliding is not an option. Neither is mediocre performance . If we are to survive this Buckaroo Banzai ride into the Space Age, a place fraught with speck-sized computers and genetic re-scripting, we need to live not in the past, the present, or the future, but rather in a clear-headed mentality joining all three.

Tradition is indeed essential and liberals often fail to realize this. It provides a brake on reckless change, galvanizing debate and impelling a cautious pace. The Bible will never be obsolete; and yet its omnium-gatherum of parables and strictures, as has been the case since inception, is amenable to new insights.

Consistent application of the principle of equality, not blind faith, should be our guide. It will not do to restrict gays based on Biblical passages while ignoring similar passages that curtail women, ethnics, and pagans. Before the Civil War, the Bible was used to justify slavery, but we moved beyond that. Reason took another step. A fairness-based interpretation of Scripture brought us to celebrate one of our greatest accomplishments: Emancipation.

The fight over gay marriage is just the latest in a series of bouts with prejudice. The basic weapons have been the same for centuries: fear, outrage, misery, and hope. Both sides lay claim to all these, and in the end we must turn not only to consistency and fairness, but also to the proven point that humanity can rise above fear using the ladder of reason. In this task, our surest rung is that self-evident concept which distinguishes enlightened progress from the medieval lethargy of hierarchs and despots: Equality.

Chapbook Review!!!

Gordian Butterflies is the name of my latest chapbook, which receives a featured review in the current issue of Arsenic Lobster (20).

I am beyond delighted to have a detailed examination of my work appear in such a fine literary venue. The reviewer, Lissa Kiernan, is also the poetry editor of the journal. I was very nervous before seeing her impressions, then ecstatic afterward. She really FOUND me in the words, and revealed elements of my style even I was unaware of.

If you want to check out the review, go here:

Enticement: The review reveals where the Gordian Butterflies are hiding, so you can see them for yourself.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


It has taken me forty-six years to embrace the obvious: Earth is purgatory. By this I mean an in-between world, combining elements of Asmodeus and Amaterasu. It is a realm designed to require and even invite killing. Even vegetarians inflict death on plants. Any kill destroys not only life, a wordlessly profound gift, but great beauty as well. Is not a leaf more exquisite than a Picasso?

Nature abounds with ravage and miracle. The lion crunches the larynx of the terrified oryx. Ants stream to gnaw the throes of a monarch butterfly. The Artist behind the scenes is no kindly god but rather Competition most merciless and cruel. Legions suffer, fail, and rot so that a few might survive and toil onward, shackled to that brutal overseer: natural selection.

This is our global habitat, replete with hurdles and wonders. We endure fickle charms, like weather and health, and our insides swim with little creatures, rendering us cauldrons that seethe with conflict.

Some of these microbes, seen under the lens, resemble spiral galaxies. And are not we humans microcosms of the Earth itself, foaming with battles under the skin, unseen from afar?

Worst of all, we slay each other. History is a grievous march of bloodshed, despots, and torture. Rape and incest were, and to a huge extent still are, ubiquitous and impervious.

Even Jehovah hops on the bandwagon: “I will make mine arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh.” (Deuteronomy 32:42)

As does Muhammad: “Paradise lies in the shadow of swords.”

Here’s the catch. We as individuals can’t escape the general current of weal and woe, but we still have choice. This purgatorial world, loom of wicked and good threads, pastiche of the terrible and the magnificent, is the perfect judging ground. Both heaven and hell are in evidence, as are hooks and carrots each way.

The Buddhist notion of karma holds serious relevance.

Who is judging, I don’t know. Maybe only a nonexistent magistrate of what-could-be. A diaphanous angel of what-reason-could-do.

If even one person succeeds in not abusing whatever little power she has, a statement is made about a possible future, and a lone soul achieves a rare greatness, one far more deserving of gold than those chests of murderous generals, which shine with numerous gleams of awful and perverse vainglory and pride.

Pentakomo Cyprus by Irene Koronas

Irene Koronas, a great poet and wonderful editor at WHL Review, has published a new book, entitled Pentakomo Cyprus. Check it out here: Cyprus

Irene is a passionate, intense and magical presence, with an outstandingly fearless mind. She is one of those rare artists who LIVES it. Not only that, she is far less selfish than most.

Yes, it’s true, I am not a fan of snooty geniuses with ears of stone and haughty tongues.

If you support her, you are supporting an entire community of poets; for she interacts with Wilderness House, the Bagel Bards, Ibbetson Street Press, and other groups of word junkies, who crave to mainline that rare fresh blend of perfect meaning and sound.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Home Makeover While a Billion Starve

Various sources have reported the sad fact. Over a billion people languish in chronic malnourishment. (“World’s Hungry Reach More Than 1 Billion in ’09: UN,” New York Times, Oct. 14)

That’s approximately 1 in 7 of the supposedly most powerful species on the planet. So much for the “Green Revolution” of the 60’s and 70’s. Back then, our leaders and scientists boastfully proclaimed that technology would end world hunger. How they loved to brag and swagger and tug the public along like a dumb coaxed beast.

Same old same old.

But technology won’t save us. Not only that, petrochemical fertilizer and erosion fomented by the “Green Revolution” have decimated the health of Gaea.

Will we ever take off our blinders, and realize that technology is dangerous in the hands of an immature humanity, and that in order to survive we must grow up and get aware?

Last night, while channel surfing, I came upon one of those remodeling shows. You know, strip down your perfectly livable house and put it back together again.

And there it was: a beautiful sun-filled home, complete with marble counters, cathedral ceilings and capacious bedrooms and baths.

This was the “before” preview, soon to be destroyed and redone. A major facelift, so to speak. And I thought, “How many billions of people would be so happy and thankful to live in this magnificent domicile, even for one week of their miserable hard-working downtrodden lives?”

How many untold sufferers would do anything, even whore their soul to Satan, if their children could live in such a lovely home, instead of wither from hunger --not to mention other scourges like oppression, disease, and war?

And then the TV screen filled with the show’s guest couple. The lovely bourgeois. They had just bought this home, and yet they weren’t smiling or happy, even though they were in the wealth club, an elite minority who could afford such a place.

No, they were frowning. Deep, heartfelt frowns. The sort that cut the soul. This house wouldn’t do. The husband rated the master bathroom a 3 out of 10. It wasn’t “male enough.” The wife gave it a 7 out of 10. The color scheme and texture were wrong.

Remember Marley’s Ghost from A Christmas Carol? How its hunched form, wrapped in chains, accosted Scrooge? The Ghost told the quivering miser that the irons were the poundage of greed.

I bet that if we affluent folks could feel the hands of all the exploited billions--those whose countries were wrecked by colonization, the slave trade, diamond mining, and all that--if we could feel their scrawny fingers, tied around us like rope, and sense the weight of their taut ribcages, just as Marley’s Ghost bore the weight of his avarice, we wouldn’t be so callous and shallow and numb and immature and contemptible.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Feminist David Brooks Kills Capitalism

David Brooks, the New York Times columnist, writes not infrequently about the latest highbrow research on the brain. His eloquent expositions should shock anyone wedded to the belief that humans are internally harmonious and self-aware creatures, who make crucial choices through logical calculations.

In other words, the model of the rational ego, cherished by economists, has been shot to hell by Ivy League science. This, of course, has implications for capitalism.

And unbeknownst to Brooks, apparently, much of what he says concurs with feminist thought, which rejects the autonomous ego for a radically different notion.

Following in the footsteps of Carol Gilligan, who initiated a new Weltanschauung with her classic book, In a Different Voice, feminists see a person as defined through myriad relationships, which occur both within and outside the mind.

Sound kooky? The latest research validates it. Described by Brooks:

“People don’t have one permanent thing called character. We each have a multiplicity of tendencies inside, which are activated by this or that context. As Paul Bloom of Yale put it in an essay for The Atlantic last year, we are a community of competing selves. These different selves ‘are continually popping in and out of existence. They have different desires, and they fight for control — bargaining with, deceiving, and plotting against one another.’”
(“Where the Wild Things Are,” Oct. 20, New York Times)

Weird stuff. But let’s remember that Carl Jung, one of the founders of modern psychology, postulated a mind crowded with archetypal personas. This was in the early 20th century, far before Bloom’s revelations at Yale.

Brooks and Bloom take a stereotypical slant, seeing relationships as competitive. Feminists see them as cooperative. A healthy economic system should be at least as cooperative as competitive. Competition that harms the individuals in its grasp implies a collective mental illness. It is out of balance, neglecting the holistic and emotional aspects of life.

Here is Brooks again, invoking research and rhetoric to shatter the basis of free market capitalism:

“Over the past several years, the [scientific] momentum has shifted away from hard-core materialism. The brain seems less like a cold machine ... Those squishy things called emotions play a gigantic role in all forms of thinking. Love is vital to brain development.

Researchers now spend a lot of time trying to understand universal moral intuitions. Genes are not merely selfish, it appears. Instead, people seem to have deep instincts for fairness, empathy and attachment.”
(“Neural Buddhism,” May 13, 2008, NYT)

Fairness, empathy, attachment, intuition, emotions, love, and as Brooks goes on to say, spirituality and God, all figure essentially in the nature of mind. Say hello to feminism and goodbye to patriarchal capitalism. It’s time to pitch the simplistic idea that life is a war for fancy stuff, devoid of virtue and teeming with people whose hearts are black holes.

The theory of narcissistic rational actors is flawed. It doesn’t reflect the self’s true nature. Ask Brooks. Ask Gilligan. Ask the time-honored psychologist Abraham Maslow, whose Hierarchy of Needs has nothing to do with hoarding froufrou, bauble and glitz.

Capitalism does not reflect the nature of mind. David Brooks and feminists are in concert on this.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Our souls started out as elements of gods, just as our flesh started out as elements of stars.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Goldman Sachs Sucks

Recent headlines have trumpeted the beginning of the end. The Great Recession is weakening. Yowza and yay.

But before we break out the confetti, isn’t there a wee little problem? Jobs are still hemorrhaging, state budgets are being butchered, and the woe shows no signs of mercy for those of us whose portfolio isn’t lounging in the Cayman Islands.

Isn’t it wonderful how the corporate-owned media kowtows to the needs of billionaires? For them, the Great Recession is turning a profit.

Especially some fat cat banks, notably the ones who are blatant servants of Mammon. Why? Because they sucked up Washington's bailout money and are now exploiting it for their own enrichment, not the general weal.

A prime example is Goldman Sachs. Paul Krugman writes in his op-ed:

“Many reacted with fury to the spectacle of Goldman Sachs making record profits and paying huge bonuses even as the rest of America, the victim of a slump made on Wall Street, continues to bleed jobs.” (“The Banks Are Not All Right,” Oct. 18)

Krugman notes that huge sums of relief cash was ladled out to the big banks so they could start lending again. You know, LENDNG. Giving money to others, who could then pass it along again, and so forth, stimulating all kinds of business. A single $100 dollar bill can be promised multiple times and fuel a thousand dollars of lucrative interaction. This is the first lesson of Economics 101.

So let’s get those banks to fork out and generate some jobs, green jobs while we’re at it!

But Goldman Sachs isn’t reaping its filthy lucre by lending.

They’ve regressed, headed right back to that great ethereal casino of speculation, which is full of stock market slot machines and maybe-this-will-spike roulette wheels. Nothing like a fiduciary gambling addiction to run us deeper into fiscal quicksand.

Want to buy some swampland in Florida?

No, Goldman Sachs isn’t lending. They’re wild trading. Wheeler-dealing. Betting on derivatives, futures, and all manner of variations and options in-between.

This is sweet in terms of a quick million or two for privileged executives. But what about the rest of us? And what about the long-term health of our economy, or our precious Gaea, for that matter?

Update: See also today's Washington Post article: "At Rescued Banks, Perks Roll On"

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Fog Of Life

Blind and ridiculous, humanity forages into the future like a hungry beast whose organs vie in internecine war. Can any stomping ground, even one the size of a planet, suffice?

Robert McNamara, reflecting on his long un-illustrious career, especially during the insanity of the Vietnam War, stated as one of his eleven hard-learned lessons that, “Rationality won’t save us.”

His justification for this was a phenomenon called the “fog of war,” in which variables deteriorate into chaos under the onslaught of misery and violence.

And yet, is not the fog of war a mere corollary to a greater complexity: the fog of life?

If rationality won’t save us, what will? Cynics say we’re doomed, but there are other cradles of hope.

As we blunder into a long untrainable night, perhaps the most viable source of illumination we have is small yet doughty, a fragile candle called love. We must be supremely cautious, lest winds of fear extinguish it.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Headless Chickens and Mutton Merinos

Boy Falcon Heene is accidentally sent flying away in a silver balloon, which seems a garish reject from a 1950’s sci-fi. Dad Richard Heene calls a TV station before dialing 911 ...

Although the “boy in the balloon” is most certainly a hoax, the main issue is more telling, an ignored elephant on the coffee table of US culture: the conformist zeal of a corporate media akin to a barnyard of headless chickens, all running about with exorbitant idiocy, relentless in the search for catchy grains of pablum.

The public is enthralled by insipid sound bytes at the expense of a basic proclivity to think. “Panem et circenses,” or “bread and circuses,” the ancient lament of the poet Juvenal, remarking on the decline of Rome, is eerily appropriate. The good citizens of the US Empire, evoking life under Caesar, fixate like drooling five-year-olds on glitzed up gewgaws of news. Meanwhile the world around them decays. Morally, environmentally, and spiritually.

How has it come to pass that a dumbed-down public waits eagerly for the next morsel of blood and horror, or some doggerel of fairytale, herded like mutton merinos by a few powerful overlords who wag the sheep dogs?

“In this best of possible worlds ... all is for the best.”
Voltaire, from Candide

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Acceptance by EDGE


I’m most proud and pleased to have a poem accepted for the 2010 edition of EDGE.

EDGE is run by a talented and dedicated group of writers who call themselves the Tahoe Writers Works. You can learn more about them here:

I’ve been involved with the literary world for quite a while now, and honestly it's no cake walk to find topnotch writing groups; but the TWW team seems meticulous and ardent. They persevere in their quest for the finest. It looks like they have a lot of fun, too. I don’t know any of them personally and speak only from observation.

One of their EDGE editors recently christened a book press, Bona Fide Books, which is off to a good start with two special anthologies that have ethical significance as well as literary merit.

Check out:

If you have a well-honed manuscript and want a fresh discerning opinion, consider Bona Fide. Be sure your work is ready, though!

Another great writers group is Rooster Moans, and I will talk about them at length someday.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Poem: Entropy

Here is one of my favorite poems from the thousands I’ve written (most of which are ludicrously poor). I’d guess that about 90% of poets have written a piece called “Entropy,” and I’m not one of the exceptions.

It was published in a great online zine , no longer active, called Lily Lit Review. However, the editor, Susan Culver, runs a blog called Poetry Friends (, and is taking submissions. Send your very best. She has a discerning mind and only publishes the most evocative work, which is most rare and hard to come by.

I don’t know her personally, but I’d like to give her a big HOOT for doing so much for the poetry community for so many years. Go to Poetry Friends or Lily Lit Review and you’ll see what I mean.

Poesis est vinum daemonum.




they say my thoughts are losing heat,
that the effort to write
wastes the bulk of my soul.

long before brain cells die
i will have lost my skill
at forming impressions.

every poem
destroys a potential
to write many more—
it comes down
to inevitable failures
of heart engine and ache.

nor can i become again
what i was,
or collect the years of emotion
babbled away or cried—

they cannot be reforged
into sweeter karma,
or distilled into another
naïve seed.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Scarlet Letter on the US War Chest

When China recently celebrated 60 years of Communist rule, the New York Times stepped up to the plate. The newspaper pointed out that the kitschy fanfare was geared to wow crowds, and concealed a heinous rise to power. (China Is Wordless on Traumas of Communists’ Rise, 10/2/09)

Mao’s troops starved 160,000 civilians to death in order to defeat the Nationalist garrison at Changchun, one of the victories “hailed” in Chinese history books. Some citizens of Changchun survived, just barely, by eating grass, corpse flesh and leather belts. This is just the tip of a gargantuan iceberg of horror:

“There were no solemn pauses for the lives lost during the Communist Party’s rise to power — not for the estimated tens of millions who died during the civil war, nor the millions of landlords, Nationalist sympathizers and other perceived enemies who were eradicated during Mao’s drive to consolidate power.”

To put this in perspective, the lives lost during all of WWII also number in the tens of millions.

Well and good it is it to point out such monstrous violence, even as the CCP attempts to bury it under martial pageantry and the sands of time. But if we in the US are so keen on righteousness, as we should be, then let’s own up. There’s a big red letter H on our chests: the bloody H of Hypocrisy. If we are going to hurl verbal stones at the East, we ought to throw some heavy duty boomerangs too.

When the 4th of July comes around, where--alongside the rockets, hoopla and sloganeering--are the “solemn pauses” to honor Native Americans? Where are the humble and heartfelt apologies for the slaughter that followed in the wake of Manifest Destiny?

What is the greatest genocide known? The annihilation of the peoples of the North and South American Continents, beginning in 1492 and continuing into the 1800’s when “Injun scalps” could be sold for cash and the last renegade Apaches were overwhelmed and cornered like scrappy wolves.

As soon as the threat was gone, Injun logos popped up on everything from tobacco products to sports jerseys. What’s worse, a callous CCP parade or the Buffalo Nickel, which proudly portrayed Native and bison, both of which the United States mercilessly sought to eradicate? These nasty nickels circulated for decades through the white man’s bustling cash registers.

And guess what? The Buffalo Nickel is back, obverse and reverse. It’s the official pure gold bullion coin of the US Treasury.

And hey, aren’t we still manufacturing and selling Tomahawk missiles?

Why cast out the splinter in your neighbor’s eye, but not the log in your own?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Conscience as Rose

When you consider that it took plants untold millions of years to evolve the beauty of flowers, the sad state of human moral development becomes tinged with hope. We can find comfort in the words of William H. Murdy:

"In large measure, our personalities are determined by a collective consciousness which we can contribute to and which is itself evolving."

Just as plants turned part of themselves into flowers, we might someday make our collective consciousness truly beautiful. Not only that, if Murdy is right, you and I can contribute to the change.

Every word and deed trembles through the strands of civilization.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Today Show Bootlicks Limbaugh

On the news today Rush Limbaugh, given free reign by the Today Show to spew his crude lowbrow attacks. He is expert at appealing to the carbuncled anger in bigots. He slyly fondles their repressed fury and bids it rise. His rhetoric shows uneducated white males how to express racism and sexism under the radar. How to make their voices brim with hate yet hide the Kristallnacht in their hearts.

Fear of gays, blacks, women, and even the very notion of equality, what would Limbaugh be if these did not palsy a large mass of the US population? He would be what he is now: A power-obsessed purveyor of despicable tendencies. An epitome of the hurdles we must overcome to achieve peace and reason. That he has so much clout, and whips up so much furor, gives all of us who worry about the specter of fascism something tangible to decry.

Monday, October 12, 2009

As the euphoria of acceptance descends into the neurotic mediocrity of self-doubt, the poet confronts a stark realization: that moods are puppet strings, and the essence of consciousness is to be jerked around.

One must ask, then, as many have, from Sappho and Hypatia to Nietzsche and Skinner, what devious and multifaceted entity holds the reins?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Lunar Sacrilege and Sociopathic Science

The problem with NASA bombing the moon is what it reveals as much as what it commits. Yes, punching Diana and sending a plume of dust six miles high is callous and wanton. Yes, it is aggressive, violent and demeaning. Yes, it is absurd. Yes, it indicts patriarchal logic as a dumb arrogant beast with too much power too soon in the continuation of human development.

But also, importantly, it demonstrates that science, as currently practiced, is sociopathic.

By this I mean that science distances itself from conscience, claiming some highbrow impunity from guilt. Scientists just rushed ahead to create the atom bomb—in the name of Science.

If we blow our species to megaton hell, a lion’s share of blame goes back to that gleeful fraternity of stupid geniuses involved in the Manhattan Project. Stupid because they didn’t consider right and wrong—except for a belated Einstein, whose wise plea to the President was ignored.

And now scientists are as headlong as addicts to dissect and rework the genetic codes of life. And just like infantile addicts they are reckless and heedless. They are scrambling as fast they can to gain prestige, accolade and contract, delving into scary realms like hybrid cloning, deadlier nerve gases, incurable anthraxes, and the perfection of sentient death-dealing robots, including drones that fly hundreds of miles to slay.

A recent segment of 60 Minutes featured slaphappy MIT profs bragging about how they could use MRI’s to read people’s thoughts.

What is the ethic of the ladder-climbing scientists? They have none, except some sterile conception of Truth. They claim loyalty to facts severed from values, and hence exile themselves from the passions that give live meaning and quality. In other words, they are trying their best not to be human. To ignore the tens of thousands of years of common sense built into our minds.

Yes, they bomb the moon and chuckle inside, feeling so superior and special, while wearing clinical faces outside.

Without ethics, scientists are sociopaths. Unprincipled scientists have the maturity of horny pimpled kids schlepping into 9th Grade.

Our prefects in white lab coats need to wake up and realize that the truth of numbers cannot be separated from the truth of life. Their obsession with their false god Truth is going to destroy us, if they don’t grow up, and if we don’t grow up with them.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Mannequin Envy Acceptance

I just received a professional and kind acceptance from Patrick Carrington, the editor at Mannequin Envy. This deserves a Great Horned


Patrick Carrington, by the way, is an amazing poet. I don't say this as a friend or even an acquaintance of his, for I am not. I wouldn't know him from Jane Austen (Well, I guess I could deduce his identity in that case).

I've simply seen his poetry around the web. I don't know how he runs an extraordinary journal and also writes superb poems at a prodigious pace.

And he sure knows how to make my month.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Desperation Jig

I have become pathetically desperate for any sign of approval from editors. Even the slightest bit of hope sends me into an ephemeral bout of glee. Two words, “evident merit,” can get me gaga, as in my latest rejection from the New Yorker:


Dear [Wonderful Owl Who Laughs],

We regret that we are unable to use the enclosed material, in spite of its evident merit. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to consider it.


The Editors


If I can’t get an acceptance, at least I can use “evident merit” as an excuse to do a little jig--then trot back to the drawing board. Or in my case, the writing board.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Wonder Bread Classic White

On the news today, Michelle Obama’s genealogy. Isn’t it wonderful that for the first time ever the national media establishment--radio, television, newspaper--is taking a couple of days to celebrate a First Lady’s heritage. And, hey, isn’t it grand that she turns out to have a white ancestor. Maybe she’s more like us than we thought.

Let's present the story with a gleeful tone, to make sure the world understands how pleased we are to find some Wonder Bread in the mix.

A great sequel would be to go through the genealogies of previous First Ladies and celebrate the ethnic variations in their family trees. Maybe Laura Bush has a black ancestor? Or maybe Hilary Clinton has Cherokee in her blood? While we’re at it, let’s look for gays and lesbians to trot out into the American limelight.

But (shhh!) what we really want to focus on is straight-lace Whiteness. Don't tell anyone.

Rejection Errata

Whoops! In regards to my last post, I was wrong to state that I have 350 acceptances. I actually have about 350 poems published, which translates into about 120 acceptances.

I've been writing for about eight years, so that means approximately 15 acceptances a year.

That's about right!


Wednesday, October 7, 2009


I have at least 4,000 rejections to my name, probably much more. This is based on calculating from my acceptances, which number about 350. I’m sure that I get at least ten rejections for every acceptance. Hence the wonderful revelation that I’ve eaten a mountain of no thank you’s.

You might be thinking, “The poor guy’s been stung bad, what keeps him going?”

Well, there’s the occasional acceptance. It’s kind of like being in a Skinner Box. The rat knows that if it hits the bar enough, a food pellet will eventually come out.

Another purpose, perhaps overriding, is to revel in the authentic. Start with a blank page, fingers on keyboard, and you’re perched to go anywhere. Poetry is writing at its most distilled and intense.

Raw verse can turn your computer screen, or a simple sheet of paper, into a wormhole. You dare the gods to show their face.

There is also a spiritual hitch. Our world is fucked and I have a burning need to address this. Empathy is key to human survival, and the best poetry exudes it.

Perhaps the greatest enemy of a positive fate is that horrible tendency to be macho and hide from feelings. Although I say “macho,” I mean women too. Both women and men need to channel their anger in healing, expressive ways.

Of course, men have the added burden of developing a set of rudimentary skills, such as accepting their tears and just being able to listen and talk about their hearts.

Mostly listen!

Yeah, I’m stereotyping. But stereotypes have their place.

I mean, it really is the case that pigheaded male leadership has brought us to the brink of nuclear annihilation.

We need to have poems about war, and many other kinds of poems too. Poems that express what we are taught to hide. Poems infused with honesty, natural beauty, and sensuous magic.

What is a poem but a way of touching the mystical to exclaim, “I am not wasting my life!”

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Detention for Middle School Kids

In “The Politics of Spite,” Paul Krugman decries the Republican Party’s devolvement to a puerile mentality of lurid attacks, absurd smears, and elephantine blindness. Their current psychology renders them incapable of compromise, unreceptive to reason, and grossly negligent in their poise; for should not leaders serve our country rather than the low pangs of their throne lust?

And yet Republicans would rather cheer Obama’s ‘failure’ to secure the 2012 Olympics than lament the collective loss. They would rather promulgate lies about death panels than unleash themselves from their sordid tether to the moguls of the health industry. They would rather react like tyrannic 8th graders, or as Krugman puts it, display “the emotional maturity of a bratty 13-year-old,” than allow intelligent and cooperative dialogue to lead us out of misery brought on by eight years of W’s weasel-worthy war mongering and general incompetence.

Krugman is right to end by saying that any wise remedy for government deadlock must take into account this current immaturity. What he doesn’t tackle is the presence of a serious lurking risk: that the gimmie gimmie gimmie GOP will suffice as a breeding ground for fascism in all its anti-glory: ignorance, effigies, and tantruming scions of ultimate disgrace.

Monday, October 5, 2009

After Dusk

Those who immerse in the dark must not neglect the light. The philosophy behind shadow medicine is to embrace a full spectrum of emotions. To be purged by honesty. To go down to be able to go up.

An owl who laughs must also be a hummingbird that shines.

Here is another of my poems recently published in Bolts of Silk:

After Dusk

mauve has gone down
the long roller coaster sprint
of a firefly’s throat.
we are offered a fabric
without spectrum or prism,
dark curtains
drawn on a lavish stage.

nothing left
except hints of lost embers.
glints and glows like magic tips
of an Etch a Sketch
that never paints.

we must do the work ourselves,
filling in the canvas,
guided only by a rare
meteor scar.

what we see, all our dreams,
merely a whimsy of stardust,
clouds of fleshed glitter
kicked up by the hobos in our heads.

that’s night’s secret,
as if we didn’t know—
we wear ourselves,
feel our own secrets,
when we button on the dark.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Are You Lady Macbeth?

How do those that embrace justice deal with a climate that privileges deceit and corruption? In the words of Lady Macbeth:

But I remember now
I am in this earthly world,
Where to do harm
Is often laudable, to do good sometime
Accounted dangerous folly.
Act IV, Scene 2

Maybe after billions of decent folks—whether innocent children, naïve idealists, meek samaritans, virtuous teachers, or courageous advocates—are brutally silenced, justice will have a chance to reign.

And yet, you might ask, Is it possible for humans to give up hatred, fanaticism, and bigotry?

OWL replies: If males can be made to accept women as equals, the human mind is malleable enough for grace.

Will they?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

How many of us cry out in the darkness, alone, unaware that the intensity of our anguish frightens monsters we can’t see?

Friday, October 2, 2009

A Landscape of Fear

Olivia Judson writes in praise of predators that establish a “landscape of fear.” (New York Times, 9/29/09, “Where Tasty Morsels Fear To Tread”)

Well and good it might be for wolves to help willows by hunting the elks that munch them; or for spiders to plunder the population of grasshoppers down; but there is a serious danger that little Neros of all flavors, including politicians, pundits, sensationalists and advertising marketers, might misconstrue or misuse Judson’s article.

We get such insidious insinuations on the Nature Channel all the time: The animal world is cruelly competitive; so expect human society to be too. It translates into a wonderful plug for corporate capitalism: It’s okay and natural that one company ruthlessly devours another, that employees are callously fired, that profit rapes the environment, and in general that feverish competition sets the benchmark for proper behavior, not justice, civility, kindness or (gasp) conscience.

The horrible perversion comes easily to mind: Judson’s article in hand, brandished like some Holy Grail, a blustery ideologue proclaims in a spew of spittle, “Humans are better off in a landscape of fear!”

And so through sophistry and callous expropriation, a scientific thesis leads us closer to living in hell. A landscape of fear.

The antidote for such demagoguery is reason. It is a fallacy to leap from animal behavior to what is right for humans. For example, “Male lions sometimes kill cubs, so it is okay for human males to kill children.”

You CAN’T blindly craft ethics from the wilds. If you do, you commit a failure of inference. This failure is so common and egregious that it has a special name: the naturalistic fallacy.

Judson’s ostentatious article invites demagogues to commit the naturalistic fallacy.

If you open your mind, you can see through the dark.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Acceptance From Chaffey Review

My poem "L.A. Impressions" was just accepted by Chaffey Review. And so let me break out of my dour norm for a moment to give a big, WOOT!

Despite my spiritual obsession with poetry--five drafts a week and ceaseless edits--I'd probably give it up if it werent' for the rare, "We are delighted ..."

And I'm sure the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce would be pleased with "L.A. Impressions," and use it as a banner to attract tourists and industry.

Yeah, pleased.

*Dark Laugh*