Saturday, January 19, 2008

Reaching Beyond

"The definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."

Folks concern themselves with the caucuses in Nevada,
the impending doom of an imploding economy
while senators of particular pigment and genitalia
capture the attention of the public by tapping into
latent desires for punishment, liberation, something new.
Some voices humbly remind us: "Iraq."
The front page displays these things ad nauseam. I read them, everyday.

The muslim scholar from Malaysia, the one I spent five
hours a day listening to last week, the one I held open
ears for, the one I dream of studying under, the one I will pray for
on tuesday, and all the rest of my days--he predicts the end of empire:
a time when power will be evenly dispersed,
when a global civil society swarming in beat with universal principles of
empathy, compassion, & justice, a society beyond religion,
beyond my-own-kind loyalties will arise and displace
the now (falsely) boundaried unilaterally-acting 'nation state' pimping
its way into psuedo-paradise. A world without empire, he says.
Eschatological hope, I say.
(...a bit optimistic, don't you think?)

Furiously capturing the conversation in a notebook,
I pause to make connections between
transgenerational systems of abuse,
holocaust(s) and apartheid(s),
US pornography and Abu Ghraib
(which I haven't been able to stop thinking about for 4 1/2 years):
victims becoming victimizers, again and again and again.
I begin to answer my own question, with assistance from the class.
Admit harm.
Do not bolster sulking victimhood
Look for and see the potential of the other.
Treat them, love them, endure them into that potential (Goethe).
Sow seeds (Sang).
Believe in divine possibilities al(l)ways to keep hope alive al(l)ways.


And, in this microcosm morning that somehow molds itself
into and out of the gigantic, global substance which has been the focus
of my academic attention, I see ghosts of twin towers and rubble
everywhere I look--just waiting to be turned into a tall tale about
bordered territories and justified occupation of the Other. But this is not
a vision of the political; these are photographs and memories of the familiar,
everyday acts, facial expressions and catch phrases, particular modes
of communication--and therefore subjectivity--in relationship. Pregnant grief,
just waiting to be born and reared by the narrative of my choice.
Lack of reciprocity.
Synthetic self definition vis-a-vis my weakness.
Hypocrisy of the highest possible order.
These are the 'cataclysmic events' plugged into patterns
of revenge-seeking satisfaction that give me what I have always had--nothing more, nothing less.
Predictable, yes. Comfortable, kind of. Enabling, sometimes.
Freedom, never.

Glancing over headlines that display the most recent identity politic wars
couched in election propaganda, a still, small voice echoes:
"no one has ever written anything about me."
How can this be? that such self-effacing,
tender-hearted, quick-to-think-slow-to-speak, poignant passion,
could fail to appear in 21 years of poetry writing?
So in this microcosm morning, I x-out the NYTimes browser
and begin to ruminate on things: your sweaty hand on my belly,
songs passed between us, late night (pastoral) listening,
the way you let me see your pain--early on--without apology.
Adriene Rich once claimed that art reaches into us
"for what's still passionate, still unintimidated, still unquenched."
In this poem, I am reaching beyond religion, beyond cataclysmic events,
beyond revenge-seeking satisfaction, beyond ghosts whispering tall tales,
reaching deep deep down into the soil of (y)our psyche
to touch and strengthen a potential,
to sow seeds of sustainable development (heretofore unexplored),
to let you know I see what is beautiful,
to keep hope for love alive--in you, in me, in the world--
which feels like dismantling a personal/imperial barb-wire barricade
and seems more radical, at this moment,
than casting a vote for pigment or genitals.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Passing on Herbert (again)

Op-Ed Columnist
Politics and Misogyny
Published: January 15, 2008
With Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s win in New Hampshire, gender issues are suddenly in the news. Where has everybody been?

This dude is getting right up there with Seymour Hersh, Paul Krugman & Dave Zirin on the "Favorite Journalists" list. Nice to see someone other than Maureen Dowd (who is often so f*ck*ng embarrassing) talking about women's issues. Men in solidarity--I'm about it.

Friday, January 11, 2008

On Beauty & In Rainbows

Just finished On Beauty by Zadie Smith. Thanks to CBG and Professor Rivera for putting me on to this brilliant, hilarious, insightful, relevant author. Smith somehow balances the serious and light-hearted with precision and poise. I highly recommend this to anyone interested in race & gender relations, academic culture, art (esp Hip-Hop and/or Rembrandt), family & (in)fidelity. I usually keep a pen by my side--even when I'm reading novels(!)--for the purposes of underlining and tagging, but the plot of On Beauty unraveled so fast, and I found myself so engrossed, that this book lacks ink entirely...except for page 424, which features (perhaps) the most disturbingly true one-liner of all time: "The greatest lie ever told about love is that is sets you free."
Word. I'm on to White Teeth now.

Oh yeah: Have I mentioned how much I love Radiohead's In Rainbows?? It's up there with Kid A which is saying a lot. Check out "All I need" and "House of Cards."

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

6 hours and 11 minutes.
Le Conte. University. 580. 5.
Storms dropped in and went away.
Clouds. Rows. Cows. Golden and green hills.
In the hotel lobby, with my girl face on.
While waiting I produce a poem (on the back of last week's sermon script)
about an enormous oak tree, ripped up by its roots,
in front of other little oak trees,
because a storm blew in, with exact precision, from the east.
Geography, wind, fate. Images from the drive? Fearful prophecy?
Yes, but the poem was terrible, really.
A little boy runs around in circles. I watch.
You enter the room. (Keep the girl face on, Emily.)
The little boy notices you and his eyes communicate everything I feel.
Dinner, drinks, little dance.
Right back into regression.
7am drop off: tears again, but less this time.
Gone. Go ahead. Me too.
Drastically different demands in places far far away from here.
Driver seat greets me. I'm sore,
but kept alive by alternating Thom Yorke lyrics
and knowing I'm returning to a place where the girl face
can fall. No rain on the drive home; only mist.
57. 210. 5. 580. 24. Telegraph. I'm back.
12 hours and 22 minutes total.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Damn Right Democrats!

Who knew little ole' Iowa could bring hope back to this girl's politically pouty heart? Things might actually get better...
Should I be surprised? Iowa did, after all, produce the infinitely wise and wonderful Anna Blaedel. Interestingly enough, as we were watching Barack Obama do the honors last night, marveling at his charisma and cadence, my mom said "his biggest struggle will be not getting killed." Spoken like a true player from the 60's. I'm afraid she's right. How long has it been since a politician embodied the hopes of the American people like this guy?? I hope all the conservative haters keep their guns locked away so the hope-filled peeps can joyously ride this wave to a new domestic shore.