in praise of weight

"there are possibly 2 ½ or impossibly 3 individuals every several fat thousand years" ~ e.e. cummings fat thousand years, a rich millennium, a pendulum swung heavy, regal, slow a fruit so ripe its flesh dents under thumb when plucked from branches laden, angled low let time be fat, and men and women ample let never belly sour, hungry for hope let us live large, and make a great example let our grand dances avalanche downslope our words have weight; our actions can make matter of airy thought and insubstantial dream life is a feast, heaped like a groaning platter made succulent with butter, oil and cream believe, dear heart – they only do you damage who try to trim you down until you vanish

brawl scrawl

How doth the frimbling donnybrook bisect a torrid flan Then find a winding tumbleweed to drape its scrapes upon? The nether weather's never clear enough to glimpse the mist Betwixt the fixtures' baffled laughters, fearful of a twist. Just listen. Welters melt, and gilded geldings pine for mates. Their late embraces face the svelte erasure of the dates When shoes wear feet, and dews compete to drench the desert's jowls. Its muffled scuffle rips its lips free of their grip - and howls. Horrendous mendicants relax. Though taxed until they bruise, They'll spin thin sinews into strings that other things can use. Heaped deep in narrow barrows that depend upon red wheels, The toil they spend won't end until the oil defeats the squeal. Oh, never doubt that out's a smaller side of wall than in. Only a strong belong lets more than trifling life begin. Let conflagrations sizzle, drizzle overmatching blaze, And shed predation for the lore of one who humbly prays.

victory

Life imitates art imitating life, informed by forms assembled in response to mythic heroes, petty childhood taunts. An empty canvas duels a palette knife; keys under fingers grapple, twist and slip. A thought - the ball in play that arcs to earth, the soap dropped in the bath - well, is it worth the crush of bodies or the long, cold drip? Yet long before they tell you where the zone lies at the end of long green fields, you know the screen, the cloudy waters are a veil dividing you from what you've always known: that victory is not a place you go but what stays locked inside you if you fail.

Brainwashing 101

Brainwashing 101 (Yesterday I got into an interesting debate on Twitter around the notion of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at government meetings. My assertion was that the flag and the pledge are, to a certain extent, arbitrary symbols. They stand for America, but the sense in which they do so is highly individual. Do they stand for America as we currently are? the whole sum of our history? or the idealized dream of what I hope for us to be? The effect is different based on an individual's understanding. My esteemed fellow ponderer insisted that any rote recitation is, primarily and inescapably, an instrument used to reinforce unthinking obedience to authority. As such, they argued that mandatory recitation was archaic and a form of brainwashing. That particular discussion is over, but it inspired me today to describe in detail what brainwashing entails, as I understand it, in case I ever find myself in another situation where I wish to clarify the point.) Brainwashing (dictionary definition: http://bit.ly/1t4b0ZX) is systematically manipulating someone to change their attitudes and beliefs. Torture can be part of it, especially when gov'ts or terrorist groups brainwash, but I'm expressly not including torture in the following comments as I don't know anything meaningful about its use. Before brainwashing as such can take effect it's necessary to lay a foundation of distrust in own judgments & punishment for wrong thought. Punishment for wrong thought must be reflexive, self-inflicted, tied to whatever is most precious: affection, sense of belonging, self-love. Once belief that "my disagreement w authority X is my filth & unworth as a being" is really, truly solid, then brainwashing begins in earnest. Each individual dwells inside their own personality. Can touch, and potentially alter, any system. Systems must be anchored or erode in time. That is why self-condemnation must come first, to create a protective shell of fear and loathing around systems which brainwashing will install. Similarly, the acquisition of new knowledge must be hedged with protective rejection reflexes. Natural fear of anything strange exaggerated. Everything flows to this anchor: reject and condemn self. Elevate authority X. Not over self but over other loves, other sources of identity. Identity rests in self but actually isn't sourced there. The need to have permission of authority for self-judgments and new perceptions to be valid comes first. Directly founded upon this, love must be constrained. The fountainhead of all motivation is love; the more you love, the more your identity has power. Love powers the personality as sunlight powers the growth of plants. Thus all love must route through authority, to concentrate that power. Not that all love must be directed towards authority- this limits perception to the point where daily functionality is compromised and tends to increase the likelihood of counterproductive and/or self-destructive behavior. But authority must condone all emotion, especially affection or approval- the motive for these experiences must factually originate within the self, but self cannot be perceived as their source. No valid perceptions, judgments, actions or experiences can originate in self. Authority must confer validity and worth after the fact. If this validation is withheld, the experience of individual identity can be largely negated. Authority stands ever between self and the world. Without at least an abstract sense of authority's approval, to enjoy a sunset, choose a soda flavor, (yikes!) read a book should terrify. The universe is inherently, aggressively hostile. However this hostility is justified. Self is 100% blameworthy, unless authority intervenes. Once this sense of an inimical universe lightly held at bay by authority's whim is solid, the other can be defined. The other is optional, but the fear and self-disgust which hide authority's control of decision-making from any conscious examination should be projected outward. Ideally equating "punishment for wrong thought" with the other is so deeply ingrained that the worthlessness of self ceases to be perceived. This second, outer layer of emotional pain reiterates and mirrors the inner, functional foundation of self-rejection. It further protects authority's control from examination. Externalizing hate and wrongness onto the other provides partial, symptomatic relief from the painful experience of self-rejection. The destruction of the image of the other, and the myth of the other as the source of unworthiness, would result in self experiencing the full weight of that continuous inner negation and will thus be avoided. To recap: 1. self worthless, authority confers worth 2. new data bad 3. no unauthorized love 4. universe hostile 5. project self-hate onto other When these systems are properly installed the personality will perceive them to be self-generated. All personality systems must be perceived as self-generated or else their function will be compromised. Once they are firmly in place, commands can be given. Because internal systems of authority control are presented as originating in self, commands designed for compatibility with this will have greatest effect. Commands packaged as enticements, as suggestions, as mock "problems" which can be easily solved by routing emotion and decision-making through the control systems are likely to be effective. Use simple, incomplete patterns. The mind's ability to see & complete patterns is largely pre-conscious: consciousness is only activated after. This is desirable. Under all circumstances minimize, deride, punish and disincentivize conscious thought.

poem for "Unicorns Are Jerks"

The 'title' of each stanza is actually Theo's caption from the relevant page of her wonderful coloring book, Unicorns Are Jerks. Which you can totally buy at Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Unicorns-Are-Jerks-coloring-exposing/dp/1477468528 Though my poem is not in it, you can always do what I did and write it on the blank pages opposite. ----- Everyone thinks unicorns are pure and magical, but really they're jerks. This sober fact I must attest: a Unicorn's amusement's best described as "Someone else, annoyed." (The German word is Schadenfreude.) Unicorns use up all of your shampoo. That special soap for which you saved a Unicorn will use (the knave!), then ask you, sniffing, if you've seen the mess they guess is yours to clean. Unicorns hog your fries. "Let's get some lunch!" say Unicorns. Once you arrive, they could have sworn it was your plan to take them there and order fries you meant to "share." Unicorns borrow your clothes without permission and stretch them out. They "borrow" only what is new - your favorites, that look best on you if Unicorns are left alone five minutes while you're on the phone! Unicorns judge you for your taste in music. "Oh, you like them?" they say with scorn - no matter what! A Unicorn will criticize each song they wrote not having heard a single note. Unicorns dine and dash. They wave around a messy hoof and drive the waitstaff through the roof, demanding everything "just so" but then don't pay before they go! Unicorns talk and text in movie theaters. A Unicorn will not sit through to watch the plot unfold (like you). They'll talk out loud, and spoil with glee the details from IMDB. Unicorns don't replace the toilet paper roll. How can they wipe, with hooves? Who knows? The tissue's used up when they go. Those Unicorns leave in a rush, don't light a match - or even flush. Unicorns sing breakup songs around you when you've just been dumped. When your whole world has been squished flat a Unicorn's amused by that. A friend would tell you grief can't last, not sing sad songs to mock your past. Unicorns fart in elevators. On purpose. They'll use their horn to block the door, tromp on your two feet with their four, flick their bright tail with grace and art and then let loose a monstrous fart. Unicorns monopolize the ball pit and don't let anyone else in. A ball pit's made to play and share. But when some Unicorns are there their pointy horns and rowdy play mean we're more wise to stay away. Unicorns never listen. They never try to make amends. Instead, a Unicorn pretends you pointing out the things they've done is "drama" you made up for fun. Unicorns delete your music collection and replace it with their own audio memoirs. They mess with files on your device without permission (that's not nice!), delete your stuff, and when they're done behave as if you owe them one. Unicorns eat your leftovers. YOU WERE SAVING THAT! Although the fridge is full of treats, of course the magic horse just eats that special thing you really want, bought from your favorite restaurant. Unicorns spend the whole trip sulking because you wouldn't let them drive. Since teleporting magically is hard, and gas YOU burn is free They'll beg for rides to far and near then pout when you won't let them steer. Unicorns are the worst house guests, and they never leave. They ask to crash for "just one night" but never leave without a fight, nor ever lift a hoof to clean though last week's lunch is turning green. When you point out that unicorns are being jerks, they act like YOU'RE the jerk. Confronted with their own "horse play" a Unicorn will always say you're making a big, stupid deal of something that's not even real. Don't be a unicorn. Even unicorns don't appreciate it. These magic horses' uncool ways can leave you steaming mad for days. They may look nice- but they're no fun to hang around. So don't be one.

no chore

the mess you left me yesterday is in my way. the cold floor slaps sleep-tender feet I'm up, for if we eat is mine to say. when I shake you awake, I pray the day we face will end with me held in your arms again. today's mess may be mine. I mean, only the dead are clean. life gives the soul indignant needs: eat, shit. drink, bleed. this mess does prove we live - entangled, as we move in sheets and fates. no chore, but love, to smooth them out once more.

acquisition

you want to get what gets you what you want and yet the acquisition of intent is where the bulk of bloody money's spent. sketch on white napkins in posh restaurants to pay the piper dancing to the tombs prepared for those whose lack has made you great. the waiter lifts away the empty plate, hushed as unmentioned elephants in rooms. the hand that feeds, once bit, will feed no more. those dogs who cannot hunt sit by the bowl; whomever's rooting through the cabinet must see the beasts that crouch behind the door must keep them thus, must spend for their control more than is meet to keep their needs well met.

dragon histories

An X-ray beam inside the ancient stone spreads out, reflects a fan of angled peeks inside the fossil Archaeopteryx, at feathers anchored to its hollow bones. A flock of robots wavers in the sky. Their plastic exoskeletons owe much to this clawed beast no human hand may touch. Far from the first of vertebrates to fly, it seized a happy accident's design, leapt from a limb and, reaching, did not fall - spread wings which are but ghostly shadows now. Will our experiments leave such a sign, set down in text or chipped from limestone wall, when dragons turn to ask their histories - how?

interface

the road unfurls an icy landscape, seen, not walked by bone-sore legs on frostbit feet face winter through a window, through a screen as wheels crush slush that vibrates through your seat gloves on the wheel, a scarf across your mouth you touch no thing and all that touches you was built to meet the hands you now reach out your only world's the made things world leaks through five thousand generations fought to tame the wind and lightning, growing things and ground give every object function and a name which we can call to answer to its sound infuse world with the internet of things then hang from it, marionettes on strings

love sustains

Hell is the place where nobody loves anyone or anything, and nothing ever happens that is new. You can be surrounded by the hateful, the deceitful and the indifferent - you be can be utterly isolated - and still not remain in that place. You can draw love out of yourself; anything other than none is enough. You can love the trees and the stars and the wide solid ground and the way the wind searches out holes in your coat because it wants to be near you. The silent world echoes back whatever you pour out into it, like a whisper in an enormous room.

Where there's love there's life and where there's life there's hope.
This is causation. Love, and there will eventually be hope.

Consider this also.

You're the result of an enormous succession of people having kids and managing to keep them alive to grow up. Somewhere along that line - your parents, their parents, your great-aunts and uncles from the times of old - somebody dreamed of the future and loved you in advance. Someone was rooting for you even though they didn't know exactly who you'd be. Every time one of your ancestors got fed up with the troubles of their time and thought to themselves, "curse these troubles! someday I hope these are gone from the world!" they might not even have known it but they were hoping it for you. You live in a world they could never have imagined in their wildest dreams.

And you live. You're alive, right now. You may not feel like this is a big deal; it may not seem to be doing you very much good. But every moment you live you have the power to make the world a little more like heaven. Just by loving it. So many people are choosing to do otherwise that it might feel pretty small, but it isn't.

Love is stronger than destruction because it makes connections, it binds together, it multiplies and sustains. It opens up space around itself and makes room for what's new. Like those ancestors dreaming of a world with you in it, when you make room in yourself for something new and good, you open up the possibility of sharing that good with others.

And that's how this world becomes more like the kingdom of heaven. Where we share joyful things with the people we love, and discover new wonders together.

definition of magic

1. Magic is the art dedicated to optimizing the rate and methods of the adaptation of one's being to the progress of events, in accordance with one's chosen ends.

2. Magic is that by virtue of which a thing is greater than the sum of its parts.

3. Magic is an effective method of achieving a result which is unique to the circumstance in which it arises.

4. Magic is a symbolically representable system which facilitates the orientation of the components of one's being towards the objects of experience.

it is still winter

but inside I'm okay
I can live without your dime
where snowmen never melt
instead they always shine
                  ~ Animal Collective, "Winter Wonderland"


This is the first time in my life I've been romantically unattached.

True, I've been single for almost two years now. But the distance between "single" and "unattached" is best measured in millennia, like the distance between "treatable" and "cured."

Not that love itself is a disease. My capacity to engage in it it was just bound up with some other, painful stuff.

Writing things down again feels strange. There are states of mind I've traversed in the past couple of years which were so embarrassing, so delusional or overwrought, that I'm grateful my word-maker was largely offline and I didn't leave much textual evidence of my thought process. Even so, what's already on this blog is so voluminous I already feel as though, without ever writing another word, I ought to see my headshot in the Wikipedia page for "tl;dr".

Deep down I used to feel that if I had a thought, a sensation, a feeling, which lacked the stamp of approval of another person's awareness, then my experience was null and nonexistent. This was one of those feelings too big to be consciously understood; it drove my actions as though standing behind me, larger than my own awareness and impossible for me to perceive. Compulsively transcribing everything was like a nicotene patch, a more socially acceptable substitute for what I really felt driven to do--ask for permission to exist, a new permission every instant.

My ability to love and to feel lovable had to grow and heal a lot. For that to happen, I needed to stop using my ability to describe, analyze and create words as a substitute for the affection I couldn't allow myself to accept. Now that I can do so, however, I also have the task of coming back to writing with different motives.

Love is different--or it will be, when I have some again. Creation is different too, and I don't know what it is now. It's all new, and like anything new, I feel perplexed and out of my depth. I tell people very often, "Don't be angry at yourself for being bad at something new. It's new--of course you'll be bad at it until you learn how to do it!"

Well. Even if the things I make aren't quite as powerful, because they don't have the weight of my pending impending annihilation pressing down on them, at least they'll still be alive. I believe anything created has a kind of symbiotic life to it; it joins in the lives of those who appreciate it, growing along with them.

But I still feel very cold.

photosynthesis

Second doppler poem! I'm gonna offset the alternating lines in this one so it's easier to see the two distinct poems within the poem. Here the "blueshift" perspective (read alternating lines from beginning to end) is that of a forest absorbing the light of the sun and using that energy to transform itself. The "redshift" perspective is the light of the sun being captured by a forest and finding itself totally consumed as a result of living processes. I finally figured out a regular rhyme pattern that works for a doppler poem. Fiendishly difficult, but it helped a lot when I get stuck, writing it outward from the center, to have a rhyme-word to draw out the next equal but opposite image-concept in the transformation process.



as rock's a molten planet's skin
     so forests are the way life found
to harness all of sunlight's toil
     the sun's rays stripped of every tone
its lush growth captures, winnows thin
     through withered husks heaped up in mounds
strands stick like honey, glide like oil
     gouge trenches out between hard stones
what sky rains down, the earth drinks in
     strip broken rootlets from dry ground
sink fingers into cool wet soil
     earth shrugs off flesh, sky scrapes clean bones
plow furrows where new life begins
     dust, windswept, granulate, unbound
as delicate fresh furls uncoil
     where once white naked light had shone
they give the rainbow back again
     absorb the spectrum up and down
life cools light; brings itself to boil
     to make stars' radiance its own

lonely bones

Doing more pantoums lately. A way of easing myself out of the all-Petrarchan-sonnet rut I was in for so long. Tried to make this one sonically dense. Works okay.


clone's own lonely bones
drawn on thick
red-spread broken stones
concrete, brick

drawn on thick
same name, borrowed clothes
concrete, brick
guilt-built structure flows

same name, borrowed clothes
zipped up tight
guilt-built structure flows
chalked out white

chalked out white
red-spread broken stones
zipped up tight
clone's own lonely bones